Blue named to Conservation Hall of Fame
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Dee Blue, a longtime volunteer and board member for the Mount Sopris Conservation District, is the newest addition to the Colorado Conservation Hall of Fame.The Colorado Association of Conservation Districts, a coalition of the state’s 76 conservation districts, gives the award to one resident of the state each year.Blue was unable to attend the state association’s annual meeting last November in Loveland, so the award was presented to her on Wednesday during the annual Garfield County Ag Day in New Castle.”I am real proud because it was a big surprise to me,” said Blue, 81, in a telephone interview Friday. “I was surprised when I was told I was nominated, and I thought that was quite an honor.”So when she learned she was the statewide winner, it was an even bigger surprise.”When you volunteer, you do it because you enjoy it, not for the recognition. You just enjoy it and you like the results you get from volunteering,” said Blue.Blue moved to the Roaring Fork Valley in 1974 from California, where she had always lived out in the country. A bookkeeper by trade, she had a strong appreciation for farming and ranching. Not long after her move here, she met and married rancher Jean Blue and worked with him on his ranch west of Carbondale, along Highway 82 near Crystal Springs Road.In 1979, Dee Blue heard about an opening on the Mount Sopris Conservation District’s board and volunteered. She was appointed, and then re-elected to successive terms straight through to 2002.She served stints as the board’s secretary and vice president, but her most important work came as an educator, carrying the conservation message out to the community.She appeared in countless classrooms, giving presentations to students and meeting with teachers to show them the learning tools offered by the conservation districts related to understanding and preventing soil erosion.Blue helped the local conservation district host workshops on weed control, no-till planting and creating defensible space in wildfire-prone areas. She helped the coalition of local conservation districts win a grant to buy an educational trailer that demonstrates how streams and riparian areas function, how they can be damaged by siltation and trampling, and how they can be repaired.After seeing how blowing snow was a frequent problem high on County Road 100 on Missouri Heights, Blue secured a matching grant so the conservation district could plant a long row of three types of trees to act as a living snow fence. Planted about 15 years ago, the living snow fence will do the job and last far longer than a wood-slat fence.During her years of service with the Mount Sopris District, Blue also served on the Colorado State Soil Conservation Board, the Colorado Big Country Resource Conservation and Development Council (Big Country RC&D), and the Colorado River Watershed Association. As a board member of the RC&D, Blue used her connection with the Garfield County Library Board, on which she also served, to introduce the Agriculture, Conservation and Education (ACE) program in Garfield County. It provided computers, subscriptions and other educational materials related to soil conservation to the local libraries. Early in her work with that organization, she assisted in the completion of Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs.Two Rivers Park continues to be a focal point for work by these organizations as they attack the infestation of tamarisk along the riverbanks.Weeds, said Blue, remain a constant vexation and challenge, as is the task of helping people find the best ways to fight them while preserving the health of soil.”There is more than one way to control weeds, besides using herbicides,” Blue said. “People need to understand you can do it with insects, animals, or go out with a shovel or a hoe and dig them up. There’s a definite need to continue education, because the first thing people think about is chemicals.”Blue continues to be an active volunteer. She serves on the board for Senior Matters, is active in the local chapter of the National MS Society, runs the refreshment stand at the Carbondale Wild West Rodeo, and still checks in with the Mount Sopris Conservation District to see if there are new techniques she can use on her ranch.
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Elk Creek Elementary fourth grader Brian Hazelton said he wants to be an astronomer, an artist and an author when he grows up.