Full Send Mountain Bike Ranch a mistake for our rural community

Full Send Bike Ranch has changed its name to Shadow Mountain Bike Ranch. Don’t be confused, it is the same group helicoptering in at the expense of wildlife, and a valley never fully cultivated by a tractor, complete with riparian watershed. Today it is pristine, tomorrow it is a parking lot. I enjoy bike riding, but this project is a plague to nature.

My friends are gathering names on a petition to oppose the mountain bike development. The developers are taking similar action encouraging mountain bike enthusiasts to sign their petition. Full Send has filed their pre-application/intent with Jefferson County Planning and Zoning. The debate is on.

I don’t have anything against mountain biking but there are 1,000 miles of terrain available today with new sites opening like the Argo Mine bike venue in Idaho Springs. Why commercialize 273 acres of pristine valley and Conifer Mountain for a for profit venture? This is an extreme bike venue which only a small percentage of mountain bike riders participate in anyway.

The problem is the State of Colorado owns the land and for a small price will consider leasing it for any venture that will turn a fragment of revenue to be distributed to public education. The enabling law is part of the state constitution. The authority of the Colorado Land Trust was amended in 1996 to require some consideration for the protection of natural settings and conserve Colorado’s landscapes for future generations. The jury is still out on how responsive and accountable the CLT is to its new direction, i.e., now 26 years ago.

This bike park isn’t compatible with the character of the community. Why build a parking lot for three hundred or more cars, promote daily turnover in that parking lot for six hundred car trips, build a lodge in the valley and construct a ski lift? Sure, neighborhood kids can use the park if their parents fork over the lift cost estimated to be $50 to $70 a day.

Elk and now moose use the corridor for food and shelter. Located adjacent to Mt Evans Wilderness, the site is recognized for biodiversity. Indeed, these 273 acres are listed by the Nature Conservancy for high topoclimatic variability and low levels of human modification. This provides for species diversity worthy of protection. Furthermore, it is a calving area for elk and deer as well as nest area for birds and numerous other non-human life scurrying around the forest floor.

We continue to post signs like this one pictured above and ask everyone concerned for wildlife, biodiversity, water diversion, pollution, highway safety, and fire protection/evacuation to join our cause. Please sign the petition and stay in touch.

For the animals and our children, save something for the next generation.

David Gies

Our Friends in Africa

As many of you know I have a fond association with the Africa Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) in Nairobi Kenya. Indeed, over the past fifteen years through the efforts of many, Colorado Gives recognizes the sister organization in Denver as a hub for connecting our lives to the lives of people and animals in Africa. In the spirit of giving where we live, we recognize Kenya with the Colorado connections through local veterinarians and students at the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social work, to name a few.

I am writing to my friends and readers of this blog to implore you again to support ANAW-USA through Colorado Gives Day. The agenda in Africa is ambitious but it is paying off in many ways. For example, ANAW plays a significant role co-hosting the Africa Animal Welfare Conference in association with United Nations Enviromental Programme. You can read more about this and other programs taking place with our friends in Africa. The point is ANAW and its twenty-four employees are making a difference. You help make this possible by supporting specific programs in Kenya and the employment of these people.

Your gift today will support medical services in association with the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) and other nongovernmental groups to rescue animals. Without donations such as yours the staff at Africa’s ANAW would not be paid for their gallant efforts. The staff makes frequent visits to the bush rescuing and provides medical treatment to a wide range of unguents and other wildlife. This male giraffe was darted in August with a poison arrow in attempt to kill it for bushmeat, an illigal activity in Kenya that ANAW strives to curtail.

Thank you for your gifts in previous years matched by the Colorado Gives campaign. Please consider making a gift again this year before December 1, 2022. 100% of the contribution to Colorado Gives/ANAW-USA is forwarded to ANAW in Nairobi.

Happy Thanksgiving and Holiday Season to you and yours.

Best wishes,

David Gies

co-founder for ANAW-USA and ANAW board member

Cameron Peak Fire

I have known George since 1964. We were 17, working at a youth camp as ranch hands with a couple of other guys who have continued to be lifelong friends, some closer than others, but we continued to stay in touch, brothers in life by any measure, George, Clark, Terry, Stan, the guys I particularly remember. George loves living in the mountains and is a great host. His story is an epic journey like each of ours but suffice it to say that today he lives an idyllic life nestled beneath the Mummy Range on the northern edge of Rocky Mountain National Park. Idyllic, but changed for the foreseeable future due to last year’s fires.

Clark, the another ranch hand in the summer of 1964, joined me in a visit to George’s house on a weekend in June, 2021, a year after the fire. George lives on a small parcel of land immediately adjacent to Hourglass Reservoir, a mile or so east of Comanche Reservoir. Although Hourglass is on private land, Comanche Reservoir sits inside Roosevelt National Forest. Unfortunately, the entire terrain around George’s place and the neighboring CSU Pingree Park and Sky Ranch Lutheran Camp was engulfed in the Cameron Peak Fire, the largest fire on record in Colorado, burning 326 square miles of forest.   

The New York Times last week published a full-page story about the effects of fire on water quality from scorching, slow-moving fires. (Google NYTimes “Wildfires threat to urban water suppliers”). The article specifically references Cameron Peak. We experienced the aftermath of such a fire walking to Comanche Lake, our destination for the weekend. While the lake was surrounded by fire, the lake itself survived the burn. Still, after hiking to the base of the last ridge, it was impossible to go further because the trees that were teetering half on the ground were unstable.  Remaining trees, half-dead half-alive were oozing with raw sap. The fire’s extreme heat destroyed everything on the ground incinerating all organic material. It was raining. The soil unable to absorb moisture caused the rain to immediately charge downhill quickly becoming eroding torrents.

The point of all this is to recognize things have and are changing. It’s not like we can go hiking in the 60s and 70s. I generally write about my experiences in Kenya, the people there, their commitment to animal welfare, conservation, and the notion of “one health.” One Health, everything is connected. Habitat, climate, weather, biological diversity, water quality, these are common natural elements changing or under attack. After our Comanche Lake hike I realize and appreciate the efforts in many places to save our environment for our children. We keep at it.

A special THANK YOU to all the Firefighters who worked all summer and into December to bring the Cameron Peak Fire under control. Anyone with buildings still standing owes the government and those involved a ton of gratitude.

Kasigau Guardians March 2015: A Memorial to Jesicah

I recall on my Kenya trip to the Africa Network for Animal Welfare in March of 2015 Kahindi Lakalhaile introducing me to fourteen newly installed Guardians at Kasigau. It was a delight to meet Jones Mwandango, Elisha Sogha, Joshuah Nuttu, Charles Mwamreta, Philisier Kale, Joseph Mwinzi, Jackson Mwanguo, Johathan Kimbulu, Jesicah Njeri, Japhred Maguerga, Benson Kalague, Mgrrius Tamanyasi, Alex Mwashauwa, and Vincent Mwangogo. Early on, under Kahindi and Jos Ngonyo’s leadership, team members were called “Rangers.” They were tasked with patrolling 55,000 acres of community land between National Park Tsavo East and Tsavo West looking for poachers and out-of-town leaseholders whose cattle were illegally grazing in the National Park. The team didn’t like being referred to as Rangers, the common term for such work. The team preferred being called “Guardians.” This positive, more friendly title characterized the community spirit and goodwill these workers for the Africa Network for Animal Welfare embraced.

December 2020 on the job in Kenya

I was delighted to meet with these young people and working with the ANAW group raising funds for their uniforms, flashlights, radios, and general equipment.

​One star in the group was Jesicah Njeri, who also distinguished herself in winning track and field honors in the community. Jesicah matriculated to Wildlife Works and began work there as a Ranger. I don’t know when Jesicah began her new job, but the sad tragedy is she lost her life this month attempting an animal rescue, trampled by an elephant. A stampeding mother elephant rolled her vehicle three times. Three or four other workers were traveling in the vehicle. While the others escaped, some with serious injuries, Jesicah unfortunately did not. ​

We mourn this tragic loss and send our condolences to family, friends, and co-workers.

Jesicah Njeri March 5, 2015
Jesicah this year with Wildlife Works

Protecting Threatened Species & Habitats in COVID

What is ANAW doing to protect threatened species & habitat during COVID-19; Does it matter?

In conjunction with Colorado Gives Day, ANAW-USA is holding a virtual event on Tuesday, December 8, 2020, at 5:00 PM Mountain time. The event is scheduled for 90 minutes. This promises to be an interesting and informative event motivated by those of us in the United States committed to sharing insights and partnering with advocates in East Africa, notably Kenya and the Africa Network for Animal Welfare.

The event organizers are keying off the theme of One Health and the notion that all life is linked in ways that affect each other. This has relevance to Kenya because bushmeat consumption has increased due to the pandemic. The pandemic is linked to China and the consumption of wildlife meat. China, Kenya, and the United States, indeed the total global community are linked in the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19.

So what exactly is meant by “animal welfare” and how does this matter to a grassroots organization, ANAW in Nairobi, and volunteers and advocates living in the U.S., ANAW-USA.

Please join us. Registration is open and the event is free.

Stay home and stay safe.

David Gies, for ANAW-USA

Donkey Skin Trade

If you are interested in a distraction from our country’s Democratic Debates and the Washington D.C. drama check this out from our friends in Kenya.

Kahindi Lekalhaile with Africa Network for Animal Welfare staff presenting humane education to local school children

Kahindi Lekalhaile and Josphat Ngonyo continue to educate the public about the brutal and destructive emergence of donkey skin trade in Kenya and the broader continent of Africa. Beasts of burden are important for fetching water, firewood, and all sort of chores necessary to live in rural Africa. As recently as 2015 there are as many as 1.4 million donkeys in Kenya. Changes in the law now allow the use of Donkeys for food, for human consumption. Donkey meat can be sold in the grocery store as a source of animal protein. The sale and consumption of donkey meat is bring about a shortage of donkeys as well as the growing a black market to supply four butcheries in Kenya.

The loss of donkeys through rustling and thievery is becoming critical. This recent interview on Kenya television is worth the preview if you are curious or interested in how many people in Africa get on with and without in their day-to-day lives.

Thank you ANAW for the interview bringing this message to a broader audience.

Thanks for 2019

Expressing a BIG “thank you” for supporting ANAW in 2019

ANAW continues to evolve, supporting communities to build better health care for animals while at the same time, supporting people living in rural areas. The well-being of animals cannot be accomplished without attending to the needs of the human population. Implementing ANAW’s purpose moves the non-governmental organization towards a One Health problem-solving approach. All systems are linked. ANAW promotes animal welfare through its efforts to protect the environment, support employment opportunities, and connect people to people.

This year has been the best year yet for ANAW in Africa. This has happened thanks to the many gifts of work, wisdom, and wealth from ANAW’s friends. General donations, donations from Colorado Gives campaign, and gifts from the Combined Federal Campaign continue to empower ANAW to do its work.

Some of the highlights include conducting the 9th National Judicial Dialogue Conference. These conferences, organized by ANAW with the collaboration of law enforcement and the judiciary have been convened on an ongoing basis since 2013. It has been an important collaboration with the Kenya Wildlife Protection agency and Wildlife Direct leading to a significant increase in the severity of penalties for individuals convicted of animal crimes. Jos Ngonyo reports that since 2013, crimes against wildlife and the environment have been elevated to economic crimes resulting in higher crimes and penalties.

ANAW is fighting to protect donkeys from theft and slaughter due to the growing demand for ejiao (donkey hide gelatin) and donkey skins in China.

ANAW’s accreditation with the United Nations Environment Programme has been renewed through 2013.

ANAW continues to promote Animal Welfare through its Animal Welfare Clubs in 44 schools in Nairobi and surrounding counties.

ANAW conducted spay/neutered surgeries on 434 companion animals and vaccinated over 11,347 dogs and cats against rabies in 2019. Much of this has been accomplished through veterinary service programs led by and thanks to Dr. Lisa McCarthy of Vet Treks and Julie Kelly from Applewood Veterinary Clinic, both in Colorado.

ANAW presented “A Model for High Volume Sterilization Operations — A Case Study in Machakos County” at the Humane Dog Population Management Conference.

At the Kenya Veterinary Association 2019 Conference, ANAW presented “Implementation of the National Rabies Elimination Strategy in Machakos County-Lessons and Experiences Learned”.

ANAW initiated a bushmeat research project using 2004 baseline data to determine the frequency of current illegal bushmeat harvesting, made possible by an anonymous gift from a Denver philanthropist.

ANAW continues desnaring operations to free trapped animals in wire traps.

Recognized by GlobalGiving.org meeting their due diligence standards.

ANAW is also certified by the Combined Federal Campaign as an America’s Best Charities.

This is only a glimpse of ANAW’s efforts and accomplishments in 2019. Visit www.anaw.org to read in detail the talented efforts and many accomplishments of your “on the ground” partner in Africa.

Happy Holidays and a prosperous New Year.

ANAW and Colorado Gives Day, December 10, 2019

ANAW in Kenya continues to make a difference for the country by promoting conservation and habitat protection. Its accomplishments include the creation of humane education programs for 44 of Nairobi’s schools as well as experiential trips for visiting graduate students from the United States, United Kingdom, and China. Significantly ANAW has guided the way for collaboration with other NGOs and the United Nations promoting the adoption of conservation and animal care best practices throughout East Africa.

ANAW-USA is a Colorado based organization with volunteers throughout the U.S. partnering with friends in Kenya. Together, a One Health approach has been adopted to assist African communities to create conservation initiatives, leading to economic development benefitting the sustainability of non-human populations as well as humankind. ANAW works to do both, to be human and to be kind.

Now, during this time of the Colorado Giving Day, wherever you live, please consider making a contribution to ANAW. Your gift, of any amount, will be increased through a $1.5 million Incentive Fund. It will make a difference for people and it will make a difference for animals in Kenya.

Thank you,

David Gies

(Combined Federal Campaign designation)

Africa Network in Kenya

On my Facebook Page, I promised to share the September 2018 Newsletter written by the Africa Network for Animal Welfare staff in Nairobi.  Here is the link below.

I am grateful for the contributions made to ANAW during this holiday season.  The campaign is still open.  Also, I want to say “thank you” to all who participated to support the employment of the young people in East Africa and their accomplishments for animal welfare, conservation, and habitat.



Mike Coffman, Service Well Done, Thank You

Mike Coffman lost his bid for re-election to the congressional district where I live.  He was “my congressman”.  I have heard Mike speak on many occasions and appreciate his efforts for finding solutions to health care and veteran services.  This work isn’t easy.

I also appreciate his setting himself apart from the national leadership.  Distance from Donald Trump, in Colorado anyway, was a required strategic move.  Regrettable, even this tactic didn’t work to save the election for Mike Coffman.  It was indeed a referendum against President Trump.  Capture MCoffman 2018

Mike Coffman deserve a big “thank you” from the constituents in Colorado.  You sought to create middle ground.  Unfortunately, there was none.  It is disheartening that the Republican Party pulled financial support from your campaign in the last lap of the campaign.  It made it more difficult to win.  Perhaps they saw the handwriting on the wall.  It is now obvious Coloradoans don’t like the direction Trump is taking the country.

I wish Mike Coffman could have avoided the negative sentiment that has spilled over into his political career.  He deserves better.  So for one, thank you for your service.

Congressional District 6 was lost not because Mike Coffman failed to serve but because the Republican Party has failed to do its job.  We can only hope for better from the Democrats.  For now, it feels like our politics is broken, dark and leaderless.  The country deserves better.

Congratulations to Jason Crow.  We are all in this together.