K. Michael Johnson (2016)
My wife, Vicki, and I divide our time between homes in Ouray and in Evergreen, Colorado with our two dogs and, on occasion, our grand-cat. My ties to Ouray go back to my grandparents who moved to the Camp Bird Mine in 1936. I was 1-year-old when my dad took over from his father-in-law as the superintendent of the Camp Bird Limited in 1946. I lived there until 1958 in what can only be described as a very unique childhood.
I spent my career in the mining industry and without moving from Colorado (unusual for the industry), I was able to travel and see most of this wonderful country. I was part of the growing awareness of the environmental responsibility that all companies and, most assuredly, mining companies must share. I have learned that it is possible to operate a mining venture or any venture and not harm the environment.
In Ouray, we have taken on a re-model of our home and a major wild fire mitigation project. As we rely on water from Dexter Creek for irrigation purposes, we helped form an irrigation ditch group and, in the process, learned much about Colorado water laws and the importance of water to the state and our community.
I grew up next to Sneffels Creek, Cannon Creek, Dexter Creek, and the Uncompahgre River. I have seen each in its most pristinely beautiful state, but have also witnessed the awesome power of each. Water is the lifeblood of our existence and it’s imperative that we take care of it. Many of the folks who came before us did not realize the unintended consequences of their actions and as a result these streams need our help.
Anthropologist Loren Eiseley said, “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.” After attending several UWP events, I was encouraged to find a group of people who want to preserve “the magic”. My wife and I joined UWP in 2015, and have enjoyed the communications and the active partnering with other organizations.