Appendix I. Crestone/Baca "Group Dynamics"

To return to home page of this website, go to: WATER WATCH ALLIANCE HOME PAGE

Dr. Eric Karlstrom, Professor of Geography (April 4, 2008) 

    There are now three groups in our Crestone/Baca community working specifically on the issue of Lexam’s proposed drilling for oil/gas on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge (BNWR).  Water Watch Alliance (WWA) began in August, 2006 and is the group that emphasizes that the San Luis Valley needs to be preserved as a  “NO-GO” (no gas and oil) Zone.  The San Luis Valley Water Protection Coalition (WPC), formed as a subsidiary of Chris Canaly’s San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) in the summer of 2007, is directed by Ceal Smith, a former high school teacher from Tucson who has lived in the Crestone/Baca community for only about a year.  In October, 2007, Aurielle Andhara led a number of individuals who had been involved in WWA to form the San Luis Valley Citizen’s Alliance (SLVCA).   This proliferation of groups seems to have had both positive and negative consequences.  Certainly, the splintering and formation of counter-groups has tended to confuse, polarize, and paralyze our community regarding this issue, probably limiting the effectiveness of our efforts thus far.  On the other hand, having three groups, sometimes cooperating and sometimes competing, may, in the end, be more effective than having just one because each group can focus on different issues and strategies. 

    What has caused the splintering and formation of “counter-groups?”  Was this the natural result of strong egos with different visions for how best to protect our valley?  Or are other factors at work?  As I attempt to comprehend the sometimes murky “group dynamics” here, I try to distinguish objective facts from my own opinion.   As an earth scientist, I try to entertain “multiple-working hypotheses” as the best way to sift through alternative explanations.  No doubt each member of our community has different perceptions and reflections on what has been happening here.

    The place to begin is with a brief history and timeline of events.

A Brief History of Our “Group Dynamics”
    Our community first learned about Canadian corporation, Lexam Explorations, Inc.’s, intention to drill two 14,000’ test wells on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge (BNWR) on July 6, 2006.   Some 60 to 100 of us residents were attending a community meeting facilitated by Marjo Curgis of the Grand Junction-based Sonoran Institute on the Great Sand Dunes National Park’s proposed “northern access” route through our Baca community. The entire series of Sonoran Institute-facilitated meetings had been quite well attended by our community; local residents were even fed dinner before each meeting.  The announcement of Lexam’s planned drilling for oil on the Willow Creek drainage one mile west of our Baca community came near the beginning of the July 6th meeting, under Agenda item III. Rumor Mill.   This announcement illicited such a strong response that on July 24th, facilitator Marjo announced that the Sonoran Institute would facilitate a separate meeting on the Lexam issue on August 9th.  

    The Lexam meeting was rescheduled for August 12th and was facilitated by Sonoran Institute director, Jim Spehar.  This meeting consisted mostly of lengthy presentations by representatives of Lexam, Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS)Lexam’s Jim Donaldson summarized the history of Lexam’s activities, including their purchase of mineral rights beneath the former Baca Ranch (now BNWR) in 1987, their past drilling activity, and their acquisition of well and seismic data.  He informed us that Lexam hopes to find commercial quantities of natural gas and described details of the proposed drilling operation, depth of well casing, height of drill towers, etc.  Then Brian Macke, COGCC director, explained the COGCC’s role in the permitting and overseeing of oil and gas wells in Colorado.  He noted that in 2006, Colorado would issue more oil and gas permits, 5400, than in any other year in history.  Then Peggy Utesch, citizen/activist in the Grand Valley Citizen’s Alliance (GVCA) shared what she’d learned in her four years of protesting gas/oil drilling activities in the Silt/Rifle area.  Her message: The oil/gas industry is so rich and powerful that we can’t beat them.  Even while stressing that there is very little inspection and oversight of permitted wells by the COGCC, Peggy said our best strategy would be to help BNWR representatives write up “best management practices” that might be written into the COGCC drilling permits.  Then representatives of the BNWR and USFWS informed us they were not required to conduct the federally-mandated National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process because Lexam owned the subsurface mineral rights. 

    Throughout the meeting, Lexam’s drilling operation was portrayed by all speakers as a “done deal” and a “fait accompli” and our community was advised that our best strategy was to cooperate with Lexam and the USFWS.  Throughout the meeting, an armed sheriff stood in the back of the room while Ron Garcia, manager of the Wildlife Refuge, wore a pistol by his side.   At the end of the lengthy presentations, facilitator Jim Spehar called for audience comments and questions.  At this point, some interesting and surprising incidents occurred.  David Bright, a new member of our community who I’d never seen before, challenged the Lexam representatives in a most impressive way.  Then, another newcomer, who claimed to have worked in the oil industry, directed even stronger, more emotional words at the Lexam representatives, stating vigorously that they were lying and that their drilling activities would destroy the Wildlife Refuge and our community.  The Sheriff physically escorted this man from the room, even as he was yelling and resisting. Was this incident meant to intimidate the rest of us and shock us into compliance?

    Concluding the long meeting, Spehar suggested that a small number of us local residents (“the fewer the better”) should draw up a list of “best-management practices recommendations” to present to Ron Garcia of the BNWR.  Calling for volunteers, Spehar selected five or six of us to form this group.  I encouraged David Bright, the eloquent stranger, to join the group since he had just demonstrated his ability to stand up to Lexam.  Also selected were Lisa Cyriaks, JoAnne Kiser, Pavita Decorah, and Clay Bridgford.  I did not intend to join the group, but when Pavita asked me directly: “Eric, we need a scientist in the group,” I acquiesced. At my last-minute inclusion in the group, I thought I noticed a glimpse of dissatisfaction cross Spehar’s face.  I wondered if he thought the group was too big or whether he just didn’t want me in the group.  As Spehar adjourned the meeting, I saw Ron Garcia glance, smile and make eye contact with him.  This brief, furtive (“victory?”) smile caught my attention.  It seemed to say:  “We did it.  We pulled it off.”  Now I suspect the other message in this glance was: “They’ve bought it!  Now they’ll do a big part of my work for me and they’ll be in compliance rather than confrontation mode.”  

    Today, I wonder whether this whole sequence of events, including the series of Sonoran Institute-facilitated community meetings, the announced “rumor” of Lexam’s drilling intentions in the midst of those meetings when we were already focused on an entirely different issue, and even the Sheriff’s show of force against the “radical” newcomer, may have been part of a script devised by government/industry to manipulate our community into proscribed and desired behaviors.  Certainly, there is no doubt that the Sonoran Institute coordinated the strategy and the presentations of Lexam, the COGCC, the USFWS, and Peggy Utesch.  (Indeed, it turns out the Sonoran Institute paid Peggy’s speakers fee and expenses for her trip to Crestone).  By contrast, we, the public, had no advance knowledge or “seat at the planning table.” And yet we, the citizens of Colorado and the United States are the actual owners of the new Wildlife Refuge and most of the rights to groundwater stored in the aquifers underlying the San Luis Valley.   Indeed, we have to wonder if perhaps Lexam and/or its much larger affiliate in this venture, Conoco-Philips, paid for the Sonoran Institute’s entire facilitation process.  Or was it paid, perhaps, by a “public-private partnership” involving Lexam, Conoco-Philips, and the government?  On reflection, it does seem possible, even probable, that the sequence of Sonoran Institute-facilitated meetings were designed to manipulate and direct our citizen response and input.   If so, was our community “delphied?”  (See below for a definition and discussion of the “Delphi Technique.”)

    One way or another, our small committee was now focused on writing “best management practices recommendations” for the USFWS.  Our little group was soon joined by Maya Madrigal and McKenzie Trujillo (who have since moved away from our community), Vince and Mary Palermo, and several others.  Meeting weekly, mostly at my house, during the fall of 2006, we accomplished several tasks:

1) We organized two community showings of the movie “A Land Out of Time” at Jillian’s studio.  These events were very well attended and after showing the movie we did our best to educate our community about the issues surrounding gas/oil “development.”  About 109 people signed up on our contact list to help the cause. 

2) Four of us (David Bright, McKenzie Trujillo, Maya Madrigal and Eric Karlstrom) drove to New Castle, Colorado to visit Peggy Utesch, of the GVCA.  We spent a Saturday touring the gas fields south of Silt and learning as much as we could from her.  Peggy’s $400 consulting fee was covered by the Baca Grande Property Association.  As volunteers, we paid our own transportation, lodging and food expenses.

3) Drawing largely from books, pamphlets, and resources Peggy gave us, including “The Rifle, Silt, New Castle  Community Development Plan” and the Colorado Mule Deer Association’s “Management Guidelines for Oil and Gas Development,” we wrote up “Best Management Practices Recommendations” (see page  ) and Lisa Cyriaks presented these to Ron Garcia of the BNWR.  Garcia, in turn, included many of these recommendations in his suggestions to the COGCC during the permitting process.

4) We adopted the name, San Luis Valley Citizen’s Alliance, and decided our group would not apply for 501-C-3 status.  Soon thereafter, a number of us realized that our paramount responsibility is to preserve the quality of groundwater in the San Luis Valley aquifers, so we changed our name to Water Watch Alliance.

5) Since we were not a 501-C-3 non-profit, we began looking for a 501-C-3 organization willing to act as our “financial umbrella” for fund-purposes.  Someone mentioned that Christine Canaly, director of the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, was willing for her SLV Ecosystem Council to be our financial umbrella.   So in late November or early December, 2006, Chris appeared one of our meetings and it was agreed that we would jointly send out a fund-raising letter to our collective contacts and that Chris would deposit the money in a separate WWA account.  L. Phillips and I wrote the letter, and I, David Bright, JoAnne Kiser, Pavita Decorah, and Lisa Cyriaks of WWA and Christine Canaly of SLVEC signed it.  At that time, we assumed that all work for WWA would continue on a volunteer basis.   And unfortunately, there was no formal agreement as to how these funds would be dispersed and by whom.

6) During the late fall of 2006, we also discussed the issue of getting legal council.  In December, approximately when Chris Canaly agreed that the SLVEC act as our financial umbrella, she also agreed to contact NEPA lawyers Travis Stills and Brad Bartlett of the Energy Minerals Resource Center in Durango to see if they would be willing to work on this issue.  This very important contact resulted in the lawsuit that was filed against the USFWS that resulted in a federal judge ruling that the USFWS has to conduct a NEPA process.   This cooperative effort between WWA, SLVEC, and the Energy Minerals Law Center was certainly one our most significant successes to date. 

    In late December, 2006, I left Crestone to return to my job as a geography professor in California. According to Lisa, she and Chris Canaly conducted several conference calls with NEPA lawyers, Travis Stills and Brad Bartlett, in January through March, 2007.  However, soon thereafter, Lisa relates: “Chris and Ceal took Pavita and JoAnne and started meeting at the Manitou Foundation office, reformulating themselves as WWA.  I was not invited to these meetings.  Supposedly this had to do with Manitou Foundation (Hanne Strong) wanting to give WWA money, but Hanne not wanting to work with me so they excluded me from those meetings.”  Apparently, between March and June, 2007, Chris and Ceal Smith more or less took over the Lexam issue (for the Manitou Foundation, SLVEC or both?) and stopped notifying Lisa and most other WWA members of the meetings. 

    When I returned to Crestone in late June, I attended a “Lexam meeting” at Savitri House.  The handful of people there included Chris Canaly, Ceal Smith, Aurielle Andhara, Pavita Decorah, and myself.  This was a much smaller group than had been meeting at my house in the fall of 2006.  Chris and new Baca resident, Ceal Smith, nearly totally controlled the meeting, forcefully interrupting others if they tried to speak.  Thus, it was almost impossible for anyone else to say anything.  I tried to make a joke of this at first.  And I succeeded in getting the next several meetings held at my house again.   At these subsequent meetings, it became clear that 1) Chris and Ceal had more or less taken over the Lexam topic for the SLV Ecosystem Council and the Crestone/Baca Land Trust, and 2) Chris had spent the entire $8700 raised for WWA, paying herself for her own and SLVEC activities.  Again, WWA had not authorized Chris to spend this money: Chris had not requested our authorization, she did not report to us what she spent the money for, and did not inform us what was accomplished with the money.   (It should be noted that directors of non-profits are obligated to follow strict guidelines; expenditure of funds must be approved ahead of time by votes of board members and directors to provide minutes relating to all expenditures of funds and use appropriate parliamentary procedures.  Failure to follow these protocols may constitute  “adverse possession,” which is illegal).  So in August, 2007, I asked Chris to give us an accounting of what she had done with the $8700 we had raised for WWA.  At a subsequent meeting, Chris gave me seven pages that provided a very general accounting of her activities and of how she disbursed WWA between January and June, 2007 (Appendix I).  

    The first three pages provide minimal, usually two to four words, descriptions of her activities on each date entered, the fourth page provides some accounting of total monies spent on different activities, and the last three pages show the dates on which she deposited donations into a bank account.  The three pages entitled “Chris’s Hours” indicate that she: 1) met numerous times at and produced outreach materials for the Manitou Foundation, 2) talked and communicated with Energy Minerals Law Center NEPA lawyers and also spoke with lawyer, Robin Cooley, 3) met with Governor Ritter, 4) flew to Washington, D.C. to meet with Senator Salazar and Congressman Salazar and visited unnamed Foundations, 5) wrote a letter to the Rockefellers, and 6) prepared for the “Oil and Gas Forum” held in Crestone/Baca in August, 2007.   Although she claims she spent five hours in Manitou/WWA meetings between January 16th and 30th, WWA is not mentioned in her description of her activities after that.  Outcomes of her activities are not listed anywhere.  The fourth sheet indicates that the SLVEC spent $3500 (of WWA’s $8700) on legal fees (presumably to the Energy Minerals Law Center), and paid $4,419 to the Executive Director (Chris Canaly) $692 to the Office Manager, $168.45 for printing and reproduction, etc.  At the bottom of the sheet, in pen, Chris writes that $2,000 in SLVEC general funds went to the “Lexam Issue” and that the total “SLVEC investment” in the Lexam issue was $10,700.   

    Certainly, many of these activities benefited the cause of protecting the San Luis Valley from the proposed LexamWWA drilling. But a point of contention, of course, is that whereas all the rest of us in have worked and are working as volunteers, Chris Canaly alone has paid herself- with WWA money- without our prior approval or even knowledge.   Another question revolves around the possible influence that the Manitou Foundation, the Durango legal team, the unnamed Foundations, Governor Ritter, the Salazars, and/or others may have exerted on Chris during this period.  It is difficult to assess the nature of these influences because Chris has not shared this information with me or with other current members of WWA.  There are many unanswered questions.  For example, whereas Chris’s “Statement of Activities” shows SLVEC spent $3500 on legal fees, Shumei’s Matthew Crowley told Lisa Cyriaks that the Energy Mineral Law Center lawyers are working pro bono and intend to pay themselves through whatever out-of-court settlements they can arrange with the USFWS and Lexam in the future.  That these same lawyers worked with Chris on the Wolf Creek/Ski Area development issue and reimbursed themselves through an out-of-court settlement in that case concerns us.  And since neither Chris nor “her” lawyers are communicating with the rest of us regarding the legal strategy, we are uncertain how the legal case will proceed if the USFWS decides to honor the FONSI (“finding of no significant impact”) recommended in the Draft Environmental Assessment.   Will these lawyers settle out of court in this case too, without the obtaining assurance that the USFWS will conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS)?   Here, Chris’s refusal to communicate basic information with the other groups is a problem, at least for us.
    Thus, by the summer of 2007, Chris Canaly had repeatedly tried, but failed, to garner control of “the Lexam project” for her SLVEC.   Then, on August 17th, the USFWS began its EA/scoping process in a meeting held Friday evening from 5 to 8 pm.   Based on discussions we’d had at prior, well-attended WWA meetings, our group was ready and rehearsed with many different comments to make at the meeting.  At this scoping meeting, Kathryn Van Note, another newcomer to our community, transfixed the “packed house” with an impassioned, 17-minute-monologue. 

    In order to better allow WWA members other than Chris and Ceal to be able to  influence our activities, WWA formed a steering committee at about this time.  This was comprised of Lisa Cyriaks, Kathryn Van Note and Aurielle Andhara and myself.  This process worked well for a week or two until Aurielle and Kathryn had (or staged?) a fight.  Kathryn was about to walk out but I was able to placate her and bring her back to the table.  One task we took on was to consider forming a coalition of groups and signing a “memo of understanding” (MOU) as per the model used by the Coalition to Save the Valle Vidal in New Mexico.

    On August 25, WWA and SLVEC jointly hosted a day-long educational forum on gas/oil issues.  Both groups were involved in setting the agenda and inviting guests.  We had vigorous discussions regarding which group should receive the money that we anticipated would be donated.  Perhaps mainly because the SLVEC had used all the money that WWA  had raised in our letter-writing campaign, it was finally agreed that would get the money.  Forum speakers included BLM geologist Diane Geese, local geologist Dr. James McCalpin, Gwen Laschalt of the Oil and Gas Accountability Project (OGAP), Travis Stills of the Energy Minerals Law Center, and Jose Lucero, a Santa Clara, New Mexico Pueblo Indian elder.  The schedule that we had jointly agreed upon called for a panel discussion/question and answer session from 3 to 4 pm, to be moderated by WWA representatives, including Lisa Cyriaks and myself.  This never occurred, however, because Chris Canaly, acting as moderator, opened the forum with an unscheduled hour-long presentation high-lighting all the great work that she and the SLVEC had been doing on this issue.  She actually projected on to the screen time-sheet tables that showed the hours that she and Ceal had put into the project.  Due to this unscheduled  “commercial” for SLVEC and subsequent problems with Chris’ computer, the WWA panel was eliminated from the schedule.   So here was another attempted coup in which Chris Canaly again tried to take control of the “Lexam issue.”  (About a month and a half later, Chris finally allowed the donated money (about $750) to go to WWA, as we had previously agreed).

    In early September, during the 30-day scoping comment period, many of us were busy writing our scoping comments to the USFWS.  Lisa informed me that the Sonoran Institute-appointed “North Access Team” (Christine Canaly, Christian Dillo, Katie Getchell, Tamar Ellentuck, Joe Vieira, and Randy Arrendondo) had taken upon themselves the authority to recommend to the Saguache County Commissioners that 7 trailheads that access public lands in the Sangre Cristo Wilderness Area be closed to public use.  As each of these trailheads crosses thin strips of land owned by Manitou Foundation land, the hidden hand behind this effort is most probably that of Manitou Foundation’s owner, Hanne Strong.  Although the North Access Team clearly hoped that the County Commissioners would quickly adopt their recommendation as the sentiment of the entire community and make it illegal for anyone to park at those trailheads, this plan was thwarted when Lisa Cyriaks notified other community members, including the editor of the Crestone Eagle. The  issue of trailhead closure was then discussed at two more community meetings.  Again, Marjo Curgis of the Sonoran Institute appeared again from Grand Junction to facilitate these meetings, the first being on September 15th.

    At about this time, I sent out articles to the community via email attachments that point out the anti-democratic nature of “Smart Growth,” “Land Trusts,” the “Delphi Technique,”  and U.N. “Agenda 21” (referenced below).  I also freely shared with the community the information sheets and documents I’d compiled on the history of the Lexam operation, as well as the informational letters I’d written to officials included in this website.  

    In early September, I learned from Lisa that Ceal and Kathryn had sent emails to other members of WWA that made put me in a poor light.  In these emails, Ceal and Kathryn report that third parties outside our community (Jim O’Donnell and Ron Nadeau) had said something derogatory about me to them.  (Of course, since Chris and Kathryn wrote the emails, it is impossible to determine if those individuals actually ever said those things).  Not surprisingly, Ceal and Kathryn did not send these particular emails to me.  At the steering committee meeting the night before the larger WWA meeting, Aurielle suggested I not go to the main meeting since I was “the problem.”  Having nothing to hide and wanting to clarify the situation, I went anyway.  The main meeting, held at Savitri House, was unpleasant.  Attending were Pavita Decorah, Kathryn Van Note, Stephen Smilak, Bill Sitkin, Aurielle Andhara, Vince and Mary Palermo, JoAnne Kiser, Lisa Cyriaks, Tom Tucker, Chris Canaly, Ceal Smith, Laraine Apple and her husband Ralph, and myself.  Ceal and Kathryn, in turn, both read aloud their email messages that quote these third parties putting me down.  However, I apparently succeeded in “turning this around” when I clarified the facts in each case.  Chris then stated that she could not and would not work with Lisa and began yelling at Lisa in earnest.  Lisa said nothing to defend herself, so I came to her defense.  At this point, I suggested that we go around the room and each give an account of what we had contributed to the “Lexam issue.”   Of course, there was no direct correlation between how long people spoke and what they had contributed.  However, it was clear that Lisa and I had contributed the most.  Chris Canaly waited until last to speak, and then, assuming the role of group leader, rather than relate her accomplishments, she tried to summarize where we were then and where we needed to go.  Nonetheless, regarding the issue of Chris’ inability to work with Lisa (and me), the membership gave Chris and Ceal the clear message that they’d better “get over it” and work with us.  Thus, yet another coup attempt had failed.  In this one, however, the number of obvious coup participants had expanded to include Kathryn, Aurielle, and Larane Apple, as well as Ceal and Chris.

    Shortly after this meeting, I received a letter from Dave Montgomery, expressing that it will be best if WWA and SLVEC operate autonomously henceforth.   Note that all these dramatic events are occurring during the USFWS’s 30-day scoping comment period. 
    On September 19, there was a steering committee meeting at my house.   Although I expected three, Lisa Cyriaks, Aurielle Andhara and myself, to attend, Aurielle was over two hours late coming.  So Lisa and I had the meeting ourselves and at Lisa’s suggestion, I agreed to postpone the main WWA until the following week, from 9/20 to 9/27.  When Aurielle arrived late, I filled her in on what we had decided, including postponing the meeting.   At this point, Aurielle became extremely irrate.  In fact, she started yelling and screaming.  When I tried to escort her by the arm to the door, she screamed even louder, if possible: “You touched me!  You touched me!” At this point, she slapped me quite hard on the face.  I asked her then to please leave.

    Near the end of September, Bill Sitkin suddenly started taking an interest in WWA.  At this time, he came to a couple meetings and requested that I send him emails from our contact in the gas/oil industry that basically had provided me with the information and ideas I used to compile our list of action/tasks (see Water Watch Alliance Home Page).   On September 30, I sent Bill all this information.

    The last meeting I had with WWA that fall occurred on Oct. 3.   Shortly thereafter, I left Crestone for a three-week trip back east, returning on October 28.   While I was gone, Bill Sitkin, Aurielle Andhara and several others were very busy.  Upon returning, I opened an email from Bill Sitkin announcing a forum “Drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge: What We Need to Know and What We Can Do” sponsored by Crestone Media (Bill Sitkin), the newly re-constituted San Luis Valley Citizen’s Alliance (SLVCA), now headed by Aurielle, and the Sierra Club.  At the forum, two movies were shown, including “National Sacrifice Zone” directed by Joe Brown and “Rural  Impact,” directed  by Bill Sitkin.  Dr. Theo Colborn of also spoke.   Aurielle made convincing appeals for people to donate their money to the cause.  Money collected at the door as well as solicited donations, amounting to at least a couple thousand dollars, went to Aurielle’s SLVCA.   Was this coup number 22?  I’ve lost track now on the number of coup attempts, but I certainly had been ousted from my group again.   Even so, in all, this event certainly helped re-galvanize community support for the effort.  Aurielle was able to recruit about twenty volunteers from the 50 to 55 people present at the forum.   However, it may be telling that the title of this forum (“Drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge….”), like the titles of previous forums hosted by USFWS, presumes that the drilling is an inevitable “done deal.”  Was this intentional?  Was our community being manipulated again toward a predetermined objective?  Did Bill and Aurielle have outside help and advice in setting this up?

    What was the result of Bill and Aurielle’s formation of this new group?  Well, in addition to galvanizing renewed community support, it seems that in succeeding months, the SLVCA was primarily focused on participating within the proscribed boundaries of the EA process by writing letters to the USFWS.  The considerably more ambitious tasks that I had identified in WWA before I leaving Crestone on my three-week trip in October were abandoned.  These more ambitious tasks might have been more effective for us and much more problematic for Lexam.  However, now we will probably never know, because WWA seems to have been “neutralized” once again. 

    Since then, WWA has become a smaller, but much more convivial, level-headed and trustworthy group.  We continue to meet weekly and get things done.  The SLVCA, again, has been the largest group over the past 6 or 7 months, but recently, due apparently to Aurielle’s erratic leadership, all the members of the SLVCA steering committee have resigned.  Aurielle herself has now apparently stepped down and Lisa Cyriaks is now heading the SLVCA, at least for the time being.   And Chris Canaly and Ceal Smith continue their efforts in the SLVEC and SLVWPC.   Hopefully, this configuration of groups and strong-willed characters will find common ground in the future and succeed in protecting and preserving the pristine quality of the San Luis Valley.

What Does It All Mean? 

Some Alternative Hypotheses

     Having related this general sequence of events, perhaps this is the time to reflect on their meaning.  There can be no doubt whatsoever that there have been repeated, successful efforts to: 1) promote fights within the groups, and 2) form counter-groups in our community. There is no doubt that Chris and Ceal repeatedly and deliberately tried to “take out” Lisa Cyriaks and me from our leadership roles in WWA.  Similarly, there’s no doubt that Aurielle and Bill Sitkin orchestrated a “take over” of the WWA membership, even including Lisa Cyriaks.   The question is why and whose interests were thereby served.  To answer the question of why; I’d like consider four main “working hypotheses.”   Hypothesis I is that the difficulties we’ve had are mainly due to the fact that large egos are involved.  The second possibility (Hypothesis II) is that Chris and Ceal, in particular, want to leverage this issue into a cash-cow money-maker for their non-profit organizations and themselves.  Another possibility (Hypothesis III) is that Chris, Ceal, Aurielle, and Bill formed counter-groups because they believed the leadership of WWA (Lisa Cyriaks and me) was too ineffectiveHypothesis IV is that these individuals promoted dissension and formed counter-groups because they believed that the WWA leadership was too effective.  If so, it is important to consider Hypothesis V, which is that some outside interests  were served by  their actions.  If these last two hypotheses are correct, we must question whether or not their goal was to set up a “controlled opposition” (to USFWS/Lexam’s plans) in order to channel and limit the activities of our community for the benefit of a third party, such as Lexam, the USFWS, Manitou Foundation (run by Hanne Strong, wife of billionaire water, energy, and United Nations magnate, Maurice Strong), or some other interest?

Have “Intimidation Tactics” Been Used?

    Some in our community believe that subtle and overt tactics of manipulation and intimidation have been deliberately used here from the beginning.  WORC’s (Western Organization of Resource Councils) pamphlet “How to Deal with Intimidation” identifies five intimidation tactics commonly used by energy companies, corporations, and government agencies to “neutralize” local groups.  These tactics include: 1) refuse to deal with leaders, 2) isolate the group, 3) divide and conquer, and 4) promote fights within groups.  Most intimidation is subtle;  “such as name calling, covertly organizing a “counter group” to polarize your community, trying to weaken your group by making you respond to rumors and lies about your group, and “divide and conquer” tactics to split you from your friends and allies.”   Certainly, it appears that each of these tactics has been used here, as indicated in the history outlined above.   Formation of “counter-groups” certainly seems to have been done to “divide and conquer,” and thereby weaken  the opposition  to the Lexam project.  Numerous individuals, most notably Ceal Smith, Chris Canaly, Aurielle Andhara, and Kathryn Van Note, seem to have promoted fighting within the groups.  These two tactics alone seem to have confused and discouraged many members from our community from participating in the effort.  And polarization of the community, in turn, has led many to isolate the group and refuse to deal with leaders, etc.

    WORC’s pamphlet also lists positive ways to deal with intimidation.  These include: 1) deal with the problem immediately, 2) take people’s fear of intimidation seriously, 3) discuss exactly what is going on and why openly in your group, 4) turn it around-fast- by exposing the tactic publicly, 5) use the opportunity to strengthen your group.  Unfortunately, lacking a background in psychology, I was completely caught off guard by the nastiness and sophistication (?) of the intimidation tactics that seem to have been used here.  Because until now, I have not understood that government and/or industry commonly employ these tactics, I have not dealt with these tactics effectively, except that I have refused to quit.  Now, however, I believe that all of the above tactics as well as many others have and are still being used in our community.

    By way of encouragement, however, WORC’s pamphlet states: “If you are being intimidated, never forget why it is happening.  It means you are going good work, and that your opponents are desperate.” 
Is Our Community Being “Delphied?”

    The Delphi Technique is a proven technique to manipulate groups and communities toward “buying in” to predetermined outcomes.  The process was developed by the RAND Corporation for the U.S. Department of Defense
in the 1950’s.  By the 1960’s it was being used:

for the purpose of maneuvering segments of  the public into accepting predetermined government policies.  The goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a predetermined outcome, while giving the illusion of taking public input and under the pretext of being accountable to the public....  One variation is to use a series of meetings…. (Another) is to use a series of surveys to bring out “consensus.”  The surveys are promoted as information gathering regarding the wishes of the targeted public, but in reality they are designed to manipulate the desired outcome…. The surveys serve to “educate” the people taking the survey.  After the first survey is taken, the respondents are given an analysis and told that most people agreed or somewhat agreed on the predetermined outcome.  Then usually they are given another survey and asked if they can be flexible and try to rethink the “few remaining” areas of disagreement.  When the series are accomplished, the respondents are told that the majority of respondents achieved “consensus” with whatever direction the pollers wanted in the first place.  ( 

    Albert Burns notes that the Delphi technique was “originally intended for use as a Department of Defense weapon during the cold war.  However, it was soon recognized that the steps of Delphi could be very valuable in manipulating ANY meeting toward a pre-determined end (  In “Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus,” Lyn Stuter states:

The Delphi technique is being used very effectively to change our government from a representative form in which elected individuals represent the people, to a “participatory democracy” in which citizens selected at large are facilitated into ownership of pre-set outcomes.  These citizens believe that their input is important to the result, whereas the reality is that the outcome was already established by people no apparent to the participants.

    In "Educating for the New World Order," B. Eakman notes the Delphi technique requires trained facilitators (aka “change agents) who act as organizers, get each member of a group to express their concerns about some program, project, or policy in question.  The facilitator then breaks the group into subgroups or “task forces,” urging everyone to make lists and so on.   Unbeknownst to the participants, each of these groups may also have another facilitator and there may be spotters dispersed in audience to help the facilitator identify trouble-makers, etc.  By breaking the groups into sub-groups, the facilitator learns something about each member of the target group and can identify the “leaders” and those who are “weak or noncommittal.” 

    Indeed, a quick glance at “Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus” ( indicates that a modified versionof this technique was probably utilized by the Marjo Curgis of the Sonoran Institute, by the USFWS in their two “community input” meetings, and by Aurielle Andhara is some of her SLVCA meetings.   Common techniques used include 1) trying to get attendees to break up into smaller groups, each with its own facilitator, 2) participants are encouraged to put their ideas on paper, with the results to be compiled later, etc.

    Why would any external group want to sabotage activist groups in our tiny community of less than 1500 people?  First, the potential profits from mining hydrocarbons and/or water from our valley could range from many billions to many trillions of dollars, respectively as indicated in this website (home page and Rio Grande Basin and San Luis Valley Aquifer: Figure 1. Location of Rio Grande River and Rio Grande).   Second, our small community successfully fought off two attempts to pipe water from San Luis Valley to the Denver area in the past (see other page).  We also persuaded the U.S. Air Force to move the flight path of training flights away from our community.  Other possible reasons to “neutralize” local groups could relate to “Agenda 21”, the U.N.-devised plan to advance the New World Order (i.e. “One World Government”) through “sustainable development” and corporate take-over of public lands, Biosphere Reserves and World Heritage Sites. (,,  In light of this information, it is may be significant that over 65% of the San Luis Valley land is administered by federal government. 

Some Possibly Pertinent Background Information

1) Manitou Foundation, founded by Maurice and Hanne Strong and ostensibly run by Hanne, by virtue of having donated significant amounts of land to various spiritual groups and having employed many local residents over the years, is a major force in local politics.  Since Hanne is still married to Maurice, his influence can be inferred.  The Project for the Exposure of Hidden Institutions ( lists Manitou Foundation, along with many other groups with which Maurice Strong is involved, including 1001 Nature Club, The Club of Rome, Earth Charter Council, IUCN, United Nations, World Resources Institute, WWR worldwide, etc., as being among the institutions that really run the world. 

2) Maurice Strong is an extraordinary man and internationalist.  A Canadian by birth, he was the one who, when he owned the Baca Ranch, severed the mineral rights from the surface rights.  He established AWDI (American Water Development, Inc.) and tried to make billions by exporting the water in the San Luis Valley’s confined aquifer in the 1980’s.  According to Henry Lamb, Executive VP of The Environmental Conservation Organization, Inc., Strong was also VP of Dome Petroleum by age 25, first executive director of the UN Environmental Programme, founder of Planetary Citizens, director of the World Future Society, founder and co-chair of the World Economic Forum, member of the Club of Rome, trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation and Aspen Institute, and member of the UN Commission on Global Governence.  He heads the Earth Council, which works with the UN to implement the Earth Charter, that was written by the committee that he co-chaired with Mikhail Gorbachev and that spells out a global code of conduct based on earth-centered spirituality and globalist values ("Meet Maurice Strong," Eco-Logic, Nov./Dec., 1995).  (Some of his other affiliations are also listed at this site: Background on Lexam's "drillplay" on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge (BNWR)Figure 1. Buffalo in we).  In addition, according to Canadian Alan Watt, Strong is a long-time associate of David Rockefeller who, while still working at the United Nations, was brought in as CEO of Ontario Hydro, the largest public water system in the world.  Again, according to Watt, Strong began the process of “water privatization” there in the 1990’s. 

2) “Agenda 21” is a 300-page, 40-chapter, “soft-law” policy document adopted by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 when Maurice Strong was Secretary General of that conference.  179 nations, including the United States, committed themselves to following “Agenda 21- the UN Blueprint for the 21st Century” at that time. 

According to Berit Kjos, in “Local Agenda 21: The U.N. Plan for Your Community:

(Agenda 21) binds governments around the world to the U.N. plan for changing the ways we live, eat, learn, and communicate- all under the noble banner of saving the earth.  Its regulations would severely limit water, electricity, and transportation- even deny human access to our most treasured wilderness areas.  If implemented, it would manage and monitor all lands and people.  No one would be free from the watchful eye of the new global tracking and information system. 

In his opening speech at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development, Maurice Strong stated:

… current lifestyles and consumption patters of the affluent middle class- involving high meat intake, use of fossil fuels, appliances, home and work-place air-conditioning, and suburban housing- are not sustainable.  A shift is necessary, which will require a vast strengthening of the  multilateral system, including the United Nations.

    According to Henry Lamb (“Agenda 21 and the United Nations”,

The document (Agenda 21) is not legally binding; it is a set of policy recommendations designed to reorganize society around the principles of environmental protection, social equity, and what is called “sustainable” economic development.  At the heart of the concept of sustainable development is the assumption that government must manage society to ensure that human activity conforms to these principles.  The idea that government is inherently empowered to manage the affairs of society is diametrically opposed to the idea that the just power of government is derived from the consent of the governed.  As these conflicting principles collide in the arena of public policy, the people who are governed are losing the ability to limit the power of government.  Consequently, government power over people is expanding.

    Nowhere is the transformation more dramatic than in the policies governing private property rights and the use of land and its resources… This right is being usurped by government, which now dictates to private property owners how their land may- and may not be used… 

This transformation is not the result of a deliberate decision made by elected representatives after fair and public debate.  It is the result of years of subtle influence and obscure processes relentlessly imposed through the United Nations agencies and organizations, and a multitude of non-governmental organizations accredited by, and sympathetic to the United Nations’ agenda.

Among the most influential non-governmental organizations are the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Worldwide Fund for Nature (formerly the World Wildlife Fund, and still known as WWF), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).  (Maurice Strong has served on the Boards of all three of these organizations!).  These three organizations, together with various United Nations agencies and organizations, shaped the policies that are now being implemented in the United States, and around the world, under the banner of sustainable development….

Nancy Levant sums it up like this (

Near the top of the management system is the United  Nations.  The U.N., through approximately meetings, conferences, and treaties with approximately 180 countries around the world, including the United States, has become the world's land manager.  It now dictates land use policies including water use- globally.
The U.N. created a document called Agenda 21, which  defines a plan to ready the world for global governance under the U.N.  Knowing that the world's countries were not going to want or appreciate the loss of sovereignty and culture, the U.N. had come up with a method to impose global governance that would create the least global chaos.  The method they chose to use was global, ecological crisis. 

Beginning in the 1960's, the U.N. began a mission to advertise a global  environmental doomsday scenario.  They partnered with the world's most radical environmentalists and their organizations to impose wild environmental doomsday claims into every country who had signed globalism treaties with the U.N.  These doomsday scenarios were not and are not based on scientific evidence much less proof.

The Nature Conservancy, the largest land trust organization in the world, and The Wildlands Project partnered with the U.N. and began to orchestrate plans to take approximately one-half of the entire North American continent's land and watershed systems for use as uninhabitated nature sanctuaries.  People were to be removed from massive tracts of American, Canadian, and Mexican land, and were to be relocated into what Agenda 21 calls "human settlements."...

To date, in the United States, there are at least 47 U.N. Biosphere Reserves (including the Great Sand Dunes National Park- my comment, ETK), and with the help of The Nature Conservancy and many, many of our government agencies and departments, many more biosphere areas are being nominated for take-over.  The biosphere areas are then surrounded by conservation "corridors," and then the corridors are re-surrounded by "buffer zones."  Corridors and buffer zones serve one and only one purpose- to keep people out of the Biosphere Reserves, and all biospheres contain massive watershed systems, timber, and below ground resources- like oil, natural gas, gold, silver,  uranium, etc.- the very stuff of corporate desire. 

(Are we starting to "get it?" Do we start to see a connection with the Lexam proposed drilling and the attempt to close trailheads that provide access  to our public lands?)

3) In his introduction to The Local Agenda 21 Planning Guide, Maurice Strong called for leaders around the world to “undertake a consultative process with their populations and achieve a consensus on “Local Agenda 21” for their communities.”  How do you get local communities to acquiesce to plans that are not at all in their best interests?  

a) You work through NGO’s (non-governmental organizations), using the “visioning process” to appoint “stake holder councils” to move unsuspecting citizens to create "sustainable communities”  through "smart growth."

b) NGO’s (such as the The Nature Conservancy, Land Trusts, etc.) help establish Ecosystem Management Plans, thereby justifying transferring large amounts land from private hands to the public domain with designations like Heritage Areas or Corridor Plans, Biosphere Reserves, Wildlands, etc. 

c) You train facilitators, aka “change agents,” to manipulate citizens through the “consensus process” (, you use the “Delphi technique” to fool groups into buying in to predetermined agendas, etc., you promote “communitarianism," etc. 


    Having presented all this history, information, and various hypothesis, and being ready to stop typing, I leave readers to draw their own conclusions for now.  I am confident that those with the intelligence and fortitude to read all this can also add 2 +2 and get 4.

Appendix I:  Life in Small Villages- A Norweigan Yoke

A Dane named Jens was a counter-spy against the Nazis in
World War II.  He was assigned to contact Ole, also a spy, then living south of Oslo in a small village.  Jens was told by superiors to locate Ole for some top-secret information.  He was to use the secret passwords, “the sky is blue, the sun is shining, the birds sing.”  After finding the town, Jens searched for Ole, asking several people if they knew him.  They all said there were many Oles and advised him to try the tavern.  So Jens found the tavern and approached the bartender to see if he knew Ole.  The bartender said, “My name is Ole… but there are so many Oles in this town.  Which vun do you vant?
Jens answered:  The sky is blue, the sun is shining, the birds sing”
“Oh!” exclaimed the bartender.  “Why didn’t you say you vanted OLE THE SPY?!”

Appendix II: Afterthoughts on June 12, 2008

     On April 11, 2008, Journalist James Ridgeway wrote a piece for Mother Jones magazine entitled "Exclusive: Cops and Former Secret Service Agents Ran Black Ops on Green Groups" (  The story has to do with a private security company, organized and managed by former Secret Service Officers, who spied on and stole documents from environmental groups  in the late 1990's.  The firm, Beckett Brown International, was contracting its "intelligence" services to corporations such as Halliburton, Monsanto, Wal-Mart, Allied Waste, the Carlyle Group, the National Rifle Association, Gallo wine company, Mary Kay, and the Louis Dreyfuss Group (a commodities firm).  Beckett Brown International had 22 employees, working in five different divisions, as well as subcontractors  that it hired as operatives.  Many of its employees were ex-cops and ex-secret service employees.  Vincent  Cannistraro, for example,  was a former chief of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center who had been  involved in illegal support of the Contras in the 1980's.  Cannistraro was,a $75,000 a year consultant for BBI.  In an interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, reporter Ridgeway stated that he believes that this kind of domestic spying and infiltration probably continues today.  The sordid ongoing history of FBI spying and "neutralization" of activist groups in America during their COINTELPRO (counter intelligence program) is told in War At Home: Covert Action  Against U.S. Activists  and What We Can Do About It by Brian Glick (1989, South End Press).  

    Could these kinds of activities actually be occurring in our Crestone/Baca area?   I cannot say for sure.  However, I can say that based on a few phone calls to the Saguache County recorder, I have learned the majority of the individuals who have taken leadership roles in the citizens groups that ostensibly protecting our environment (the Water Protection Coalition, the San Luis Valley Citizens Alliance, and the North Access Team) are newcomers who do not own homes or  property here.  And some of those involved in the trailhead closure issue are foreigners without American citizens.  

     So what's going on here?  In a page of this website (Green Global Dictatorship: Regional Governance, U.N. Agenda 21, Sustainable Development, and the Wil), I examine findings of researchers who have looked into UN Agenda 21 (UN Agenda for the 21st century), Regional Governance structures, the Sustainable Development movement, and the Wildlands Project.  Research indicates that many of our elected leaders who took an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution against enemies foreign and domestic have, in fact, been acting in violation of the U.S. Constitution to usher in a very different kind of America; an America where Americans are stripped of their property rights and civil liberties, supposedly in order to save nature from the ravages of human activities.  Please examine the Figure below, from "Sustainable Trouble; The Attempt to Transform the Vision of America" by Michael Shaw of Freedom 21 Santa Cruz  This diagram illustrates how the international ruling elite use the Hegelian Dialectic of artificially-contrived conflicts between a thesis (for example, Lexam and Conoco-Phillips in a public-private partnership with the U.S. government, Fish and Wildlife Service, etc. to drill on federal lands).  This environmentally-destructive plan is apparently opposed by its antithesis (non-governmental organizations and green advocacy groups).  According to Shaw, the hoped-for and predetermined result (synthesis) of this controlled conflict is to eventually institute the global policies outlined in Agenda 21 and the Sustainable Development movements, to be implemented through Smart Growth strategies and result in the U.S. government placing over 50% of American  land off limits to human use (the Wildlands Project).   The major environmental groups, including The Nature Conservancy, the Sierra  Club and the National Resources Defense Council have signed on this plan.  The most relevant factor shown in the diagram below is that for this artificially-created to managed toward the desired synthesis, our "controllers" must control all sides of the conflict. 

      This kind of contrived conflict dialectic (above Figure), along with the evidence proving the domestic infiltration and spying by private and government agencies, offers at least one explanation for the strange and adversarial "group dynamics" we continue to experienced in the Crestone/Baca area.