Castle Valley Comments: Aug. 29, 2019

Longtime resident David Earl Hotz died last Saturday morning, Aug. 24, from complications associated with the onset of cancer. He was 64 years old and was the youngest child of Earl and Nettie Hotz. Dave was born in Grand Junction but his family moved to different mining or lumber camps frequently until they ended up in Gateway, Colorado before finally moving to Moab for the warmer climate. His father, Earl, got a job at the ranch in Castle Valley before it was subdivided and became the Castle Valley River Ranchos. As a result, his family moved to Castle Valley during the early 1970s and he attended Moab schools.

Hotz worked at several jobs during his life and had a knack for fixing things. During his early years, he and his father kept the equipment running on the ranch while grading the roads, cutting and baling hay and other chores necessary to keep a ranch running. He especially enjoyed going up to the mountains and cutting firewood throughout his life. But, according to his sister, Nancy (Hotz) VanAusdle, he just wanted to be a “bum” from an early age. She explains that, “to him it meant not being tied down to any man-made structure…he needed to be out and free.”

His sister said that he always wrote letters to his mother, sisters and family and “he always treated people fairly.” His neighbor, John Taggart, said he would come down and help him work on a vehicle without being asked. He said that he would do anything for you. “Three good neighbors and friends that helped him at the end of his life,” his sister said, “were Robin Sheridan, Shawn Nokes and (his nephew) Oscar Duncan and his niece Jazmine have also been there along the way,” she said.

He leaves behind his three daughters, Lori, Dona and Candice from his marriage to Charlene, three sisters, Nancy VanAusdle, Mount Vernon, Washington; Barbara Turner, St. Joseph, Misouri; and Marie Duncan, Gainsville, Forida; as well as numerous grandchildren, nieces and nephews including Jazmine Duncan and Oscar Duncan of Castle Valley. He will also be missed by Castle Valley residents who will miss seeing him during their regular jaunts to the library and mailboxes.

There must be a lot more bears in Castle Valley than we originally thought. I wrote about a bear that was seen sauntering up Castle Valley Drive one night over a month ago and presumably that same bear was responsible for tipping over beehives at the end of Chamisa Lane. A bear was trapped during the beehive escapade a couple of days later on Chamisa Lane and relocated.

Earlier this month there was a lot of discussion about other bear activity in the area. A 13 year-old young man was bit on the face at the Dewey Campground, a sow and cubs were captured in Castleton after causing havoc in that area, and Dorr Hatch was guarding his beehives after a bear tipped his hives over around the same time.

But that wasn’t the end to it. Last Friday, JoAnna Stoddard, who lives at the end of Chamisa Lane where the other bear was captured, was watering her garden early that morning when she heard a crack in the cottonwood tree above her. Thinking she had a bird or squirrel in the tree, she looked up and was surprised to see a mother bear and two cubs just hanging out up there. She called the Grand County Sheriff’s dispatch office who notified the State Division of Wildlife Resources who responded with a couple of conservation officers.

After sizing the situation up they decided they were going to need a ladder truck from the Moab Fire Department to get the trio of troublemakers down from the tree. After preparing the ground with equipment to break their fall in case they fell, they were tranquilized and soon carried down to ground level and put in a cage to be transported to another location the following day. But it doesn’t end there. While traveling home last Saturday, John Taggart was surprised to see another sow and two cubs running up Castle Valley Drive near Chamisa Lane. He assumed that they turned the corner and headed down Chamisa Lane toward the area where a lot of other activity has already occurred.

During a special Castle Valley Town Council meeting, which was held Friday, Aug. 23, the council passed Ordinance 2019-1 to enact a temporary land use regulation (moratorium). The moratorium is regarding the provisions of non-routine conditional use permits of Ordinance 85-3 for increasing the number of livestock above the level permitted in the ordinance. The moratorium extends six months and the planning and land use commission will begin reviewing the CUP during their upcoming meetings. A copy of the full ordinance can be seen at the town hall or on their website.