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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – October 1998 – Colorado Central Magazine

And in This Corner …

The opposition is organizing. Citizens for Colorado Water received its first major contribution, $100,000. The non-profit group says its goal is to disseminate “fair and accurate information on ballot initiatives concerning water-related issues.”

The ballot initiatives slated for November are seen by many as an attempt to export area water and turn the San Luis Valley into another Sahara. A farmer at the group’s first rally likened the initiatives to a case of potato blight, in terms of economic impact.

A spokesman for Citizens for Colorado Water estimated a need for $1 million to fight the initiatives.

Speaking of Blight

The San Luis Valley lost its title as the only potato-growing area in the world not affected by late potato blight in August. The blight is a rapidly spreading fungus. Farmers are killing their plants early in preparation for harvest, in hopes that will destroy the fungus. Crop dusting is another weapon in the blight battle.

Dr. Richard Zink of the Valley’s Research Center said he doesn’t expect any crop loss this season. Farmers hope their actions will prevent a recurrence next year.

Summitville Squeaker

The EPA came through with the money at the last minute.

The cleanup at Summitville mine was in danger, since funding for the next phase of work was in doubt for a while. Cleanup has cost $140 million so far, with at least $25 million to go. The $9 million allocated by the EPA ensures that work will continue through the winter.

Lovely and Deadly

Homelake, the beautiful body of water near Monte Vista, turned deadly last month as blue-green algae bloomed and killed fish in the lake.

The algae bloom occurred naturally, according to the Division of Wildlife. The DOW, after transplanting 15,000 fish to a safer home, is flushing the lake with water from Lariat Ditch. Visitors and fish will be grateful.

Ugly Politics

Rio Grande County Sheriff Desi Medma, who is running for re-election, admits he invented a false rumor about his opponent, Rick Black.

Medina told some veterans in the county that Black had been involved in a flag-burning incident in 1964. Black, a veteran, was in high school at the time and was not involved in the incident.

Black said that Medina apologized to him, calling the rumor “political propaganda.”

Blight, algae and politics — it’s a bad time in the Valley.