Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – May 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine

Water Win-Win

Valley farmers and ranchers have reached an accord with national forests over water. Disputes began in 1976, when Congress required federal agencies to file claims for the water flowing through public lands. This agreement, brokered by Valley native Attorney General Ken Salazar, ends years of lawsuits, protects watersheds and wildlife habitats, and preserves existing water rights.

Par 0

The Great Sand Dunes golf course is history. The Nature Conservancy, owner of the course, was unable to find an independent manager for the 18-hole course, which had always lost money.

The Conservancy will continue to operate the Zapata Inn, which will open for the season on May 26. The golf course may be reincarnated as an interpretive nature area or a farm.

Dept. of Insincerity

Robert Friedland, who is being sued by the Colorado and U.S. governments for the Summitville mine fiasco, says he wants to help the Valley.

“I am quite interested in doing anything that will benefit the local people,” Friedland is quoted as saying.

The damage done by Friedland’s company, Galactic Resources, is expected to cost $175 million to clean up. Freidland left for his native Canada before reclamation was begun.

More Lynx

The Canada lynx, which was just named an endangered species, will be a greater presence in Colorado. The DOW released 33 of the big cats above Wolf Creek. Another 17 are slated to be turned loose by mid-May.

Election Same-Old

Despite a vicious recall fight, Blanca Mayor Myrrl Smith was re-elected last month. The mayor of Antonito, too, retained office.

A brief move to unseat Del Norte High School principal Mike Gallegos fizzled and Gallegos’ contract was renewed.

For the moment, the political status is quo in the Valley.

Death in the Family

A whooping crane died on her way to the Monte Vista crane festival in March. That leaves only two of the rare, white birds in the flock that visits the Valley every year from New Mexico.