Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 2000 – Colorado Central Magazine


The Sanford sports teams have new uniforms, thanks to the World Wide Web. Area resident Bill Werner donated the proceeds from an eBay auction to the K-12 school to buy the new threads. Werner’s property, three small parcels near Alamosa, brought in $6,000 for the cause. Rah, rah!

Details, Details

The Alliance for Responsible Mining began a petition drive on Earth Day calling for a statewide ban on open-pit, heap-leach gold mining. Montana banned the practice last year.

The mining industry challenged the wording of the petition, and the state Supreme Court agreed, so the group is redrafting its petition. ARM, headed by La Jara physician Colin Henderson, needs 62,438 signatures to earn a place on the state ballot.

Wild, Wild Wind

Fire ate 5,000 acres of the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, in April, thanks to 50-mph winds. The visitors’ center was spared barely but some employee housing and an amphitheater are history. Over 100 people fought the fire, and about that many were evacuated.

With low snowpacks and high winds, this summer may be blazing with more of the same.

Big Bang(s)

Two explosions in Manassa woke residents, tossed garbage around like shrapnel and, worst of all, knocked out cable TV for 12 hours. Apparently, someone transformed a 55-gallon trash barrel at Jack Dempsey Park into an explosive device. Another was found in front of Town Hall. Suspects are still at large.

Carjacking at Zapata Falls

A Pueblo man went to Zapata Falls for some sight-seeing and instead was robbed of his car. David Engler, 42, was carjacked by two women posing as stranded motorists on the road to the falls. The car the thieves left behind had been stolen in Henderson, Nev., and had license plates from a pickup in Clovis, N.M.

Good Samaritans, beware.


Battle Mountain Gold, a mining company based in Houston, agreed to pay a $100,000 fine for leaking pollutants into Rito Seco Creek near San Luis. The pollutants don’t include cyanide, according to the state Water Quality Control Division.

The company was fined $165,000 in 1992 for a similar leak.

Another No

The state Court of Appeals agreed with lower courts that the residents of San Luis have no historical access to La Sierra. The property was formerly known as the Taylor Ranch and is now owned by Lou Pai. Before Taylor bought the 77,000-acre ranch, people used it for hunting, fishing and wood gathering. Now it’s private property.