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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – May 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Old Days Are Back

It’s back to the old ways on La Sierra (a/k/a the Taylor Ranch east of San Luis) — the old violence, that is.

An employee of what is now the Pai Ranch was accused of shooting at a local man. The accuser, Ben Quintana, said that Carlos DeLeon shot at him with a rifle; DeLeon said that Quintana hit him in the head with a shovel. The Costilla County Sheriff’s office is sorting through the evidence, which includes shell casings and photos of Quintana cutting fence on the Pai property.

Creede War Stokes Up

Creede repealed its 1892 ordinance which gave the D&RG Railroad the use of a strip of land in town, near the train depot. This action was apparently aimed at Don Shank, who bought the line west of South Fork and intends to build a tourist rail line, which most of the town opposes. Shank has vowed to pursue legal action in defense.

Nature Notes

Environmentalists are joining property owners, politicians, and others in asking for a designation of “Rio Grande Outstanding Natural Area” for a section of the great river. The move would preserve and restore the area, a half-mile-wide stretch from the southern edge of the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge to the New Mexican border. A bill is being drafted by Sens. Allard and Campbell and Rep. McInnis.

The Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge will grow by 465 acres. The U.S. Interior Department approved the purchase of the Parma Ranch, which adjoins the refuge, so the total acreage will soon be 14,822.


Alamosa is getting the Sunshine Festival back, after it spent three years in Monte Vista. A new Safeway opened in town, to great fanfare, and Sam’s Club is almost ready for business. In non-commercial news, Engine 169 (near the Chamber of Commerce) snagged a spot in the National Register of Historic Places. Alamosa will get almost $600,000 in the next two years to build a pavilion and other projects.

Happy 150!

San Luis celebrated its sesquicentennial last month. Birthday events included a parade, a proclamation of recognition by the governor, and a display of religious art at the local cultural center.

San Luis was founded in 1851 by colonists from Taos, and it is Colorado’s oldest town.

Water Retreat

The Bush administration killed the requirement that towns upgrade their water systems to prevent arsenic poisoning. The new standards allow 50 parts per billion; the proposed change was to 10 ppb. In Alamosa, preparations were under way to clean up the city water. According to city manager Mike Hackett, compliance plans haven’t been scrapped, the city is just waiting for regulations to be set. Plans are merely delayed, not shelved, he said.

Up in Smoke?

The Valley’s district attorney, Pete Comar, is bringing out the big guns in the war on local drug trafficking. Comar began the paperwork to seize two businesses, a bar and a car sales outfit, for allegedly distributing drugs

Dunes in Limbo

Nuthin’ new on the Dunes deal, says a spokesman. The feds are still negotiating to buy the Baca Ranch and turn the Great Sand Dunes National Monument and Preserve into a national park.