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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – September 2001 – Colorado Central Magazine

Rain Dance

For the first time in about an eon, the San Luis Valley is getting plenty of summer rain. That not only means happy farmers, but happy downstream neighbors, as Colorado should have no problem meeting its obligations to the Rio Grande Compact.

The amount of water the state must send downstream is calculated from an estimate of snowmelt the previous winter. The rainy nights the Valley has had this summer ensure that Colorado will make the contract, even if it doesn’t rain again this year, according to Water Resources Division engineer Steve Vandiver.

A Job for CBI

A search for rock formations uncovered human bones near San Luis. Anthropologists are trying to date the remains, and determine how long they’ve been there. The state bureau of investigation is working the case as well.

Teenaged Legislator

Amber Wornick was sworn in as a member of the Hooper Town Board in August. The 18-year-old is a high school senior and holds a job in addition to her public service. She plans to attend college and hopes to become a judge someday.

Smoke Vote Set

The petitions were filled quickly, and the issue of smoking in enclosed public places will be on the Nov. 6 ballot in Alamosa. The issue, which would still allow smoking in taverns, was voted down by the city council earlier this year. The council also voted down a proposed ordinance requiring businesses to post a sign stating whether smoking was allowed inside.


A Durango film company plans to shoot a documentary on the famed Creede Repertory Theatre. The shoestring budget will depend largely on donations of money and historic footage.

The film will be narrated by CRT alumnus Mandy Patinkin and should be finished by the start of the 2002 season. Copies will be on sale at the theater’s gift shop.

Guinea Pig Fish

Seven thousand rainbow trout were released into Terrace Reservoir to study the water’s metal content. Terrace is one of the areas affected by the Summitville Mine cyanide leak. The fish will be harvested at the end of the summer and dissected to study how much copper, zinc, cadmium, and mercury they absorbed.

Valley Shorts

— Colorado settled with one of the firms connected to Summitville. Cleveland Cliffs/Union Pacific Resources Group agreed to pay $835,000 to help defray the state’s cleanup costs at the old mine site. The company did exploration and evaluation work from 1966 to 1969.

— San Luis celebrated its 150th birthday in July. The series of festivals, parades, and other events was marred by the death of a 3-year old boy, who was crushed by a parade float.

— Alamosa will annex property to its western boarder, adding a mall, convenience store, and two mobile home parks to the city.

— U.S. Sen. Wayne Allard scored $3.5 million for improvements in Colorado 149 between South Fork and Creede.

The road will be resurfaced and widened in spots.

— Alamosa is making plans to acquire property for the proposed alternate route south of downtown. The shortcut is aimed at alleviating congestion on U.S. 160 and 285, which merge on Main Street.

Baca Battle

A conference is scheduled for Sept. 10 to include Farallon Corp., Gary Boyce, Peter Hornick and their representatives to settle disputes related to the sale of the Baca Ranch to the Nature Conservancy. The plan to sell (ultimately to the federal government, making the ranch part of the proposed Great Sand Dunes National Park) is opposed by Boyce, managing partner of Farallon, and Hornick, who owns 10 percent in the water development company. Farallon is determined to sell, having seen no water revenue in the six years it’s owned the ranch.