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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – June 2002 – Colorado Central Magazine

Rain on Me

The word in the San Luis Valley is a grim one — drought.

The snowpack for the upper Rio Grande basin is 12 percent of normal. State water division engineer Steve Vandiver says it will take a Noah-type rain to bring us up to normal wetness.

Aside from the obvious impact on crops and recreation, the Alamosa and Monte Vista Wildlife Refuges are going to feel some pain. The Monte Vista refuge has wells to draw from, but refuge manager Michael Blenden expects no water from ditches or the Rio Grande this year. However, the refuges must only water what they’re able to maintain, to keep the birds who set up nests in irrigated areas. The larger mammals, like deer, elk, and coyote, will find forage, “only not as palatable,” says Blenden.

He expects fewer winged visitors this year (“A lot of birds will just fly over”) and fewer human visitors, particularly in the hunting season.

The big fear is fire. Lightning season is rapidly approaching and conditions are super dry. However, Blenden is looking on the bright side.

“This will be a great year to clean out ditches.”

Dunes Deal Rollin’

Saguache District Court has finalized foreclosure on the Baca Ranch, so that it can be sold to The Nature Conservancy, in preparation for absorption into what will be the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Closing on the deal is expected sometime between September and March.

Bar Tending

The city of Alamosa seized a local tavern after its owner’s arrest for cocaine distribution. The city has never done this before, and now faces the question: to shake or stir, uh, to sell or retain.


Carla Lucero resigned her post as mayor of Antonito in April. No plans have been made, or meetings set, to replace her.


Alamosa County has a new Pet Animal Board. Animal control officers, a veterinarian, representatives from two animal welfare groups and a “civilian” member of the community have joined to work on animal issues. The county commissioners have already okayed the new board.

Hah-vahd Bound

Alamosa City Manager Michael Hackett is bound for the Ivy League. Hackett received a Gates Foundation fellowship to attend the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

Prized Poet

Aaron Abeyta of Antonito has won an American Book Award for colcha, his collection of poetry (reviewed in the May Colorado Central). Abeyta teaches at Adams State College. The book is available at Fort Garland, the Narrow Gauge Newsstand in Alamosa, and from online booksellers.

Common Ground

State Sen. Lewis Entz wants to honor veterans of the Korean War by naming a highway in the Valley for them.

Entz is sponsoring a resolution to name Colorado 17, which runs from Alamosa to south of Villa Grove, the Korean War Veterans Memorial Highway. Entz got the idea when he learned that the San Luis Valley sits on the 38th Parallel.

Historic Deal?

A new way to save history may be in the works. Alamosa, Costilla, and Conejos counties have applied to become national heritage areas. The designation by the National Parks Service could mean grants and educational assistance to preserve and interpret the area’s cultural history.