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Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – March 2006 – Colorado Central Magazine

Water Wary

It’s gonna be another dry year in El Valle. While the northern part of the Western Slope is buried in white stuff, the Rio Grande Basin is still well below normal for snowpack — less than 50 percent. The Alamosa- Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge is planning for a dry year, according to manager Mike Blenden. In addition, Ray Wright, president of the board of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District is asking irrigators to cut groundwater usage by 50 percent.

The district also wrapped up years of work in completing petitions to form a closed basin groundwater management subdistrict. The petitions represent 56 percent of the landowners and 65 percent of the land in the proposed subdistrict.

Michael Sullivan has taken office as the new division engineer for the Colorado Division of Water Resources. He’d been the acting engineer since Steve Vandiver’s move last fall.

CRT Betters

Tushies will be happier this year at Creede Repertory Theatre. Fran Eigenberg donated 300 padded seats from the old Grove Theater in Alamosa to CRT. The plush seats will replace the old butt- busters in the main theater and some of those in the “black box” upstairs.

CRT will also serve the community by becoming part of the Boettcher Cultural Leadership Program. The three- year gig allows the theater to be part of a series of seminars by National Arts Strategies. For more info, check

Land Honors

Saguache ranchers George Whitten Jr. and Julie Sullivan earned the 2006 Clarence Burch Award from the Quivira Coalition. The award, which carries a $15,000 payment, recognized innovation and collaboration in land management. The married couple say they work every day to bridge the gap between ranchers and environmentalists.

Wolf Creek War

More salvos have been fired in the battle over the Village at Wolf Creek. Wannabe developer B.J. “Red” McCombs reportedly has ties to Mark Rey, head of the U.S. Forest Service. McCombs allegedly lobbied to get Rey his job, and now the USFS has approval power over the proposed development on Wolf Creek Pass.

In addition, Mineral County is appealing the district court’s overturn of its approval of the development.

More Land Honors

Costilla County now has 1,200 acres of open space. Owner Cecil Hart sold his ranch to the county, which plans to preserve it. The $609,375 purchase monies were provided by a GOCO grant. The land is adjacent to the historic Vega Common, owned by the town of San Luis since the 1850s.

San Luis, Trinidad, Alamosa, and Monte Vista received a $585,000 grant for 30 affordable homes from the Colorado Rural Housing Development Corp.

Brief Briefs

* There’s a new tourist train between Alamosa and La Veta. For ride info, check

* Creede has adopted Mmametlhake, South Africa, as its sister city. The village lies outside Pretoria.

* Monte Vista owns its city hall again. The town mortgaged the building in 2003 to cope with a financial crisis. The final repayment was made in January.

* Valley dentist Steve Schiffer just returned from a stint with the Nepal Dental Project.

* An Alamosa bank has donated funds to put benches along the Alamosa Ranch trail system.

* A bone found in Monte Vista is being tested to determine whether it’s human, but getting results may take several months. The find has renewed interest in the case of Danice Day, missing since early 2002.

* Folks on the south side of Alamosa will be able to get their booze fix without schlepping uptown. The city council approved a liquor license for a new business.

* Alamosa’s switch of Main and Sixth streets to one- way will have to wait. Funds for the project have been diverted, so the change won’t happen this year.

* Several organizations in the San Luis Valley are planning to honor Zebulon Pike’s bicentennial this summer. In addition, Fort Garland is planning to celebrate its 150th birthday in a couple of years. For information, contact Fort Garland or the Colorado Historical Society.

* Gerald Palmgren retired after 37 years at the Monte Vista Co- op. Roger Knapp, president of Alamosa State Bank, retired after 23 years.

* Edward Medina earned 2006 MEDEX award as a physician assistant.

* Orlando Gallardo is the new veterans officer in Conejos County.

* A group is proposing a wildlife museum in South Fork.

* Alamosa will host Ride the Rockies for the sixth time. The bikers will be in town June 21.