Briefs from the San Luis Valley

Brief by Marcia Darnell

San Luis Valley – December 1997 – Colorado Central Magazine

You Know You’re in the Rural West …

…When a dispute involving four people constitutes a riot. An Alamosa Valley Courier article told of a “riot” in our region this October.

As the story goes, law enforcement officials from two counties and the State Patrol were called to San Luis to arrest four people, two of whom were protesting logging of the Taylor Ranch by chaining themselves to a logging truck. The other two had allegedly brandished weapons at the protesters.

The ranch, or La Sierra, was used by area residents for fishing, hunting and wood gathering for generations until owner Zachary Taylor closed it to public access in 1960. The legal appeal of the populace was recently lost in court, but trial by public attitude continues.

We’re not in Kansas, Are We?

In October, a tornado touched down 12 miles from Creede, near the Roaring Fork trailhead. The twister cut a path a quarter-mile wide and 1½ miles long, ripping out 100-year-old, 100-foot trees. It was reported by two hunters from Texas who lost a horse trailer in the storm.

The up ide to this Blast from the Plains: plenty of firewood made available to the public for the winter.

Water, Water, Everywhere

Except downstream, that is. Colorado may not fulfill its Rio Grande Compact obligation this year, despite a summer that made Coloradans think they were in Tacoma. The fine print of the 1938 compact with New Mexico and Texas says that the more water we get, the more we owe, and what we owe is estimated eight to 12 months in advance by the Division of Water Resources, which admits it messed up this year.

To compensate, the division shut off water diversions (that’s irrigation ditches) in October, thus making autumn irrigation impossible for many farmers in the Valley.

Center Sabotage

Just when we thought the redistricting mess was settled, plaintiffs in the case to carve the San Luis Valley into two districts object to any plan that doesn’t put Center into the new District 60. The town in Saguache County was left out of all five proposals and opponents say it’s because the redistricting lawsuit originated there. The final plan is to be submitted to the state legislature in January.

— Marcia Darnell