Sangre de Cristo Mountains: Spine or Barrier?

Brief by Central Staff

Land Use – November 1995 – Colorado Central Magazine

Sangres: Spine or Barrier?

Traditionally, the Sangre de Cristo range has served as a barrier between two basins — the San Luis Valley, and the Wet Mountain and Huerfano valleys.

But it may be time to look at the mountains as a unifying factor, as a recent study demonstrates that the counties on each side have a lot in common.

Walt Hecox, a Colorado College professor, notes that per-capita income on both sides is 64% of the state average, with large numbers of Spanish-speaking households. Most significant, he says, is the change in the economic base from resource extraction to amenity tourism.

This bodes ill for finding enough money to maintain the mountains, according to Tom Wolf, a frequent Colorado Central contributor, since “We public-lands users play, but we don’t pay.”

Wolf and Hecox say it’s time to look at new ways to manage public lands, with a single agency, user fees, and a biodiversity trust fund. They are the main movers behind two community forums where they will present their work in more detail.

The first forum runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Custer County School in Westcliffe; the second is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Nov. 11 at the Saguache Community Building.

Sponsors include the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Council, Colorado College, and the U.S. Forest Service. For more information, call or write the Sangre de Cristo Mountain Council at P.O. Box 94, Hillside CO 81232 or 719-783-2058.