announces new steps in reducing threats
Last Tuesday, La Plata County
officials announced new measures for handling the threat of
at the new world we live in in terms of the aftermath of the
flood,” said Joanne Spina, county spokeswoman.
Specifically, the county related
its plan for keeping roads open during flash floods. “We’re
neighbors in terms of impacts on the roads,” said Spina.
“We’ve really got a good plan in place in terms
of putting resources and response personnel in place the moment
storms move in.”
In particular, the county
has its eye on county roads 250, 501, 240 and 243. In addition
to quick response, the county is adding signage to keep motorists
from stopping in flood zones. One sign reads: “Entering
Missionary Ridge Burn Area. No Stopping or Standing in Flood
Crossing Zones During Rain or Snow Melt.”
Spina said the new signs are
meant to warn the traveling public “that they’re
moving into the Missionary Ridge burn area and that there’s
no stopping or standing in flood areas.”
The county also encouraged
its residents to be good neighbors and “not have a detrimental
impact on neighboring properties,” Spina said. Specifically,
officials addressed not diverting debris into public and private
These announcements come at
a time when flood awareness is paramount, Spina said. “There’s
certainly a lot more to be expected,” she said. “We’re
still in the throes of the impacts of the Missionary Ridge fire.”
Bayfield overcomes water
Bayfield’s 1,600 residents are drinking
clean tap water again after four days without. Last Thursday
afternoon, a filter at the town’s water treatment plant
failed, tainting the town’s drinking water with dirty
run-off from the Los Pinos River.
Since last Thursday, Bayfield has been
under a state-mandated order for residents to boil their water
for at least 10 minutes before use. Since that time, town officials
have been busy flushing lines, refilling water tanks, replacing
the clogged filter and rewiring the treatment plant to prevent
this from recurring. Their efforts paid off, when on Monday,
the Colorado Department of Health approved a water sample.
“Everything’s back to normal
but with reduced flows due to the high turbidity,” said
Robert Ludwig, Bayfield public works director. “Bayfield’s
water is back to being treated, and we’re just happy that
it has returned to normal.”
In addition to the clean bill of health
from the state, Bayfield also completed fixes for the treatment
“We finished with doing some additional
wiring which will fix the alarms so that we’ll now shut
down completely if something like this happens again,”
The community pitched in throughout the
crisis. School board members bought 3,000 bottles of water for
students and staff, Helping Hands and the Red Cross distributed
free bottled water last Sunday, and the Southern Ute Indian
Tribe loaned the town a 900-gallon water truck for the weekend.
Resort kicks $100,000 into
employee housing in Silverton
Twenty Durango Mountain Resort employees
who live in Silverton presented a check for $100,000 from the
resort to Silverton and San Juan County officials on Sept. 11.
The check is the first of two installments prescribed in the
DMR Development Agreement approved in San Juan County last spring
to go toward work-force housing.
“The best thing is that DMR recognized
Silverton’s immediate need for housing,” said Chris
Smith, Chairman of the San Juan Board of County Commissioners.
“We need to create jobs and put children in our schools
now. We appreciate DMR’s efforts and will put the money
to good use.”
The money will be used to secure matching
grants toward work-force housing in Silverton until the second
installment next year, and then will go directly toward construction.
“This is just the first step in a
long-term relationship and will help make both the resort and
the town more economically viable,” said DMR CEO Gary
Derck. “We’re pleased to be working with San Juan
County and the town of Silverton and appreciate the efforts
of everyone in San Juan County to make both our resort expansion
and affordable housing in Silverton a reality.”
Around 20 people live in Silverton and
work at DMR during the summer, with the number rising to 50
during the winter season.
The resort’s planned development
will take place on 612 acres straddling Highway 550 adjacent
to the resort. About one-third of the development lies in San
Juan County, with the remainder in northerly La Plata County.
In total, DMR will provide for 185 work-force housing units
over the 25-year course of the project, with one-tenth of those
to be built in Silverton/San Juan County.
Countywide fire ban lifted
Based on the recommendations of Sheriff
Duke Schirard and local fire chiefs, La Plata County commissioners
lifted the countywide fire ban Monday. The fire ban was originally
enacted to minimize the high degree of fire danger that existed
in La Plata County because of lack of moisture and extremely
“They felt that sufficient rainfall
had dropped in the county to enable the fire ban to be lifted
safely,” said La Plata County spokeswoman, Joanne Spina.
Last Friday, officials of the San Juan
National Forest and Bureau of Land Management announced that
they also had completely lifted fire restrictions. The agencies
cited recent rains, cooler temperatures and higher humidities
as leading to decreased fire danger.
Although the fire ban has been lifted,
residents are still encouraged to exercise caution when burning.
Spina said this is particularly important for larger-scale burning.
“We’re still encouraging people to consult with
their local fire chiefs to ensure that they’re burning
safely,” said Spina.
BP boosts Search and Rescue
Even before wildfires ravaged the
La Plata County countryside, BP America was exploring the possibility
of turning over a surplus Chevy Suburban to La Plata County
Search and Rescue. And since the fires, BP has also provided
a $5,000 grant to help provide equipment and training support.
“It didn’t take a summer
of drama caused by dry conditions and wildfires to know that
our local emergency responders are a very special group, and
we should look for ways to help them when we can,” says
Jeff Spitler, BP’s Durango operations-center manager.
“When we determined we were going to have a surplus vehicle
that they could use, we were thrilled to turn over the keys.”
The vehicle donated by BP is a 1990
BE-ton heavy-duty 4x4 with 72,000 miles. Search and Rescue will
be using it as a command vehicle. The emergency responders plan
to keep the vehicle parked at the 32nd Street Fire Station in
Durango, using the location as a rendezvous point. Search and
Rescue also will use the Suburban to pull their equipment trailer.
“We’re very thankful
to BP for this donation,” said Walt Walker, president
of Search and Rescue. “The four-wheel drive is particularly
important as we’re usually headed out to a trailhead.
After it is outfitted with radios it will also provide us much
better communication capabilities.”
La Plata County Search and Rescue
is a nonprofit volunteer organization formed to assist the La
Plata County Sheriff’s Department in search and rescue
operations. The group has about 85 volunteer members who respond
to nearly 40 calls a year. During the recent fires, volunteers
logged 2,700 volunteer hours and fielded 40,000 phone calls
on the information hotline.
-compiled by Will Sands