County unscathed after rainy week
the first time in more than a month, substantial rainfall in
the Durango area did not carry catastrophic consequences. After
last weekend’s back-to-back rainstorms, the Missionary
Ridge burn area saw only moderate flooding as efforts at revegetation
got a big boost.
Plata County Engineer Rick Routh said last weekend’s series
of storms caused emergency crews less trouble. “We emerged
fairly well from this weekend,” he said.
added that some of the rainwater actually had an opportunity
to penetrate the ground because the storms were quick.
the most waterproof ground had to take a little water in before
it came down the drainages,” Routh said. “We also
didn’t get more than a half an inch of precipitation out
of each of those storms.”
county did have to close County Road 250 “for very short
periods” over the weekend, specifically at Stevens Creek
and Kroeger Canyon. Some mud flows crossed the road at that
point but they were relatively shallow and low on debris.
flows that came across were less than a foot-and-a-half deep,”
noted that rather than cause disaster, the weekend’s rains
were actually beneficial for the burn area, referencing the
Forest Service’s dramatic reseeding effort.
was a perfect sort of rain to help out the huge seeding effort
that’s underway,” he said.
a recent aerial tour of the burn area, Routh said that some
areas, notably south facing slopes, are recovering remarkably
well. He noted that gamble oak and aspen are returning to life
in these areas, and that the reseeding grasses are becoming
he did add that anywhere hot fires burned through thick stands
of coniferous trees, recovery will be more difficult.
City Council to go after
The Durango City Council began to aggressively
go after local light pollution this week in an effort to dim
urban glow and restore a night sky filled with bright stars.
On Monday, the council gave the Durango Planning Department
the go-ahead to begin developing an ordinance that would eventually
eliminate unshielded lighting in Durango.
“The concept’s been around
for a while,” said Millissa Berry, one of the city’s
planners. “But we didn’t have the direction from
City Council to go forward.”
Of the roughly 25 people present at last
Monday’s hearing, everyone appeared to be in favor of
cutting down on light pollution. “Everyone was in favor,”
said Berry. “If they weren’t, they didn’t
Berry noted that an ordinance would require
businesses, residences and public agencies to retrofit lights
that are polluters. When asked to name some of Durango’s
biggest culprits, she immediately mentioned the City of Durango
itself. In particular, she mentioned the ballfield lights near
Fort Lewis College, which are city domain, as well as the new
lights on the Durango entrance sign and the Rec Center, both
of which point upward. Berry said one of the concerns that the
ordinance will need to address is safety. “One question
is, ‘How can we keep Durango safe and dim?’”
Parts of burn area to reopen
Starting Friday, the 100,000 acres of national
forest land previously closed because of the Missionary Ridge
Fire will be reopened to public entry. However, a portion of
Missionary Ridge Road and some trails will remain closed.
According to a San Juan National Forest
news release, visitors to the burned area, which stretches from
the Animas River drainage east to the Florida and Pine River
drainages, should check for warning and closure signs at trailheads.
The Forest Service also strongly advises people to consider
visiting other public land to avoid the additional safety concerns
associated with burned areas.
Twelve miles of Missionary Ridge Road (No.
682) will remain closed until further notice while the Forest
Service replaces culverts to improve public safety and protect
the integrity of the road. All motorized and nonmotorized use
of the road will be prohibited between the gate 2 miles up from
East Animas Road (County Road 250) and the intersection of Burnt
Timber Road (No. 596).
Because this is the only road accessing
the area, and because motorized travel is restricted to open
roads only on Missionary Ridge, there will be no motorized access
into the area. The Haflin Creek, Stevens Creek and Shearer Creek
trails also will remain closed in the Missionary Ridge area.
In the Lemon and Vallecito Reservoir areas,
the Runlett Park, Lake Eileen, Graham Creek, North Canyon and
Endlich Mesa trails will remain closed.
Although other national forest trails in
the burned area are open, the release encourages visitors to
beware of hazards and check for warning and closure signs at
trailheads. Trails may be closed at any time because of danger
from debris flows, falling trees or other hazards. Visitors
who choose to enter burned areas also should leave immediately
if wind or rain develops.
Southside townhome development
The Durango City Council signed off on
what will be a highly visible townhome development on the city’s
southside this week. The Parkside Development plan drew public
approval but had to overcome some reservations on the part of
Mayor John Gamble.
Residents of the Canyon Club Trailer Park,
on East Sixth Avenue, had to leave their homes by Aug. 1 to
make way for 64, three-story townhomes. The townhomes were originally
billed as “entry-level housing for Durango,” according
to Parkside, and were going to be priced at less than $150,000
per unit. However, that price has risen to between $175,000
However, the main rub with the development
has not been the price of the housing units but its visibility,
particularly from Highways 550/160. Two weeks ago, Gamble stated
that he felt that the development would be too visible.
“He had concerns that the heights
are too much and considered it ridgeline development,”
said city planner Millissa Berry.
Last Tuesday, Gamble continued to have
reservations about the development’s appearance. However,
he joined his fellow council members in voting for the project
anyway and simply encouraged the developers to do a good job
with the project.