|Click it or ticket: A great
Dane surveys the action along Main Avenue from his perch
recently./Photo by Todd Newcomer.
County dodges floods for now
In spite of last week’s series of storms dropping nearly
three-quarters of an inch of precipitation in the Animas Valley,
there were no reports of flooding. Last fall, La Plata County
and sections of the valley experienced damaging flooding as
a result of last summer’s wildfires. And while the area
remained safe last week, county officials are sure the floods
are coming at some point.
“I suspect that the ground was so much like a sponge
that we didn’t have any flooding,” said County Engineer
However, Routh said that more intense rainfall this summer
will likely make for mudslides and high water in areas like
East Animas Road, Florida Road and County Road 501 near Vallecito.
“There’s no question that it’s coming,”
Routh said. “It’s a question of when and in which
drainage 85 It will end up in the roads and in people’s
property. We can only hope that nobody gets hurt.”
Routh said that after nine months of education and an effective
early-warning system coming into play, the odds are good. Still
he advised people living in flood-prone areas to develop plans
in case of emergency.
“Every single home should have a different plan based
on the potential for flooding and their proximity to the drainage,”
Fire rehab takes place in Weminuche
Last Monday, the Forest Service began rehabilitation work on
140 acres of burned forest in the Weminuche Wilderness near
Vallecito with the help of a helicopter. The area was severely
burned during the Missionary Ridge Fire last summer and has
experienced heavy erosion and debris flows. The treatment is
expected to slow these activities down and lessen the danger
to homes and property below the burn.
Bales of excelsior, or shredded aspen wood, are being dropped
from a net attached to a helicopter. As the bales fall from
the net and hit the ground they are expected to spread out over
the area. Kay Zillich, a Forest Service hydrologist coordinating
the project, said, “Excelsior is often used as a mulch,
but this is the first time it has been applied this way.”
Approximately one ton of excelsior per acre will be dropped
on the area. A meadow to the north of Vallecito reservoir is
being used as a storage area for the bales of excelsior and
the loading zone for the helicopter.
The Southwest Youth Corps and local fire crews are unloading
and stacking the semi-truck loads of excelsior, which began
arriving last week. Care was taken to make sure the meadow was
free of weeds since the excelsior is being dropped in the wilderness
area. The helicopter will fly again on the week of May 26.A0
Durango Dog Park moves forward
Progress is being made in a citizen-based push for a local
dog park. A group of local citizens, known as the Durango Dog
Park Board, is pushing for a spot for canine recreation on a
piece of city property at the base of Smelter Mountain. The
Durango Parks and Recreation Department is currently working
out the details to make the 10 acres of city land along the
Animas River a leash-free zone.
“The group has been doing a very good job of working
with us,” said Kathy Metz, director of parks and recreation.
“We’re working the details of putting a dog park
over there and making sure it will work.”
The acreage is a reclaimed tailings pile and located across
the river from the whitewater park and the wastewater treatment
plant. A dog park would require few improvements, but parking
and access are major issues. Currently, parks and recreation
is looking at having dog owners park their cars at Schneider
Park on the west end of 9th Street. A dirt trail would then
follow the west side of the river to the Highway 160 bridge
where a simple trail would be built beneath the bridge.
“We’re working with Trails 2000 to get a trail
underneath and to the other side of the bridge,” Metz
The city has submitted a request to the Colorado Department
of Transportation for the trail. Metz estimated that the dog
park will come before City Council in a month or two. At that
time, the council would be asked to amend city ordinance to
make that 10 acres a leash-free zone.
Local paddler rejoins national team
A local kayaker earned one of two available spots on the U.S.
Cadet Whitewater Slalom Team. After two days of racing in the
Junior Team Trials at Smelter Rapid, 14-year-old John Gerstenberger,
of Durango, reclaimed his spot on the team. Rick Powell, also
14, of Parksburg, Penn., took the other spot. Durango’s
Wil Lokken narrowly missed rejoining the team with a third-place
The Animas was running at 2,000 cfs and muddy with run-off,
making for a challenging course. The Age Group Nationals, by
contrast, were held during last summer’s drought and at
a forgiving level of 150 cfs.
Durango Whitewater paddlers Chris Leach, Tanner Duff, Rogan
Brown, Kier Samuelson and Josh Lokken also competed in the weekend
A-LP closes Ridges Basin Road
County Road 211, the road into Ridges Basin, closed last Monday
because of construction on the Animas-La Plata Project. The
closure is expected to last through November. The closed section
of road begins approximately 2 miles west of Bodo Park, extends
through the reservoir site in Ridges Basin and ends approximately
2 miles shy of Wildcat Canyon.
At the request of the Bureau of Reclamation, La Plata County
approved the road closure in March. The road is being closed
to vehicle and pedestrian traffic to accommodate heavy equipment
traffic this summer. Motorists will still be able to access
County Road 211 from Wildcat Canyon Road.