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 Rick Routh.

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,” Routh said.

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 said.

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 finish.

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 race.

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.






News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index