Nile Virus begins to spread
West Nile Virus is continuing to spread through La Plata County.
Four horses and two dead birds have tested positive for the
disease, which is spread by mosquitoes.
“I think we’re now up to four confirmed horses
in La Plata County and one in Montezuma County, as well as two
birds in La Plata County,” said Joe Fowler, an epidemiologist
with the San Juan Basin Health Department. Fowler said that
one of the birds was found in downtown Durango, but the horse
cases are generally confined to the southeastern portion of
In Colorado, 41 people have contracted the virus and one has
died though no human cases have been reported in La Plata County.
Out of every five infected people, only one will have any symptoms
of the virus.A0For those with symptoms, most will have West
Nile Fever, a mild illness lasting three-to-six days.
Symptoms start suddenly after an usual two to 14-day incubation
period and include headache, muscle aches and rash. Some people
also may have nausea and vomiting. Only one out of 150 infected
people will develop severe neurological disease with meningitis
or encephalitis. The risk of severe disease increases with age.
Persons older than 50 should be particularly vigilant in protecting
themselves from the disease because they tend to become sicker
if they contract the virus and can die from it.
Fowler said that disease prevention begins with being vigilant
“Try to eliminate any pools of water or other environments
suitable for mosquito breeding and then take personal protective
measures and try to minimize the number of mosquito bites you
get,” he said.
However, he also encouraged local residents to avoid panicking.
“We want people to take precautions, but just because
you get a mosquito bite does not mean you’ll get sick,”
Fowler said. “We don’t want people to panic.”
The San Juan Basin Health Department encourages residents to
submit birds for testing for West Nile virus. Testing is restricted
to ravens, crows, magpies and jays that have died in the last
48 hours. Contact the health department at 247-5702 to report
any dead birds and for further instructions.
|Lift from the knees: A trio
of carpenters help
frame a new building in downtown Durango last Thursday./Photo
by Todd Newcomer.
Fire restrictions to remain in effect
In spite of the return of the monsoon cycle, federal and local
fire managers have decided to keep current fire restrictions
in place for at least another week. While Southwest Colorado
has received some substantial precipitation recently, much of
it has been localized, and some areas continue to suffer from
Fire managers will continue to monitor fuel conditions on public
lands and check with the National Weather Service on long-range
forecasts to see if fire restrictions can be lifted in the near
“We really appreciate how careful the public has been
with fire this year,” said Mark Lauer, Fire Management
Officer for the San Juan Public Lands. “Firefighters have
responded to more than 350 fires this season, and more than
95 percent of those have been caused by Mother Nature, not by
Prior to lifting fire restrictions, managers want to be sure
that the region is not moving back into a warm, dry spell. In
the meantime, burning restrictions still apply to San Juan National
Forest and BLM lands, including Canyons of the Ancients National
Monument. Campfires are allowed only in permanent fire rings
or fire grates within developed recreation sites; smoking is
allowed only inside an enclosed vehicle or building or in an
area cleared of vegetation and at least 3 feet in diameter;
the use of explosives, welding and other torches with an open
flame are prohibited; and fireworks, as always, are prohibited.
La Plata County also continues to have a ban on open burning.
Brainstorm acquires Frontier Internet
Durango’s Brainstorm Internet is now the largest internet
provider on the Western Slope and Northern New Mexico. This
week, Brainstorm bought Frontier Internet, boosting its customer
base nearly fourfold.
Brainstorm Industries was created when CEO Calvin Cooke bought
Durango Internet and its couple hundred customers a few years
ago. Since that time, Brainstorm has grown to 3,500 customers,
and this week, with the purchase of Frontier, has made a giant
“Frontier was the first largest provider in the region,”
Cooke said. “By buying them, we now have 13,500 customers.
I believe we’re now the largest Internet provider on the
Western Slope and in Northern New Mexico.”
Frontier Internet customers received a notice this week, saying,
“We are pleased to announce that Frontier is now powered
by Brainstorm Internet. E-mail addresses, passwords and phone
numbers will remain the same.”
While the details of these customers’ Internet service
may not change on the surface, Cooke said customer dedication
and service should improve dramatically. “We’ve
always been extremely genuine and real about being committed
to our local community,” he said. “We love this
place, and we’re looking at taking that same local model
across the Western Slope now.”
Brainstorm will now have offices in Durango, Montrose, Grand
Junction, Cortez and Farmington.
“We’re extremely excited,” Cooke said. “Overall,
I think it’s really good for our town. We’re now
up to 32 employees, and those are all well-paid local jobs.”
Little Molas improvements approved
Upgrades are coming to the Little Molas Lake Recreation Facility.
On July 30, District Ranger Pauline Ellis approved improvements
to the project area located along U.S. Highway 550, near Molas
Pass. The project will involve resource rehabilitation, designation
of different user areas and multiple facilities improvements
at the Little Molas Lake Campground.
The decision calls for rehabilitating areas of soil compaction
and erosion; designating campsites and parking areas; improving
facilities by installing tables, fire grates, new toilets and
a potable water system; improving road conditions; and constructing
a new parking area for Colorado Trail access.
The improvements, which are intended in part to avoid user
conflicts, will come at a price, however. One of the upgrades
will be the implementation of a fee collection area for use
of the site.
-compiled by Will Sands