A snowman along E. Third Avenue holds up to the midday sun./Photo
by Todd Newcomer.
City brings back the late-night bus
Durango's Buzz Bus is back. This week
city officials announced the return of late-night bus service for
bar patrons. The bus will run Friday and Saturday nights between 11
p.m. and 2:30 a.m. The new service does come at a price, however.
Fines for downtown parking violations have gone up from $4 to
"The city is excited to
offer these additional transit services to the community," said
Assistant City Manager Greg Caton. "City Council and staff are
constantly thinking of ways to improve the downtown experience. We
want to ensure that people have a pleasurable experience while
downtown and that they get home safely after having
Late night service areas
include: all of downtown Durango, Florida Road, SkyRidge, Fort
Lewis College, North Main Avenue and Highway 160 West within the
city limits. The service costs $3 per one-way trip. The city tested
demand for the service on New Year's Eve and more than 100 riders
The city also has
announced the introduction of a Central Business District (CBD)
shopper shuttle, which will run from May 24 through Sept. 1. This
free circulator shuttle will operate throughout the Main Avenue
Shopping District between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through
Saturday with limited service Sunday.
Both services were
approved by the City Council in December as part of the 2004 annual
Counties seek local forest control
Just on the other side of the San
Juans, a coalition of eight counties has banded together under the
banner of the Healthy Forests Initiative. And while the initiative
has been criticized as being a front for logging, the counties are
trying to kick off a $1 million forest restoration
The coalition is called
the County Partnership Restoration Project and includes counties in
or around the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison national
forests, including San Miguel, Montrose and Hinsdale
San Miguel County
Commissioner Art Goodtimes said the intent is to create grass roots
management of area forest restoration. One potential project would
be the removal of dead and dying spruce surrounding the town of
Telluride, he said.
"It's a way for the
counties to influence federal land management and for the land
managers it was a way to get money out of the bureaucracy,"
A sticking point,
however, has been freeing up the money from the bureaucracy. Last
year's funding for the project was instead spent on the Front
Range, restoring the urban interface around the Hayman
counties are currently pooling funds to hire a lobbyist to free up
the $1 million for next year. Goodtimes said that if the funds
don't appear next year, the County Partnership Restoration Project
will likely disappear.
"It'll been two or three
years of process without product," he said. "If we don't get funded
soon, I think it will probably go away."
River Trail negotiations deadlocked
Efforts to link up the missing section
of the Animas River Trail remain unresolved, and the City of
Durango is continuing to pursue its last resort condemning the
necessary property behind the China Restaurant. However, there is
hope that negotiations will pay off and condemnation can be
The Animas River Trail
is interrupted in the middle at the Main Avenue bridge. Over the
past couple years, the city has worked to buy property from Terri
D's, the VFW Post and China Restaurant to complete the connection.
In total, the connection has been estimated at a cost of $2.3
Terri D's and the VFW
came to the table and agreed to sell easements, but China
Restaurant's owner Louis Cummins has been adamantly opposed. Having
exhausted all other options, the city began the process of
condemning a portion of Cummins' land last spring. Studies have
been completed on the property, and the city is proceeding with
condemnation. However, there is still hope that the issue can be
resolved peaceably, according to Assistant City Manager Greg Caton.
"We are still continuing negotiations, and we are still hopeful
that we can avoid condemnation," he said.
Caton said that the city
is continuing to negotiate outside the courtroom with Cummins for
the sale of the easement. "There have been some recent discussions
that have been hopeful," he said.
However, the future of
the missing section of the Animas River Trail remains
"Over the next couple
months we should have more information," Caton said.
Deer and elk harvest down again
Last year's hunting season appears to
have been another bust for hunters and wildlife biologists. The
Colorado Division of Wildlife has reported that the slow season has
not only been bad for herds but has also hindered efforts to test
for chronic wasting disease in the state.
Kathi Green, the DOW's
disease management coordinator, commented: "The weather was
unusually warm and dry through most of the big game seasons, and
that typically reduces hunter success. But that won't be clear
until after the DOW harvest data becomes available later this
The DOW does know that
fewer deer and elk were tested for chronic wasting disease in 2003
and that all of the animals that tested positive for the fatal
disease were taken from or near areas that were also infected in
2002. Chronic wasting disease has not been detected in herds in the
San Juan Mountains, the Uncompahgre Plateau, Gunnison Basin, San
Luis Valley or Sangre de Cristo Range.
So far, 15,424 deer, elk
and moose have been submitted for CWD testing for the 2003 hunting
season, which is 37 percent fewer than the 24,652 animals submitted
for testing by the same time last year. A few big game seasons
continue into January in areas where additional harvest is needed
to manage herds, so some additional animals well be tested over the
"Our goal this year was
to have test results back to hunters in two weeks or less, and we
accomplished that with nearly all of the animals that were
submitted," Green said.
-compiled by Will Sands