Durango still free of West
La Plata County still appears to be
free of West Nile virus, for the time being. Last week, a man in
San Juan County, N.M., tested positive for the mosquito-born
disease, a strong indication that West Nile season is upon us.
Mosquitoes transmit West Nile virus after they bite infected birds,
which are the carriers of the disease, and then spread the virus to
humans and horses.
Danni Lorrigan, public
information officer for San Juan Basin Health Department, said that
this summer is expected to be a banner season for the virus.
However, there have still been no positive test results locally,
including humans, horses or birds. "There are still no positives in
La Plata or Archuleta County as of this time," she said.
Last week's New Mexico
Department of Health announcement is a signal to start taking
precautions, according to Lorrigan. "The recent case in New Mexico
shows us that West Nile virus transmission season is here and that
everyone in the area should regularly protect themselves from
mosquitoes," she said.
Lorrigan suggested the
use of repellants, wearing long sleeves and pants, limiting time
outdoors at dawn and dusk, keeping doors, windows and screens
closed, removing standing water from your property, and trimming
shrubbery and removing garden debris.
Last year, 3,000
Coloradoans contracted West Nile virus and 63 of them died. West
Nile also made its first appearance on the Western Slope and in La
Plata County last year. The most cases of the disease typically
occur during the virus' second year.
Lynx reintroduction makes strides
Efforts to reintroduce lynx to the
public land northwest of Durango saw more success last week.
Colorado Division of Wildlife tracking crews found seven lynx
kittens born to two mothers over the Memorial Day weekend. The
finding marks the second year in a row reproduction has been
documented in the program.
A Yukon female released
in 2000 was found May 29 with four healthy kittens at 11,000 feet
in a rugged, remote area of the Weminuche Wilderness. Two days
later, an Alaskan female released in 2000 was discovered with three
healthy kittens in the same general area. Last year DOW trackers
confirmed that at least 16 lynx kitten had been born in Colorado,
the first recorded births since lynx were first released in
"This is another
important milestone in our ongoing effort to restore lynx to the
state," said Rick Kahn, coordinator of the DOW's lynx recovery
team. "The kittens born this year are another strong indication
that the lynx we have released are establishing a population that
has the potential to expand and become self-sustaining in the
Kahn emphasized that
while the program has accomplished many key goals, two more
important milestones must occur before the recovery effort can be
called a success."The next step will be for lynx born in Colorado
to have young of their own," Kahn said. "The entire effort won't be
complete until the number of lynx that live to be adults exceeds
the number of mortalities each year."
The DOW has released 167
lynx in Colorado since the program began in 1999. Up to 50 more
lynx will be released next year with another 15 each in 2006 and
Paper ties Campbell with impropriety
The Denver Post has announced that it believes it has
linked retiring Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., to the
alleged kickbacks and improprieties the Department of Justice is
currently investigating. Campbell, who lives in Ignacio, has
reported only that he is being investigated on allegations that a
former staff member inflated a subordinate's salary in exchange for
a $2,000 payment and participated in an improper attempt to steer a
government contract to a specific vendor.
According to the
Denver Post , Campbell was directly involved in
trying to steer a no-bid, government contract to a software company
called Thinkstream Inc. and that one of the company's owners is a
long-time Campbell supporter.
A story in the May 30
edition of the paper reads, "Colorado open-records requests show
that, contrary to Campbell's assertion that his chief of staff,
Ginnie Kontnik, was freelancing on the matter, the senator
energetically pressed fellow legislators, regional officials like
Gorman and the Bush White House on Thinkstream's
Campbell's office has
said only that the Senator will cooperate fully with the
investigation and looks forward to getting the matter resolved.
Campbell will retire at the end of this year.
River Trail construction scheduled
Work on linking up the final missing
segment of the Animas River Trail should begin late this summer.
Earlier this spring, the City of Durango gained all of the
easements to link up the trail between Rotary Park and the old
power plant. The city is currently finalizing construction
documents and plans to put the project out to bid in early
wrapping up the construction documents and it should go out in the
first part of July and it will be awarded in late summer," said
Greg Caton, assistant city manager. "We're anticipating the start
of construction after Sept. 1."
Caton said that
construction will definitely spill over into 2005, but that the
link up should be complete by next summer. The new section of the
trail will go from Rotary Park under the Main Avenue bridge and
southwest along the river. After it is fully linked up, the
pedestrian and bicycle trail will stretch uninterrupted from 32nd
Street to the Durango Mall.
State appropriates more fire dollars
Efforts to fight wildfires throughout
Colorado got a boost from Gov. Bill Owens last week. Owens
authorized $1.3 million from the Disaster Emergency Fund to
contract two additional single-engine air tankers and a
"As the drought
continues, the wildfire potential is something we will have to
confront aggressively all summer," Owens said. "The decision by the
U.S. Forest Service to ground federal air tankers because of
serious safety concerns is understandable. It also places a greater
responsibility on the states.We have the obligation to do all we
can to provide the resources for our firefighters."
The $1.3 million is on
top of $1.1 million authorized by Owens in April for
firefighting. With those funds, the state immediately contracted
for three single-engine air tankers that were placed on standby.
The funds also are being used to place 10 state fire engines in
areas where there is the greatest threat of catastrophic
"Our strategy of
prepositioning firefighting equipment has been very successful,"
Owens said. "Last year, 95 percent of the fires were controlled at
less than 10 acres."
New FLC president takes office
Fort Lewis College's new president
Brad Bartel spent his first day in the office early this week.
Bartel started work June 1, and the college will officially welcome
him with a public reception June 9.
Bartel is the seventh
president of Fort Lewis College and the former provost and
executive vice president for academic affairs at Florida Gulf Coast
University. He has nearly 30 years of experience as an academic
administrator and faculty member at FGCU, the University of North
Carolina at Greensboro and San Diego State University.
The Board of Trustees
for Fort Lewis College selected Bartel from a field of more than 50
applicants last December.
"I am excited about
working with my new colleagues at Fort Lewis College to develop the
institution into the premier public liberal arts college in the
West," said Bartel.
He added that education
of undergraduate students will be the college's only
students is our only mission," he said. "All of our resources are
connected to the finest learning and student life environments for
undergraduate students. This singular identity for Fort Lewis
College focuses our creative energy in a way no other public
institution in Colorado can match."
Fort Lewis College will
host a welcome reception for Brad and Laura Bartel from 5-7 p.m.
June 9 at the Durango Arts Center, 802 E. Second Ave. Refreshments
will be served and the public is welcome.
compiled by Will