Signs of local recovery emerging

Signs of economic recovery are beginning to turn up in Durango. The Durango-La Plata County Airport announced record growth in passenger traffic in September, and the Durango Area Association of Realtors announced that the local real estate market is stabilizing.

Despite news of a weak national and regional economy, 14,552 passengers boarded commercial airline flights at the airport in September, a new record for the month and a 12.5-percent increase from September 2008.  

“We were surprised to see such a large increase in traffic during September” said Ron Dent, Director of Aviation. “Runway construction during the month, which caused some disruptions, and the poor economy did not seem to inhibit air travel at Durango.”

Dent noted that United Express has upped capacity and Frontier Airlines has added a new morning departure in November. The growth is expected to continue, he added. Through the end of September this year, 221,075 passengers have departed or arrived on commercial airlines at the Durango-La Plata County Airport, a 6 percent increase from the same period in 2008.

The Durango Area Association of Realtors also sees signs for optimism after releasing its 2009 year-to-date numbers this week. According to the association, the trends show that the sales of “Durango In-Town Homes” appear to be “stabilizing.”

While in-town home sales are down 11.42 percent for the year and median prices fell 5.16 percent, volume and sales prices started to rebound during the third quarter. In-town numbers are strong relative to other several segments of the local real estate economy, according to DAAR. Sales of “Durango County Homes” have fallen by more than 25 percent for the year, and “Durango Condo” sales plummeted 58 percent below 2008.

Nonetheless, DAAR commented that all segments of the local market are trending upward, and La Plata County has weathered a difficult year much better than other areas in the West.

“La Plata County continues to fare better than many of the markets in the West,” a release from the association read, “and some stronger contract activity in September points to stronger demand, resurging consumer confidence, and a bottoming of the market.”


GOCO looks for local feedback

A leading contributor to Durango’s trails, open space and wildlife projects wants to take the local pulse. Great Outdoors Colorado will host a local forum next week in order to ask the region’s citizens, governments, user groups and land trusts for help in planning for the future.

Funded partially by Colorado Lottery proceeds, GOCO has committed nearly $650 million since 1994 to more than 3,063 projects throughout the state. Locally, GOCO grants have helped the acquisition of the Dalla Mountain Park, the San Juan Skyway Initiative, the Navajo River Watershed Project and Molas Lake Park, among other projects. GOCO funds also helped the City of Durango secure an additional 115-acre purchase in Horse Gulch this week.

As it marks its 15th anniversary of awarding grants, the Great Outdoors Colorado Board is revising its vision and will conduct a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 19 at the Durango Public Library. The meeting is part of a series that GOCO is holding around the state to seek input about the use of GOCO’s portion of Lottery proceeds in the next five years.  “GOCO grants are a smart community investment,” said GOCO Board Chair Norma Anderson.  “The projects awarded grants build recreational and economic assets within Colorado communities.”

For more information, visit


H1N1 vaccine arrives in Durango

The first shipment of swine flu vaccine arrived in La Plata County last week. Eight hundred nasal spray doses of H1N1 vaccine have been distributed to hospitals for vaccinating their front line health-care workers and to other medical providers with direct patient contact. “It’s important that these first relatively few doses go to people who are seeing sick people,” said Lynn Westberg, San Juan Basin Health Department Director. “That way both the patient and health worker are protected.”

San Juan Basin Health Department expects the next shipment of vaccine at the end of next week. This small allotment will be targeted to pregnant women and people who live with or care for infants younger than 6 months. “We need to ensure that those most vulnerable in our community have the opportunity to get vaccinated first,” Westberg said. “We want our community to know that no shortage of H1N1 flu vaccine is currently expected.”

Once demand by the higher-risk groups has been met and supplies are available, H1N1 vaccine will be provided to anyone wishing to receive it. For more information, visit

– Will Sands




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