EXPECT more weather chaos this week. Daytime temps will swing from the 40s to the 20s, with a good chance for snow in the middle of the week. Then it’s back to sunshine and warming temps by the weekend. Here are 7 more items to get the week started:

cooper the weather dog

1. Standing in the middle of the Rio Grande

You’re not supposed to be able to stand in the middle of the Rio Grande (above) in February as we did over the weekend. Doing so is just more evidence of the drying of the river basin and the historically changing weather in Colorado’s high-altitude desert. Colorado Division of Water Resources engineer Pat McDermott put a finer point on the condition of the Upper Rio Grande through a series of slides he presented at last Friday’s closing session of the Southern Rocky Mountain Agricultural Conference in Monte Vista.

McDermott worked his way from 2002 to 2022 to show the impact on the river basin – from a lack of snow, to warmer winters, and dry, windy springs. “As we move through time we’re getting more and more water into April and May, drawing it out of July and August and pushing it forward,” he said.

One big response has been to reduce the amount of groundwater pumping occurring in the Valley so there is less irrigated agriculture. Which leads us to the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and moves they’ll look to make this week.

2. The need to retire more groundwater wells

The Valley needs to retire more groundwater wells in its effort to save the Rio Grande, which is the point of the Groundwater Compliance Fund. It holds $60 million thanks to legislation adopted by the Colorado Legislature last year, half of which is targeted for the San Luis Valley. To get there the Rio Grande Water Conservation District Board has to develop and adopt criteria so Valley irrigators can apply for a piece of the pie.

During a special meeting of the board at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 17, those criteria will get discussed and possibly approved, depending on agreement. Cleave Simpson, general manager of the conservation district and state senator who sponsored the legislation, has said developing the guidelines to access the money has been much more difficult than drafting and getting the legislation approved. There will be more on this topic as the week progresses.

group of people standing around a table

3. National Heritage Act signed

Julie Chacon, executive director of the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area, was part of last week’s signing of the National Heritage Areas Act in Washington, D.C. The federal act provides new funding for national heritage areas like the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area and the Rio Grande National Heritage Area in northern New Mexico. Having two national heritage areas in the region puts Valley residents in the heart of one of the largest culturally significant areas in the United States. Watch for the two heritage areas to collaborate more in the future as they showcase the historic lands of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico.

“NHAs are designated by Congress as places where natural, cultural, and historical resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important stories. Unlike national parks, NHAs are lived-in communities and not federally owned but may contain parks or other federally owned property. Through public-private partnerships, NHAs tell nationally important stories that celebrate our nation’s diverse heritage,” said National Park Service (NPS) Director Chuck Sams.

Adams State track runner Robles

4. She does it again

Brianna Robles, the sensational runner for Adams State, set another NCAA Division II record over the weekend when she clocked 15 minutes, 47.88 seconds in the indoor 5,000 meters. Robles was racing at an indoor meet in Boston when she broke the old record of 16:01.09 set in 2011. The superstar runner from Texas is the defending NCAA DII women’s 5,000-meter champion. She’ll look to make it back-to-back indoor national titles at the 2023 NCAA DII Indoor Championships March 10-11 in Virginia Beach.

talent show hosts

5. A live talent show to raise money for good old Adams State

Back live at Richardson Hall this Thursday is Adams State Gives Day, which returns for a fourth year but the first time an audience can watch the show live on campus since the inaugural show in 2020. John Taylor, director of the theater program at Adams State, and Alamosa Mayor Ty Coleman team up to host the fast-paced, 90-minute talent show, which begins at 6 p.m. It will feature students and alumni alike performing to raise money for the university. Freddie Jaquez, one of the Valley’s finest guitarists, will close the show. He gave us a preview of what he’ll play during this recent episode of The Valley Pod. As you listen you’ll also note our $500 pledge to help support Adams State. We hope you’ll pitch in as well.

map of downtown Alamosa, left, and planners' visualization of Hunt Ave, with seating, art, and pedestrian-friendly features and crosswalk at Main

6. Alamosa sets public hearing for Hunt Avenue Cultural Trail agreement

The city of Alamosa has set a public hearing for March 1 on an intergovernmental agreement with the Colorado Department of Transportation, which will flow in money for the Hunt Avenue Cultural Trail. The cultural trail is a key piece in Alamosa’s Main Street revitalization efforts. The $1.2 million project is funded through a state grant and is expected to begin this year.

a couple standing with an old photo of themselves

7. Our Valentines, plus

We’re softies. We love showcasing love stories for Valentine’s Day. This year we write about the 44-year marriage of Herman and Patsy Martinez, two of our most favorite Valley storytellers whose love for music and dance has led them to make their own meaningful contributions and reflections on life in the San Luis Valley. You can read their story here.

Our Valentines don’t end there. In our request for love stories we learned about Tani Moore, and her fiance, Andrew. They’re getting married this Valentine’s Day after being together as a couple for four years. “I couldn’t have found a better valentine and best friend,” Tani tells us. Our congratulations to the Valentine’s Day couple.


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