WE can officially put February 2023 in the cold temperature record books. Alamosa had record low temps of -23 on Feb. 16 and -24 on Feb. 17 in the aftermath of last week’s snowstorm. We trust everyone has been looking after their critters in this cold. Good to have snow on the ground and good for the cold temps that followed. Here’s more to get the week started.
1. A $30 million buy-and-dry to help recover the Rio Grande
You only had to sit through Friday’s special meeting of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District to understand how dire the situation is on the Upper Rio Grande and with the Valley’s irrigated agriculture economy. Tensions with crop producers are also becoming more evident as the pressure to bring sustainability to the Rio rises. The RGWCD board approved loan conditions for subdistricts 4 and 5 to complete purchases of more water wells the subdistricts can retire to help recover groundwater depletions. Then they took up SB22-028 which established the Groundwater Compact Compliance Fund and it was nearly three hours of emotional discussion that led to another meeting being called for Feb. 28 to finish the work.
“We’re going to have to ask staff to take in proposals from people who own wells and transfer those wells to the district so the district can shut down production of those wells in order to leave water in the aquifer,” said attorney David Robbins in summing up the gist of the 2022 legislation. He then made the finer point that this is permanent suspension of the groundwater wells, a complete “buy and dry up to $30 million on groundwater wells and the accompanying land.” There’s $60 million in the Groundwater Compact Compliance Fund to be split between the Upper Rio Grande and the Republican River Basin.
2. Worker-owned mushroom farm under study
Displaced Colorado Mushroom Farm workers gathered at Boyd School on Saturday to get more information on what a worker-owned mushroom farm would look like. As Flora Archuleta of the Immigrant Resource Center told us on The Valley Pod, there is strong interest from financial backers. The question now is whether the former workers want to take on the job of starting the mushroom farm back up. Here’s more on the story.
3. Mobile Vaccine Unit may be around into May
The Mobile Vaccine Unit that has been so critical to helping public health nurses in the San Luis Valley improve COVID vaccinations rates is slated to end its service March 1. However, a funding request has been made to keep it in the Valley through May 11 to coincide with the end of the public health emergency. If you missed it, you really should listen to this Valley Pod episode with Mineral County Public Health Nurse Joni Adelman. It’s full of great statistical data on the Valley’s COVID vaccinations rates (residents 65-over have a 99 percent vaccination rate) and Adelman is great at explaining why it still makes sense to get the COVID boosters if you haven’t already. We think public health nurses like Adelman are the MVPs (Most Valuable People) of the COVID era and we’re grateful for them and their work these past three years.
4. Outdoor recreation and the Monte Vista economy
Ever since Gigi Dennis became city manager of Monte Vista at the end of 2021, she’s been looking for a hook to get Monte Vista moving in some new directions. This week Dennis, in partnership with SLV GO!, will convene a three-day workshop to brainstorm ways Monte Vista can create an outdoor recreation economy for itself. Monte Vista got to this stage after it was among 25 communities nationwide selected to participate in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “Recreation Economy for Rural Communities” planning assistance grant. Gigi Dennis will be a guest on The Outdoor Citizen podcast this week with Marty Jones
5. The season of Lent
The Lenten season arrives with Ash Wednesday this week. For the Valley’s large Catholic community it’s a period of re-examinination and re-focus of the spiritual lives. The season culminates with Easter on April 9, 2023.
6. Early look at the weekend
Bluesy Americana artist Seth Walker hits the stage at Society Hall in Alamosa at 7 p.m. this Friday. “I had the opportunity to see Seth and his trio last fall at the Four Corners Folk Fest, and I have to say it was the coolest and most engaging set of music I’ve seen in a long time – effortless and fluid, cruising through and across stylistic boundaries like they never existed, seemingly focused on one thing – connecting with the people and lifting them up. Don’t miss this guy,” says Don Richmond. That’s good enough for us. See you at the show.
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