The San Luis Valley Outdoor Report for the week of April 3. This report is updated every two weeks following each recording of The Outdoor Citizen podcast.
THE latest episode of The Outdoor Citizen podcast features a conversation with Trout Unlimited member Deacon Aspinwall, who talks about the fishing conditions he’s finding in the Upper Rio Grande. The podcast also features a Dark Sky proclamation from SLV GO! and Dani Robben. Listen in HERE.
Marty Jones bikes along South River Road while enjoying Blanca’s snow covered peaks and listening to bird song near by.
US 160 Fort Garland East Wildlife Safety Project
The Colorado Department of Transportation plans to construct a wildlife mitigation project on US Highway 160 in Costilla County, located between Fort Garland and La Veta Pass from Mile Point 258 to 265. The construction is estimated to last 8 months and is scheduled to begin summer of 2023.
The project includes highway safety features and wildlife mitigation components to reduce wildlife-vehicle crashes:
- Wildlife underpasses located at MP 260, MP 262 and MP 264
- 8-foot-tall exclusion fence along both sides of US 160
- Earthen escape ramps for wildlife throughout the fenced corridor
- Deer guards installed at highway approaches and access points
- Acceleration & deceleration lanes at Trinchera Ranch Road
Benefits of the project
CDOT estimates that wildlife-vehicle collisions account for approximately 60 percent of crashes along this highway segment. The $9 million project is expected to reduce those collisions by 85 percent. The project will improve both wildlife and motorist safety while maintaining and fostering habitat connectivity for western Colorado’s mule deer and elk population.
Watch for this project all summer long.
Before we give you ski conditions, we want to give you some wind conditions based on an email exchange with Russ Schumacher, Colorado state climatologist and director of the Colorado Climate Center. We’ve been curious about the windy conditions both in 2022 and now in spring 2023. This is what we learned from Russ:
The spring of 2022 was the third windiest spring on average in the San Luis Valley, after 1999 and 2011. And March 2023 was the second windiest in the last 20 years as measured at a weather station that Colorado State University maintains at San Acacio.
One last note from Russ: “April is the windiest month on average in the SLV, as it is in most of the state.” So there you have it. Be prepared for more wind.
Citizen Field Correspondent Maddy Ahlborn ventures up to Wolf Creek Pass after its snow pounding, noticing the snow height at the summit.
Wolf Creek Ski Area has received 2 inches of fresh snow, and 12 inches over the past week. IT reports a 160-inch summit depth and a 482-inch season total. Wolf Creek is 100 percent open, with 9 of 10 lifts operational.
Monarch Mountain has received NO new snow over the day. It has received just about a foot in the past week. It is 100 percent open with 4 of 7 lifts operational. Monarch is reporting a 72-inch base and 265 inch season total.
Taos Ski Valley Taos has received NO new snow this past day and just a little over seven inches over the past week. It is reporting a 91-inch summit depth.
Avalanche danger is CONSIDERABLE right now, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center.
They said that winds on Tuesday will drift snow into thick slabs at upper elevations. This is where you can trigger avalanches. Winds are coming from the west. The thickest and most dangerous slabs will be found on easterly slopes.
Look for signs of drifting snow such as plumes of snow near ridgetop and cornices overhead to determine which slopes are loaded. Avoid these slopes to reduce your risk of avalanches.
Colorado backcountry avalanche conditions are updated every evening at 4:30 p.m. For the full forecast details and more, go to Avalanche.state.co.us
UPPER RIO GRANDE FLOW NUMBERS
The gauge in Alamosa is reading a discharge of 143 cfs. Monte Vista is reading 256 cfs. and Del Norte is reading 400 cfs.
The USDA is reporting 15.6 inches of equivalent snow water in the Upper Rio Grande
Some ranger news out of the Rio Grande National Forest:
Andrew Kelher has been promoted to acting forest supervisor for the Rio Grande National Forest. He will serve in the role until late July when Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas returns from his temporary assignment as the director of renewable resources for the Rocky Mountain Region of the Forest Service.
And Patrick Moran will serve as acting divide district ranger in Del Norte. Patrick is returning to the RGNF after serving as the Forest’s soil science/ecologist/climate change coordinator on the White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire since July 2021. Prior to that appointment, Moran was the watershed, soils and minerals program manager on the Rio Grande.
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission has a wolf plan meeting scheduled for this Thursday, April 6, in Steamboat Springs. This is the commission’s first review of the final Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan. The meeting will be streamed through the CPW YouTube page.
CPW Reminder: A friendly reminder from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to refrain from feeding wildlife. It is illegal to feed big game animals under Colorado law, primarily because it puts wildlife health and safety at risk, and many cities have implemented additional feeding restrictions for squirrels and rabbits. Those in violation are subject to fines, and even worse, could cause the animal to become sick and die.
GSDNP: It’s April, which means entrance fees to the Great Sand Dunes National Park will be waived on Saturday, April 22, for the kick-off to National Park Week. That night the Great Sand Dunes will host a Locals Night Under the Stars event at the park’s outdoor amphitheater from 8-10:30 p.m.
Here in Alamosa, we’re celebrating We Love Our National Park Month throughout April beginning with a First Fridays Celebration this Friday, April 7.
State of Basin: The fifth annual Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium will be held on Saturday, May 6, at Adams State University. Sponsored by the Adams State Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center, the symposium will begin at 8 a.m. with registration and breakfast. The Rio Grande State of the Basin Symposium is free and open to the public. You can find more information at AlamosaCitizen.com.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
The Valley Calendar is the most comprehensive listing of events from across the San Luis Valley. Make sure to check it out and stay up to date.
Mountain bike rides
SLVGO is beginning their Group Mountain Bike Rides for the season starting Tuesday, April 18. The first ride will be at the Malm Trails in south Alamosa. These bike rides start at 5:30 p.m. and will last roughly two hours. The rides are beginner level and open to the public.
The next two scheduled bike rides are set for Tuesday, April 25, at Alamosa’s Inner and Outer Oxbow Loop trails, and Tuesday, May 2, at the Riparian Park trails.
Dark Sky photo contest
SLVGO is also hosting its Third Annual Dark Sky Photo Contest! The contest takes place from April 1-23. The contest aims to raise awareness of light pollution and celebrate the magic night sky. All the details can be found at slvgo.com/photocontest.
Rio Trio Race
The Third Annual Valley Bottom Rio Trio is happening Saturday, May 27. The race is done right on the Rio Grande in Alamosa. This year’s race will feature an 8-mile trail bike ride, a 3-mile river paddle, and a 5k run. Find registration information at RioRaces.com.
Alamosa Citizen members get the Monday Briefing sent directly to their In boxes – plus a weekly newsletter on Thursdays that summarizes the top stories in the Valley. Member support keeps The Citizen free for all to read.