IN today’s Daily Report: Newsy Alamosa City Council meeting on Wednesday. Here’s a recap. Plus, what about the deer?
Alamosa City Council Recap
Short-term rental ordinance moves forward: The city council approved on its first reading and then set up a public hearing for the city’s ordinance to regulate short-term rentals. The public hearing will be on Dec. 1. The city council showed preference for a 300-foot buffer between short-term rentals, and asked staff to include language that would allow a city license for a short-term rental to transfer with the sale of property. It also wants to give investors more time to get into the short-term rental business before the city ordinance would take effect. Expect testimony for and against the short-term rental ordinance when the public hearing is held in December. Here’s The Citizen’s earlier story that lays out the reasons why the city is addressing the Airbnb market.
New restaurant on Fourth Street: The city council heard an application for a liquor license for The Friar’s Fork Restaurant at 607 Fourth Street. The location is the former St. Thomas Episcopal Church building that Denise Vigil has purchased and is converting into a restaurant and tavern featuring Italian/Mediterranean cuisine. Vigil, the daughter of former state legislator Ed Vigil, said the project will turn into “another lovely jewel to shine and to be proud of.” Vigil attended culinary school and has a background of working for top chefs and managing food and beverage operations, including multiple Starbucks. Her concept sounds amazing and the restaurant and tavern will certainly add flavor to Alamosa’s dining experience.
Good year for Cattails Golf Course: Eddie Valdez, president of the Cattails Golf Course advisory board, said it’s been a banner year for the 18-hole course. He said membership revenue is up $40,000 over 2020, and that pay-to-play revenue is also up $40,000. He credited the city for helping reposition the golf course through a management agreement. “Members were concerned that maybe it wasn’t a great idea,” he said of how the city took over management of the course from the volunteer board. “I’m happy to say members are really pleased to be under the operation of the city.”
Deer and SARS-CoV-2 virus
Recent studies have seen a large case rate of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in North American White Tail deer populations that could have serious long-term complications. The Citizen’s Owen Woods reached out to Colorado Parks and Wildlife to see if this is a cause for concern for deer in Alamosa, and the San Luis Valley as a whole. Brent Frankland, CPW’s terrestrial biologist for the Valley, said CPW is aware of it, and that transmission hasn’t been recorded or detected in Mule Deer. “It’s not much of a concern at this stage.”
According to CPW’s Branding and Communications Section Manager Rebecca Ferrell, “there are currently no published data available on SARS-CoV-2 in Colorado deer. Research to see if the results are repeatable in other deer species and in other parts of the country is ongoing.”
In Northeast and Midwest states, specifically Iowa, researchers have taken surveys of both captive and wild deer and have detected an alarming rate of the virus in deer. These surveys were conducted by testing the lymph nodes of both the wild “free-living” deer and captive deer. They also took samples from deer that had been hunted.
In a 2020 survey, researchers found that roughly 30 percent of the 283 deer tested had positive samples of the virus. A study that took place from November 2020 to January 2021 saw 80 positive tests among 97 tested animals.
Another study suggests populations of white tail deer could act as SARS-CoV-2 “reservoirs” that, currently, have unknown effects on human populations. There have not been any documented transmissions from deer to humans, but the possibility of the virus mutating in the deer and potentially spilling over to other animals or humans remains a concern.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife is keeping an eye on it as more research comes out. Colorado has a buffer area of public, open lands that can slow down a transmission process, but due to an expansion of housing and recreation, any handling of animals risks a pathogen transference.
Frankland said that Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and Blue Tongue Hemorrhagic Disease are more of a concern in Colorado’s deer populations right now. He said that of the reported deer deaths in the Valley within the last few weeks, a majority of them were found dead from Blue Tongue, but that due to the cold weather, the vectors for transfer have been limited, and deaths from Blue Tongue are slowing down.
There have been no positive Chronic Wasting Disease reports in the San Luis Valley. However, Frankland said that due to animals traveling to the La Veta and Durango drainages, where there remains a low prevalence of CWD, it’s “only a matter of time before we see it here.”