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Wild Horse Mesa, Colorado

Wild Horse Mesa
San Luis Valley, Costilla County, Colorado
Click for San Luis, Colorado Forecast

San Luis Valley News

News and information from around the San Luis Valley
Alamosa Valley Courier 
Conejos County Citizen 
Antonito News

La Veta Signature
Pueblo Chieftain, San Luis Valley News  
The Taos News 

February 27, 2016, Judy Barnes' Quest to Protect Wild Horse Mesa Mustangs Congratulations to Judy Barnes and her Spirit of the Wild Horse foundation, working to protect and preserve the wild horses. See lifestyle article in the Taos News at http://www.taosnews.com/lifestyle/article_582b26c4-dceb-11e5-bc29-47c079fd430b.html

January 28, 2016, Beware of Large Elk Herds in San Luis Valley Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) has issued a traffic advisory for motorists in the San Luis Valley.  Beware of other traffic if you stop to watch elk or other wildlife.  Do not stop suddenly if there is a vehicle behind you. When safe, pull over to the side of the road.  Beware of traffic before exiting your vehicle. Some herds number as large as 600-700 elk along Highway 159 near San Luis. Elk are most frequently seen in early morning or late afternoon.  Please drive safely. See article and video at http://gazette.com/video-large-herds-of-elk-drawing-plenty-of-attention-in-southern-colorado/article/1568701 

November 23, 2015, News from Spirit of the Wild Horse Foundation 1. Attempted wild horse theft near the lake, Sanchez Reservoir. 2. 28 wild horses stolen and taken to slaughter in Mexico. 3. BLM selling wild horses to be slaughtered in Mexico. 4. Rio Grande Wild Horse Preserve with campground planned near Hwy 142 to protect 200 Spanish mustangs. 5. Donations needed for winter hay for wild horses. Tax deductible. https://www.facebook.com/Spirit.of.the.Wild.Horse/posts/1795179637376284  http://www.spiritofthewildhorse.com/ 

September 22, 2015, New Off-Grid Residents in Costilla County County commissioners may require water, septic and electricity to be installed before granting a building permit, due to an influx of 800 off-grid residents camping in RVs on cheap undeveloped land.  Camping is restricted to 14 days in a 3-month period on the same parcel.  See story at Colorado Public Radio http://www.cpr.org/news/story/costilla-county-tempers-flare-fight-over-how-live 

March 21, 2015, Taos Airport Adding Second Runway Work has started to add a second runway at Taos Regional Airport, northwest of Taos, along Highway 64. During construction, the current runway has been temporarily shortened by 1000 feet to accommodate construction equipment. The shorter runway means about 50% of aircraft will not be able to use the airport during construction.  When finished, in about one year, the first runway will be shortened by only 420 feet to comply with federal safety guidelines, so it does not cross the new runway. 

February 12, 2015, Taos Airport Plans $24-million Expansion The Taos Regional Airport is planning a $24-mllion expansion to add a second runway. A Taos judge has ruled he will not halt the expansion. Opponents of the project are concerned about changes in land use and air traffic over the area, northwest of Taos, along Highway 64, near the Rio Grande River. Opponents may appeal to the county planning and zoning commission and the county commissioners.

November 13, 2014, New Traffic Webcams Near Wild Horse Mesa: The Colorado Department of Transportation has installed new traffic webcams on Highway 159, south of San Luis at the New Mexico border.  That location is about 5 miles south of the west entrance to Wild Horse Mesa. The webcam facing northeast shows a view of Wild Horse Mesa and provides a good indication of weather and road conditions in the area.  The webcams have been added to our webcam gallery page, along with other new webcams on US Hwy 285 in Conejos County, at the New Mexico border, south of Antonito.

March 6, 2014, New Traffic Webcam Coming to San Luis: The Colorado Department of Transportation has announced they will be installing a new traffic webcam on Highway 159 south of San Luis at the New Mexico border.  That location is just 5 miles south of the west entrance to Wild Horse Mesa and will give a good indication of weather and road conditions in the area.  We will add the webcam to our website when it is available. Webcams in Alamosa and Antonito are already available.

January 5, 2014, 8:45 AM, Crash on US 160 at La Veta Pass: Colorado State Patrol in Alamosa reports that traffic on US 160, 2 miles west of La Veta Pass is currently reduced to one lane of alternating traffic between mile markers 275-276 due to a crash involving a car and a semi. One fatality is confirmed.  Expect delays.  Roads are icy and snow packed. Temperature 4 degrees, wind 7 MPH.  Update 1:45 PM: US 160 at La Veta Pass is completely open again.

June 26, 2013, Wildfire: The East Peak Wildfire is located in a forested area near East Spanish Peak, in southern Huerfano County, 8 miles southwest of Walsenburg.  Size is over 13,000 acres, 12 homes have been lost.  Over 750 firefighters are assisting.  The pre-evacuation status for Walsenburg has been lifted.  Radio station KSPK in Walsenburg is providing frequent news updates on the wildfire.  You can listen onlineDue to the dry conditions, there is a fire ban in Costilla County.

September 14, 2012, Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area established
Land owner and conservationist Louis Bacon has donated a conservation easement on nearly 77,000 acres of his 81,400-acre Trinchera Ranch to help establish the Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area, in partnership with the US Fish and Wildlife Service and Colorado Open Lands.  This is in addition to an adjacent 90,000 acre conservation easement on his Blanca Ranch. The new Sangre de Cristo Conservation Area will be part of the National Wildlife Refuge System and help preserve the heritage of the land in its undeveloped state.  See press release
See fact sheet and map from US Fish and Wildlife Service.Mountain-Prairie Region 

June 15, 2012, $2 Million Project Planned at Sanchez Reservoir
A project is underway by the Sanchez Ditch and Reservoir Company to replace the 100-year-old, 150-foot concrete gate tower at Sanchez Reservoir, east of Wild Horse Mesa.  Design work will be completed in 2013, with construction to begin in the fall of 2014 and project completion in March 2015.  The old gate tower near the dam will be demolished with explosives and laid over into the reservoir.  It will be replaced with a new tower and gates to control water flow to the surrounding farmland in the San Luis area.  See story in the Valley Courier.

June 10, 2012, Horse Abandonment on the Rise in the Southwest
The struggling economy, drought, rising cost of hay, closing of horse slaughterhouses, and overflowing horse rescue centers are combining to cause an increase in horse abuse and abandonment by owners in the Southwest.  Unwanted horses are being sold at auctions for export to slaughterhouses in Mexico and Canada.  A Roswell, NM businessman is trying to open the first horse slaughterhouse in the US in five years, but is meeting delays in the application process due to the volatile opinions on this topic.  In Colorado, investigations for horse abuse and neglect have increased more than 60 percent since horse slaughter was banned in the US. See story in Albuquerque Journal.

May 31, 2012, Six Ailing Horses Abandoned in Costilla County
Authorities are looking for the person that abandoned six domestic horses near San Luis, on County Road 10 near County Road Z.  Crime Stoppers is offering a reward for information that leads to the responsible party.  Anyone with information can call the Costilla County Sheriff's Office, Colorado Humane Society or Crime Stoppers.  See article in the Denver Post.   Update: The horses are now getting treatment at the Harmony Equine Center in Franktown.  One horse was so sick and malnourished it had to be put down.  They hope to nurse the horses back to health and then put them up for adoption in several months.  See story and news video from KKTV.  See story in the Valley Courier.

February 25, 2012, Town Water Supply Contamination in San Luis
A water sample taken on February 21 showed the town water supply for San Luis is contaminated with E. coli bacteria.  Residents are under a boil water advisory until further notice.  No water-related illnesses have been reported.  Centennial School has canceled classes for next week.  Free bottled water is available to residents at the San Luis fire station, 300 Gaspar St.  Municipal water should be boiled rapidly for at least three minutes.  Discard ice cubes.  Flush household water systems.  For more information go to www.SanLuisValleyHealth.org and www.CostillaCounty-CO.govUpdate: Feb. 28th, 5:00 PM, End of Boil Water Advisory- The State Water Quality Control Division has granted approval to the San Luis Water and Sanitation District to resume services as usual.  Residents must first flush their water lines according to posted instructions before using water.

June 5, 2011, Hell's Gate Fire Near La Garita

A fire in Rio Grande National Forest burned 78 acres near Hell's Gate, a rock formation in Penitente Canyon, on Saguache County Rd 40G, about 18 miles north of Del Norte, west of La Garita Trading Post.  Fifty personnel from volunteer fire departments in Saguache, Alamosa and Rio Grande Counties, US Forest Service firefighters, and a Hot Shot crew from BLM in Craig responded, as well as water drops from a fire fighting plane from Cañon City.  The SLV American Red Cross provided food and assistance.  Poso and Storm King Campgrounds off County Rd 41G were evacuated.  No structures were damaged and no injuries were reported.  The steep and rocky terrain helped to limit the fire.  The cause of the fire is suspected to be human related, not weather related.  Winds were not a factor, but the area is dry.  The area is popular with rock climbers.

June 2, 2011 Forest Fires Creating Smoke in San Luis Valley
Forest fires in northeast Arizona and Taos County, New Mexico are creating smoke which is drifting across the San Luis Valley.  In Taos County, the Osha Fire, in the Carson National Forest, about 20 miles south of Taos, near Sipapu Ski area on Highway 518, has burned over 600 acres.  It was caused when a falling tree downed a power line, and has closed the highway and caused residents to evacuate the area.  Smoke from the Wallow Fire, southeast of Show Low, Arizona is also migrating east.  The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has issued a Smoke Health Advisory for the San Luis Valley, northeast to Colorado Springs.  CDPHE has also issued a Blowing Dust Advisory for several areas including the San Luis Valley, due to strong southwest winds carrying dust long distances.  Individuals with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young and the elderly should limit prolonged exertion.  View Colorado Air Quality Map.

May 13, 2011 La Veta Pass webcam to be upgraded in July
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will be upgrading the antiquated black and white webcam on La Veta Pass and several other remote locations, in July, to a new generation camera with improved communications.  The new camera will be similar to the color camera currently used on US 285 at Jefferson (near Fairplay).  Communication improvements will include a more powerful cellular antenna and modem.  There is no standard electrical power at the site.  The camera is powered by solar panels with limited capacity.  A wind powered turbine generator may be added to provide additional power.  The new equipment will improve the quality of the webcam images from La Veta Pass.  

The location is also part of a weather station network.  A regional computer server contacts the site, by dial-up modem, and other remote locations from Raton Pass to La Junta, to collect webcam images and weather information. The regional server then passes the collected information on to the central server and eventually to the CDOT website at COtrip.org to display traffic webcams and road conditions to the public.  Due to the slower dial-up technology used, the webcam snapshot is currently updated about once every 30 minutes.  More frequent updates are under consideration. 

[Photo: trucks on La Veta Pass in snow storm, looking west toward Mount Blanca, webcam photo from May 14, 2010, 8 PM]
(see WildHorseMesaColorado.com for the live webcam from La Veta Pass)

May 9, 2011  Fatal crash near La Veta Pass closes Highway 160; 2 Dead, 2 Hurt
A fatal head-on crash near La Veta Pass, 10 miles northeast of Fort Garland, near mile marker 268, around 11:18 am this morning closed Highway 160 between Fort Garland and Walsenburg, from mile markers 258 to 304.  Two people are dead and 2 others suffered injuries according to the Colorado State Patrol.  Two medical choppers were called in.  The road closure began at 11:30 am and was reopened just before 3 pm.  Road conditions were dry with high winds.  Alternate route is US 285, US 50.

A Pueblo woman, Natasha Garcia-Reed, 25, driving a 2005 Chevrolet Colorado pickup, headed westbound, was apparently speeding and passing in a no-passing zone, and collided head-on with a 2005 Ford F-250 pickup, driven by Henry Vasquez, 59, of Elbert.  Both drivers were killed.  The truck was also hauling a horse in a horse trailer.  The horse was not injured.  Vasquez's wife, Louise Vasquez, with moderate injuries, and a child in the Chevrolet, with critical injuries, were taken by helicopter to Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs.  The crash is under investigation.

(see WildHorseMesaColorado.com for the live webcam from La Veta Pass)

May 7, 2011  Wild Horse Inmate Program (WHIP) in Colorado
Wild horses tamed by prison inmates in Canon City, Colorado are being used by the US Border Patrol.  Read article  

Sept 2, 2010  Air Force Proposing Flight Training Over Southern Colorado
CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. (AP) - The Air Force is proposing a low-altitude training area over northern New Mexico and southern Colorado.  The Air Force is seeking public comments about its intent to do an environmental assessment to evaluate potential environmental consequences.

The Clovis News Journal (www.cnjonline.com) says the training area, called a low-altitude tactical navigation area, would provide airspace for training operations involving C-130 and CV-22 aircraft.  The airspace would be used by Air Force Special Operation Forces at Cannon Air Force Base near Clovis in eastern New Mexico.

The Air Force says training would consist of about three sorties in a 24-hour period, or about 688 flights annually.  It says aircraft would fly 200 to 3,000 feet above ground level, and most flights would be after dusk and on weekdays.

July 22, 2010  Costilla County Sheriff to Provide San Luis Police Services
Due to a city budget deficit, the town of San Luis, population 739, has laid off its police force of 5 part-time officers, police chief and maintenance staff.  Sales tax revenue and property tax revenue are both down due to the slow economy.  The town's board of trustees has signed an agreement giving the Costilla County Sheriff the authority to provide police coverage to the town, including patrol services and criminal investigations.  Another decision to rehire the police force will be made once the budget deficit is cleared, hopefully by the end of the year.

March 2010   Weather Spotters Wanted in Southern Colorado
The National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) is looking for additional weather spotters in southern Colorado. During winter season, these citizen volunteers are asked to primarily report snow depth and occurrences of ice, wind, and fog, and during the warm season, severe weather conditions such as severe thunderstorms, large hail, heavy rain, flash floods, high winds and tornados, etc. and directly report them to the weather service in Pueblo via their toll-free number.  No special skills are needed.  SKYWARN training is available.  Useful equipment includes a ruler or yardstick to measure snow depth and hail diameter, wind gauge, rain gauge, weather log book, weather radio, and a good observation point.  If you are interested in being a weather spotter please call NWS at 719-948-3371 (Pueblo) or 719-589-3232 (Alamosa).  For more information visit www.crh.noaa.gov/pub/?n=/wcm/spotters.php.  Free Weather Spotter Field Guide.

December 30, 2009   Colorado Resources to Help You Quit Smoking
Make a resolution to quit smoking and there are some free and low cost resources to help you save money, save your health and save your life.  The Colorado Tobacco Education and Prevention Alliance (CTEPA) and the Latino Statewide Tobacco Prevention and Education Network (LSTPEN) want you to know about the resources available to Colorado residents that use tobacco.  Programs include the free Colorado Quit Line (1-800-QUIT-NOW) with coaching support in English and Spanish and nicotine patches.  Medicaid also offers low cost stop-smoking medications.  An estimated 18% of Colorado residents are smokers, costing the state more than $1.3 billion per year in health care expenses.  Stop smoking.  Call for help.
Read the full press release

December 2009  Family Dollar Store Grand Opening on January 14th in San Luis
Low priced national retailer, Family Dollar, plans to open their new 8,000 square foot store on Main Street in San Luis on January 14th.  Started in 1959, the chain currently is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  It has over 6,600 stores in 44 states.  (See FamilyDollar website)

October 7, 2009  Western Wild Horses May Be Moved East
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is proposing to move wild horses – for many an iconic image of the wildness of the West – to controlled preserves in the East or Midwest.  More than 33,000 wild horses live in 10 Western states, where they have no natural predators.
Article Link from NewWest.net online news source   

September 4, 2009  Viaero Wireless to Install 3 Cell Phone Towers Near La Veta
Huerfano County Commissioners approved 3 new cell phone towers near La Veta that will improve cell phone service in Huerfano, Custer and Las Animas counties, and the San Luis Valley.  The La Veta guy wired tower will be 120 feet high, northwest of La Veta airstrip, .4 miles from Highway 160.  The Sangre guy-wired tower, near Old La Veta Pass, will be 185 feet high, off Highway 160 (see map for tower site).  A "strong" tower, without guy wires, will be 185 feet high, along Highway 69, near Badito, northwest of Walsenburg.  The towers may each hold up to 6 microwave dish antennas, each 6 feet in diameter.  Construction is planned to be completed before winter.  Viaero is a roaming service partner for AT&T and T-Mobile.  Broadband Internet service is also being considered by the Fort Morgan based company that provides wireless services to rural areas.  www.viaero.com

September 2, 2009  Family Dollar Store Coming to San Luis
Low priced national retailer, Family Dollar, plans to build a new 8,000 square foot store on one acre on Main Street in San Luis.  Construction should start soon and take about 120 days.  Started in 1959, the chain currently is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  It has over 6,600 stores in 44 states.  (See FamilyDollar website)

September 1, 2009  Valley-Wide Health Systems Closes Old Health Clinic in San Luis
The old San Luis health clinic, built in 1957, has closed.  A new health clinic was built last year, but will not be operational for months until Medicare licensing is approved.  Meanwhile patients will need to travel to Alamosa or elsewhere for medical services.  Valley-Wide may bring in a mobile health clinic, if funds and staff are available.

August 17, 2009  UnitedHealthcare Launches Rural Telehealth Program
Connected Care Telehealth uses advanced two-way audio, video and medical equipment technology to connect patients in rural areas with physicians and specialists located many miles away.  Equipment will be installed initially in early 2010 at 4 rural health clinics to be selected. Eventually may be available for in-home use for a high-tech "house call".  Read Connected Care article    (See video section for Connected Care demonstration)  
Follow-up:  November 28, 2009 Buena Vista, Del Norte, Lamar and Leadville chosen as pilot Telehealth sites.

August 12, 2009  Excellent 2009 Potato Harvest for San Luis Valley  
Near ideal weather this season has helped to produce an excellent potato crop that will be harvested soon from 56,000 acres.  Peak shipments should occur in mid-September.  Recent USDA reported prices were $14 per 50-lb carton for Idaho russet 40-70s, down from $22 last year.
Article Link  The Packer

July 20, 2009  Colorado accepting grant applications for rural broadband internet
The state will accept the applications until August 14. The applications will help Colorado get its share of more than $7 billion in federal stimulus money designed to improve the nation’s high-speed internet infrastructure.  The announcement last week is only one of several efforts that the state is making to attract as much money as it can from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA).  The state is promising to give priority to applications that provide internet services to community anchor institutions such as schools, libraries and medical providers, use existing infrastructure, enhance internet services to underserved areas, and show long-term sustainability.   

Press Release Announcing Federal Grant Applications for Broadband Internet in Colorado
Broadband Internet Grant Public Meetings, streaming videos from Denver
Connect Colorado, non-profit working to bring broadband Internet service to all areas of Colorado

July 1, 2009  Colorado Water Laws Permit Rain Water Collection in Rural Areas
New water laws effective on July 1, 2009 now permit limited rain water collection on residential properties in rural areas.  See Colorado Rain Water Collection Laws.  (So far, 2009 has been a very good year for spring run off, precipitation and recharging of well levels, lakes, reservoirs and the aquifer in the Rio Grande Water Conservation District.)

July 2009  US Highway 160 Resurfacing, east of Alamosa
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) started a 7-mile long resurfacing project on US 160, east of Alamosa, on July 13, with a scheduled completion date of September 21.  The section runs from mile point 233, just west of SH 17, to mile point 240.  Motorists will encounter single-lane, alternating traffic from 8 am to 7 pm, Monday through Thursday, (and some Friday work).  20 minute delays possible.  Funding is from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  For more information, visit www.cotrip.org.  Please drive safely and "slow for the cone zone".

July 2009  Second Runway Under Study at Taos Regional Airport
www.taosairport.org  A draft version of an environmental impact report is being written in July 2009 to study construction of a second runway at Taos Regional Airport.  A new east-west runway would reduce safety concerns of crosswinds.  Winds frequently blow perpendicular to the existing north-south runway, sometimes making landings challenging.  Hearings and comment periods will follow before the FAA makes a final decision. 

July 2009  Four Solar Energy Study Areas in San Luis Valley-  
The US Department of Energy (DOE) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are studying four areas on BLM lands in southern Colorado for utility-scale solar energy development.  Some of the study areas may become solar energy zones in the future.  The public comment period ends on July 30, 2009.   Map of Colorado solar energy study areas.

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