San Luis Valley

Colorado Department of Transportation Facebook

The Spring Fire burning in southern Colorado is now 55% contained, up from 43% on Saturday. It's burned 106,985 acres. The Colorado Department of Transportation has reopened Highway 160 between La Veta and Fort Garland. Colorado Highway 12 remains closed from La Veta to Cuchara Pass. Colorado 69 will also stay closed from near Walsenburg to the Huerfano/Custer County Line. Local traffic will be allowed on 69; proof of residence is required.

Spring Fire 2018 Facebook page / Rocky Mountain Indicident Management

The Spring Fire in southern Colorado is now 105,704 acres and 35% contained. The Colorado Department of Transportation anticipates reopening Highway 160 on Saturday at 2:00 p.m. Colorado 12 will remain closed from La Veta to the summit of Cuchara Pass. Colorado Highway 69 will remain closed to all except local traffic; proof of residence is required. Some evacuation notices in Huerfano County have been lifted.

Courtesy Spring Fire 2018 Facebook page

The Spring Fire continues to grow quickly, with reports showing a burn area of more than 94,125 acres. That's an increase of 10,000 acres since previously reported. Containment has remained steady at 5%. Most of the land is under private ownership, while state and federal lands are also affected.

@CSP_Alamosa/Twitter

The total acreage burned by the Spring Fire continues to grow. As of Tuesday morning, officials say 78,941 acres, more than 120 square miles has been effect. The containment level of the fire decreased to 5% Tuesday, down from 10% the day before. 104 homes are confirmed destroyed.

BLM, Esri, HERE, Garmin, USGS, NGA, EPA, USDA, NPS / Inciweb

Authorities have arrested a suspect on arson charges related to the Spring Fire burning in Costilla and Huerfano Counties in southern Colorado. Jesper Jorgenson, 52, was arrested without incident by Costilla County deputies in an investigation that also included the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, state arson investigators, Colorado State Patrol, and Immigration and Customs agents. The investigation is still ongoing, and no further information is available.

courtesy Colorado Department of Transportation

Update 5:39 p.m., Friday 6/29/18: In Huerfano County, mandatory evacuations are in place for residents in Tres Valles, Paradise Acres, Raspberry Mountain, Pine Haven, and the Cuchara Valley. At this time, La Veta is not part of the mandatory evacuation but remains on pre-evacuation notice. 

Any large animals being held at the 4H barn in La Veta can stay, but a secondary location is open at the Las Animas County Fairgrounds.

A warm spring has already melted much of the limited snowpack that sits high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. Water is already flowing through the ditches near the rural village of San Pablo.

It’s 9 a.m. on a windy Saturday morning. Every now and then Dan Quintana -- in weathered work gloves and a ball cap -- raises up his shovel and slams it into the mud and matted willows that line the waterway that runs through his hay fields. His slight frame makes it easy for him to jump across the narrow ditch.

In the summer of 2002, water pumps in Colorado’s San Luis Valley stopped working.

The center pivot sprinklers that coax shoots from the dry soil and turn the valley into one of the state’s most productive agricultural regions strained so hard to pull water from an underground aquifer that they created sunken pits around them.

“This one right over here,” says potato farmer Doug Messick as he walks toward a sprinkler, near the town of Center. He's the farm manager for the valley's Spud Grower Farms. “I came up to it one day and I could’ve driven my pickup in that hole.”

Neighborly Cooperation Keeps Alive Acequia System of Irrigation

May 10, 2016
Katherine-Claire Nynas

Water rights can be a touchy topic for Colorado families whose livelihoods are tied to the resource's availability. But in the tight knit community of San Luis in southern Colorado, a group of farmers and ranchers uses old methods of cooperation to help ensure healthy livestock and a good harvest in the arid region.

Monday Newscast, 4/25/16, 7:04 AM

Apr 25, 2016

Newscast for Monday, April 25, 2016, 7:04 AM:


Screen Grab from THE RIDER AND THE WOLF by Grit and Thistle Film Company

UPDATE: On Monday, 4/25/16, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation officially confirmed that the remains found in January in Saguache County were those of Mike Rust. An investigation into Rust's death is ongoing. Stay tuned to KRCC for more information. 

On this special episode of Wish We Were Here: Tales and Investigations from the Shadows of America's Mountain, we worked with Nathan Ward at Grit and Thistle Film Company to produce an audio version of last year's documentary The Rider and the Wolf about the life and disappearance of Hall-of-Fame mountain biker Mike Rust. Rust went missing from his home in Colorado's remote San Luis Valley on March 31, 2009. On January 8, 2016, the remains of a body that may be Mike Rust's were discovered after a tip came in to the Saguache County Sheriff's Department.

Drones to Take to the Sky in the San Luis Valley

Nov 24, 2015

Two different drones will take flight over the San Luis Valley following Federal Aviation Administration approval. 

The FAA has approved the launching and testing of two drones in an 8000 square mile airspace near the airport in Alamosa County.

Brian Argrow, professor of aerospace and engineering sciences at The University of Colorado Boulder, was involved in getting FAA approval. "Everyday there's some new application that people are using the drones for and this is all in the interest of tapping into this market," he said.

Shrinking Aquifers in the San Luis Valley

Jul 29, 2013
Maeve Conran

In early July, Colorado designated 14 counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to agricultural losses caused by the recent and ongoing drought.  Several of those counties are in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado.  Farmers there are now eligible for low interest emergency loans, but as KGNU’s Maeve Conran reports, that may not be enough for this agricultural hub, which is facing a long term water crisis that could permanently affect the entire valley.