Southern Colorado

David Santisevan / The World Journal

A statute of frontiersman Kit Carson was vandalized in Trinidad this week. Someone wrote the word "murderer" across the front and back of the base in black spray paint.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

A century ago the U.S. Forest Service's first landscape architect argued for protecting wilderness, but that didn't stop him from also making it easier to drive into the nation's forests. Arthur Carhart wrote the agency's first recreation plan and completed it in June 1920. It was for the San Isabel National Forest west of Pueblo.

Jami Esquibel / Courtesy Estrella Delicia Vargas

Protesters across Colorado and the country continue to call for police reforms in the wake of the killing of George Floyd. In recent days, people in smaller communities have also joined in, including in La Junta and Westcliffe. There have also been protests along the southern Colorado border. 

Mike Procell / 91.5 KRCC

As the state slowly reopens, projects underway before the COVID-19 crisis have to pass the new budget realities at all levels of government. 

Recently, Colorado's Joint Budget Committee sat down to start debating upwards of $3 billion dollars in cuts. That has led some people in Southern Colorado to try and figure out when one favorite project will move forward - the development and opening of the new state park at Fisher's Peak. 

With all that's going on in the world right now, we wondered what life experience and family history might be able to tell us. As part of KRCC's Shortening the Distance project, producer Shanna Lewis got in touch with historian Carolyn Newman. She's 88 years old and has lived in the same house in Walsenburg for 60 years. 

Jared Polis / Facebook

As Colorado plans for its current statewide stay-at-home restrictions to expire, several Southern Colorado counties are looking for permission to conduct their own phased reopening of businesses.

A picture of staff members from Inside/Out Youth Services behind a colorful rainbow background. Jessie Pocock, the director, is far left wearing a dark shirt, while the other three staff members are wearing white shirts.
Jessie Pocock / Inside/Out Youth Services

Almost overnight, the novel coronavirus has changed the way people provide community support. KRCC's Elena Rivera spoke with three people in Southern Colorado about how their jobs have changed and about their concerns for the vulnerable populations they serve.


Dana Cronin / 91.5 KRCC

The federal government has authorized $28 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) — a pipeline that would deliver cleaner water to an estimated 50,000 people to communities in southeastern Colorado.

The Top 5: A Look Back At Our Most Popular Stories Of 2019

Dec 19, 2019
Clockwise from top left: Ali Budner/91.5 KRCC; ANSEL ADAMS / COURTESY OF SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL; ANDREA CHALFIN / 91.5 KRCC; BRENNAN LINSLEY / ASSOCIATED PRESS; COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE

As we prepare to close the books on another year, we'd like to take a moment to look back at some of our most popular stories and interviews from 2019.

Below are the local and regional pieces from the past year that drew the most traffic to our website, with comments from our reporters as they reflect on the stories.

Courtesy Colorado Malting Company

In the shadow of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a small farm is preparing for the end of summer. Irrigation canals that were full to bursting months ago are slowing with the changing season. This spring, just outside Alamosa, Wayne Cody and his son Josh jumped a ditch to check on their rye's progress.

Tracy Wahl / 91.5 KRCC

As temperatures plummet, some hemp farmers in Southern Colorado are worried about how the first freeze will affect a crop that is especially sensitive to cold. 

Mark Hillary / Flickr Creative Commons

A new report gives several hospitals in Southern Colorado low grades when it comes to patient safety. Of the six hospitals in the region included in the report, four were given grades of 'C' or 'D'.

Sandy White / Huerfano County Water Conservancy District

The town of La Veta is installing a state-of-the-art warning system to get ahead of inevitable flooding on the Spring Fire burn scar.

Andrea Chalfin / 91.5 KRCC

For several years now, a state commission has been looking into ways to preserve and expand Amtrak's long-distance passenger rail line, the Southwest Chief. It travels through southern Colorado, with stops in Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad. The group is also looking at the possibility of passenger rail along Colorado's Front Range. 

The Top 5: A Look Back At Our Most Popular Stories Of 2018

Jan 1, 2019
Clockwise from top left: Georgina Owen/Colorado Department of Education; National Archives and Records Administration; Fortress Press; Jake Brownell/91.5 KRCC; Jake Brownell/91.5 KRCC

As 2019 gets underway, let’s take one last opportunity to revisit stories and interviews from 2018 that made a mark on you, our listeners and readers. 

Here are the top five local and regional stories that drew the most website traffic in 2018:

Drought Puts A Pinch On Southern Colorado Agriculture

Dec 26, 2018
Dana Cronin / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado's farming and ranching communities are facing a season of economic losses, after summer drought dried up grass for cattle, killed crops and kept thousands of acres from being planted. 

Colorado Historical Society / Wikimedia Commons

A Southern Colorado pioneer is set to be inducted into the Colorado Latino Hall of Fame this month. Maria Teresita Sandoval, an early settler in the area, is being recognized for her role in founding the city of Pueblo.

There's a cycle that starts when the snow melts and the earth thaws high in Colorado's Rocky Mountains. It's a seasonal cycle based on timing and temperature, two variables that climate change is pushing increasingly out of sync.

To the outsider, it can be hard to see: Plants still grow, flowers bud, bears awake, and marmots breed. Broad-tailed hummingbirds still trill around a landscape that evokes the opening scene of The Sound of Music, with flowery meadows and granite peaks.

Courtesy Colorado Department of Agriculture

The Colorado State Fair has a new general manager this year. Scott Stoller was appointed by the Colorado Department of Agriculture, and started his new role at the beginning of July. Stoller comes from the Silver Dollar Fair in Chico, California where he managed all aspects of the fair. 91.5 KRCC’s Abigail Beckman sat down with him to discuss his new job.

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.

Voices continue to mount against the Trump administration's plan to lease land for oil drilling near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management plans to lease more than 20,000 acres of land starting in early September, some of which comes within a mile of the park.

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.

The Bureau of Land Management plans to put up more than 20,000 acres of Colorado land for lease by oil and gas drilling companies. Much of that land sits near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.

National Weather Service

Days of warm temperatures, high winds, and low humidity across the southern Colorado region have seen Red Flag Warnings and a number of fires crop up. A Red Flag Warning means conditions are ideal for the start and spread of wildfires, including dry fuels, low relative humidities, and gusty winds.

Crowley County: A 'Poster Child' for Less Water?

May 26, 2017
Dana Cronin / 91.5 KRCC

Family farms line the southern reaches of the Arkansas River in Colorado. The agricultural community there depends on the river's yearly flows for crop irrigation. But with predictions of less water in the future, the region could face tradeoffs over the coming decades.

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