Valley commissioners congregate

Photo by Patrick Shea Mineral and Rio Grande counties brought three representatives apiece to the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association Board meeting in Alamosa on Jan. 28.

ALAMOSA— Commissioners from all six San Luis Valley counties gathered in Alamosa on Monday, Jan. 28 to reorganize the San Luis Valley County Commissioners Association Board, discuss tourism and examine water and fish species issues.
Board President Jason Anderson (Saguache County) did most of the talking to start the meeting, but the annual board-seat shuffle shifted responsibility to Helen Sigmond from Alamosa County. Sigmond became the new president and finished off the meeting.
Kat Olance, president of the SLV Tourism Association, updated commissioners with details from the “Mystic San Luis Valley Region” marketing campaign. Promoting cooperation, Olance encouraged commissioners to share ideas, noting how Huerfano County to the east and Gunnison up north are stretching the boundaries to be included in some of the Mystic San Luis Valley Region projects.
Michael O’Loughlin from Hinsdale County followed with a presentation about fish species management. The Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout, Rio Grande Chub and Rio Grande Sucker are the focus of a seven-county grant administered by Hinsdale County.
O’Loughlin wrote a letter to the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) regarding an extension to March 31, 2021. Following a Memorandum of Understanding two years ago, the idea was for Hinsdale County to be the fiscal agent and invoice contributing counties.
Jan Owen and David Strang gave the next presentation, a preview of Rural Philanthropy Days this fall. Rotated to the San Luis Valley every four years, the 2019 edition will take place in Del Norte on Sept. 17–19. Mineral County Commissioner Ramona Weber said the 2015 event in Creede was very positive and likely to help Del Norte as well. SLV Philanthropic dollars directed to the Valley in 2015 amounted to $1,583,370, rising to $3.2 million a year later and $3.7 million in 2017.
Cleave Simpson, general manager of Rio Grande Water Conservation District, said he already spoke with representatives in Alamosa and Rio Grande County, but he wanted to address the collective group of commissioners. During their quarterly meeting on Jan. 15, the Rio Grande Water Conservation District board of directors signed a resolution opposing export of water from the Rio Grande Basin. Citing six strong reasons, the resolution “continues to oppose any attempt to export water from the Rio Grande basin into another basin.”
Noting the need to educate citizens, Simpson said, “I’m willing to go anywhere I see an opportunity to engage with the public… birthdays, weddings, you name it.”
For a deep dive into the discussion, anyone can attend the State of the Basin Symposium for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 at Richardson Hall and McDaniel Hall on the Adams State University campus in Alamosa. Hosted by the Rio Grande Water Conservation District and the Salazar Rio Grande del Norte Center at Adams State University, the event will feature a variety of presentations, and Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser will be the keynote speaker.


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