Severance taxes are a vital source of funding for communities across Colorado. This tax applies to revenue the state collects from mining and energy extraction. Half of these funds go directly to communities affected by those activities. The other half goes towards grants for infrastructure and economic development.
KVNF’s Laura Palmisano looks at severance tax projects on the Western Slope.
"We have just under a million gallons of hot, natural spring water that flows into the pool," said Patrick Rondinelli, the city administrator of Ouray, while visiting the city's hot springs pool.
"There’s always been ponds in the early years that were in this location and then finally in the late 1920’s a formal swimming pool was built on this very site," he said. "And, it’s been maintained in that condition in some variation. There’s been some changes made to it but basically in this same very site all these years."
Rondinelli said Ouray closes the pool in the spring for about a week to clean it and do basic repairs. The site attracts about 135,000 visitors a year and is a major tourism draw for the small mountain community.
This past weekend the 20th annual Ouray Ice Festival took place. The festival is a gathering of ice climbers, gear vendors and ice climbing fans. At the festival you can watch an ice climbing competition or try the sport for yourself. KVNF's Laura Palmisano went to the gathering and spoke to Mark Miller. He's an ice climbing instructor for San Juan Mountain Guides.
Week #1 of our 2014 KVNF Live! Summer Concert Series originates from Fellin Park at the Hot Springs Pool in Ouray, and features a group of sisters from Ft. Collins, Colorado, SHEL. The opening act is another Colorado band, TAARKA, from Lyons. This show was recorded on Thursday, June 5th, 2014.
In January a massive landslide closed Highway 550 through Red Mountain Pass for a month while crews cleared debris.
That stretch of Colorado’s Million Dollar Highway connects the city of Ouray to the town of Silverton. Construction on the highway resumed in April to repair damage and place chain covers over the areas most susceptible to rock movement.
Last week, Ouray declared a state of economic emergency as a result of the natural disaster.
Update January 27: Technical climbing crews were on hand at the side of recent rockslides along Red Mountain Pass/US 550, installing wire cable netting to stabilize boulders that continue to plague the road below.
The alternate route south toward Durango, Cortez and beyond is SH 62 to SH 145 through Telluride, and US 160.The Colorado Department of Transportation says that work will continue through at least Tuesday, and there's still no estimated time for when the road could re-open.
Update: 12:30 PM (January 15): CDOT has confirmed that US 550/Red Mountain Pass two miles south of Ouray will be closed at least through this weekend (until Monday, January 20.) Rocks have reportedly been continually falling on the road near mile marker 90 as crews try to clear the rubble.
Kerrie Neet, the regional director for CDOT, acknowledged that motorists in southwest Colorado don't have many alternative travel options, saying "there is a hardship anytime we close this pass."