Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Headwaters State - Colorado

We reached Salida, Colorado along with a night of winter weather. So we stayed two nights with our former Mono Basin neighbors, Shannon and Brett, took a day off from traveling, and learned about a battle led by local citizens against the export of nearby mountain "springwater" (actually groundwater) by the Nestle Co. to their Denver bottling plant.

Then, on to the Great Sand Dunes National Park, which was a National Monument until the Nature Conservancy purchased a local ranch to foil a water export scheme meant to serve more development along Colorado's front range. As a result, enough acreage was added to the monument to reclassify it as national park, plus a new National Wildlife Refuge was made from the other Baca Ranch land. The entire water story across San Luis Valley is fascinating and will become a major story for our book. We were helped by Paul Robertson, the local project coordinator with the Nature Conservancy (seen here with Dave as they study our GPS unit to confirm that the highway sign is truly at 38 degrees north). The Rio Grande River moves across this large valley and there are two additional wildlife refuges. Migratory sandhill cranes were there the day we visited!
After an oil change for our dependable Toyota Prius, we drove a spectacular mountain road up to Ouray, where rivers run orange and there's an intriguing mining cleanup story to tell. Tomorrow, Telluride.

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