Horse Gulch Blog

Watchdogging for the greater Durango area

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Forest Service writes off over $500K in D&SNGR coal-train caused wildfire costs since 1994

10 Dec 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

At least $572,186 dollars that was spent on fighting wildfires started by coal trains of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was written off by the USDA Forest Service since 1994, records from the Forest Service show. What this means is that after Forest Service officials determined the cost of suppressing wildfires that were started by D&SNGRR locomotives, the original bill was negotiated to a much lower figure by senior D&SNGRR train officials. While the Forest Service billed the D&SNGRR $1,195,265 dollars for putting…

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USDA Forest Service delays another response to a FOIA public records request

25 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

The San Juan National Forest Freedom of Information Act “Coordinator” has failed to lawfully comply with a second FOIA records request submitted by this blogger. I submitted a public records request to San Juan National Forest FOIA Coordinator Jeremiah Hyslop on October 23, 2018 via email. It said: Hello Jeremiah, This is a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) records request for the Fire Investigation Report that was done for the 416 Fire on the San Juan National Forest. The 416 Fire started on June 1, 2018,…

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City of Durango ordinance amended to allow Class 1 & 2 electric bikes on hard-surface trails

19 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

A City of Durango ordinance was amended to allow Class 1 and 2 electric bikes on five prominent hard-surface trails at a City Council meeting Monday. Class 1 and 2 electric bikes with a top speed of 20 miles per hour are now allowed on Animas River Trail, Florida Road Trail, Goeglein Gulch Road Trail, Smart 160 Trail, and the Three Springs Trail. City officials decided to lift the ban on electric bikes for these trails following a year long trial period. In October, three…

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Electric bicycles on hard-surface trails to be voted on following hearing with City Council

18 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

A vote on whether to allow electric bicycles on hard-surface trails is expected to immediately follow a public hearing at a Durango City Council meeting on Monday. City Council might change an existing ordinance in such a way that would lift the current ban on motorized vehicles on specific hard-surface trails in the city. A staff proposal to allow Class 1 and Class 2 electric bicycles on the Animas River Trail, the Florida Road Trail, the Goeglein Gulch Trail, the Smart 160 Trail, and the…

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Native grass finally takes root on reclaimed land aside Horse Gulch Road

17 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

Native grass is taking root on a stretch of land aside Horse Gulch Road after a multi-phased reclamation project carried out by La Plata County officials. La Plata County began working on the road in January after requests were made by Trails 2000 and City of Durango officials to fix the mess of interwoven ruts that crossed the road. The previous condition of Horse Gulch Road was aesthetically chaotic, but had some erosion problems that people wanted to see mitigated. Emergency response officials had also…

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TEDx Talk by Chris Strouthopoulos on how fear of peer judgement holds back team performance

14 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

Having the courage to challenge a dangerous, conformist collective thought that’s propagated by the halo of an expert can prevent catastrophe. That was a lesson from Durango’s Chris Strouthopoulos, a Professor of Student Success at San Juan College, during a Tedx Talk at Georgia Tech about how to build trust and create open, successful teams by overcoming the fear of peer judgement. It was an inspirational talk that wove together stories of team decision making in the back country and the work place. Overcome fear…

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Free top five list: budgetary mismanagement of tax dollars by City of Durango officials

10 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

City of Durango officials are threatening to avoid maintaining public streets in the city in 2019 because of alleged budgetary shortfalls. Meanwhile, numerous financial decisions that City officials have made for fiscal year 2018 amount to self-inflicted budgetary mismanagement. These poor financial decisions that were made by City officials occurred before voters denied a Nov. 6, 2018 ballot proposal to issue a blank check for a new police station, public sidewalks, streets and cops. Free top five list! Budgetary squandering of tax dollars Here are…

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A glimmer of hope for marijuana industry with election of Jared Polis for Colorado Governor

6 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. 1 Comment  

Recently elected Colorado Governor Jared Polis has given the marijuana industry a ray of hope for more equitable regulatory treatment, as he is known as a supporter of Amendment 64 and legal cannabis. As this is written, Polis leads in the ballot count over his republican opponent Walker Stapleton by over 100,000 votes. This lead will take him to victory as Colorado’s first governor who is not a marijuana prohibitionist. What the election of Jared Polis means for cannabis enthusiasts and the marijuana industry is…

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She was riding down Hogsback Mountain

4 Nov 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

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City taking public comments and reviewing one-year electric bike trial period Wednesday

21 Oct 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

The City of Durango will be taking public comments on and reviewing the electric bike pilot program at 5:00 p.m. this Wednesday at the Durango Community Recreation Center. Over the past year, the City of Durango has allowed Class I and II electrical bicycles on several hard-surface trails, as well as on one soft-surface trail during a trial period. Hard-surface trails where they were allowed included the Animas River Trail, the Goeglein Gulch Road Trail, and the Florida Road Trail. The only soft-surface trail where…

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FOIA records request stonewalled by USDA Forest Service

17 Oct 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. 1 Comment  

A records request for fire investigation reports related to forest fires that were possibly started by trains of the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad was stonewalled. San Juan National Forest FOIA Coordinator Jeremiah Hyslop works under Forest Supervisor Kara Chadwick in a position where he, in theory, is supposed to help facilitate the release of records to people who make FOIA requests. Hyslop’s ability to respond to my records request may be restricted by officials working outside of the San Juan National Forest, but…

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Scenes from afternoon trail work in Horse Gulch, Telegraph Trail, with Trails 2000

26 Sep 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

Telegraph Trail was a busy place today, where tons of people were riding bikes, running and doing trail maintenance. I joined up with some people from Trails 2000 to trim back the oak brush and trees, and install some basic water bars. We moved some dirt around as necessary with hand tools. Telegraph Hill has some great climbing challenges through some chunky gnar. Remember: Telegraph Trail was named after what was actually a party telephone line.

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Video: Splitboarding east side of Lobo Peak, Wolf Creek Pass, last winter

22 Sep 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

Finding people to go splitboarding with during the winter is spotty. That’s why sometimes you just have to go solo. This is a video that I shot with a Canon Rebel, as well as a GoPro Hero last winter. I rode down Lobo Peak. The snow was deep!

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Bait and switch? City of Durango Mayor cancels camp promise with County last minute

3 Sep 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

A commitment that the City of Durango’s mayor made to La Plata County Commissioners to open a sheltering area by the Durango Dog Park in exchange for the County closing its camp on county land was cancelled this summer. The mayor changed her mind after the County Commissioners followed through with the agreement by closing the County encampment. For many, the question is whether or not this pressure from Madam Mayor Sweetie Marbury was a tactic that was used in order to convince the county…

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Open letter to County Environmental Specialist encouraging revegetation of Horse Gulch Road

22 Aug 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

Dear La Plata County Environmental Specialist Leslie Jacoby, I am writing you to convey my concerns with the barren, hard-packed condition of Horse Gulch Road following the attempts that were made to rehabilitate it last winter. In January, a La Plata County dozer operator filled in ruts, regraded the tread, installed water bars, and widened Horse Gulch Road around the intersection below the Meadow Loop, according to the County Engineer. Seed was raked into the ground following the bulldozer operation, you said. For several months,…

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Stories+public pressure provoke distortion of barricades, closure signage at Falls Creek Road

12 Aug 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

Two gates with “trail closed” signage that Ed Zink installed across Falls Creek Road in June were removed following reporting on Horse Gulch Blog that the barricades defied a court order to keep the road open to the general public. The day before a different, but related story by Jonathan Romeo ran in The Durango Herald, the gate at the top was taken down, and the gate at the bottom was opened. Both gates had the “trail closed” signs removed. It’s unclear who removed these…

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Walking Bishop Castle with a GoPro in Rye, Colorado

8 Aug 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

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Scenes from a trail work day with Trails 2000 in Three Springs

1 Aug 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

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Bike shop owner interferes with popular general public trail-to-forest access on Falls Creek Road

20 Jul 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. 2 Comments  

The owner of Mountain Bike Specialists has tried blockading all of the general public from crossing a popular public trail known as Falls Creek Road. Falls Creek Road is an unmaintained road that’s used as a trail connecting County Road 203 to National Forest lands and County Road 205. Ed Zink said that he installed two new gates with signage that reads, “Trail Closed Extreme Fire Risk,” across each end of his lands where Falls Creek Road crosses over them. The 416 Fire never burned…

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Trail Review: Spur Line Trail and “skills area pump track” at Three Springs Community Park

11 Jun 2018 | Posted by Adam Howell. No Comments  

A new beginner trail in the subdivision of Three Springs has some fast, hard-packed dirt through a mosaic of gamble oak brush, and berms to help you hold the corners. Spur Line Trail, on Southern Ute Growth Fund Land, was built by Trails 2000 crew leaders and volunteers. Hogan Koesis, Purgatory Resort’s Director of Mountain Biking, assisted with machine work on the trail. To get there from Durango, drive east to Wilson Gulch Road, where you will eventually see the trailhead near the northeast corner…

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