Wouldn’t it be a “no brainer” to maintain the asphalt portion of the Animas River Trail behind Durango High School? You’d think so, given so much time, money and effort is being used for the trail to Oxbow Park. But since this is Durango, I’m sure we need to recruit a focus group, have public comment and create an oversight committee to spend thousands maintaining what is currently in existence vs. millions to extend the trail northward. The cavernous cracks that jolt any cyclist or trip a casual walker seem like they should be an easy fix. Sign me, Cracked Up.
Resurfacing that trail section was supposed to happen last year, but circumstances have delayed the project.
Does that seem fishy? Absolutely.
Work is on hold because the Durango Fish Hatchery first needs to improve how it gets clean water for raising trout.
Like everything in Durango, it’s complicated.
First, let’s say that many trail users find fault with the asphalt.
And Durango Parks and Recreation really wants to fix the sketchy section.
“The trail was slated for maintenance in 2018, but we’re waiting for Colorado Parks and Wildlife to start and finish its project for collecting spring water for the hatchery,” said our good friend Cathy Metz, director of Durango Parks and Recreation.
The springs in question are in the marshy area in back of the high school. More on that coming up.
“CPW will use the Animas River Trail for access to the job site,” Cathy explained.
It would waste money to repair a trail slated to be a construction zone, she pointed out.
After CPW’s heavy equipment is done with earthwork and whatnot, the city will perform trail maintenance and do some resurfacing.
Eventually, it will replace the blacktop with a cement surface.
So what’s the deal with those springs and trout?
For edification, we turned to another good friend, Joe Lewandowski, ace spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, which operates the fish hatchery.
Since we’re talking about fishing, maybe we should refer to our friend Joe as our “chum.”
Action Line had to take the bait, lured by the prospect of a good-natured barb.
Yup, fell for it hook, line and sinker.
Be that as it may, we need to backcast to the bad ol’ 1990s, when a nasty thing called whirling disease essentially wiped out all the wild rainbow trout in Colorado.
For a century prior, the Durango hatchery pulled water directly from the Animas River. But no more since it became infected.
CPW found a parasite-free source of water behind the high school, north of the fish hatchery.
And so the agency tapped into springs.
But there was a “catch” – so to speak.
“As snow and rainfall have declined, the springs have produced less water,” Joe explained.
“During 2018, a very dry year, the springs were reduced to a trickle. We realized the spring might become unreliable.”
So now, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is studying a variety of options.
“We hope to ‘net’ a solution by next spring, but not sure when construction can start,” Joe said.
“But be assured, as our motto goes, ‘Your fishin’ is our mission!’” Joe added, thus reaching the bag limit on Action Line puns.
Here’s hoping that the hatchery water project goes swimmingly.
Email questions to email@example.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you have “curling disease” whose symptoms include an irrational need to style hair or the urge to sweep ice frantically with brooms in front of a slow-moving large stone.