Flat Tops snowpack could cause flooding issues later this summer

RBC | It’s going to be awhile before summer comes to the Flat Tops. According to RBC Road and Bridge Director Dave Morlan, there’s still five feet of snow at the top of Ripple Creek.

“We’re working to get those passes open,” he said during Tuesday’s commissioner meeting in Meeker. “Burro Mountain is open to the county line. There’s still about three feet at the county line with Garfield County. Trappers still has two, two and a half feet.”

Cooler than normal temperatures have kept the snow levels high, but residents need to be prepared when conditions reach the point where the snow starts melting fast.

“In previous years if anyone has had a flooding problem, they probably ought to get ready this year. We’re keeping an eye on all of our bridges,” Morlan said.


White River Field Office Manager Kent Walter thanked the commissioners for their “efforts and collaboration” with the travel management plan in getting it to a place where the county “can accept it.”

Walter also updated the commissioners on the Buffalo Horn land exchange, which was the subject of significant discussion and public comment last year. “We’re seeking your agreement on that process,” he told the board.

The exchange will reduce the overall acreage owned by the federal government, but will increase government land in Rio Blanco County. Commissioner Gary Moyer said he could justify the plan because of the total net loss of federal ground overall.

“The benefits of the many—just saying it—outweigh the needs of the few,” Walter said, adding that the exchange does not impact access to private ranches. “The whole point is that we’re improving access to the public overall.”

For hunters who access the area, this year will be “status quo,” with anticipated changes made before the 2020 hunting season.

Walter said his office has approved more than 90 applications for permits to drill so far this year. “There are four rigs right now with a fifth coming on,” he said. “Through our oil and gas plan amendment we’ve streamlined the process to make sure we have responsible oil and gas development in Rio Blanco County.”


The commissioners agreed to temporarily extend a variance for Cimarron for an A to B service they inherited from Local Access Internet. The service gives three locations broadband access which are unable to get the service any other way. The board will review the variance with the county attorney to make sure it doesn’t “set a precedent” before deciding if the extension should be permanent.

The board also approved a $500 donation to Enduro Colorado and sent letters in support of the Secure Rural Schools Endowment Fund bill to congressmen Cory Gardner, Scott Tipton and Michael Bennet.

By Niki Turner | editor@ht1885.com

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