In just a few weeks — assuming school DOES start in various parts of the country — my street should quiet down again. Some. There will still be a lot of potato and cattle truck traffic, but… I heard the other day that more people are moving here, up in the area of Crestone and South Fork.

One of the permanent changes wrought by the virus is the ability to work at home. I can just imagine droves of people from points south, east and west coming up here to live permanently where they had always just spent the summer. I’m not crazy about this — none of us are except maybe real estate sales people. Our little corner of Heaven doesn’t have things those people are used to and I’m pretty sure we don’t want them.

As long as I’ve lived here there’s been litigation over development of our local ski area, Wolf Creek. People who live here don’t want that. I don’t want that. I live on a US highway which in normal times is only mildly annoying in summer, but if a ski area were developed up there? I can imagine traffic all year and possibly losing my house to eminent domain.

The mountains don’t need the inevitable additional foot and bike traffic, either. Mountain communities in Colorado with larger human populations — both seasonal and year round — are struggling to protect elk and other wild animal habitat without abridging the “freedom” that has always characterized the Colorado mountain experience.

There’s also the reality that from every direction a person can reach here only by going over a high mountain pass. We don’t have a real airport. There’s a one-runway airport in Alamosa. When I moved here, Frontier flew into Alamosa, but it’s pulled out. Now there is only Boutique Air, and it is there because the airport was designated an “essential airport.” There is no other way out of this valley except driving yourself, taking the weekly shuttle to Salida, on horseback, walking or on bike. It can happen that EVERY PASS IS CLOSED in winter. 😉

I don’t have any control over what will happen in the next few years to those mountains or even the parcels west of town that are slated for development (BIG HOUSES! NO WATER! RATTLESNAKES!) or the innumerable permanent social changes that will result from this strange year.


15 thoughts on “Migration?

  1. I get so angry when a development is put in and the new residents want to get rid of the wildlife, change the economics of the area and/or make it just like where ever they came from! It happened here. A developer built a subdivision in the middle of an agricultural area. Then the residents complained that the swine farm smelled too bad! Then they wanted an ordinance that limited the ability to spread manure on the fields as fertilizer!! I hope the land is “unsuitable” for development – maybe there is an endangered species of bird or snake that prevents any additional encroachment into the wild parts! (fingers crossed)

    • Me too. People come here with their idea of “normal” and their “Colorado Rocky Mountain High” idealized dream based on a one month vacation in the summer mountains. OR they descend on us from Denver (to which they probably moved from somewhere else) because of lower property prices and they can build their McMansion. The area is so economically depressed that a lot of builders and developers just look at it as “opportunity.” Ha ha — on the radio right now, “Big Yellow Taxi” — “Pave paradise and put up a parking lot.”

  2. It’s a problem everywhere, unfortunately, but the areas that suffer most are those that have a charm that draws people! I hope they don’t develop “high rent” districts in your town — the cities need “low rent” help more!

    • They are developing homes that locals cannot afford. It’s the same shit that happened in California. Denver is now as expensive as San Diego. All that without the outdoor management California has evolved because, you know, California. 😦

  3. The same thing is happening here in NH in the north country part – also near the ski areas. People with summer homes came in March and are staying – putting their kids in school here. Schools now need more teachers. Others buying homes and land. Perhaps the plentiful supply of rattlesnakes could be publicized near your area. That might make potential buyers think twice. 🙂

    • I’m sorry to read that.

      I went to a studio show at the house of one of these people last summer. Fantastic house, but terrible art and creepy people. My friend and I were discomfited by all of it. Why do two, childless retired people need a 4000 sq foot house with every single perfect amenity, including a six burner chef stove? “We sold our house in Denver and built this house,” said the owner. I was polite, but I kept thinking about the LAST studio I’d visited which was in a ramshackle little place owned by a single mom who worked two jobs — one was cleaning houses for “the people on the hill.” As I looked at the woman’s derivative art and listened to her husband extol their “things” I was absolutely disgusted. I guess at heart I’m a commie…

      • Ha. That must be it. But seriously…4000 sq feet? That’s crazy. They don’t “need” it – they just want it. And they can buy it. So they do. Maybe it stimulates dopamine release. Income inequality comes to mind. Or something.

  4. Just read a piece in the Washington Post this morning titled “This giant climate hot spot is robbing the West of its water.” Interesting maps showing increase in average temps in parts of CO (western slope), WY and UT – already 2 degrees C in places – drying up water, reducing snow packs, etc. Seems foolish to try to expand in places where water’s already tight and now, because of climate change, disappearing.

    • I agree. People in Denver are trying to buy our water. We sit on a giant aquifer, an underground lake that is the remnant of an inland sea, but farming has depleted it significantly and mitigation has only begun in the last few years. Dryer winters and less snow pack has reduced nature’s ability to restore it as well. There are actually greedy assholes down here who WOULD sell that water. Same idiots who deny climate change. It’s a HUGE fight. On the OTHER side some farmers are returning to the old system of acequias the Spanish settlers brought in the 16th century and used until the 20th — it’s a pretty amazing “technology.”

  5. Development is a dirty word to my sister and I too.We have seen what happens when people move into an area because they think it is attractive, they soon destroy the atmosphere because they want all the things they had where they came from. Naomi used to live in a nice old seaside suburb where the main street had a couple of nice places to eat and some quirky old second hand shops. It became popular, the old houses were replaced with McMansions, the cafes became trendy and expensive and the second hand shops and bookshops closed. Now there are lots of places to eat and drink but nothing to look at and the seafront is full of ugly houses.
    Now she’s seeing the same thing happen in her home town, new people moving in and painting the old houses grey, developers taking up land that used to be for everyone to use.
    Even here at Sisters Beach there was talk of a big subdivision being built not long after we bought this place. The locals don’t want development, not even another road if it means more people, more traffic and loss of habitat for the wildlife. There are a few McMansions here and I can see a day when all the old summer holiday shacks will be replaced by them but I’m glad to live in a place where people will fight to save nature.

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