Saturday, March 31, 2007

AGRICULTURE: People moving into the Durango area often find the lifestyle to be far different from other parts of the country. For instance, Colorado is a "right-to-farm" state, which means that agricultural enterprises have certain rights and privileges afforded to them, and La Plata County has regulations to support, protect and assist in the maintenance of agricultural production. Residents who choose to live among the many farms and ranches of La Plata County should be aware of these protections. Farmers, particularly during the planting and harvest time, frequently work from early in the morning until late at night running farm equipment such as tractors and combines. These operations cause dust, odor and noise.

Farmers must burn their irrigation ditches to clear them of debris, grass and weeds in preparation for the irrigation season and may need to access their ditch easements through your property. Chemicals are often used in agricultural production. With aerial and ground spraying of crops, there is the potential for small amounts of chemical to drift onto neighboring properties. The La Plata County Extension Office at (970) 247-4355 can supply information on chemicals commonly used.

Irrigation systems have enabled a diversity of agriculture with higher yields than dry land farming. Non-irrigated or untillable lands, both private and public, may be used for grazing animals. Colorado and La Plata County have fence regulations, which means that property owners are reponsible for fencing the livestock "out" of their property. Remember, "fence out, not in." The neighboring pasture that is so lovely in the summer may turn muddy and odorous if it is used for winter feeding. Flies may be a common nuisance around livestock ranches in the summer months.

Living in rural areas has certain unwritten restrictions and "codes of conduct," all based on respect for the land and others, including resident and transient wildlife. Humm, "respect for the land and others," what a wonderful concept. That's why we love living here in the beautiful San Juans. You can live here too. Give us call!

Friday, March 30, 2007

DENVER: Governor Bill Ritter has signed a bill that will require that 20% of the energy provided by large utility companies come from renewable sources such as wind and solar power and another measure to build the power lines to deliver it.

Officials from Xcel Energy said they will meet the standard by the end of this year and can double the standard by 2020. Governor Ritter said the new energy economy is a win-win for everyone. He said Colorado ranks 4th in the nations in geothermal; resources, 6th for sunshine and 11th for wind, and that the state should capitalize on those assets.

The health of our environment and the health of our economy are tied hand in hand. Every day more people discover this wonderful land and these beautiful mountains. We're fortunate to have leaders with the foresight to protect our environmental security.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

DURANGO GREEN: The City of Durango has received the Tree City USA Growth Award from the National Arbor Day Foundation for the 15th consecutive year.

The award recognizes environmental improvement and higher levels of tree care in Durango and other Tree City USA communities. For the 27th consecutive year, Durango was named a Tree City USA community honoring the city's commitment to its community forest, demonstrated by its tree care department, tree care ordinance, comprehensive community forestry program and Arbor Day observance.
You can be a part of this terrific community. Give us a call or email.

The city will observe Arbor Day at 10 a.m. May 4 at the Community Recreation Center with the participation of local elementary children.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

BLM: The Bureau of Land Management has reopened trails on Animas City Mountain and Grandview Ridge.

This includes all of Animas City Mountain adjacent to the northwest edge of Durango and all Grandview Area trails accessed from U.S. Highway 160 southeast of Durango.

The BLM closed the trails during the winter to provide shelter, privacy and forage to deer and elk. A BLM wildlife biologist said in a news release that the regrowth of vegetation at higher elevations provides food for the animals, allowing officials to reopen trail areas at lower elevations.

As we move into spring take advantage of our beautiful area. Hiking is a tremendous elixir for both the body and the mind.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

MORE ON WATER: In our previous posts we have talked about water rights and the delivery of water by direct diversion from the river or via irrigation ditches managed by ditch companies. This is "adjudicated water," i.e. water rights that have been established by the Water Court. Adjudicated water rights are generally transferred by water stock certificates from the ditch company. Assessments for delivery of adjudicated water are billed annually by the ditch company.

Another type of water is "project water." Project water is water stored at Lemon Dam. This water is measured in acre-feet and stored until it is needed. Lemon Dam stores 40,100 acre-feet of water in a normal year. The project water is delivered via ditches and measured in cubic feet per second (cfs.) Project water rights are usually transferred on the land deed. Assessments for project water are billed with your property taxes.

Monday, March 26, 2007

SEVERAL FARMERS, idling away a rainy day at the crossroads filling station, got to arguing the merits of various church denominations. All expressed opinions except one old, gray-bearded man who sat quietly whittling but listening attentively.

Finally, someone asked, "What do you think, Grandpa?"

"I'm thinkin'," replied the old man, "that there are three ways from here to the cotton gin. But when you get there, the ginner ain't goin' to ask which way you took. He's goin' to ask, 'How good is your cotton?'"

Sunday, March 25, 2007

WATER FACTS: Approximately 66% of the annual water flows from the Colorado watershed occurs during the late spring/early summer runoff. These water flows cannot be fully utilized by Colorado agriculture, communities and residents unless they are stored in reservoirs.

Vallecito, Lemon, McPhee and Jackson Gulch Reservoirs store spring water flows from the San Juan and Dolores watersheds for year-round beneficial use in southwestern Colorado. Only 3% of the annual water flow occurs during the winter months of December, January and February.

Without water storage in southwestern Colorado, there would not be stable water supplies for our agriculture, communities and residents during either the low-flow inter months or the dryer late summer months.

Colorado Water Table & Water Terms:

One acre foot of water equals...
~ An acre of land covered with one foot of water
~ 325,900 gallons of water
~ Enough water to supply a family of five for one year

One cubic foot per second (cfs) equals...
~448 gallons of water per minute
~1,983 acre feet (af) of water in twenty-four hours of water flow
~ 646,320 gallons of water in twenty-four hours of water flow

One million gallons of water per day (mgd) equals...
~ 3.07 acre feet (af) in one day
~ 1,120 acre feet (af) in one year

Water allocation is normally controlled by ditch companies and measured in cubic feet per second (cfs.) The amount of water represented by one share in the ditch company can vary from company to company. A buyer should to be thorough in their due diligence when purchasing irrigated property to be certain there is enough water for their needs. That's where we can help. If you have questions or would like additional information about Durango real estate, give us a call or email.

Friday, March 23, 2007

BAYFIELD: Town staff members and affordable housing advocates believe the town of Bayfield's efforts to increase the supply of moderately priced homes could also provide a financial boost to help solve the town's sewage treatment problems.

As we have previously noted, Bayfield's sewage treatment plant has been overburdened for several months, which led town staff in February to impose a strict approval process on sewer taps for new construction. A new plant is expected to cost almost $7 million. Efforts are currently under way to improve the existing system and some success is being seen.

Town Manager Justin Clifton said, "Our number one priority right now is to lift the tap restrictions, and the only way to do that right now is to improve the current facility. The money can only come from tap sales, so were not going to dip into the capital funds or taxpayer dollars to do it." He also said the will propose an increase in sewer tap fees to the town's Sanitation Board.

Stay tuned. This story isn't over yet!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

WATER RIGHTS: We find that one of the most confusing things for newcomers to our area to grasp is Colorado water law. Since the 1860s, The Colorado Doctrine has defined the four essential principles of Colorado water law:

1. All surface and ground water in Colorado is a public resource for benefical use by publicagencies and private persons.

2. A water right is a right to use a portion of the public's water resources.

3. Water rights owners may build facilities on the lands of others to divert, extract or movewater from a stream or aquifer to its place of use.

4. Water rights owners may use streams or aquifers for the transportaion and storage of water.

Practical application of The Colorado Doctrine means that water can be moved from where it is found to where it is needed based upon a priority system of "first in time, first in right." People, with water rights, who live along the river usually have diversions from the river to their lands. Away from the river, landowners are dependent upon irrigation ditches to deliver their water.

The irrigation ditches are mutually-owned non-profit corporations established to deliver water to owners. Each ditch company has a board of directors, a secretary to handle the office business, and a ditch rider who controls the actual water flow. Operations are based on the by-laws of each ditch company and by Colorado corporate law.

We'll discuss more water facts and issues in future postings. In the meantime, if you have questions or would like additional information about Durango real estate please give us a call or email.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

REVERSE 1031 EXCHANGE: The IRS code also provides for a "reverse exchange." As a matter of fact, Mary & I just completed a reverse 1031 exchange. The basics are the same as a regular 1031 except in a reverse the individual acquires the new property up front. From the day of closing you have 45 days to announce the property or properties that will be relinquished (sold) and 180 days to complete the sale to remain within the "safe harbour" period. The primary difference in a "regular" and "reverse" 1031 exchange is in a regular exchange you MUST complete the exchange within the 180 day safe harbour period. A reverse exchange still has the 180 day safe harbour period but experts tell me, to the best of their knowledge, the IRS has never looked at a reverse exchange that went beyond the 180 day period.

This should not be construed as providing tax or legal advice. If tax or legal advice is needed, please consult your attorney or accountant. Or, we can put you in touch with a "Qualified Intermediary" in Durango.

Monday, March 19, 2007

TAX DEFERRED EXCHANGES: Internal Revenue Code Section 1031 states: "No gain or loss shall be recognized on the exchange of property held for productive use in a trade or business or for investment if such property is exchanged solely for property of like kind which is to be held either for productive use in a trade or business or for investment." This code provides that capital gains taxes are deferred when investment real estate is exchanged rather than sold.

Over the long term, acquiring real estate through exchanges is an excellent method of building wealth. Section 1031 allows continued exchanges, enabling the owner to increase equity without the burden of capital gains tax. We've seen a lot of real estate investment dollars move to the Durango area via 1031 Exchanges.

Important items involved in a 1031 Exchange:

- Both your old property and new property must qualify as 1031 property.

- You have 45 days after the closing to prepare a list of properties you want to buy.

- You have 180 days after the closing to acquire one or more of the properties on your 45 daylist.

- You may NOT touch the money. Typically the money is held by a "Qualified Intermediary"

- The holder of title to both your old property and your new property have to be the same.

- In general, you must equalize the debt on your old and new property.

This should not be construed as providing tax or legal advice. If tax or legal advice is needed, please consult your attorney or accountant. Or, we can put you in touch with a "Qualified Intermediary" in Durango. /

Saturday, March 17, 2007

SOLAR POWER: Solar panels on the roof might be an outside sign of environmental consciousness, but most people can do a lot more good in humble ways, a solar power expert says.

"Where homeowners will do the most good is investing in energy efficiency," said Diane Mee of Hesperus, who helps her husband, Art Evans, run Sunland Renewable Energy Systems. The company installs solar electricity and hot-water systems.

She recommends investing in insulation and better windows. And she rails against "phantom loads" - devices that consume power all day, even though they're turned off. Televisions draw power as they wait for a signal from the remote control. Microwaves, coffee pots, stereos, computers and phone chargers all draw power too. Together they add up.

"We can shut down a couple of coal power plants if everybody in the country got rid of their phantom loads," Mee said.

Of course, that's not going to happen but if each of us were to work towards just conserving a little it will help.

Friday, March 16, 2007

HOME-AID: A Denver based homeless assistance group is looking to expand into La Plata County with the help of local builders and the La Plata County Regional Housing Authority.

HomeAid Colorado facilitates agreements between builders and social-care providers to provide housing for the temporarily homeless. Volunteers of America and Housing Solutions of the Southwest are the proposed local service providers, with Emil Wanatka with Timberline Builders spearheading the efforts of local homebuilders.

"This is a wonderful opportunity to have a public-private partnership," housing authority Executive Director Jennifer Lopez said in a news release. "I think having the support of a local homebuilder working with Housing Solutions to explore options for expanding transitional housing options is an exciting opportunity for the community."

In the release, Lora Sholes, homeless services manager for Housing Solutions, said her agency can handle only half of the cases in a year compared with the need for such services.

"We really could use additional transitional units in La Plata County," Sholes said. "On any given day, there are 30 families waiting to enter the program."

Sholes said her program aims to assist in-need families in their transition from homelessness to self-sufficiency within two years.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

RIDE SHARE: Alternative transportation in La Plata County got a leg up this week. A regional website designed to connect individuals who need rides with individuals willing to share their vehicle is now up and running. Known as the Ride Share Program, the service actually began in the late 1990s but has been dormant for the last several years.

The Safe Roads Coalition, a grassroots La Plata County group that promotes positive relationships among all road users, will monitor the website that will serve people throughout Southwest Colorado.

"With higher gas prices, crowded roads and a more dispersed population, we know there is a demand for this service," said Kendra Holmes, a Safe Roads Coalition member.

The website contains a simple form that will match your transportation inquiry to other users. No personal information will be made available, and e-mail addresses will link potential riders. Work is underway to help seniors and those without Internet access to use the program.

Partners in the program include KDUR Public Radio, Region 9 Economic Development District, CDOT, San Juan Resource Conservation District, and the Safe Roads Coalition.

Ride Share is but another example of how the citizens in our community work together to keep Durango the best place to live in the U.S.

Monday, March 12, 2007

DURANGO: Durango earned a new honor this week. The city has been added to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 2007 list of America's Dozen Distictive Destinations." The list honors "lovingly preserved" communities in the United States.

"This is truly a community award," said Rod Barker, owner of the Strater Hotel, "Dozens and dozens of people have worked and continue to work tirelessly to sustain Durango and ensure that it remains a very special place. Congratulations, Durango - you all earned this award."

Durango was selected from 63 destinations in 27 states, For Durango, representatives from the Durango Business Improvement District/City of Durango - Barker, Bob Kunkel and Indiana Reed - assembled the application. The team received the news in late February but it was "embargoed" from sharing it with the town until the national announcement on March 7.

In addition to scenic beauty, Durango was cited for its vibrant, historic downtown, including preservation of Victorian structures and efforts to keep downtown economically viable. The Trust also applauded the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and the Ancestral Puebloan heritage in the region, as well as the abundant outdoor, recreational activities.

"More than 100 years ago, the lure of gold and silver attracted the earliest prospectors to Durango," said Richard Moe, the group's president. "Today, visitors come to this spectacular, unspoiled mountain town because Durango had the good sense to hang on to what makes it so special. The result is a vibrant community that offers travelers an ideal retreat."
You can be a part of this wonderful community. To learn more visit our websites and

Sunday, March 11, 2007

FORECLOSURES: The number of foreclosures started in Colorado in 2006 is more than double the levels recorded in 2003 according to the Colorado Division of Housing. Most of the foreclosures are in the more heavily populated Front Range counties.

The story is different on the Western Slope, where Mesa and La Plata counties saw foreclosures decline last year compared to 2005. We had 50 foreclosures in 2006 in La Plata county, a decline of 15.3 %. This is another indication that our local economy remains strong.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

BAYFIELD: Once again the Bayfield town trustees have restricted the issuance of new sewer taps. Faced with an overburdened sewage treatment facility, the restrictions were put in place at the February 22 Town Board meeting and avoided a moratorium being imposed by the Colorado Department of Public Health.

Bayfield's current sewage treatment facility has been operating at maximum capacity since last summer and the town can no longer freely issue sewer taps for new construction. In a move that makes absolutely no sense the town will continue to issue building permits which will allow developers to adhere to development timetables, but with no assurance that the sewer taps will be approved. Self-regulation by the town will allow a small number of sewer taps to be awarded after a careful screening process, but many builders will be taking a gamble when they apply for a building permit. It's possible for a builder to receive a building permit and construct a house, but then have to wait as long as 18 months to receive a Certificate of Occupancy; all the while the interest clock is ticking. Explain that logic.

For information about Durango real estate, give us a call or visit or