Spruce Beetle in Hinsdale County

Below is a link to a Quick Guide produced by the Colorado State Forest Service to promote knowledge transfer with regard to the Spruce Beetle in the Colorado’s spruce forest ecosystem..

Spruce Beetle Quick Guide

Gunnison Country Association of REALTORS Monthly Indicators for October 2015

(Gunnison, Crested Butte and Lake City areas 2014 to 2015)

New Listings were up 10.5 percent (Lake City:  down 52.9 percent) for single family homes and 6.3 percent (Lake City:  down 50 percent) for townhouse-condo properties.  Pending Sales decreased 78.6 percent for single family homes and 95.2 percent for townhouse-condo properties.

The Median Sales Price was down 0.5 percent to $338,400 (Lake City:  $220,000) for single family homes and 22.7 percent to $218,500 (Lake City:  no change) for townhouse-condo properties.  Days on Market decreased 24.8 percent for single family homes but increased 39.9 percent for condo properties.

Interest rates are an area to pay attention to as rate hikes are widely expected before the year ends.  The Federal Reserve Bank has skipped two opportunities to raise rates this fall, but the final meeting in December will likely include a minor rate hike.  Although we are headed into a slower time of year, as housing activity goes, there are still many nuggets of optimism to mine from monthly figures.

Lake City Colorado Fire Rating Drop 2015

In the Silver World Newspaper dated September 11, 2015, there is an article with regard to the “dramatic drop in the local fire rating classification from 6 to 4 effective July 1, 2015.”

Hall Realty would like to encourage all home and business owners in the Lake City and immediate area to contact your insurance company and inquire as to a possible reduction in your current policy premium.

We hope this Thanksgiving finds you and your families well.  As always, Hall Realty appreciates your continued business support.

Safety in the Colorado Mountains

Hinsdale County Search and Rescue is a unit of the Hinsdale County Sheriff’s Office.  It is an all-volunteer organization, trained and equipped for search and rescue on mountainous terrain or in extreme weather.  HCSAR provides extensive training for its members and researches mountain rescue equipment and techniques.  The organization’s diverse membership includes climbers, engineers, healthcare providers, and other professionals.  HCSAR is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization.

Colorado Mountain Hazards

Because of Colorado’s highly variable climate and terrain, backcountry users need to educate themselves before venturing out.  Weather can change rapidly.  Check the forecast and keep an eye on the sky to anticipate changing conditions.

Lightning:  Lightning can strike anywhere but tends to hit high places.  In Colorado, summer afternoon thunderstorms are common.

Dramatic Temperature Drops:  Snowfall happens – even in summer!

Precipitation:  If you get wet, it’s difficult to stay warm.

High Water:  Water levels in Colorado streams and rivers can rise quickly.  High water from flash floods or snowmelt is possible.

Heat/Sun:  Keep well hydrated; avoid sunburn, even on cloudy days.  The sun’s radiation is intesified at higher altitudes.

Terrain:  Hazards caused by cliffs, loose and rocky slopes, steep snowfield, avalanche-prone slopes or ice require special skills or avoidance altogether.

Wildlife and Plants:  Colorado is home to bears, mountain lions, snakes, bees, mosquitoes, ticks, and other wildlife.  Know how to identify and avoid plants such as poison ivy, cactus, and thistle.

High Altitude:  Substantial increases in altitude over a short time may pose a serious risk.  Affects of alcohol and caffeine are magnified at high altitude, and can lead to more rapid dehydration and impaired judgement.

Human Responses:  Consequences of these hazards might include:  hypothermia, frostbite, altitude sickness, dehydration, sunburn, rashes, snow-blindness, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.  Proper training is essential to prevent, recognize, and treat these conditions.

Have a Safe Trip

Before you go:

  • Tell someone where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Be prepared.  Bring appropriate equipment.
  • Gather information on the attractions and hazards you may encounter.
  • Check the weather report, but don’t depend on it.

While you are out:

  • Travel within your ability and knowledge.
  • Use good judgement when choosing a route or deciding when to turn back.
  • Be responsible for your own safety and the safety of others.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected.  Consider making contingency plans in case of emergency.

If you run into problems:

  • Stop – Think – Evaluate Options- Make a Plan.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  A rescue will be more effective if requested early.
  • If lost or stranded, stay in a safe place where you can hear rescuers calling and make yourself visible.  Attempt to contact rescuers.
  • Be aware that it could take some time for rescuers to reach you.

Children in the Outdoors

Take responsibility for children under your care.  Until they learn to recognize and avoid hazards, children are especially at risk:

  • Prepare them with the proper equipment.
  • Teach children about local animals and hazards.
  • Discuss what to do in case of separation or other emergency.
  • Take advantage of available resources to teach children outdoor safety.
  • Be sure they are eating and drinking enough.

Take time to teach your children outdoor safety.  It could be the most valuable education they get.

Hiker’s Card (CORSAR)

What is the CORSAR card?

CORSAR stands for Colorado Outdoors Recreation Search and Rescue.  Fees collected go to the CO Search and Rescue Fund for search and rescue missions, training, and equipment.  (A portion of hunting and fishing licenses and OHV/snowmobile registrations also go to the fund.)

Where can I get one?

Cards are available for $3 at the Visitor’s Center, Sheriff’s Office , and some local businesses.

Why should I get one?

To support SAR in Colorado.  Also, if you have to be rescued, you may be liable for mission expenses.  If you hold a CORSAR card, CO hunting or fishing license, or other participating registration, most, if not all of your rescue expense may be covered by the Fund.  (Medical helicopter evacuations are NOT covered by the CORSAR fund.)

Use Your Head! It’s one of your best tools.

Items to Consider

Consider taking a few “essential” items with you:

  • Water
  • Extra Food
  • Extra Clothing
  • Waterproof Clothing
  • Map, Compass, GPS
  • Sunglasses and Sunscreen
  • Flashlight (spare batteries & bulb)
  • First Aid Supplies
  • Matches, Lighter, Firestarter (in waterproof container)
  • Knife
  • Whistle
  • Cell Phone (battery fully charged)

Cell phones may help you summon emergency help quickly.  However, battery life is limited and coverage is unreliable in the mountains.  Consider turning your cell phone off unless needed.

Serving Hinsdale County and beyond…for further information, to make donations, or to volunteer, please contact:

Hinsdale County Search and Rescue
P.O. Box 324
Lake City, CO  81235
(This information was taken from the Hinsdale County Search and Rescue, Lake City, Colorado pamphlet, 2/25/2010 version)



Fourteeners Lake City Community School Information for Prospective Families

The award-winning Lake City Community School is rated as one of the top public schools in the State of Colorado, by the Colorado Department of Education.  There are 178 school districts in the state.

The Lake City Community School has consistently scored very highly in the areas of academic achiemvement on state exams, academic growth on state exams, and post-secondary and workforce readiness, as determined by performance on the Colorado ACT, dropout rate, and graduation rate.

The Lake City Community School has been recognized as a John Irwin School of Excellence (https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeawards/johnirwin) several times, and is a District Accredited With Distinction  (https://www.cde.state.co.us/cdeawards/districtsaccreditedwithdistinction) by the Colorado Department of Education.

In addition, the school has a low student to teacher ratio, a modern building with new additions, and broad community support for the students, teachers, and administration.  There are approximately 100 students in pre-school through grade 12 enrolled in school.

Please visit www.lakecityschool.org for more information about the school’s mission, values, educator effectiveness, special education and more.  We invite you to contact us with your questions, and discuss enrolling your child or children in the Lake City Community School.

Dr. Leslie Nichols, Superintendent
Lake City Community School
Hinsdale County School District RE-1
614 N Silver Street
P.O. Box 39
Lake City, CO  81235

(This information was taken from www.lakecityschool.org)


Patented Mining Claim Information

Mining Claims


A patented mining claim is one for which the Federal Government has passed its title to the claimant, making it private land.  A person may mine and remove minerals from a mining claim without a mineral patent.  However, a mineral patent gives the owner exclusive title to the locatable minerals.  It also gives the owner title to the surface and other resources.  This means:  You own the Land as well as the minerals. (Hall Realty Mining Claim Listings are all Patented Mining Claims.)


An Unpatented mining claim is a particular parcel of Federal land, valuable for a specific mineral deposit or deposits.  It is a parcel for which an individual has asserted a right of possession.  The right is restricted to the extraction and development of a mineral deposit.  The rights granted by a mining claim are valid against a challenge by the United States and other claimants only after the discovery of a valuable mineral deposit.  This means:  You are leasing, from the governmnet, the right to extract minerals.  No land ownership is conveyed.


  1. LODE CLAIMS: Deposits subject to lode claims include classic veins or lodes having well defined boundaries.  They also include other rock in-place bearing valuable minerals and may be broad zones of mineralized rock.  Examples include quartz or other veins bearing gold or other metallic minerals and large volume but low-grade disseminated metallic deposits.  Lode claims are usually described as parallelograms with the longer side lines parallel to the vein or lode.  Descriptions are by metes and bounds surveys (giving length and direction of each boundary line).  Federal statute limits their size to a maximum of 1,500 feet in length along the vein or lode.  Their width is a maximum of 600 feet, 300 feet on either side of the centerline of the vein or lode.  The end lines of the lode claim must be parallel to qualify for underground extralateral rights.  Extralateral rights involve the rights to minerals that extend at depth beyond the vertical boundaries of the claim.
  2. PLACER CLAIMS: Mineral deposits subject to placer claims include all those deposits not subject to lode claims.  Originally, these included only deposits of unconsolidated materials, such as sand and gravel, containing free gold or other minerals.  By Congressional acts and judicial interpretations, many nonmetallic bedded or layered deposits, such as gypsum and high calcium limestone, are also considered placer deposits.  Placer claims, where practicable, are located by legal subdivision of land (for example:  the E 1/2 NE 1/3 NE 1/4, Section 2, Township 10 South, Range 21 East, Mount Diablo Meridian).  The maximum size of a placer claim is 20 acres per locator.


  1. MILL SITES: A mill site must be located on nonmineral land.  Its purpose is to either (a) support a lode or placer mining claim operation or (b) support itself independent of any particular claim.  A mill site must include the erection of a mill or reduction works and/or may include other uses reasonable incident to the support of a mining operation.  Descriptions of mill sites are by metes and bounds surveys or legal subdivision.  The maximum size of a mill site is 5 acres.
  2. TUNNEL SITES: A tunnel site is where a tunnel is run to develop a vein or lode.  It may also be used for the discovery of unknown veins or lodes.  To stake a tunnel site, two stakes are placed up to 3,000 feet apart on the line of the proposed tunnel.  Recordation is the same as a lode claim.  Some States require additional centerline stakes (for example, in Nevada, centerline stakes must be placed at 300-foot intervals).  An individual may locate lode claims to cover any or all blind (not known to exist) veins or lodes intersected by the tunnel.  The maximum distance these lode claims may exist is 1,500 feet on either side of the centerline of the tunnel.  This, in essence, gives the mining claimant the right to prospect an area 3,000 feet wide and 3,000 feet long.  Any mining claim located for a blind lode discovered while driving a tunnel relates back in time to the date of the location of the tunnel site.

The above Mining Claim information is from http://www.1881.com Investments.

Colorado’s Economy Ranked 2nd Best in U.S.

Good news for Colorado, Good Economy has yet to filter over to the Western Slope

Colorado’s Economy is ranked second best among the nation’s 50 state economies and Washington, D.C., according to Business Insider.  Colorado’s housing market had the most improvement in the country, with house prices rising 11.2 percent between Q1 2014 and Q1 2015.  The state’s 2014 gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 4.7 percent also was very strong, and was the fifth best among the states.  Business Insider ranked the economies of the states and D.C. on seven measures:  unemployment rates, gross domestic product per capita, average weekly wages, and recent growth rates for nonfarm payroll jobs, GDP, house prices, and wages.  While not factored into the ranking, the study looked at Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in each sate, as well as the industries that had a disproportionately large share of employment in each state according to their location quotients.  This provided a little more insight into what makes each state economy tick.  Dish Network, Western Union, and Chipotle are three of the 23 Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in Colorado.

Gunnison Country Association of REALTORS Monthly Indicators for August

August 2015 (Gunnison, Crested Butte & Lake City areas)

New Listings were up 34.5 percent for single family homes but decreased 14.3 percent for townhouse-0condo properties.  Pending Sales decreased 93.3 percent for single family homes and 78.1 percent for townhouse-condo properties.

The Median Sales Price was up 15.0 percent to $425,000 for single family homes but decreased 13.5 percent to $179,500 for townhouse-condo properties.  Days on Market increased 12.1 percent for single family homes but decreased 3.5 percent for condo properties.

Statistics released by the U.S. census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development indicate that privately-owned housing starts in July 2015 rose 10.1 percent compared to last year to the highest level the market has seen since October 2007.  This bodes well for the eventual landing of a flock of potential buyers currently holding in a rental pattern. As ideal summer weather diverges toward autumn, we will begin to see some seasonal relaxation, but the market should still look positive when compared to last year.

Sherman Townsite

Welcome to Sherman, one of the many small communitites in this region which boomed briefly, then slowly perished.  Named for an early pioneer, Sherman was founded in 1877, four years after the U.S. government and the native Ute Indians signed a treaty which opened up the San Juan Mountains to mining and settlement.

Sherman grew slowly at first, then expanded quickly in the 1880’s.  Mines in this area, such as the New Hope, Smile of Fortune, and Minnie Lee, yielded large amounts of gold, silver, copper, and lead.

The largest mine in this area, however, was the Black Wonder.  The Black Wonder was primarily a silver mine and was located on the hillside north of town.  For many years, this mine was the mainstay of Sherman’s economy.  Sherman, like many other mining towns in the San Juans, was basically a “one-mine town.”  Like a roller coaster, Sherman’s population and prosperity fluctuated with the fortunes of the Black Wonder mine.

Though Sherman was a relatively quiet community, residents here boasted optimistically of their town’s permanence and vitality.  In 1881, the Sherman House opened, offering “Good Accomodations for Travellers, Liquors, Wines, St. Louis Beer, and Cigars.”  A general merchandise store opened the same year, which “tempted the one hundred citizens to spend their money at home.”

During its peak in the mid-1880’s, the summer population of Sherman reached about 300 people, mostly miners.  During the fall, most residents left and few stayed in Sherman over the winter.  However, in the spring, after the snow had melted and the streams subsided, miners and merchants would move back into Sherman, repair their homes and stores, and resume their work.

Like many San Juan mining towns, Sherman’s downfall began in the 1890’s.  When the U.S. government went off the silver standard in 1893, the demand for silver dropped, creating a nationwide depression.  The drop in demand for silver forced the closure of scores of mines in the San Juans, and several in the Sherman area.

A second factor which led to Sherman’s decline was its poor location.  Situated at the confluence of Cottonwood Creek and the Lake Fork of the Gunnison River, and just downstream from Cataract Creek, the town was frequently flooded during the spring by snowmelt runoff.  Around 1900, a dam 147 feet high was built upstream to hold back the  churning waters, but a few days after completion, runoff from a cloudburst ripped the dam apart, and carried off much of Sherman as well.  Sherman never recovered from these setbacks, and by 1925, the town was deserted.

Little is left of Sherman today.  Still visible are the ruins of a few scattered cabins, many of which sit amidst stones rounded by streams and deposited by floodwaters.  The largest structure, the foundation of the Black Wonder mill, sits before you — a quiet reminder of this once thriving mining town.

Help preserve Sherman and other historic areas in this region so that future generations may enjoy them.  Please take only pictures and leave only footprints.  Thank you.

Bureau of Land Management

Colorado Getaways 2015: Operation Wildflower

A few hours’ drive takes my team to the hushed beauty of the remotest place in the lower 48.  By Debi Boucher

Wildflowers, not power lines.  That’s what the seven of us from Colorado Springs want in our late summer photographs, so we pick the remotest place in the lower 48, the place with the fewest roads, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, for a road trip.

Home base for Operation Wildflower is Ouray, where we rent 4×4 jeeps (sedans can make the trip – but it’s not advisable) and with military precision pack them with an abundance of camera gear, water and food.  We’ll need everything because we’re headed to a convenience food desert – Hinsdale County, Colo.  We won’t see civilization again until we reach Lake City, beyond two rugged mountain passes along the Alpine Loop – a combination of two 4×4 roads over two passess:  Engineer and [Cinnamon].

Our journey begins on the Million Dollar Highway and continues over Red Mountain Pass.  We caffeinate in Silverton.

Our route through the wilderness, the foresaid Alpine Loop, is an ancient one.  Native Americans cut hunting paths.  Those paths much later became roads for hauling supplies to prospectors seeking gold.  From the comfort of our heated vehicles, we marvel at the “no-guts-no-glory” gumption that propelled these hunters and pioneers into places and situations beyond what most of us urbanites can imagine.

The ghoslty evidence of that gumption is in the scattered remnants of a mining town.  Animas Forks, at the crossroads of California Gulch, Cinnamon Pass and Engineer Pass.  Once the home of 450 residents, with stores and 30 cabins, the community moved on when mining stopped.  Fire and avalanche consumed what remained.  Today you see a three-story “bay window house,” built by a postman and miner who struck it rich in the mines, and since then lovingly restored.

A quarter mile farther down the road rests the skeletal frame of an old mill, transported by the Silverton Northern Railroad, loaded into wagons and hauled to the site for assembly in the summer of 1912.  Today, it is silently flanked by a sea of yeallow wildflowers.

We drive slowly over the top of Cinnamon Pass, named for the spice-colored dirt.  From this 12,640 – foot vantage point, we see three of the nation’s highest mountains – Handie’s, Redcloud, and Sunshine Peaks.  At the foot of Handie’s Peak lies American Basin, one of the most photographed locations in the San Juan Mountains.  Columbine, scarlet paintbrush, lupine, sneezeweed and others bloom in abundance.

We see wildflowers everywhere along the drive, but now and then, nature puts on a show with a force that lifts our feet off the accelerator and plunge the brake pedal.  At some unlabled location on the road high above timberline, we see a field of vibrantly colored mixed wildflowers.  A little further along, a valley of purple; only one flower – elephant head – blooms here.

On the way up Engineer Pass, we chatter like school kids on the steep, seat-bouncing, switch-back grade.  Then we reach a pull-out known as Oh! Point, aptly named.  Spread before us is the green, grassy tundra of American Flats, surrounded by dozents of peaks, many of them fourteeners.  Here the clouds enclose us.  The hush is otherworldly, as if we had entered an entirely new space, or dimension.

Cinnamon Pass Road takes a northeasterly direction as it approaches Lake San Cristobal.  The lake sits at 9,003 feet, the second largest natural lake in Colorado, damned by a massive landslide 700 years ago.  The yellow earth, known as Slumgullion Earthflow, a name deriveed from a miner’s stew of similar color, continues to slide at a rate of about 20 feet per year.

Among the willows at Lake San Cristobal, I watch a bull moose and a red-winged black bird test each other’s tenacity.  The bird perches on the bull’s antlers.  The bull shakes off the bird, which attempts several more landings, until the bull rises up on his hind legs and angrily paws the air, finally ridding himself of his annoying visitor.

The only incorporated town in Hinsdale County is Lake City (summer population:  800).  Founded in 1875, it’s one of the oldest and best preserved historic communities in the state.  There are no fast food restaurants here, no chain stores, and many businesses in town close for the winter.  But in the summer months Lake City bustles with the one industry that survives — tourism.  The mouthwatering smell and smoke of BBQ greet you from a converted 1950’s era gas station with an old Texaco sign and gas pumps.  Consuming brisket tacos and BBQ by the pound, our hunger and our solitued are forgotten.

Along the historic boardwalk, we wander into galleries and gift shops, and admire the late 19th-century architecture.  The Operation Wildflower team agrees that spending some time at the San Juan Soda Company’s old-fashioned soda fountain would be a good idea.  An over the top cherry ice cream soda caps my day in the remotest spot south of Canada.

Hinsdale County

  • 1,123 square miles, 96 percent public land.
  • Five fourteeners and more than 20 thirteeners.
  • The Continental Divide crosses twice:  Weminuche Wilderness and Gunnison National Forest.

Courtesy On The Road

  • Stay on designated roads.  Obey posted signs for parking and trails.
  • Drive slowly and watch for on-coming traffic.
  • Stay on your side of the road on blind curves.  Honk to warn on-coming traffic.
  • Uphill traffic has the right-of-way.
  • Do not park or stop on narrow sections of the road.  Use pull-outs or wider areas of the road to park.
  • Respect private property.
  • Stay out of mine buildings, tunnels, and shafts.
  • Let others know your travel plans.
  • Plan your route and carry essential equipment and water.
  • Be prepared for changing weather.
  • Keep track of you time.  Travel her is difficult in the dark.

Debi Boucher is a freelance writer and photographer and a regular contributor to EnCompass by AAA Colorado.