by Susan Simons
LAS ANIMAS/HUERFANO- The Rural Property Owners Alliance (RPOA) meets Sat. May 17 at the Huerfano Community Center at 928 Russell in Walsenburg from 10 am – 2 pm. On May 17, speakers from Las Animas and Huerfano County Tax Assessors Office and from the Spanish Peaks Volunteer Fire Department will present information. Members of any POA in Huerfano or Las Animas Counties are invited. The Alliance meets every two months.
This organization was formed in 2006. Jim Conley, the CSU Cooperative Extension Agent for Huerfano County, recognized an opportunity for the many POAs in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties to cooperate in solving problems. Representatives from nine POAs attended the first meeting in 2006; in March 2008, twenty-five POAs were represented. There are at least 48 POAs in Huerfano and Las Animas Counties. Those which have attended an RPOA meeting are represented on the attached map.
In general, Property Owners Associations solve problems for the group of landowners who have bought land in a development on what used to be a large working ranch. A few examples of developments in our area are Blackhawk Ranch, Santa Fe Trails Ranch, Majors Ranch, and Silver Spurs.
The POA members are usually elected to work on problems like road maintenance and snow removal, but they are also more and more concerned with issues that affect the larger community like emergency services, wildfire protection, invasive weed management, and oil and gas exploration. A part of their mission is to be good stewards of the land and to contribute ideas and energy to Huerfano and Las Animas Counties.
For example, in the March meeting speakers talked for several hours about problems landowners have had with coalbed methane drilling (CBM) in the counties. They also talked about resources for coping with those problems and steps to take to protect against future problems. The discussion emphasized that the most important concern in the two counties is water. CBM drilling in the two counties has apparently depleted ground water supplies and contaminated surface waters. This is a countywide issue of concern to all.
For more information about RPOA, contact Cissy Severance, 719-738-2475, firstname.lastname@example.org.