Rain and summer events come to life in the 59th District

After our poor winter snowpack, continued drought in the spring and fires around the state, we were excited to see the beginning of our monsoon season starting in late June.

Having spent most of May and June traveling around the 59th District conducting town hall meetings, Barbara and I decided to relax and enjoy the beauty of the Western Slope in July. We traveled to Gunnison for the Cattlemen’s Days parade and had a short visit with former Lt. Governor Mike Callihan and his wife, Deborah. Although the Blue Mesa reservoir is low, we were pleased to see the runoff of the Gunnison, and rain followed us over Coal Bank, Molas and Red Mountain passes.

When Wolf Creek Pass was closed because of the fires, Pagosa Springs residents were worried about how it would impact their tourist season. We decided to help by spending a day there, enjoying lunch and then heading to see the very funny play “Spamalot” at their new art center. It was a beautiful venue with an appreciative audience, talented actors and very helpful employees. We joined the city in celebration as the pass reopened and tourists returned.

I have returned to Pagosa three times since then. During one visit, I met with the Republican Women for a discussion about the bills passed in the Legislature this year. On another trip I attended “Colorado’s Moment,” a symposium sponsored by Pagosa Verde, a geothermal development project engineered by Pagosa local Jerry Smith, where I learned a great deal about the opportunities geothermal energy can provide throughout the district. As Smith explained, geothermal uses the Earth’s heat to generate energy and is a clean, cost-effective, and nonweather-dependent source of power. The conference was attended by local and international industry experts, including local biomass advocate J.R. Ford, who addressed the scientific, economic and environmental aspects of geothermal use and renewable energy. I hope to sponsor legislation next session to create incentives for the use of this exciting renewable energy resource in Colorado. Finally, we enjoyed attending the 4-H exhibits and kids’ rodeo at the Archuleta County Fair last Sunday.

In Durango, we have enjoyed exploring our hometown by attending the comical play “39 Steps” put on by Merely Players, meeting the people who grow our food at the farmers market, walking on the Animas River trail, seeing our friends and neighbors at the La Plata County Fair, and shopping downtown. I look forward to taking my fishing pole to the Animas, then heading to Lake City for hiking and fly fishing. We plan to be in Silverton later this month for the Great Western Brass Band Festival at the new Silverton School, and we also hope to see the Bar D Wranglers before they close for the season. Finally, no year would be complete without a ride on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad – but that can wait until the fall colors.

I have enjoyed exploring the far reaches of the district this summer – it is such a beautiful area, and it offers so much variety. The greatest asset of the 59th district is our community, a diverse mix of people who were born here, moved here many years ago, or who come from other parts of the country and have made Southwest Colorado their home. I have lived in this district for 39 years, and continue to feel excited about its future and the future of Colorado.

In other news, two bills I sponsored went into effect last week. Senate Bill 246 addresses the problem of poor access to health care in rural areas by creating rural family medicine residency programs, which will help retain and recruit doctors to areas such as Southwest Colorado. House Bill 1232, which also went into effect last week, provides free fishing licenses for wounded active-duty military members in the Warrior Transition Battalion. This will provide another rehabilitating outlet for soldiers who return from war with mental and physical injuries.

As always, I am honored to be your state representative.

Mike McLachlan represents House District 59 in Colorado’s General Assembly. The district encompasses La Plata, Archuleta, San Juan, Ouray and Hinsdale counties and part of Gunnison County. Call him at (303) 866-2914 or email mike.mclachlan.house@state.co.us.

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