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What’s up with the Lamppost Trail waterfall feature?

When and if it ever rains heavily again, you may see one of Animas High School’s storm ponds overflowing through the grates pictured here, with water heading down toward the Lamppost Trail. (Action Line)

Dear Action Line: Just wondering if the waterfall that runs down the hill behind Animas High School and enters the drainage creek along Lamppost Trail is a planned water feature or an unforeseen drainage problem. It seems there is a low point on the road behind the school that collects a lot of water from sprinklers, etc. It appears the plan was to send the water across the trail below the road and down the very steep hill. Unfortunately, it creates a very muddy trail in spots and an ever-widening ravine on the hillside. – Just Wondering

Dear Wondering: Lamppost Trail! Action Line hasn’t heard that name for a while. A blast from the past. Is it still called the “Lamppost Drop-in”? This trail has been smoothed out over the years; it used to be a gnarly but sometimes ridable section of track from what’s now the Rim Trail down to the lower hairpin on East Eighth Avenue below the college. Riding up was even harder.

Is there still an actual lamppost there?

Action Line is no longer all that hip on the planned and rogue trail sections that test your mettle and skills, but did take a spin on the new Durango Mesa Park trails the other day. Great care was taken on the “intermediate” downhill to get NO air off the many jumps. Pro hint: You can’t ride and simultaneously admire the spectacular views.

But we were talking about a drainage issue. For that we turned to Libby Cowles, dean of enrollment and community outreach at AHS.

AHS students, faculty and other employees moved into the new $19.1 million building and grounds next to Fort Lewis College in January. As with any new building and grounds, there are always a few tweaks to make when settling in.

Cowles emphasized how grateful they are to have the “gorgeous new, solar-powered building … and we are working hard to make sure that we’re good neighbors to the college and community.” Community support, she pointed out, made the new digs possible. You may recall that AHS began in a strip mall on north Main from 2009 to 2013, then moved to the trailers at Twin Buttes for a decade.

“You might think that, because we don’t have a gym and are known for using the world outside as our classroom, the ‘water feature’ might be some newfangled water slide,” Cowles joked. (Action Line loves it when sources have a sense of humor.) The fact is that AHS students love trails as part of a “wilderness-based experiential education,” so they attempt to be good trail stewards.

AHS contacted project manager Joshua Pronozuk with Jaynes Corp., general contractor on school construction.

(Full disclosure from Action Line: This question came in late August, back when Southwest Colorado was in one of those rare rainy periods. It may happen again someday.)

“Everything is functioning as per designed,” Pronozuk informed school officials.

He explained that the entire site drains into two storm ponds, which are designed to allow water to slowly infiltrate. Catch basins at the corners of the ponds have slots and grates that allow water to drain down the hill when the ponds become too full.

“With how heavy the rain has fallen in such a short amount of time, I imagine there was quite a bit of discharge from these outfalls,” Pronozuk said in early September. “These plans and designs were reviewed and approved by the state, city and FLC.”

So, Cowles concluded, when there’s a heavy rain there may be some overflow, but it should be minimal and not damage the trail to the west side and downhill from the AHS campus. Sprinklers don’t seem to be an issue, she added.

Action Line is always looking on the bright side: If it never rains or snows again, there will be no trail drainage problems. Then at some point in that parched future, we can begin schooling youths as militants who will go raid nearby water sources in surrounding regions to meet our needs; AHS can be turned into a tactical center. The trail can serve as a training ground, and the commandos-to-be won’t even get their boots muddy.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

Email questions and suggestions to actionline@durangoherald.com or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. Then there was the “Boker Drop-In,” a probably illegal (“informal” sound better?) trail that led down to the old Boker Lumber, which is located at College Drive and East Ninth Avenue where the new … Wait, there’s still nothing new there? Just a big concrete pad?

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