The following stories were the most well-read on www.SkyHiNews.com from May 2-8.
Granby Ranch officially has a new owner.
Concluding over a year of uncertainty at Granby Ranch, GR Terra and its affiliate, GRCO, purchased the ski and golf resort on Wednesday. The acquisition includes all assets associated with Granby Ranch’s operations as well as adjacent land parcels.
According to Grand County records, the entire property sold for $20 million.
— Amy Golden
2. A dam in Grand County is showing an increasing risk of failure, prompting a new engineering study
The Colorado River Water Conservation District’s board of directors has approved a contract with an engineering firm to address problems with a dam that are turning out to be worse than previously thought.
At its second quarterly meeting, held in April, the River District board agreed to pay $323,840 to HDR Engineering to further study the movement and potential cracking at the district-owned Ritschard Dam. The dam forms 66,000-acre-foot Wolford Mountain Reservoir across Muddy Creek, about 5 miles north of Kremmling in Grand County. Muddy Creek is a tributary of the Colorado River.
River District staff, aware since 2008 that the dam is settling and moving more than expected, has been monitoring the situation. However, a 2020 Comprehensive Dam Safety Evaluation prepared in December by HDR Engineering for the state’s Dam Safety section of the Division of Water Resources found that the risk of internal erosion of the dam due to cracking had increased from a 2016 evaluation. That year’s evaluation estimated the chances of a dam failure at 1 in a billion in any given year; the 2020 report found a 1.5-in-10,000 chance of a dam failure.
— Heather Sackett, Aspen Journalism
Water pollution concerns have prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue separate notices to two developers in Grand County.
In Kremmling, Blue Valley Ranch received notice dated April 13 for allegedly failing to submit monitor data for its wastewater treatment plant since December 2019. For that violation, Blue Valley Ranch faces a $3,000 fine.
At the Grand Park development in Fraser, a state representative inspected the Elk Creek Condos, the Meadows and a storage facility in early April and found the facilities were discharging “sediment-laden stormwater” into Elk Creek and the Fraser River.
— McKenna Harford
ECKERT — Melting snow and flowing irrigation ditches mean spring has finally arrived at the base of Grand Mesa in western Colorado.
Harts Basin Ranch, a 3,400-acre expanse of hayfields and pasture just south of Cedaredge, in Delta County, is coming back to life with the return of water.
Twelve hundred of the ranch’s acres are irrigated with water from Alfalfa Ditch, diverted from Surface Creek, which flows down the south slopes of the Grand Mesa. The ranch has the No. 1 priority water right — meaning the oldest, which comes with the ability to use the creek’s water first — dating to 1881.
— Heather Sackett and Luke Runyon, Aspen Journalism/KUNC
Negotiations that could allow an employer charged in a 2019 workplace death to avoid trial continue in Grand County District Court, but it seems unlikely the defendant will be able to avoid significant jail time given the judge’s feelings about the case.
Bryan D. Johnson, 52, was charged in August 2019 after one of his workers, Rosario “Chayo” Martinez-Lopez, died in a trench collapse on a worksite in Granby. Johnson was charged with manslaughter, but a proposed plea agreement would have had him admit to criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.
The plea outlined four years of supervised probation, up to 90 days in jail, 400 hours of community service and a $5,000 donation split between Habitat for Humanity Grand County and Grand County Search and Rescue, as well as requirements to attend Workers’ Memorial Day and worker safety seminars.
— McKenna Harford