Grazing law draws crowd to Costilla County meeting

SAN LUIS — Costilla County Commissioners held their meeting Dec. 6. Community members packed the room. Several topics were discussed.

In the public comment segment, Shirley Otero, working with land and water rights and with the Costilla County Economic Development Center (CCEDC), let the community know about the San Luis Valley Foods Coalition summit meeting coming to San Luis in February 2023.

As in other counties, surveys will be available to different sectors of the community to assess their concerns about their industry and solutions to create a more thriving community.

Otero also mentioned people can get their wells and well water tested for free.

"People can fill out a form,” she said. "If the well is contaminated there is help to clean it."

There will be a meeting at the end of February to discuss the results of the water samples and surveys. Call Otero at 970-640-8014, for more information.

Next the meeting talked about matters concerning the Colorado Childcare Assistance Act and funding for maintaining or adding new roads to Costilla County.

The county commissioners then turned their attention to the subject of open grazing. The issue was what is the law regarding open grazing and can a homeowner be reimbursed for theft or damages.

Costilla County attorney Nicholas Sarmiento explained that Colorado law states a person must have a fence around their property and they cannot have more cows than the property can support. If those criteria are met the homeowner can be reimbursed.

Sarmiento also explained the county cannot regulate or change the state law. A lively discussion with ranchers and community members ensued.

The meeting continued with the announcement of the purchase of 314 Gilpin in Fort Garland, adjacent to and complement to the existing maintenance shop for Costilla County. The entire property will have better surveillance and security for prevention of theft.

Costilla County will receive new fire mitigation equipment through a grant agreement with the Colorado State Forest Service.

A private landowner wants to sell his 400 acres bordering Rico Seco Park to Costilla County. The county commissioners hope to get a grant through Colorado Open Lands. The additional land would be used to create 8 more miles of trails in Rico Seco Park, outside of San Luis.

The public portion of the Costilla County Commissioner's meeting ended with the decision to opt into the Family and Medical Leave Insurance program, presented the 2023 Holiday calendar and discuss the liquor license.