July 31st - Big Thompson Flood 30th
Today marks the
30th anniversary of the dreadful summer day when heavy afternoon rains sent a raging torrent of
water down the Big Thompson Canyon killing 139
people, causing millions of dollars in damage and
resulting in the worst natural disaster in
As people along the
Big Thompson River fished and enjoyed what
appeared a beautiful summer day, a stalled
thunderstorm upstream was rapidly dropping months
worth of rain in a few short hours. By evening,
this rain would swell local streams feeding the
Big Thompson, sending a 14 foot wall of
devastation down the Big Thompson Canyon.
Homes were washed
away along with the residents in them. Survivors speak
of seeing the headlights of automobiles bobbing
under the surface of the raging river, some with
occupants still inside. Highway 34 was completely
washed away in many places leaving motorists stranded
on precarious outcrops dangerously close to the
raging flood waters. By the end of the day, 139
people would have lost their lives in this
mountain tragedy. The bodies of six others would
never be found.
the initial stages of the flood a Colorado State
Patrolman, Sergeant W. Hugh Purdy, and an Estes
Park officer, Michel O. Conley, frantically traveled the dangerous
roadways warning residents and visitors of the
impending danger. Some reportedly laughed at the
officers' warnings and were swept away in the
flood. The officers themselves made the ultimate sacrifice,
losing their own lives in their dedication to
saving others. A memorial stands today in honor of
these brave law enforcement officers whose selfless efforts saved
many from certain death.
"High-Water" marker will be dedicated
today at the location of the old power plant which
was washed away in the flood. Only the turbines
remained. Memorials and remembrances are also
scheduled at the Big Thompson Community Building,
near the flood memorial markers along Highway 34,
one mile east of Drake.
Reporter-Herald is running an excellent series
on the "1976 Big Thompson Flood",
including several interactive online
presentations. This superb documentation of the
tragic event can be viewed by clicking the link
The Golden-mantled Ground
Squirrel is similar to chipmunks in more than just
its appearance. Although it is a traditional
hibernator, building up its body fat so to survive
the winter asleep, it is also known to store some
food in its burrow, like the chipmunk, for
consumption upon waking in the spring.
Both the Golden-mantled Ground
Squirrel and the chipmunk have cheek pouches for
carrying food. Cheek pouches allow them to
transport food back to their nests and still run
at full speed on all fours. By comparison, when a
more typical ground squirrel is threatened by a
predator, it has to drop its food if it wants to
make a quick getaway.
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels
dig shallow burrows up to 100 feet in length
with the openings hidden in a hollow log or under
tree roots or a boulder. The female gives birth to
a single litter of 4–6 young each summer.
The Golden-mantled Ground
Squirrel is abundant throughout its range and is
equally at home in a wide variety of forest
habitats as well as rocky meadows, and even
Listen to this article
experts Paul Sterling
and Kristin Denton
July 28th - Free Communication Seminar On Aug
experts Paul Sterling and Kristin Denton will
be presenting a free communication seminar to the
public on Wednesday, Aug 2nd.
The two hour
seminar will be held at St. Bartholomew's Church,
880 MacGregor Ave, in Estes Park. The presentation
begins at 7PM and will be an introduction to
Sterling's groundbreaking "4-Step
Method" of relationship improvement through
good communication skills, the Language
On the weekend of
August 18 - 20, Sterling and Denton will be
presenting a full 2 ½ day seminar on The Language
of Peace so that individuals may acquire the
method as a natural way to communicate in all of
their relationships, business and personal.
Sterling, after a career as a commercial fisherman
in Alaska, has spent the past twenty years
studying and teaching communication skills in
government and business. Kristin Denton
has been an instructor of language and literature
for the last 17 years in both the workplace and
public school settings. Sterling and Denton are
both residents of the Big Thompson Canyon and are
sometimes seen kayaking in the Big Thompson River
near Sterling's home.
information on the Language of Peace or to reserve
a seat at the free seminar contact Paul Sterling
at: 970-586-7734 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Human West Nile Cases Confirmed in Larimer
July 27th - Two Human West Nile Cases Confirmed...
The Larimer County
Department of Health and Environment on Wednesday announced that the first two cases of West Nile
Virus in Larimer County for 2006 have been
confirmed. Health Department officials said that
both individuals, a Loveland man and a Fort
Collins woman, are in their early 50s. Laboratory
tests confirming the positive results became
available on Wednesday. Both persons are at home and
recovering, though still afflicted with typical
West Nile Virus fatigue.
The woman from Fort
Collins reported her symptoms began around July 4,
and she visited her doctor the following
week. The man from Loveland noticed vague symptoms
around the same time, but only found out about the
infection after donating blood, and the virus was
detected as part of the screening process.
persons were likely bitten by an infected mosquito
either the last week of June or first week of
July,” said Mike Doyle, West Nile Virus Health
Educator for Larimer County. “Because the lag
time between a bite and getting a positive test
result can be up to a month, health departments
often don’t hear about a human infection until
2-4 weeks after the person was bitten.” Doyle
stresses that it’s really important to wear
repellent and eliminate mosquito hiding places and
report standing water long before you hear about
cases in the news.
cases should remind us all that West Nile Virus is
still very much with us,” said Dr. Adrienne
LeBailly, director of the Larimer County
Department of Health and Environment. “It’s
important for everyone to wear repellent
throughout the entire mosquito season ,” she
said. “The Culex mosquitoes are biting and
infecting people even though you may not have
heard or read of confirmed cases.”
West Nile Virus can
cause a serious illness that is transmitted to
humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. In
2003, Larimer County was hit hard with the virus,
making over 500 people sick and causing nine
deaths. In its most serious form, West Nile can
cause severe neurological problems. It can best be
prevented by regular application of insect
repellents containing DEET when outdoors.
traps are set through out Larimer County to
monitor the numbers of Culex mosquitoes, the kind
that carry and transmit West Nile virus.
Doyle notes that mosquito numbers are on the rise.
Though the numbers are not as high as during the
2003 season when numerous persons were stricken by
West Nile virus, “they’ve gone up
significantly in the last week,” Doyle said.
“Actually, the risk is of infection is higher
today than it was when these two persons got
Larimer County residents to follow the guidelines
for preventing mosquitoes from biting. These
Wear an insect
repellent containing DEET, following
instructions carefully, whenever you are
outside, in the backwoods or the backyard.
Be sure to apply repellent on children and
elderly, following instructions on the label
If you are a
parent of young children, do not forget to use
repellent yourself as well as to apply it
carefully to your children.
water areas to your local officials. In
Fort Collins and Timnath, call 663-5697.
In Loveland call 962-2583. In
Wellington, call 568-3381. In Berthoud, call
532-1600. In unincorporated Larimer County,
water around the house at least weekly. Change
birdbath water at least weekly; in this hot
weather, mosquitoes can go from eggs to adults
in just 5 days. Receptacles such as buckets,
clogged rain gutters and rain barrels are very
attractive spots for a mosquito to lay its
Stay clear of
places where mosquitoes are known to gather,
(long grasses, wetlands, shrubs and grassy
shores), especially at dusk when they are most
Water your lawn fewer times
per week so the roots stay moist but the grass
blades are dry.
In your garden, use drip or
soaker hoses instead of overhead sprinkling.
Eliminate mosquito hiding
places by trimming branches away from the
also adds that it’s very important to wear an
effective repellent during summer evenings while
taking part in or watching softball, baseball, and
soccer at local parks. “Many of our local
recreation parks are built near wetlands, rivers,
and irrigation ditches which are very attractive
to mosquitoes,” he said. “It’s also
important to pay attention to neighborhood
detention basins and report any basins where there
is standing water.”
remember, he adds, it only takes a trip out to the
backyard to get bitten by an infected mosquito if
you are not wearing repellent/
the lag time for diagnosis?
Susanne Murray, Communicable Disease nurse at the
Health Department says that the lag time from bite
to report is due to the incubation period (the
time from bite to symptoms appearing) and how
quickly a person seeks medical evaluation.
Murray says that the first symptoms usually appear
anywhere from 3 – 14 days after being bitten.
Symptoms may include body aches, fever, chills,
headache and dizziness. If a person goes to
their doctor for testing, the test is most
accurate if at least 8 – 10 days have
passed since the onset of symptoms. There
will then be a one to three-day wait for test
“Tests done earlier may not be accurate,”
Murray said, “but it may still be important to
see your doctor sooner if your symptoms are
severe.” Because there is no vaccine or
antiviral treatment for West Nile Virus, treatment
consists of rest, drinking fluids, and analgesia
to relieve pain and fever until symptoms have
passed, she added.
Rabies Precautions Urged By County
July 24th - Rabies Precautions Urged By County...
With summer being the peak of
rabies season, Larimer County health officials
remind the public to take precautions against
contracting this serious, sometimes deadly,
Since spring, five bats in
Larimer County have tested positive for rabies.
Also, four Larimer County residents are currently
receiving the rabies immunization series due to
their exposure to bats that tested positive for
rabies or whose rabies status is unknown.
Rabies is an infectious viral
disease that is transmitted to humans through the
saliva of an infected bat or other mammal,
affecting the nervous system of those infected
with the virus. Left untreated, it is almost
always fatal. Bats are the most common
carrier of rabies in Colorado though rabies can
also be carried by other animals such as dogs,
cats, raccoons or skunks.
According to Rich
Grossmann, Environmental Health Specialist at the
Larimer County Department of Health and
Environment, bats are very active in the summer.
Grossmann explains that, after emerging from
hibernation in the spring, bats migrate north
during the summer and roost in sites close to
where humans and pets live or recreate. “This increases the likelihood of human and pet
exposure to bats and other mammals that can carry
rabies,” he said.
Grossmann stresses two of the
most critical steps toward preventing infection
with the rabies virus: minimizing contact
with possibly rabid animals; and keeping dogs and
cats updated on their vaccinations against the
Grossmann also said it’s
crucial that, if there has been any chance of
exposure to bat saliva, that the bat be captured
for testing and that the possibly exposed person
seek medical care immediately.
“A person may be unaware that
they have been bitten since a bat bite is
generally small and may be undetectable to the
eye,” Grossman said. He relates that in
the spring of 2006 a teenage boy in Texas died of
rabies after exposure to a bat in his bedroom
several weeks before. “The boy awoke to
find a bat in his bedroom, but he was unaware that
he had been bitten,” Grossman said. He
added that the boy did not confine the bat so it
could be tested, and did not seek medical
attention until the rabies symptoms appeared.
“This type of situation is preventable.”
Grossmann stresses the following
steps for preventing transmission of rabies:
Vaccinate your dog, cat, and
ferret and keep the immunizations up to date.
Do not handle or hand feed
wild animals and teach your children not to
handle any wild animal. Report any
strange acting wild animal to the Larimer
County Humane Society
Keep bats from entering your
home through damaged screens, open windows and
small holes near doors or under gutters.
Keep your pets under
supervision and prevent them from roaming and
coming in contact with wild animals that might
“People often handle
animals out of pity or concern for an animal that
is acting strangely,” said Grossmann. A
rabid animal may exhibit abnormal behavior such as
bats being “grounded,” nocturnal animals being
active in daylight, paralysis or staggering, and
excessive salivation (“foaming”) around the
mouth. “An animal with rabies will likely
bite if touched and may act aggressively when
approached,” added Grossmann.
Larimer County requires that
dogs and cats be kept current on rabies
vaccinations. “Should your unvaccinated
dog or cat come in contact with a positive bat,
your animal will be placed under strict quarantine
at a licensed facility for several months or may
possibly be euthanized,” Grossmann said.
“Just this week a pet cat in Larimer County had
to be euthanized because it was unvaccinated and
had contact with a positive bat.
“This can be prevented by
keeping your pets current on their
vaccinations,” Grossmann stressed.
If you or your pet is bitten by
or exposed to a bat, raccoon or other animal:
Wash the bite or area that
has touched the animal thoroughly with soap
and water and seek medical or veterinary
attention as soon as possible.
Seek medical help if you or
your pet has been closely exposed to wildlife
such as a skunk, raccoon or a bat even if you
are unsure if you or your pet has been bitten.
Contact the Larimer County
Humane Society at 226-3647 and notify them of
where the animal is located.
If the bat is in a house, do
not let it go. Rather, confine it to the
room and call the Humane Society to come and
retrieve the animal for testing.
Do NOT touch the animal.
Until the animal is removed, do not sleep in
the room or allow in the room young children
or any incapacitated adult who could not
report contact with the bat.
For more information on rabies
and other diseases carried by animals, call the
Larimer County Department of Health and
Environment at 498-6775 or visit www.larimer.org/health.
This week's photo features a
beautiful local wildflower, the Rocky Mountain
Beeplant, which is currently in bloom on hillsides
throughout our area.
Mountain Beeplant (Cleome serrulata) is an
annual flower and is found throughout the
southwestern United States, including Colorado.
The plant also ranges from Illinois and Missouri
to Saskatchewan westward to Washington and
southward to west Texas at elevations under 8,500
ft. The plant featured in these photos was found
along CO 43, east of Glen Haven.
Mountain Beeplant is an erect, branched annual (reproduced from
seed every year) that grows to about 3 ft. tall in
our area. Each leaf has a stalk (petiole) and
three narrow leaflets whose margins may be entire
or minutely serrulate (toothed). Dozens of bright,
pink to purplish flowers are crowded into rounded
or rather elongate spikes. Flowers are about 1/2
inch long and atop long pedicels. The stamens
(pollen-bearing organs) are longer than the
flowers, giving the spikes a fuzzy appearance.
Fruit is a narrow capsule up to 2 inches long that
bears several to many dark, ovoid seeds.
This species is a member of the
caper family (Capparaceae), named after
similarly pungent capers, the edible flower-buds
of a Mediterranean plant, Capparisspinosa.
This is a relatively small family of about 900
species, mostly tropical, that contains many trees
and shrubs. The generic name Cleome is an ancient
Latin name of some member of the mustard family.
The specific epithet serrulata means
"finely toothed" in botanical
Look for Rocky Mountain Beeplant
in early July on native prairie in light or sandy
soils and in both lightly and heavily grazed
This plant is sometimes grown as
an ornamental. Many Cleomes in the Tropics are
used as foods, medicines, and dyes, but there is
no mention of economic uses for Rocky Mountain