Tag Archives: Saguache Today. SaguacheToday.com

Snow Keeps Campgrounds Closed

The winter snow is receding and spring fever has many forest users excited to get outside and explore the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison (GMUG) National Forests. Though snow may have thawed from some areas of the GMUG, forest officials are warning that most forest roads are still not accessible and could be impassable for some time due to ice, mud or snow. Forest travel on wet, muddy, or snow-covered roads can cause serious resource damage and safety concerns especially if visitors are unprepared. Even a few inches of snow can obscure icy roads and soft shoulders where vehicles can become stuck.

Grand Valley Visitor Center, clearing parking lot with help from CDOT. Photo: Danielle Cook

Forest officials are encouraging the public to minimize impacts to natural resources from travel on roads that are susceptible to rutting due to warmer weather and melting snowpack. Forest roads are easily damaged when saturated and wet especially with the continued precipitation the GMUG has experienced. Some higher elevation roads, motorized trails and campgrounds will open later than normal due to this year’s heavy snowpack. Some gates are still buried in snow, and roads are extremely wet and muddy. Please respect gates and closed areas and find alternate locations to recreate to allow muddy roads and trails time to dry out. Contact your local Ranger District for current conditions before heading out on your trip.

Ouray Ranger District conditions at the Spring Creek Trail. Photo: Kris Wist

“Forest roads are not constructed to be all-weather roads, so they can be easily damaged when wet, especially during years of above average snowpack as we have experienced this year” said Chris Phelps, a GMUG Engineer. “Ruts created by tires that are a mere inch deep can leave long lasting impressions that only increase with rain and erosion.”
Motorized and mechanized vehicle users are responsible for knowing when and where they can drive or ride. Motorized vehicle users are asked to obtain and adhere to routes shown on the Motor Vehicle Use Maps (MVUMs). MVUMS show which routes are open to motorized vehicles, which types of vehicles may be used, and season opening and closing dates. Hard copies of MVUMs are free and available at all forest offices and online here. Helpful information about planning a trip to the GMUG can be found on our Know Before You Go webpage at: https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go. Campground reservation information can be found here.

Hantavirus Awareness Season

With the return of warm temperatures and pleasant weather, residents in saguache Today begin spending more time outdoors. Animals also become more active, moving around in search of new food and preparing nests and burrows for the summer breeding season. As you go about spring cleaning barns, outbuildings, and even our homes, it is important to be aware of a disease that can be carried by Deer Mice called Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS), which can be transmitted to humans through contact with mouse urine, droppings, or dust that may have mouse urine or droppings. Hantavirus can cause serious illness and even death in 38% of cases.

“Awareness, prevention, and early medical care are key to protecting local residents from this dangerous disease,” says SLV Regional Epidemiologist Lilian Coll.

Deer mice are cute but are carriers of the deadly HPD, so use caution when spring cleaning

Deer mice, which have tawny backs, white bellies, big eyes and ears carry the virus. Typically, about 10-15 percent of deer mice are infected, but it is not possible to tell if a mouse has the virus by its appearance or behavior, so it is recommended to take precautions when any signs of mice are present. Other rodents and household pets do not carry or become ill from hantavirus.

Hantavirus is of special concern to residents in the San Luis Valley because there have been a high number of cases here. In 2018, there were five confirmed cases in Colorado, including one in the San Luis Valley.

Early symptoms of HPS are fatigue, fever, and muscle aches, especially in large muscles. Some people also have a headache, nausea, and other symptoms. Cough and shortness of breath appear later as the lungs fill with fluid. A patient’s condition can deteriorate very quickly at that stage. Seek medical attention as soon as you start developing symptoms.

Use caution when doing your spring cleaning as contact with mouse urine, droppings, can put you at risk for Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Photo: Saguache Today/Kathy Bedell

To prevent contracting hantavirus, it is important to approach cleaning cautiously. If you encounter mouse droppings or nesting materials, do not sweep or vacuum. First, air out the building by opening all doors and windows for at least 30 minutes. Make sure to wear a mask before attempting any cleanup.

Then, wet the area with a solution of 1.5 cups bleach per gallon of water; let the solution sit for 15 minutes, clean up saturated droppings and dust with paper towels and wipe the area down. Any soiled material should be placed into a plastic bag and deposited immediately in an outdoor trash can.

More information about hantavirus can be found HERE.