County updating hazard mitigation plan

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By Josh Pike | Staff Writer

Archuleta County is currently in the process of updating the multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan and is soliciting public feedback through an online survey.

The survey can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3zrzbgf and closes tomorrow, July 29.

Undersheriff Mike Le Roux explained that the hazard mitigation plan is required by the state and federal government for the county to leverage emergency funding and is updated every five years, with the last version being completed in 2018.

He added that the primary entities involved in the plan are Archuleta County, the Town of Pagosa Springs, the Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District and the Pagosa Fire Protection District, although the plan also considers Chromo and Arboles as satellite communities and identifies hazards in the portions of Hinsdale and Mineral counties that are south and west of the Continental Divide.

Le Roux explained that the plan identifies hazards within the county and allows various jurisdictions in the county to focus efforts to mitigate them. 

As an example of this process, Le Roux mentioned accidents involving deer and elk on U.S. 160 west of Pagosa Springs, which was identified as a hazard in the 2018 plan and is being mitigated through the Colorado Department of Transportation wildlife overpass and tunnel located near the junction of U.S. 160 and Colo. 151.

He also mentioned that the plan had previously identified fire risks above Plumtaw Road as a hazard, which has been mitigated by the U.S. Forest Service. 

However, Le Roux indicated that this would likely continue to be identified as an area of concern given the Plumtaw Fire in the area this summer.

He added that the survey helps the jurisdictions identify and rank the hazards in the area, although he noted that the survey is limited by the “public participation or lack thereof.”

Le Roux commented that the hazard mitigation plan process is approximately halfway complete, with the county having hired a consultant to oversee the process last year and hoping to complete and submit the plan to the Federal Emergency Management Agency by January or February of 2023.

He also mentioned that there will be further meetings to gather public feedback on the plan in the upcoming months.

josh@pagosasun.com