I am organizing a fundraiser to help renovate the skatepark in Paonia. The iconic film Easy Rider turns 50 this year and we are bringing it to the Paradise Theater to co-incide with the Cabin Fever series. One night only! Monday, February 25th at 7pm. Please come help celebrate the counterculture! All Proceeds to benefit Paonia Skatepark.
In the spring of 2008, having just moved to Paonia the year prior, a local farmer contacted me with an idea for a film. A little ball of energy and enthusiasm, she wanted to paint a picture and illustrate via moving pictures and sound the forgotten art and craft of eating locally. There was a new word for it at the time, Locavore, and over the next year we embarked on one of the most fulfilling film projects I have ever been involved with. That woman, Lynn Gillespie along with her husband Tom, own and operate The Living Farm on Stewart Mesa outside Paonia. The farm remains a shining example of what can be done with just a small parcel of land, hard work, and good water rights! Today much of the food produced on the farm is funneled to Paonia’s Living Farm Cafe, operated by Lynn’s son Mike Gillespie. The farm can also be toured throughout the summer with advanced notice.
“Locavore: Local Diet, Healthy Planet” is feature length and is filled with revelations on the benefits of locally sourced food, many of which long forgotten with the rise of global industrial agriculture. Local North Fork Valley stalwarts of the Locavore movement featured in the film include: Zephyros Farm on Bone Mesa, Desert Weyr farm on Garvin Mesa, Rivendell Farm in Austin, Bernedette Stech’s wonderful little family farm on Pitkin Mesa, as well as neo pioneer Brook LeVan’s sustainable settings in Carbondale. Its also features some super snappy, original music by ex-Paonian Bill Powers!
The film is still available on DVD for purchase but several years ago Lynn decided to make it free to the public. Recently I reposted the film to Youtube and its available for you all to view! “Locavore: Local Diet, Healthy Planet” is every bit as relevant as it was 10 years ago and even more so. Not only is it a love letter to organic small scale farming on Colorado’s western slope its also a passionate and inspiring and will no doubt get you excited about next year’s garden! Enjoy!
After a long, historically dry, smokey, and uncomfortable summer in western Colorado autumn has roared in like a lion! It seems we went from hot to cold in a matter of days and the high country has already received a nice dose of moisture in the form of rain and then snow. Hallelueuia! (Lets hope it keeps on coming!) My family and I loaded up the family truckster and took a nice respite to Box Canyon Lodge in Ouray just as the temperatures plummeted. This made for excellent hotspringing weather. We took a drive up the Camp Bird road and were turned back by slushy, snowy road conditions as flakes fell and coated the golden leaves that were still on the aspens and cottonwoods. My snow slut friends have been posting faceshots of opening day at Wolf Creek ski area in the south San Juans (Jealous). Here’s to a great start to a snowy Colorado winter!
Much like the welcome cool fall temperatures have descended on the Western Slope, so too it seems we are experiencing a potential cool down in the hot real estate market. Beyond the data which I will share, rumblings in our office meetings at RE/MAX Mountain West in Paonia indicate multiple price drops in recent weeks, fewer new listings on the market, and reduced buyer activity. Are we transitioning from a hot seller’s market to more of a buyers market as we approach the 2018 midterm elections and winter? It would seem that way, especially if one takes into account the fact that Denver’s market, also a driver of the North Fork Valley real estate sales as of late, is also cooling off. Here’s a good spot for my disclaimer! All predictions herein are my opinion of course but all data and statistics are more or less accurate. Feel free to call B.S. next year if my predictions fall flat!
Comparing August 1st thru October 17th between 2017 and 2018 (about the last 75 days) median home sale prices are down 11% from $275k to $247k in the North Fork Valley market. Similarly the number of new listings in this time period is also down around 10%. Sales volume is down slightly as well. Usually when we see a decrease in home prices we also see an INCREASE in inventory. That is not the case currently. In general we always see a bit of slow down coming into winter but when we compare the past 2 years a downward trend does emerge. Personally, I believe the current volatile political climate along with a precarious stock market have people hunkering down to see whats going to happen with the midterm elections. This means less people pulling up roots (and selling their homes) and more people pinching pennies with regards to real estate purchases. The stock market is way up but word on the street is a correction is nigh! Here is a recent article bolstering my slowdown claims. Remember Our market in the North Fork tends to follow national trends… albeit with some lag time.
What does this mean for buyers and sellers? Well if you have been sitting on your property in anticipation that 6 months from now it will be worth another $25k I would rethink that logic. Mind you I am no prognosticator with a crystal ball but I do believe the party has to end sometime with regards to our obvious seller’s market and steep price increases of the past 36 months. What I see is a bit of leveling off with no signs of another price run up.Thinking of selling? Do it now.
If I were in the position to sell I would do it ASAP and follow the advice of a professional Realtor who would provide me a full market analysis. Many times with regards to our current market climate sellers get caught on the wrong side of the bell curve by thinking they can get more for their property than the market will bare. Meanwhile the market starts to drop out from under them leaving them with an overpriced property that can languish on the market for years. 2016-2018 was an eye opening time! The Median sales price for a home in the North Fork was $189,500 in 2016 $215K in 2017, and since Jan 1st 2018 that number is $245K. For property sold within Paonia zipcode those numbers are even more starkly contrasted. Median sales price in 2017 was $180k, $200k in 2017, and $261k year to date! I would take caution in over-speculation of the value of your property as we approach 2019.
For buyers the news is somewhat better in that prices are cooling off in the North Fork Valley. Only somewhat because the lack of inventory continues to be an issue…especially inventory of property that does not require substantial renovations and updates. From my observations the type of buyers coming to western Colorado from the Front Range do not want to buy projects unless the price is a bargain. For non-cash buyers interest rates continue to inch up but remain tolerable when compared to rates of 30 years ago! (A 30 year mortgage in 1990 had an interest rate of 10.13%!)
Many people believe winter to be a poor time to put real estate on the market but locally demand remains pretty high as long as you adhere to current trends. Those trends are indicating we have reached or are reaching a plateau. 2019 is going to be an interesting year! Buckle up…interesting times ahead!
Oh…and don’t forget to VOTE!
So you bought a couple acres in the North Fork Valley. You are super excited because with that acreage comes 80 shares of Fire Mountain Canal and Reservoir Co irrigation water! You’ve already got your garden planned, possibly a little orchard and some hay, maybe even some starts in the greenhouse ready to go into the ground. Its late April and you are seeing all that lovely spring melt runoff water rushing down the canal but nobody has turned on your head gate to let water onto your property! You want your water and you want it now! Your neighbor has water. Its been on for a couple weeks now. Why is his water on and yours isn’t? You want to get to the bottom of this and soon. Who do you call? Who is the authority for irrigation water in the North Fork Valley?
Water rights and rules are quite complicated and completely non-standard from one ditch to another. Its the same all over the west. What is early and late water? How much is a share of water on Fire Mountain Canal? Why is that share different than a share from Stewart Ditch? How much water is a “share” exactly? Who can make the final judgement if I think my neighbor upstream is taking too much water? There is no standard answer and in fact its quite the rabbit hole of information that you really should rely on experts for.
In Delta county there are well over 200 ditches, canals, and springs that have been identified and allocated by the state of Colorado. But Colorado’s water jurisdiction ends at the source of each ditch or spring. When you purchased your property, if your land has an irrigation water right you should have received a certificate that states how many shares and the name of the ditch company your rights are associated with. In some instances you may have a water right stated as a “decree” instead of a share. Decrees usually have streamflow values associated with them. For instance your decree might read .25 cfs from Such and Such ditch or spring. Decrees can be searched on the Colorado Dept of water Resources website (See link below).
Each water district has its own water commissioners. In the Montrose district (which encompasses the North Fork Valley) there are 24 individual commissioners. Usually a commissioner is responsible for a particular river or major source of water. In the North Fork valley Luke Rushke is our water commissioner but he’s not the guy to call if you have a question about your ditch! He’s a nice guy and can give you his opinion but he has no authority on your ditch. His authority concerns how much water each ditch company is taking at the source and makes the call concerning priorities. Every ditch has a differing “priority”. Think of priority as a totem pole. The ditches up top of the pole will be turned off in the event of a water shortage before the ditches on the bottom. Your ditch company and their “ditch riders” have final authority and can settle disputes with your neighbors concerning water usage. So call them first. If you can’t find a person to talk to your State water commissioner may be able to point you in the right direction.
Water wells are a different story. Every well in Colorado must be permitted by the state. There are many types of wells which are associated with their individual uses. For a more in depth article on Colorado water rights and wells please see this article as a starting point. https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/sites/default/files/wellpermitguide_1.pdf
I have included below additional contacts for the area’s major ditch companies should you have questions about your water rights. In addition there is a link to track down wells and water rights all over the state of Colorado.
List of Delta County Ditches
North Fork Water Commissioner
Fire Mountain Canal and resevoir
Travis Cecil (Ditch Rider)- 970.589.3836
Karl Burns (970) 527-3005
Lee Bradley 970-527-6838
Wayne Frazier 527-3860
Minnesota Ditch & resevoir
June Thompson 970-527-3524
Map based search for wells and water rights: