La Plata County, Tribe partner on weather radar site

La Plata County and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have partnered to identify a site that will host the permanent weather radar station planned for installation in 2021. EPD Division Head Mark Hutson (left) Chuck Stevens, County Manager with La Plata County Board of County Commissioners and EPD Environmental Programs Manager Alex Ratcliff assess the proposed location adjacent to the Ute3 air monitoring site south of Durango, Colo., Friday, Oct. 2.
Photo Credit: Jeremy Wade Shockley | The Southern Ute Drum

La Plata County and the Southern Ute Indian Tribe have partnered to identify a site that will host a permanent weather radar station in La Plata County. The site, on tribal trust lands along U.S. Highway 550 near Bondad, is the current location of the Tribe’s ambient air monitoring station that tracks air quality and meteorological conditions. The air monitoring station has been in operation for more than 25 years and collocating a radar station with the monitoring equipment will both improve weather forecasting and enhance climate change studies.

“We are so appreciative of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s partnership with La Plata County in providing a site for this critical project,” said Clyde Church, chair of the Board of County Commissioners. “Bringing a permanent weather radar station to Southwest Colorado will boost preparedness and awareness throughout the Four Corners.”

The weather radar station, which will be funded by a $1.7 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, fills a gap in monitoring for the region. Radars in Grand Junction, Albuquerque and Flagstaff have poor visibility below 25,000 feet, missing many of the storms that impact La Plata County.

“The weather radar station is a collaborative relation with the County. Where we keep the communication continuing so that works for both the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and La Plata County. Here we are having that share with each other for the betterment of the Tribe and the county,” said Southern Ute Indian Tribe Chairman Christine Sage.

La Plata County and Southern Ute Indian Tribe staff will work together to move the weather radar station project forward, with the goal of completion by the end of 2021.

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