Thursday, June 4th, 2020

"Are you open?"

Waterfall Pond Waterfall Pond Terry Seitz

Most of our current questions are about re-opening. Although it might seem simple, there are many concerns that impact this goal. There will be additional requirements as well as changes to normal behaviors and expectations. There are specific aspects of Valley View and Orient Land Trust that could alter the stipulations that the county and state might demand.

Health officials are accustomed to pool waters that are chemically disinfected, filtered, pH adjusted, and recirculated. Valley View is a "Natural Swimming Area" that allows for untreated water for swimming and soaking. We wouldn't have it otherwise. The water from the springs continues downstream to provide habitat for threatened species of fish and for agricultural irrigation. During this pandemic event, specific recommendations from public health representatives for these natural waters are pending.

Becoming infected is the result of breathing air that has viral organisms or through contact with surfaces in enclosed, communal spaces. To prevent infection, minimize the time spent indoors with others, wear face masks to limit the dispersion of the virus. If unknowingly infected, (face masks primarily protect those near you and less so yourself), spread apart, avoid others beyond your household, and clean and disinfect surfaces frequently.

These factors are relevant to hot springs soaking, camping, and recreational activities. We are creating guidelines that prioritize safety and health of the people, guests and staff. Almost every aspect of our familiar ways of interacting will be affected. (Clothing optional recreation is not a big risk factor so we will continue to advocate for clothes free living and soaking.) There are going to be changes in other areas. Our daily capacity will be less. The hours of admission will also be less so that people can maintain separation from other people in acceptable numbers. There will be fewer shared spaces. Many things that we once provided will no longer be available. There will be extra attention given to cleaning the necessary shared spaces such as bathrooms. Some areas will be closed. Pool use will be much different.

Orient Land Trust is a charitable non-profit. Our normal operating budget strives for a relatively inexpensive recreational experience that generates enough revenue to meet expenses, accomplish our goals, and save a little for future endeavors. During the time of the virus we will be required to restrict our daily admissions. The good news is that we have decided to keep our fees low. However, this means that we will operate at a loss for an undetermined amount of time. Everyone wants to see us open. We lose less money by staying closed. It is a balancing act. It is wonderful that people want to be here but we would be careless stewards if we opened too soon. There are competing needs to consider.

The OLT/Valley View culture has, for decades, brought people together, created community, and relied on communal spaces. We are dedicated to making sure our employees have a safe environment in which to work and that our guests have as safe a place to visit as we can provide. We are working on it. It will be different from what you are used to when we do open. For a time, it will require an extra measure of cooperation, respect, and attention to personal responsibility from all of our members, guests, and staff to make this work. There is risk in bringing people together during a pandemic.

We look forward to seeing everyone again just as soon as we can. For now, we are closed. We will let you know when we reopen. Check the website from time to time. As we explore the new guidelines and consider the timing of reopening, we are taking steps to reduce our expenses. Beginning June 9, the office will be closed. We will not be answering the phone. Those that want to make a donation to keep us alive can do so through the website. We are very grateful for the many that have donated and their generosity. Your support is so encouraging and gives us a little money to keep things going, even if it is a state that resembles hibernation. We understand that you may be disappointed. We ask that you be patient and consider the bigger picture. We are working diligently toward defining new procedures.

Thank you!

Last modified on Thursday, 04 June 2020 21:17

Orient Land Trust is a nonprofit land trust
dedicated to the preservation of Valley View Hot Springs (VVHS) and its viewshed—
including natural and biologic resources, agricultural lands, wildlife habitat,
open space, and historic and geologic features of the northern San Luis Valley—
for the education and enjoyment of current and future generations.