"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness." – John Steinbeck
Winter provides us with a new set of challenges and is often the hardest time on the ranch. 365 days a year, the animals must be kept warm and fed. When the pastures are covered in snow, the animals are hand fed in order to make sure they're getting enough food to build up fat to keep them warm. The water troughs must be constantly maintained to be sure they don't freeze. The shelters must all be winterized and the floors are lined with straw to provide an extra layer of warmth. The bedding that is most soiled must be cleaned out regularly and new straw added. The clean bedding provides insulation from the cold ground and provides a clean, cozy bed for the animals.
There will be rate increases in 2020. Admission fees are going up. Guests will be charged taxes directly. Rate increases will go into effect March 1, 2020.
Taxes: OLT is required to pay several taxes, State taxes and Saguache County Taxes. We do not have to pay tax on admission fees but we do pay taxes on sales and lodging. These taxes have increased steadily over the years. Up until now, OLT has paid the taxes from the payment made. From now on, taxes will be added to the payment. For example, during the summer, Elm cabin costs $75.00 and up until this year, the taxes OLT paid (about $5.10 was sent to the state out of the $75.00 paid). From now on the tax will be added meaning that Elm cabin in the summer will cost $75.00 plus tax, or about $80.25.
We are aware that these rate increases may pose a hardship for some. We do not take this step without some long, critical examination. The expenses for OLT have continually increased. There have been several expensive projects. The Wastewater treatment plant installed in 2015 was three years in planning and design. The Colorado Public Health And Environment Drinking Water division requires that we treat the drinking water and that has taken two years of planning, design, and installation. The big project for the past two or three years that has taken time and effort is the new reservation system that will improve the reservation, check-in, and record keeping needs. This has been complex and we have endeavored to provide a complete transition of all the features that have made the check-in process for guests quicker and confusion free while opening the door for future features. The Wastewater Treatment plant has been reliable and involves less irritating odors than the previous, undersized system. The drinking water treatment is providing high quality water that tastes good and is safe and state approved. Both the Wastewater Treatment system and the drinking water disinfection system were mandated by the State of Colorado. The reservation system is nearing completion and although it will take training and practice to get up to speed, the opportunity to gradually improve and refine is promising.
Even though we have seen an increase in expenses, another reason for increasing the rates is to provide health insurance for staff. Employer provided health care is a real benefit for many. Nationally, there is a robust debate among state and federal legislators regarding ways to improve healthcare. In the meantime, we are addressing the very real needs of our staff to meet the present environment. The future may bring better solutions for all.
It has been ten years since admission rates went up. The Board of Directors and staff have continually and consistently advocated for keeping visitor costs down, Compared to other hot springs, the rates, even with this increase, are still lower than most. We continue to admit accompanied minors at no charge. We are maintaining a lower winter rate to offer a time that costs are lower and to encourage people to visit during the beautiful, white wintry months.
Your support is appreciated!
Save the date! Member Appreciation Weekend this year will be August 28 and 29. This is a week or two later than we have done in the past but the best choice for moonlight and the rest of the summer's activities. We have not yet selected the entertainment but wanted to let you all know the weekend we have chosen. As all Member Appreciation Weekends, members only will be able to attend. No guests. Normal capacity limits will be waived - any member is welcome. We will have a band on Friday night and Saturday night and OLT will provide breakfast on Sunday morning. Parking will be along the road, which makes more space available for people.
Friday Night Band-Banshee Tree
Saturday Night Band-The Alcapones
Your support of the land trust through your donation is much appreciated. Not only do members get advance reservations benefits and an invitation to the annual Member Appreciation Weekend, your donation supports the efforts OLT makes to preserve and restore natural and biological resources. For-profit hot springs often become crowded as there is little effort made to limit attendance to a reasonable capacity. OLT has limits on how many people attend each day to maintain a relaxed and uncrowded environment. OLT also engages in conservation projects to protect wildlife habitat, open space, soil restoration, and practice small-scale, historic agriculture. Your membership donations are a valuable contribution to this work.
Implementing a new reservation system has given us the opportunity to simplify how members upgrade to a higher-level membership. The method we've been using has been a little confusing and awkward. Now, instead of "stacking" donations with different expiration dates, we are going to pro-rate recent donations, giving you a credit toward an upgrade. For example, if you donate $50.00 on January 1, you become a member at the Friend level for one year. If six months later on July 1, you want to upgrade to the next level, that of Supporter, your $50.00 original donation will give you half a year's credit of $25.00 toward your Supporter membership. Your new membership simply expires July 1 of the next year.
We expect you to have questions and we will be glad to explain how the new system will work in your individual circumstance. The new structure will be more fair to the members and less confusing about when a membership expires.
Thank you for your support!
Here's another example upgrading after 2½ months...