Attention residents of Douglas County. Do you value Valley View Hot Springs and Orient Land Trust? Do you question and challenge the Renewable Water Resources (RWR) proposal to take water from the San Luis Valley and pipe it to provide water for growth in your county? Your voice matters. The Douglas County commissioners want to hear from YOU in regards to the Renewable Water Resources (RWR) proposal. People across the Valley and around the state are joining together to fight the proposal that would export water from the San Luis Valley to Douglas County. Our goal is to send over 1,000 letters from people like you who care about the Valley, our public lands and maintaining intact ecosystems. Send them an email or a letter with your thoughts. Join in the struggle for common sense! Douglas County residents have more influence on the county commissioners. Write letters to the Commissioners, or to Newspapers in the form of Letters to the Editor.
Douglas County Commissioners have already received many letters from Douglas County citizens supporting the RWR proposal and the use of ARPA funds for increasing the Douglas County water supply. If you value the time you spend in the San Luis Valley and want to protect this high desert valley and its scant water, your voice can make a difference.
We are in the public comment phase that Douglas County has begun, so it is imperative that they hear from everyone that has concerns and especially residents of Douglas County.
You have every right to weigh in on this issue.
If you have concerns, please contact OLT with any questions.
The goal of the water protecting organizations in the Valley is to have people write and deliver 1,000 letters to Douglas County from all over the state by March 15th.
Thanks so much; every individual effort that may seem like a small bit accumulates.
May this year begin and end in health and well being for all.
We continue to encourage everyone who comes to be considerate and not arrive with any signs of illness. Our staff and guests have maintained a great track record for the past 2 years, may that continue. Our limited capacity allows for healthy distancing and a relaxed stay.
While we were closed in December our sauna was completely repaneled with fresh cedar and opened for use on December 31st. There are mixed opinions if this was a wise decision. Everyone can decide for themselves whether to use it or not depending on your comfort level. Guests may now come into the Welcome Center to register and check-in, masks are required in all indoor shared spaces except the sauna. There is no food or drinks available for sale. Everyone should come well supplied. Bring unbreakable water bottles to fill at any drinking fountain or sink faucet on the property.
You still need to bring bedding for all guests in your party. We are providing basic cooking and eating utensils, pots, pans and dishes. These are found in a plastic bin in each accommodation and should be clean, dried and returned to the bin before you leave.
Campers have access to the open air pavilion for cooking, bring all your own cooking necessities, none are provided. The Oak House is only to be used by guests staying there. Come prepared for cold weather camping. No open wood or charcoal fires are permitted; your own propane fire rings or cook stoves are an option.
Our gate opens at 11 am and all guests are welcome to come in and enjoy the pools and sauna knowing that vehicle sites are vacated at noon and indoor accommodations may not be available until 4 pm. Day visitors must check-in by 6 pm and depart by 8 pm. Overnight guests must arrive and check-in by 9pm. All must be out of campsites and accommodations by noon. Leave OLT property by 4 pm on the day of departure.
The "Guest" Wi-fi is only available within about 100' of the Welcome Center. We can not guarantee a strong-steady connection.
The Douglas County Commissioners will be holding a series of town hall meetings to discuss buying water from the northern San Luis Valley. We do not yet have the date of the next town hall but it is estimated to be in early February. The proposal to export water from the confined aquifer in the San Luis Valley is a scheme that puts Valley View Hot Springs water at risk.
The San Luis Valley is a high desert. With an average annual precipitation of just over 7 inches, water is scarce and precious. There is not enough water to export to burgeoning front range subdivisions, developments, and towns. The ecosystem is fragile. The hot springs water that supplies the natural soaking pools comes from fractures along the geologic fault zone that is adjacent to the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Sand Dunes National Park is a large area that depends on the scarce water that is here. Farms and ranches use the little water available with a keen awareness of how precious each drop is. The San Luis Valley economy, about $550,000,000 per year, is largely dependent on agriculture.
We need your help. Please write or email the Douglas County Commissioners and express your concern at a plan that has the potential to devastate the entire valley and Valley View Hot Springs.
Contact County Commissioners
Mail a letter to:
Douglas County Commissioner’s Office
100 3rd Street
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Call the central phone line to reach the Commissioners listed below: (303) 660-7401
Contact the News Media
You can submit a letter to the editor or guest opinion editorial to the Douglas County and Denver newspapers.
OP/ED: Submit 700 – 800 words to Dan Njegomir at or (720) 220-5891, or online at https://denvergazette.com/opinion/submit
Letter to Editor: Submit 250 words to Dan Njegomir at or (720) 220-5891, or online at https://denvergazette.com/opinion/submit
OP/ED: Submit 650 – 700 words to Lee Ann Colacioppo at or (303) 954-1754
Letter to Editor: Submit 250 words to or (303) 954-1331, or online at https://www.denverpost.com/submit-letter
Following are some key messages you may consider including in your emails and letters.
Here is a link to the Douglas County Commissioners Town Hall Comment Form for ARPA https://www.douglas.co.us/arpa/american-rescue-plan-act-comment-form/
Sample Letter (Your letter has a better chance of making an impact if you personalize it.)
Dear Douglas County Commissioners,
Regarding: RWR Proposal
In the interest of protecting the environmental balance in the San Luis Valley, I urge you to reject the proposal from RWR. I realize that water is scarce. That is true throughout the entire southwest United States. The already meager amount of water is declining ever more due to long term drought. The forecast for the future is for less and less precipitation in all western river basins. The RWR plan to redistribute a scarce water supply to Douglas County from the Rio Grande Basin is short sighted and a threat to natural resources, the agricultural economy of the San Luis Valley, and the people who depend on the water that RWR is trying to sell you.
The San Luis Valley is a high desert. The reserves of water are being depleted by drought and overuse already. The ecosystem is delicately balanced and the nearly twenty year drought has stressed the agricultural economy, the aquifers, and vast natural resources such as The Sand Dunes National Park, the Rio Grande National Forest, and the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.
The RWR proposal is flawed. The water reserves in the aquifers are inaccurately defined, the negative impacts on the San Luis Valley ignored, and the costs grossly underestimated - both in dollars and environmental degradation.
Please do the environmentally sound thing and dismiss this proposal. This is not a well considered solution for Douglas County nor is it at all beneficial to the high desert of the San Luis Valley.
More information: The Orient Land Trust Facebook page has a compilation of articles and news stories with information about the proposal and the opposition to the plan. It is a convenient place to access information.
Renewable Water Resources (RWR) is seeking "a $20 million investment of COVID refund money" from Douglas County. They intend to pump, redistribute, and sell San Luis Valley's deeper groundwater as a cheaper alternative for south Denver and Pueblo's growth. At risk is the continued existence of Valley View's geothermally heated spring water which could be drastically altered or eliminated! Our balance of agriculture and wildlife would be impacted as well. There is a public meeting 5:00pm Thursday night in Castle Rock followed by an (online) Town Hall starting at 6:00pm. There Douglas County residents can hear about the plan and respectfully voice their concerns. All residents are urged to attend in person, participate online, or dial in to 833-380-0668 or https://www.douglas.co.us/townhall/ if able.
Neil Seitz, age 67, achieved freedom from a long illness on November 17, 2021. He passed away peacefully with his wife by his side at his home at Valley View Hot Springs, Moffat, CO. Neil was born on August 12th, 1954 in Winona, Minnesota, to Doris May (Hoffman) Seitz and Ferdinand aka Vernon Seitz both of whom pre-deceased him. He is survived by his wife of more than 40 years Terry (McLaughlin) Seitz, his brother Donn Seitz (Revae) of Winona, his three sisters Suzanne Arnold (Richard) of Baja Mexico, Keta McCarthy (Brian) of Winnetka, IL, Amy Cordry (Val) of Winona, and his three children James Seitz (Deanna) of Parachute, CO, Michael Seitz of Poncha Springs, and Lucia Seitz Kaichen (Lucas) of Fairbanks, AK, as well as his 5 grandchildren – Alexis - 16, Tatum - 13, Gauge - 13, Elijah - 11 and Ivy - 4. Neil was a beloved member of his wife’s family and survivors include his mother-in-law Hilda (Scott) McLaughlin – 98, and his sisters-in-law Karen McLaughlin (Mark Schubin) of New York City and Elinor Laurie (Richard) of Moffat.
Neil was working toward an engineering degree at CU Boulder when he was told about a place called Valley View Hot Springs and his life’s path was permanently altered. Upon visiting the hot springs in 1974 he decided to take a semester off from college to caretake the hot springs for then owners Roy and Faye Everson. That semester off lasted for the rest of his life, and his vision for the hot springs and surrounding area guided him and proved a lasting passion. A year after he moved to Valley View, Terry joined him and together they steered the popular and unique resort for nearly 30 years, having purchased it from the Everson family in 1979. In 2001 the Seitzes realized that there needed to be a way to preserve the hot springs for generations to come, beyond their lifetimes. They created Orient Land Trust to do this and in 2010 donated the property to the non-profit. Not long after donating the hot springs, Neil was diagnosed with Posterior Cortical Atrophy, a rare form of early onset dementia.
Neil was very active in the communities of northern Saguache County for many years. He enjoyed his participation in the SC Search & Rescue in the late 70’s and early 80’s. He served for many years on the SC Planning Commission. But one of his great, and much appreciated, endeavors was the annual fireworks show at Valley View on the 4th of July which he provided for nearly a quarter century until his disease and other factors required him to give it up.
Neil was extremely intelligent, a true renaissance man, patient, dedicated and a wonderful father. He held life-long beliefs about the necessity of reducing the planet’s population, and this led him and Terry to adopt their three children. It also inspired him to develop an off-grid electric system for Valley View utilizing hydroelectric power, creating a “green” resort before it was in vogue. Neil was also devoted to the freedom of clothing-optional recreation.
Neil was a shining star of inspiration for many, many people who worked with him, visited the hot springs, or were lucky enough to become his friend. His vision enabled many to find peace, joy, community, purpose, acceptance and love. Neil will be hugely missed but never forgotten. It is hoped that a memorial celebration of his life will be held at Valley View in the summer of 2022. Gifts in memory of Neil may be made to Orient Land Trust.
Neil Seitz died November 17, 2021 in his home. For those of us who have been around for a while, Neil was well known and recognized for many remarkable achievements. The hot springs was once owned and operated by the Everson family and, in the early years of Neil's stewardship, he spent many days helping Roy Everson at the Everson Ranch in addition to overseeing daily activity at the hot springs. Neil was a hot springs caretaker at first and then worked out a lease arrangement. Neil and Terry bought the hot springs in 1979 from Faye Everson after Roy died in 1978. The Seitzes rebuilt the swimming pool, integrated geothermal space heating, fixed up the old cabins, built the hydroelectric power plant, built the bathrooms, and navigated a balance between fixing up the hot springs and retaining a rustic and historic atmosphere.
How does one protect and shelter the natural wealth of this place? Neil and Terry answered the question by founding Orient Land Trust in 2001. Through the years before the land trust they had worked toward environmentally sound practices. As the goals of the land trust were articulated, past innovations and forward looking ideas became part of the ideals. Miles from the electrical grid, alternative energy ideals led to hydroelectricity. Valuing natural resources extended to protecting water, wildlife, and flora. Preserving the history of the Orient Mine, the agricultural heritage of the area as well as promoting sustainable land use were recognized and specifically documented. Trying to save some of the vistas and open land that once characterized this part of the world was recognized as a worthwhile effort. The oasis of the hot springs had for many years offered opportunities for people to reveal their bodies and, in so doing, reveal their undisguised inner selves. This too was woven into the purposes of Orient Land Trust. Part of the donation of the hot springs to the land trust includes a deed restriction that guarantees that clothing remains merely an option. Neil and Terry, conservationists with regard for nature and history, created the land trust in alignment with these values. Their life's work was donated to protect the place treasured by so many. The work reaches beyond the boundaries of OLT's properties into the entire northern San Luis Valley.
For many years, Neil and Terry lived in a small log cabin built in the 1920s. In the late 1980s, the Seitz home was built. There, Neil and Terry raised their children and used the precious large space for extended family get-togethers, board meetings, and gatherings for many occasions. Prior to his death, Neil had been ill for several years yet was able to live out his life at his Valley View Hot Springs home. We are grateful for his inspiring vision and many gifts. Our admiration, respect, and gratitude are extended with our sincere condolences to Terry and the family.
December is a time when many people plan to spend time with family and celebrate holidays. Last year, Valley View was open for most of December because we were closed for more than four months due to Covid-19. This year, we will return to our normal December schedule. We will be closed from December 1st - 28th. For the first 2 weeks (December 1st through the 16th), members can call to make a reservation and voice mail messages will be returned. We will not be checking messages or returning calls from December 17th - 26th so don't leave a message during this time. On December 27, we will again answer the phones and return calls. On December 29, we will reopen.
Although the virus has altered our numbers and reduced some of the amenities that we all enjoy, we have weathered 2021 more comfortably than we expected. The contagious virus is surging yet again as of mid-November and it looks like we will all be making adjustments. The uncertainties call for a degree of caution. We are looking at keeping the visitor numbers reduced but hope to be able to provide cooking utensils and dishes once again. Depending on the indicators, there may be other amenities that we can affordably and safely provide.
Thank you for your support and your patience. We have preferred to err on the side of being extra careful while keeping requirements at a minimum. There is a broad range of opinion and belief throughout the world and Valley View visitors also reflect this wide range.
These 3 qualities, Recognition, Respect and Responsibility, were coined by Neil and Terry Seitz, the Founders of Orient Land Trust and developers of Valley View Hot Springs, as a reminder to everyone who visits to Recognize the beauty, uniqueness and sacredness of this place. Be respectful and kind to yourself and others. Respect the natural environment and wildlife that share their home with all of us. Take Responsibility for yourself and all you bring with you, familiarize yourself with the procedures and guidelines so your visit will align with the other "R's" Relaxation, Rejuvenation, and Reverence.
The mission statement for Orient Land Trust is another reminder of what our focus is:
The land trust is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of Valley View Hot Springs and its viewshed, including natural and biological 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.
Valley View Hot Springs is a unique place where you can immerse yourself in nature while connecting personally with OLT's cycle of sustainability. Through your stewardship and contributions, you help preserve the natural resources.
Appreciation and Gratitude to all who contribute time and money to OLT.
Happy Holidays! May you experience Peace of Mind and Excellent Health in the New Year 2022.
From all the staff at Orient Land Trust and Valley View Hot Springs
Do you want to get away from urban life, live in the country and live on a ranch helping with ranch and garden chores? Orient Land Trust is asking for end of season ranch volunteers.
Available soon! We offer a remote, peaceful setting on the 150 year old Everson Ranch. The garden and ranch buildings are only four miles from the base of the Sangre de Cristos and the views are inspiring. The Everson Ranch is 760 acres and offers unlimited hiking opportunities on the ranch and in the nearby Sangre de Cristo Mountains. There are two hot springs nearby. Valley View Hot Springs, part of Orient Land Trust, and Joyful Journey Hot Springs and Spa. The garden provides fresh, organically grown vegetables. For pictures and background information go to the website at olt.org or watch Historical Everson Ranch, Orient Land Trust on YouTube.
Volunteer housing is in a rent free, small, solar heated cottage (no running water). Shower, bathroom and fully equipped kitchen nearby. Use of Valley View Hot Springs as availability permits (about 1-3 times per week).
We ask that you commit to at least two weeks. Longer stay for the right person is also workable. For more information contact Doug Bishop (email)