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Residents in parched Colorado county fight water speculation

Baca County residents rely heavily on ground water from the Ogallala Aquifer. The aquifer’s water levels have been steadily receding.

BACA COUNTY, Colo. — Tumbleweeds bounced along County Road 44, 20 miles south of the Colorado town of Walsh. Vast expanses of dry grassland spread in every direction in this southeast corner of the state, the occasional small herd of dusty cattle grazing at roadside.

Farmhouses dotted the horizon.

Video above: As snowmelt flows down from the mountains, sediment from East Troublesome Fire burn scar dumps into Grand County lakes.

To most people, this would be the middle of nowhere, but to Wes McKinley, a former state representative who lives in one of those farmhouses along County Road 44, it’s “the center of everything.”

McKinley, 76, walked out of his house leaning on a wooden cane, a cowboy hat shading his face.

“Want a peanut?” he asked, holding out a Tupperware container.

Odd pieces of metal, old cars and even a broken-down school bus littered his property.

To most people, it’s junk. To McKinley it’s a gold mine.

“It all depends on perspective,” McKinley said.

His family homesteaded on the land in 1910 and has been there since, McKinley said. During the days of the Dust Bowl in the 1930s, water in the region was scarce and day-to-day existence was desperate.

Read the full article at denvergazette.com.

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