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USGS monitoring Buena Vista area for mudslides

By Olivia Wilmsen, Multimedia Journalist, olivia.wilmsen@krdo.com
Published On: Mar 26 2014 07:37:34 PM CDT

The area around Buena Vista, west of Colorado Springs is at risk for mudslides. USGS has been taking a close look at "Chalk Cliffs", only a couple miles from Buena Vista.

CHAFFEE COUNTY, Colo. -

The Washington state mudslide is frightening for anyone who lives in an area that's prone to mudslides. That's why the U.S. Geological Survey monitors places with mudslide potential.

The area around Buena Vista, west of Colorado Springs is also at risk for mudslides. USGS has been taking a close look at "Chalk Cliffs", only a couple miles from Buena Vista.

Colorado has different terrain than Washington state and California; so mudslides near Buena Vista involve more than just mud.

Chalk cliffs in cottonwood canyon are a hot spot for hikers and sometimes a dangerous area when debris flows down the cliffs. USGS has video on its website from June 2010. That's the reason the area is being watched.

"We have a different kind of ground here,” said Buena Vista resident Sharon Pikul.

Sharon Pikul works at Brown Dog Cafe in Buena Vista, only a couple miles from the Cliffs.

"Lots of people come here to hike and do things in the mountains,” said Pikul.

She's seen the video from Washington state where a mudslide killed more than 20 people and nearly 200 are missing as of 3/26/14.

Chalk Cliffs have never experienced an actual mudslide, but in September 2013 a family of five was killed in a rockslide nearby.

"It was terrible,” said Pikul.

U.S. Geological Survey engineers have been monitoring the cliffs for about six years. Pikul, who's lived in Buena Vista for 20 years, says she hopes engineers can figure out a way to stop anything like that from happening.

"If there's a way that we can figure out that there's something that we can do to keep that from happening, then we should do it,” she said.

"We drive all those roads all the time,” said 20-year Buena Vista resident Doug Brady.

Brady doesn't expect a mudslide like Washington state, but still worries about anyone getting hurt or killed.

"It's not the hundreds that it might be in Washington. It's just twos and threes here, which is still, yeah nevertheless,” said Brady.

As seen in the USGS video, heavy rain can cause serious destruction. So USGS will continue to keep a close eye on chalk cliffs.

"You never know what's going to break loose,” said Pikul.

"It can happen and it will happen,” said Brady.

USGS says it's also monitoring parts of the western slope in Colorado for mudslides.  

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