El Agua es Vida – Aqueduct Recovery Fund
El Agua es Vida!
On July 7, 2015, a sudden storm raged through Ghost Ranch Education & Retreat resulting in a flash flood that caused over $500,000 in damages. There were no injuries or fatalities. Losses included the Box Canyon aqueduct, the arts and craft buildings of Pot Hollow, Short House, the Pole Barn, the equipment shed, the Low Ropes Course, and the brand new Fiber Arts Studio. Executive Director Debra Hepler stated that even with the losses, she is grateful beyond words. “While the devastation and loss were extensive, we are blessed with wonderful guests, donors, friends and staff. We received an outpouring of generous offers of financial assistance and help in our recovery from the destruction, ” she said. About the future, Hepler said, “It may seem obvious but it needs to be said–we will not rebuild in the same area. But we will rebuild and plans are underway. ”
Today, Ghost Ranch is in full operation. Social Center has been transformed into Art Studio space and Youth Program and Cantina have been occurring in the Family Center and its attached tent space for the past two summers. Longer-range plans for Studio and Youth space are being reviewed and developed. 2016 and 2017 has given the ceramics, welding and glass art courses a fresh energy and the feedback has been positive. Both instructors and guests are enthused about their new environs. Additionally, the new yurt opened this year.
One area of concern remains. Rebuilding the Box Canyon Aqueduct is of primary importance. And this is where we need your help.
The first phase of the arroyo clean-up and stream restoration has recently been completed. Casa Alegre was torn down, and the debris removed from that site and the Pot Hollow area. While not damaged by the flood, Upper Pavilion was determined to have structural damage during an inspection for its roof repair, so it is not in use and it too will need to be taken down.
Use of the water in Box Canyon for irrigation purposes is necessary within 3 years of the flood date, by July of 2018, to prevent Ghost Ranch from losing water rights dating back to 1857. We are manually pumping water so we do not lose the rights while fundraising for the permanent rebuild of the system. The costs for the complete restoration of the stream, aqueduct system (which will be a modern pipe system instead of a concrete structure that could again be damaged) and modern irrigation system, none of which was included in flood insurance, are $535,000.