Update on West Salt Creek landslide - could we see a second slide?

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COLLBRAN, Colo. It’s been nearly one year since the West Salt Creek Landslide.

Officials met with the Collbran and Plateau Valley community Tuesday night to speak about what has changed regarding the landslide and what technical experts expect to happen in the future.

Collbran resident Barry Gregory, who lost a loved one in last year’s West Salt Creek landslide, doesn't doubt another one is on its way.

"I’m sure it'll happen again it’s just a matter of where and when,” said Gregory.

Geologists, hydrologists, and other experts have been studying the area for the past year.

"We have been using different methods such as ground based photography, satellite imagery, and then field observations - hiking to the top looking for any new cracks, changes in water level, those types of things,” said U.S. Geological Survey Geologist Jeff Coe.

Coe says they have seen small movements in a rock face above Salt Creek called the slump block - which does raise a red flag. He also says a pond in that same area has been slowly filling up with snow melt.

"We're all interested in what's going to happen as it’s filling and what’s going to happen as it spills over and starts to flow down the valley,” said Coe.

He says very little mitigation can be done with the “sag pond” to stop a potential land slide.

"It's been discussed, about different methods, to try to artificially lower the pond level,” said Coe. “But the risk involved in putting people up there to do that - you have to weigh that risk.”

He says there's no way to be certain the community is in the clear. Mesa County Emergency Manager Andy Martsolf says the best thing to do is become informed, and prepare.

"By helping them understand what risks they face as a result of last year’s landslide is what we're trying to help convey so they can be prepared at an individual level,” said Martsolf.

He says if disaster strikes, Mesa County will be ready and prepared to take it on.

"We are in a much better position than we were last time,” said Martsolf.

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