COMMISSIONERS OF SEVERAL COUNTIES SIGN LETTER CRITICIZING BLM AT FEDERAL LEVEL
A group of Colorado Commissioners and interest groups are sending a letter to the State Director of the Bureau of Land Management, expressing their disappointment with the Federal Office’s method of making decisions on public land…especially when it comes to the Sage Grouse. The group has been working for years on a plan to protect the bird, while also protecting the various other interests of the land, such as grazing, energy development, and recreation. A Memorandum Of Understanding between Moffat County and the BLM was signed by the commissioners yesterday. That document says the BLM will provide detailed information about certain decisions yet to be made. While Natural Resources Director Jeff Comstock says the agency has been doing that very well, the other aspect of the MOU is being completely ignored. The document says the BLM will give significant weight to recommendations by local planning boards. Comstock says recent decisions on plans for the Vermillion Basin and the Sage Grouse, among others, have shown that the Interior Department has no interest in the results of local planners. The letter asks the State Director to encourage those at the federal level to use the cooperating agencies they’ve set up. The letter is being signed by the Moffat, Jackson, Rio Blanco, Routt, and Grand County Commissioners, and the White River and Douglas Creek Conservation Districts. The Garfield County Commissioners are also expected to sign it.
BRETT BARKEY NAMED 14TH JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY
Governor John Hickenlooper has appointed Brett Barkey as the 14th Judicial District’s District Attorney. The announcement was made yesterday. Barkey is taking over for Elizabeth Oldham, who is leaving to take a job on the Front Range. Barkey will also be trying to win the spot from the people in this November’s election. The 14th Judicial District covers Moffat, Routt, and Grand Counties.
CRAIG CHAMBER SEARCHES FOR NEW BOARD MEMBERS
The Craig Chamber of Commerce is looking for four board members to serve two year terms. Four members’ terms are expiring. Those members are Gene Bilodeau, Jared Schultz, Audrey Anna Charchalis, and Bob Johnson. The terms will be from 2013 to 2015. Those who are interested should send a letter of interest to the chamber by email, or drop it off at their offices on East Victory Way.
The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANGLERS ASKED TO MONITOR WATER TEMPERATURE WHILE FISHING
Drought conditions and low water flows throughout the state have Colorado Parks and Wildlife reminding anglers to monitor water temperature when they are out fishing. Several water-specific recommendations have already been released this summer; however fish can be stressed due to temperatures in many different coldwater fishing locations. A senior biologist for Parks and Wildlife says handling fish in waters that are 68 degrees and above can put undue stress on them, causing mortalities. He says anglers should try to fish early in the day for the best opportunities. For more information about fishing in places not affected by low flows, click here.
STEAMBOAT LAKE STATE PARK PLANS FOR WEEKEND ACTIVITIES
Steamboat Lake State Park’s interpretive programs continue through the Labor Day weekend. The programs are fun and educational for all ages and encourage an appreciation for wonders found in the wild. The programs run Thursdays through Sundays and include interpretive hikes, educational games and crafts, as well as talks and guest speakers. The majority of the programs are free, but each vehicle entering the park must have a daily or annual park pass. The cost is $7 per day or $70 per year. You’ll find a list of this weekend’s programs at krai.com.
10 a.m. What’s in the Water? – This is an interactive program that educates children on the aquatic wildlife living in Steamboat Lake. Meet at the Bridge Island Foot Bridge.
FEDERAL GOVERNMENT TO BUY MEAT FROM STRUGGLING U.S. PRODUCERS
The Federal government is buying meat from U-S producers, to keep those sources running financially. The Unites States Department of Agriculture will buy up to $170 million worth of meat and fish. The agency says this year’s drought has devastated farmers and ranchers across the country, and buying the meat will help them get through it. The USDA has declared all of Colorado’s Counties disaster areas.
FEDERAL GRANT WILL STRENGTHEN “WORK SHARING” PROGRAMS
The U.S. Department of Labor yesterday announced the availability of nearly $100 million in grants for states to implement or improve existing short-term compensation, commonly referred to as “work sharing,” programs. This funding has been made available through the bipartisan Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012 signed by President Obama in February, which authorized states to set up programs to give employers an alternative to layoffs. The state of Colorado will receive over $1.8 million. Work sharing allows employees to keep their jobs and helps employers to avoid laying off their trained workforces during economic downturns by reducing the hours of work for an entire group of affected workers. Workers affected by reduced hours can have their wages compensated with a portion of their weekly unemployment compensation payments. The legislation requires each state to submit a complete application to the Labor Department in order to receive a grant. For more information, click here.
STATE COMMISSION TO REVIEW LOWER NORTH FORK FIRE
A state commission met yesterday to hear from experts and residents about mistakes and cleanup efforts for the deadly Lower North Fork wildfire in March. The five-member commission is reviewing legislation or policies that could improve the response to future blazes. The March wildfire killed three people and damaged two dozen houses, causing at least $11 million in property damage. It started when a prescribed burn on state forest land flared up a few days after it appeared to be extinguished.