NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS AND SOPRTS FOR TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25TH

FIRE SEASON NOT OVER

Numerous smoke reports were called in yesterday afternoon to the Craig Inter agency Dispatch Center following the passage of a storm cell. Moffat County received no measurable rain but some areas in Rio Blanco County received up to one third inch of precipitation. Lightning sparked five wildland fires all less than one tenth acre and now contained.  Moffat County had one fire located six and one half miles west of Massadona on Bureau of Land Management public land.
Rio Blanco County had four incidents, two located northwest of Meeker and two south and southwest of Rangely with three on BLM land and one on private land.
BLM engine crews responded to the fires and will return today to check and monitor those incidents.  With cooler temperatures and shorter days the potential for long term large wildfires has decreased, but it doesn’t mean fire season is entirely over. Areas in northwest Colorado are still in drought and vegetation is extremely dry. The last shot of significant moisture, about one half inch, occurred around Sept. 9.  The Moffat County Board of Commissioners determined Stage 1 fire restrictions be rescinded as of noon today reported Moffat County Sheriff Tim Jantz. There are no fire restrictions in effect in Grand, Jackson, Routt, Moffat, and Rio Blanco Counties.  “We still need people to be careful using fire outdoors,” said Northwest Colorado Fire Management Officer Colt Mortenson. “The indicators continue to show high fire danger.”
The county, state, and federal agencies want people to be able to enjoy camping and recreating this fall while continuing to observe safe outdoor fire practices such as:
– Never leave a campfire unattended and extinguish all fires with water and dirt until cool to the touch
– Do not park vehicles in tall vegetation as hot exhaust systems can ignite wildland fires
– Smoke in areas cleared of flammable debris or vegetation
To report a wildland fire call 911 or 970-826-5037.

BILL INTRODUCED TO EXEMPT “SIT TIME” FROM OIL AND GAS DRIVERS’ TRAVEL LOGS

Utah State Senator Kevin Van Tassell reports that 11 western states including Utah are joining with the Western States Transportation Alliance in support of a bill introduced Thursday by Louisiana Representative Jeff Landry. The bill directs Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood to insure that time spent by truck drivers waiting at oil and natural gas rig sites to unload cargo would not count as on-duty time for drivers.  Van Tassell stated under new potential regulations, should drivers at rig sites be forced to list their time waiting as on-duty time, that would mean that those drivers would have to clock out from work should they reach their hours, even if they are simply waiting to load or unload. For companies, this would mean having to hire extra employees to replace those that have “timed out” and might even have to provide shuttle service to switch out drivers at the end of a shift. R.J. Hicks, Executive Director of the Western States Transportation Alliance explained that regulations were proposed by the Federal Motorcarrier Safety Administration which is a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Hicks said that for 50 years, drivers could claim an exemption from hours at a rig site while waiting to unload, and that despite an increase in oil and gas activity in recent years, there hasn’t been any corresponding spikes in accidents, violations or fatalities. The industry and transportation advocates asked the U.S.D.O.T. to hold off on implementing the new rules while they offered input. They did so, and Landry submitted a petition signed by 30 other legislators asking that the rule not be implemented.

 

OIL AND GAS COMMISSION TO CONSIDER GROUND WATER RULES ON NEW WELL PADS

The director of the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission says it’s time to consider statewide rules on baseline groundwater sampling and monitoring at new well pads, which could show when drilling operations have contaminated groundwater supplies and when they haven’t.  The state has been holding meetings with oil and gas industry representatives, community leaders, environmental groups and other stakeholders to discuss revising the state’s so-called “setback” rules on how far wells must be from buildings.  On Friday, commission director Matt Lepore emailed stakeholders an early outline of suggested revisions. The outline includes the water sampling proposal but also a proposed requirement for a public hearing and commission approval before wellheads can be placed within 750 feet of schools or hospitals.  Lepore says there’s much more discussion to come.

 

UTAH ESCAPEES CAUGHT IN NEBRASKA

According To Uintah County Undersheriff John Laursen, on Sunday morning, his office was notified that the Lancaster County, Nebraska Sheriff’s Department had apprehended Dallas Derrick and Jason Graham who escaped from the Uintah County Jail last week. The convicts were found walking away from a stalled vehicle in Lincoln, Nebraska when the deputy approached them to inquire if they needed assistance. According to the deputy, their actions and answers to his questions made him suspicious, which resulted in the individuals being arrested. The pairs stalled vehicle was a different one than the green Yukon they had stolen in Vernal. They are currently being held in the Lancaster County Jail in Lincoln on stolen vehicle charges there.  They also face charges in Wyoming. They will be extradited to Utah.

 

STEAMBOAT PREPARES FOR WORK ON PARKING LOT NEAR WALTON CREEK ROAD

The City of Steamboat and Connell Resources have begun construction to improve and pave the parking lot near the intersection of Highway 40 and Walton Creek Road, near the Yampa River.  In 1999, the city purchased a former gravel pit location from the Polumbus family using Great Outdoors Colorado funds. In 2004, the property parking lot was graveled and landscaping was added to formalize the park. At that point the park was renamed River Creek Park.  In early 2010, the city and the Colorado Department of Transportation entered into an agreement to design and pave the parking area using Colorado Municipal Air Quality grant funds. The parking area includes 63 overall spaces, a bus turn around, and sidewalk connections. The parking lot will be periodically closed from time to time as construction activity occurs. There will also be a few days when the core trail at the intersection of US40 and Walton Creek will require bicyclists and pedestrians to detour.  The project is expected to last until the end of October depending on weather conditions. The overall construction cost is roughly $350,000.

 

STEAMBOAT TO UNVEIL “WALK OF OLYMPIANS”

Steamboat is unveiling its new Walk of Olympians, a series of bronze plaques installed on sidewalks throughout downtown, to celebrate the city’s Olympic heritage and recognize local Olympians.  There will be a celebration and ribbon cutting next week to highlight the displays.  Maps of the Walk will be provided.  Each plaque highlights a different athlete, and is sponsored by a local business or individual.  The celebration takes place October 5th at 5:15 on the corner of 5th and Yampa Streets.

 

PARKS AND WILDLIFE TO HOLD PRESENTATION ON STATE’S BIRD TRAIL

Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory are inviting local landowners to an informational presentation and discussion where they can listen to details about the northwest portion of the statewide Colorado Birding Trail, and how they can share any unique sightings on their property with the public.  The Colorado Birding Trail features a series of driving loops designed to provide the public with a variety of wildlife viewing opportunities across large portions of the state.  The highlights of the trail are the opportunities for landowners to diversify their property and share the excellent wildlife viewing opportunities often found on private land.  The northwestern phase of the birding trail is scheduled for completion in June 2013. The trails in the southwest and southeast portions of the state have been completed.  All landowners interested in participating are encouraged to attend the meeting October 4th at 6 at the Colorado Parks and wildlife office in Meeker.

 

CLYDE THE ELK DIES AT WYMAN MUSEUM

Word came yesterday that Clyde the Elk, a popular icon at the Wyman Living History Museum, has passed away.  Clyde has been a draw at the museum for the last 8 years to kids and adults alike.  Museum officials would like to honor Clyde with a memorial service.  It hasn’t been announced when that might happen.

 

FRACKING DISPUTE BETWEEN CITIES AND STATE HEATING UP

A fracking dispute about regulating the drilling procedure is getting more heated.  Some 60 mayors and city council members from 17 communities have asked Governor John Hickenlooper to have the state drop a lawsuit challenging oil and gas drilling rules adopted by the city of Longmont.  At issue is whether the state alone has the power to regulate oil and gas drilling, or whether local communities can add stipulations to how and where drilling can be performed.  Hickenlooper and the energy producers argue that a patchwork of regulations is unworkable.  Communities say local governments should have more say.

In high school sports:
Today:

In volleyball:
Hayden hosts Little Snake River Valley at 6:30.
Soroco is on the road to play Glenwood’s JV squad at 5:30.

In boys soccer:
Moffat County heads to Colorado Rocky Mountain for a game at 4.
Steamboat hosts Eagle Valley at 6.