NORTHWEST COLORADO NEWS FOR MONDAY, JULY 1ST

Fire Restrictions to go into Effect on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests

Stage 1 fire restrictions will go into effect on the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests at tomorrow. This decision, which was made in coordination with multiple agencies and counties, was prompted by a combination of factors that include rapidly drying vegetation, ongoing drought conditions, growing fire danger, and unfavorable fire weather forecasts.

“Despite improved snowpack and a relatively wet spring, conditions are quickly changing and forest vegetation that was recently green is now at increased risk of burning,” said Phil Cruz, Forest Supervisor for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests and Thunder Basin National Grassland. “Last year all but one of our four large fires was started by lightning; however, even one human-caused fire is too many and we hope to proactively reduce this risk by implementing restrictions that are now warranted.”

Fire restrictions are needed to help protect public safety and natural resources. They primarily limit where and what types of fires are allowed, however, all prohibitions listed below should be noted and followed. Unless noted by an exception, and until restrictions are rescinded, forest visitors cannot:

1. Build or maintain a fire, or use charcoal, except within permanent fire pits (steel fire rings) or grates provided at Forest Service developed campgrounds or picnic areas. *Note: personal and/or homemade fire pits/rings are not allowed.

Other excepted devices include:

  • Portable stoves, lanterns and heating devices that use petroleum fuels such as pressurized liquid gas or propane that can be readily controlled by a valve.
  • Fully enclosed woodstoves with a ¼” spark arrester screen.

2. Use explosives. This includes all fireworks, which are always prohibited on National Forest lands, as well as exploding targets used for recreational shooting.

3.  Smoke cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc; except within an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.

4.  Operate acetylene or other torch with open flame (includes welding), unless specifically authorized in writing by the Forest Service.

5.  Operate internal or external combustion engines (e.g. chainsaws, ATVs, dirtbikes, generators, etc) without a USDA or SAE approved spark arrester properly installed, maintained and in effective working order.

Violation of these regulations is punishable as a class B misdemeanor, by a fine of not more than $5000 for an individual or $10,000 for an organization, or imprisonment of not more than 6 months, or both.  Anyone responsible for starting a wildland fire could also be held financially liable for fire suppression costs.

At this time, fire restrictions are not in effect on the Thunder Basin National Grassland. Conditions will be monitored throughout the summer to make future decisions on maintaining or rescinding Stage 1 restrictions, or elevating them to Stage 2, which is a complete fire ban.

 

MC COMMISSIONERS TO CONSIDER RESOLUTIONS

A few interesting resolutions are up for discussion at tomorrow’s Moffat County Commissioners’ meeting.  At 9, the commissioners will consider implementing Stage 1 fire restrictions for the unincorporated areas of the county.  The issue will be presented in both resolution and ordinance form.  At 9:15, Nancy Hettinger will present a resolution to place a question on the next ballot, asking voters to add another term for elected officials.  The issue would actually show up on the ballot as a series of questions, asking whether the limits should be extended for each position separately.  The positions include, County Clerk, Coroner, Commissioner, and Sheriff, among others.  Then at 9:25, Commissioner john Kinkaid will present a resolution supporting the state’s sheriffs in their lawsuit to overturn recent state gun laws that are considered vague and unenforceable.  The regular meeting starts at 8:30 tomorrow morning in the commissioners’ meeting room of the Moffat County Courthouse.

 

UDALL TO TOUR NORTHWEST COLORADO THIS WEEK

This week, Mark Udall will hold events in Moffat, Grand and Routt counties to highlight his work to support local job creation, promote public-private partnerships to encourage a smarter forest and land management strategy, and develop a balanced national energy portfolio. Tomorrow, Udall will tour Hester Log and Lumber in Kremmling to learn more about challenges facing the timber industry and ways that public-private partnerships can improve forest management and promote healthier forests. Then, Udall will host an alternative energy roundtable with local businesses in Steamboat Springs. The discussion is part of the senator’s energy outreach tour which highlights ways Colorado is leading the nation on energy independence. Afterward, Udall will visit with the students enrolled in the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC) summer program,  and participate in trail cleanup of the Tombstone Trail project in Clark.  Wednesday, Udall will start the day touring Rogue Resources’ Mountain Pine Manufacturing, who has been working closely with local, state and federal entities to help mitigate the pine beetle outbreak while creating good-paying jobs.  Next, Udall will host a land trust roundtable with land trust leaders in Hayden to discuss federal land protection and figure out ways that public-private partnerships can work better to protect land and provide good-paying jobs. Finally, Udall will tour Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association’s Craig station to learn about the innovative ways the plant is using coal byproduct to create stronger building materials, such as concrete for highway paving.

 

FIREWORKS DISPLAYS IN CRAIG AND STEAMBOAT ARE STILL ON

While other communities across the state are cancelling 4th of July fireworks shows, local displays are still on.  Officials for both Craig and Steamboat have confirmed their shows are still a “go”.  Of course conditions could change between now and Thursday.  If firefighters are taken away for other blazes, fireworks shows could be cancelled.  At this point both displays are set to go off around 9:30 Thursday night.

 

NEW GUN LAWS GO INTO EFFECT TODAY

Ammunition magazine limits and universal background check requirements are set to take effect in Colorado today, even as county sheriffs fight to overturn the new laws in court.  But after months of tense debate among state officials, the signature pieces of Colorado Democrats’ gun control legislation are moving from abstract to tangible.  Some gun stores already are stocking smaller magazines to comply with the 15-round limit. And in the coming months, the public will see how the expansion of background checks to private and online sales will work.  As for the sheriffs challenging the law, their next court date is July 10. They are seeking to temporarily block the magazine limit while their lawsuit proceeds.

 

CPW ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS FOR DISTRICT MANAGERS

Colorado Parks and Wildlife is accepting applications for new district wildlife manager trainees. Applications will be accepted until August 2nd. District wildlife managers are multipurpose wildlife professionals, living in the communities where they work. The wildlife manager’s role includes law enforcement, resource management, public education and applying biological expertise to benefit wildlife and people. Trainees undergo a nearly year-long training process that includes Colorado law enforcement certification through a police academy. They will work under the guidance of a commissioned officer to enforce wildlife laws and regulations, and investigate alleged violations, among other responsibilities. They will receive training in the proper use of ATVs, snowmobiles and boats, as well as defensive driving, and much more. Following successful completion of all training elements, district wildlife managers are assigned to one of the 135 districts around the state. This entry-level position is open to Colorado residents who have a college degree in wildlife management, biology or a closely related field. Applications are also accepted from existing, experienced natural resource professionals seeking a career change. For a full list of requirements about the job and to apply, click here.

 

APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE FOR ROUTT COUNTY FAIR ROYALTY

Applications are now available for any young ladies interested in running for 2014 Routt County Fair Royalty. The competition includes an application, essay, speech/interview, and an undercover judge’s score and is open to all Routt county girls from 8 to 18 years old. 4-H membership and a horse are not required. Applications are due July 15th and try-outs are July 28th. For more information on becoming an ambassador for the Routt County Fair, call 638-1021. Applications are available at the Routt County Extension Office, Colorado Embroidery, or can be downloaded here.

 

RECALLS BEING CHALLENGED

Democrats trying to block a recall election of state Senate President John Morse have brought another allegation that the petition is invalid. El Paso County Democrats on Friday accused the opponents of Morse of committing fraud by forging at least 50 names on recall petitions. Morse and another Democratic senator are being targeted for recalls because they voted for gun control laws. Morse is awaiting a state decision on his first challenge, that the recall effort against him is invalid because the petitions weren’t properly worded. That challenge is pending in the secretary of state’s office. Democratic Senator Angela Giron of Pueblo is expected to make a similar petition language challenge this week. The secretary of state’s office has said both recall petitions have enough signatures to force recall elections.