BEAR ENCOUNTERS UP IN 2012
Bear encounters were significantly up in Colorado this year, and wildlife experts are not surprised. Experts say 2012 was lacking in moisture, and drought and frost are primarily to blame for the encounters. A summer frost killed off a lot of berries and acorns, food bears need to consume a lot of to survive their winter hibernation. That, along with a lack of moisture the previous winter, forced the animals to search for sustenance in populated areas. Colorado Parks and Wildlife records show that while they saw a reported 32 bears killed last year, due to human encounters, that number has hit 100 this year. Another cause for the high number, could be overpopulation. Wildlife officers say the bear population is higher than it has ever been in Colorado. They say it will be particularly important for residents in mountain areas to be vigilant in keeping trash locked up next year. Experts say in years following food shortages, bears typically come out of hibernation earlier to search for food.
YVSC ENCOURAGES RESIDENTS TO RECYCLE ELECTRONIC DEVICES
The Yampa Valley Sustainability Council wants your old cell phones. The center says old cell phones can be recycled responsibly, keeping them out of landfills, using low carbon footprint, and sustaining jobs. All data is deleted from the phones. The service is not limited to cell phones; they’ll also take digital cameras, ipods and mp3 players, e-readers, PDA’s, Wireless Air Cards, GPS units, and accessories, such as cables, chargers, headsets, batteries, and cases. Recycling your old gadgets with Yampa Valley Sustainability Council also helps keep the non-profit organization afloat. You can drop the gadgets off at YVSC’s offices on 9th Street in Steamboat. If you have questions, call 846-9256.
SNOW STORM ONLY MAKES A DENT IN DROUGHT
Another snow storm is passing through Northwest Colorado, bringing much needed moisture to the area. However, water experts say it will take a lot more to get the state out of its current drought. River flows over the summer were at their lowest in years, and in some areas, recreation on the areas rivers was extremely limited. In Steamboat, rafting was suspended for a while, because the low river levels were already extremely stressful to fish. Those low levels were due to a severely low snowpack last winter. Although moisture has been coming back to the state this winter, experts say it will take several heavy storms to make up for what the state didn’t get last year.
STEAMBOAT TRANSIT ANNOUNCES NEW YEAR’S EVE SCHEDULE
Steamboat Springs Transit is operating additional bus service on New Year’s Eve and the early hours of New Year’s Day. On New Year’s Eve, in addition to the regularly scheduled 20-minute service, SST will operate additional buses to help with the increased passenger loads. The last scheduled night bus will leave the Stockbridge Transit Center at 2:20 in the morning, and will go to the downtown area and the mountain. There will be an additional bus that will leave the Stockbridge Transit Center on the hour and half hour beginning at 2:30, with the last run scheduled for 5:30. The regular daily service will resume on New Year’s Day at 5:50 in the morning.
GESSLER’S LAWYERS DEFEND ETHICS CLAIM AGAINST HIM
Secretary of State Scott Gessler followed the law and long-standing practices when he spent office funds to attend a Republican lawyers conference in Florida. That’s the stand his attorneys are taking in response to complaints that he used public money for partisan purposes. Attorneys for Gessler, a Republican, also said in papers filed with the ethics commission that the secretary of state did not need receipts to be reimbursed for expenses he claimed from his office’s discretionary fund. Moreover, his attorneys argue, the commission does not have jurisdiction over the issues because they don’t concern violations of Amendment 41, which deal with gifts to public officials. Gessler faces ethics complaints over spending $1,452 from his office’s discretionary fund to attend a conference of the Republican National Lawyers Association in Sarasota, Fla. Gessler then attended the Republican National Convention in Tampa the same week. His attorneys say the complaint, filed by Colorado Ethics Watch is unfounded, and go on to say the group is a liberal organization that focuses on Republican lawmakers. Ethics Watch reps have not responded.
TROOPS TO TEACHERS PROGRAM CONTINUED IN DEFENSE BILL
The final passage of the National Defense Authorization bill includes a provision to expand the successful Troops to Teachers program. The expanded program is expected to help veterans extend their careers through classrooms across the country. The Troops to Teachers program, originally created in 1994, provides qualified troops with financial incentives to teach in the nation’s neediest schools. Since the program was created, a majority of Troops to Teachers have been concentrated in seven states, including Colorado. As of 2009, over 12,000 Troops to Teachers participants have been hired nationally at public schools through the program. The bill now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.