INTERIOR SECRETARY SCRAPS BLUEWAYS PROJECT
After a year of pressure from Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO) and his colleagues on the House Natural Resources Committee, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced that she is dissolving the controversial Blueways program. Jewell’s predecessor, Secretary Ken Salazar, issued Secretarial Order 3321 establishing the National Blueways System. Blueways is a “source to mouth, watershed-wide” federal program that raised the fears of many local water conservation districts who are already doing a good job managing precious water supplies. Jewell announced in July that she was putting the Blueways order on hold. Many local water users feared that the National Blueways System, managed by a committee of federal bureaucrats, would result in potential diversions of privately held water rights and the violation of state law, under which those rights are granted. Tipton has long-opposed the Blueways Order and has worked with his colleagues on the Western Caucus and House Natural Resources Committee to stop its implementation. He has even come up with a bill of his own. H.R. 3189, the Water Right Protection Act, which Tipton introduced in September with bipartisan support from Colorado Democratic Representative Jared Polis, has received strong support from a broad coalition of local, state and national stakeholders concerned with recent federal attempts to hijack privately-held water rights. It has been passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee and is awaiting a vote in the House of Representatives.
DEMOCRATS HOPE TO AVOID GUN AND ENERGY DEBATES
Colorado Democrats are coming off a year of monumental legislation and huge controversy. Amid often tense opposition, the majority party passed civil unions for gay couples, allowed same-day voter registration, imposed new renewable energy standards on rural power companies and reduced tuition for students in the country illegally – and those debates weren’t nearly as heated as the fighting over the state’s new gun restrictions. This year, Colorado Democrats are hoping to leave such difficult discussions in the past and move on to other topics, such as education and the economy. Republicans, however, aren’t about to let their political rivals off the hook so easily – especially not in an election year. Republicans have said they will try to repeal gun laws, and fight to preserve the lifestyles of rural Coloradans.
REPUBLICANS BLAST DEMOCRATS FOR MAGPUL’S EXIT
So far, no Democrats in Colorado have commented on Magpul’s decision to move its firearms accessories business out of the state…but Republicans have had plenty to say. Magpul made the announcement last week that it would be relocating its headquarters to Texas, while moving the rest of it’s operations to Wyoming. They will take about 92% of its workforce with them, meaning many Coloradans will lose their jobs. The state also stands to lose about $80 million in revenue. Democrats have only said they have made job growth a priority for 2014. While House Speaker Mark Ferrandino said that he wouldn’t support a Republican effort to repeal the magazine ban, other Republicans have said they will continue to remind voters that there wasn’t a single member of their party that voted for it. Tom Tancredo, who will be challenging John Hickenlooper for the governor’s seat, blasted the governor for his support of a bill he says Hickenlooper knew would cost Coloradans jobs.
PARKS AND WILDLIFE TO UPDATE HUNTING REGULATIONS
The Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission will meet Thursday and Friday to finalize 2014 big game hunting regulations, give final consideration to the wildlife mitigation plan for the proposed expansion of Chatfield Reservoir, and give final consideration to a ban on the use of “drones” for hunting or scouting. Other items on the January meeting agenda include a Thursday afternoon overview of hunting participation in Colorado. On Friday morning, Commissioners will vote on regulations that include a ban on the use of unmanned aircraft, or “drones,” in hunting or scouting. While drones are not commonly used currently, the increasing affordability of new flight and video technology has raised concerns about the possibility of drone use for hunting. Commissioners will consider two dozen other regulatory changes to the 2014 big game regulations that range from establishing new hunts in some units to developing a non-resident big game and fishing combination license. The January meeting will be held at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Hunter Education Classroom in Denver.
STAGECOACH TO HOLD FISHING TOURNAMENT
Steamboat Great Outdoors will be hosting the 3rd Annual Steamboat Great Outdoors Ice Fishing Tournament at Stagecoach State Park later this month. The tournament is limited to trout species only. Cash prizes will be awarded and a portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Oak Creek Fire Corps. The tournament is limited to 200 adult entries. Youth can participate for free and are eligible for non-cash prizes. Adult advance registration is $25 and the day of the event is $35. The tournament takes place January 19th from 9 to 3. For tournament rules and registration forms click here.
STATE PATROL WARNS AGAINST DRIVING HIGH
As marijuana becomes available for recreational use throughout Colorado, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) remind motorists that it is illegal to drive while impaired by marijuana. Similar to alcohol, there is an established impairment level in Colorado of five nanograms of active tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the active psychoactive component of marijuana—per milliliter of whole blood. Driving while impaired by any substance is illegal and unsafe. According to the Colorado Judicial Branch, there were 24,742 DUI and DWAI cases filed in 2012 throughout the state of Colorado. CDOT has been working alongside the marijuana industry and other state and local agencies for the past six months to develop policies and education efforts to inform marijuana users about the dangers of driving while impaired. In addition to driving impaired, it is also illegal to consume or display marijuana on any public roadway, to have marijuana in the passenger area of a vehicle in an open container, container with a broken seal, or if there is evidence marijuana has been consumed.
BALLOT MEASURE WOULD ALLOW COMMUNITIES TO BAN FRACKING
A community activist says an organization is drafting a ballot measure to allow local governments in Colorado to ban or restrict oil and gas drilling in their areas. Cliff Willmeng says the Colorado Community Rights Network plans to submit the proposed amendment to the state constitution in the next week or so. Willmeng says the measure would allow communities to limit hydraulic fracturing, along with other projects from the planting of genetically modified crops to cyanide use in gold mining and the construction of dams. The measure, once submitted, would qualify for the November ballot if it receives 86,105 valid signatures. Doug Flanders of the Colorado Oil and Gas Association says such a measure would have negative impacts beyond oil and gas development.
IN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS
Steamboat heads to Monarch at 3.
Hayden goes to Steamboat to play their J-V teams. The girls start at 4:30 and the boys at 5:30.