News, August 30th

White River National Forest / O and G Drilling Plan

Glenwood Springs– The White River National Forest has proposed reducing the amount of land in the White River National Forest that can be leased for oil and gas production. The agency has released a draft environmental impact statement looking at the proposal and alternatives, which would affect activities in Pitkin County and parts of Garfield, Rio Blanco, Gunnison and Mesa counties. the number of wells that would be drilled under the agency’s preferred alternative could drop about 66 percent if adopted. About 417,000 acres is available for oil and gas leases today. The preferred alternative suggests shrinking that to about 260,000. The public comment period ends October 31st.

BLM/Wild Horses

DENVER (AP) – The Bureau of Land Management is giving landowners more time to apply to run sanctuaries for wild horses. Wednesday had been the closing date but the BLM announced Thursday it was extending the application deadline to Sept. 19. It didn’t say why it was granting the extension. The BLM wants to find landowners who can provide long-term care for excess wild horses as an alternative to keeping them in government-run holding facilities. The sanctuaries would have to care for at least 100 horses and be open to the public, potentially as ecotourism sites. That’s the approach being taken at a 4,000-acre former cattle ranch near Laramie, Wyo. On Wednesday, the BLM approved a plan to turn the Deerwood Ranch into a wild horse ecosanctuary for up to 300 horses.

DENVER (AP) – Colorado Secretary of State Scott Gessler waived tens of thousands of dollars in campaign disclosure fines for three men who pushed three ballot initiatives to cut taxes and restrict the state’s finances in 2010. Jeff Gross, Louis Schroeder, and Russell Haas racked up more than $20,000 in late fees each for failing to file campaign finance disclosures after a judge’s order. The trio asked Gessler for a waiver that reduced their fines to $50 each.
The three men argued they did not know who spent the money to get the initiatives on the ballot. Gessler says the fines would financially hurt the men and discourage activists from being involved in politics. But Gessler detractors say his action undermines disclosure rules.

DENVER (AP) – The Colorado Court of Appeals has overturned the first-degree murder conviction of a man in the death of his 23-month-old stepson. The court ruled today that jurors were given improper instructions before they convicted 24-year-old Brandon Moore in 2008. The appeals court ordered a new trial. Moore was accused of causing the 2007 death of Logan Accord of Clifton.

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — Investigators say the likely cause of a fatal midair collision near Longmont was the failure of pilots in both planes to keep adequate visual lookout. The NTSB’s final report on the crash issued yesterday says neither plane appeared to have mechanical problems before the March 23 collision. Beverly Cameron of Erie was piloting one of the planes and was injured trying to land after the collision. She says the other plane was behind her and it was impossible for her to see it. A pilot and a student in the second plane died.