News, December 5th

FORMER GOCO DIRECTOR TO HEAD UP SAGE GROUSE PLAN FOR STATE

Denver—Governor John Hickenlooper is keeping the promise he made to western  slope leaders hoping to find a better solution to the sage grouse protection plan.  Today, the Governor chose former Great Outdoors Colorado director John Swartout to coordinate the state effort.  Swartout’s job will be to find a way to preserve the bird without listing it as endangered.  He says he agreed to oversee the state plan to protect the sage grouse while also allowing western slope economies to develop and grow.  The BLM is considering how to manage about four million acres of supposed sage grouse habitat that would impact communities in western Colorado, northeast Utah and southwest Wyoming.

BLM COUNCIL MEETING CALLED OFF DUE TO WEATHER

Silt—Today’s Bureau of Land Management Northwest Resource Advisory Council meeting in Silt was called off due to the snow, extreme cold and dangerous driving conditions. Officials say the meeting will be rescheduled in January.

ARSON INVESTIGATION AT GUNNISON BLM OFFICE

Gunnison—-Someone deliberately set fire to the BLM field office in Gunnison last weekend.  A criminal investigation is underway.  Federal and local authorities say the offices were also vandalized last Saturday night.   BLM spokeswoman Shannon Borders says the damages are extensive but the total dollar amount hasn’t been determined.  A two thousand dollar reward is being offered for information about the fire.  The Gunnison offices are used by recreation managers, inspectors and federal law enforcement officers.

TRIAL OF PARACHUTE MAN SUSPECTED OF MURDER DELAYED IN MONTANA

Billings, MT—The first degree murder trial of a Parachute man in Montana is being delayed further.  Michael Keith Spell is accused of kidnapping and killing high school teacher Sherry Arnold in January of 2012 while she was out for a morning jog.  A Montana state judge put off Spell’s January trial after state health officials asked for time to conduct a mental health evaluation.  Defense attorneys say Spell is not fit for trial because he is mentally disabled.  He is currently being housed at a state hospital and faces the death penalty if convicted.  Co-defendant Lester Van Waters, Junior pled guilty under a deal with prosecutors earlier this year.  He has yet to be sentenced in the case.

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