CRAIG (AP) – An agriculture-preservation group and a northwestern Colorado ranch have agreed on a conservation easement to preserve about 25 square miles of greater sage grouse habitat.
The Colorado Cattlemen’s Agricultural Land Trust said Wednesday the owners of the Cross Mountain Ranch will be paid $5.6 million in exchange for keeping the land permanently free of development. The trust says about half the money comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sage Grouse Initiative. The rest comes from Colorado Lottery revenue and other sources. The land is described as key sage grouse habitat near Dinosaur National Monument. The conservation easement is part of a broader effort by states, local governments and landowners to protect the greater sage grouse without resorting to an endangered or threatened species designation by the federal government.

DENVER (AP) – Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper says the faces fiscal challenges in the coming years, but he stopped short of asking lawmakers to go to voters to allow the state to keep budget surpluses that must be refunded. Hickenlooper celebrated what he said was Colorado’s growing economy during his annual State of the State address today.

DENVER (AP) – Colorado’s governor says the state needs wider interstate highways but can’t wait on the federal government for help. Gov. John Hickenlooper says both interstates 25 and 70 need to add capacity, But he told lawmakers in his annual State of the State address that Colorado needs to “think creatively” about how to pay for widening.

PUEBLO. (AP) – Officials at Pueblo’s Memorial Hall say they’re increasing security to be prepared to deal with anyone who tries to disrupt Bill Cosby’s show tomorrow. A spokesman says anyone who attempts to disrupt the show will be asked to leave immediately. Cosby is also set to perform two shows in Denver Saturday.

GREELEY (AP) – A Greeley charter school is considering arming teachers and other staffers. The executive committee of Frontier Academy has proposed allowing staffers who pass a state certification examination to carry concealed weapons at its two campuses.