The Home Front: The latest threat to wildfire containment in Colorado? Drones.

Your morning roundup of stories from the front pages of newspapers across Colorado

The Home Front: The latest threat to wildfire containment in Colorado? Drones.

“Firefighting operations were disrupted at least four times in four days by drones flying over the Lightner Creek Fire, according to the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office,” reports The Durango Herald. “Local law enforcement made contact with three suspects, and a fourth case remained under investigation Monday, said sheriff’s spokesman Dan Bender. The cases have been referred to the Bureau of Land Management for possible prosecution, Bender said. It is against federal law to resist or interfere with firefighters’ efforts to extinguish fires. The Federal Aviation Administration also has rules that pertain to unmanned aircraft systems on national forest system lands, including flying in no-fly zones. The FAA had enacted a no-fly zone around the Lightner Creek Fire.”

“Between the ages of 5 and 65 — a roughly 22,000-day period — the average American will use 38,000 disposable straws,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “At least, that’s what the office of Gov. John Hickenlooper decreed in 2013 when he announced July 11 as Straw Free Day in Colorado. If the governor’s claim sounds dubious, anti-plastic straw advocates have other eye-popping statistics in their arsenal. “There’s enough plastic-straw waste in the U.S. to wrap around the Earth 2.5 times every day,” said Graham Hill, a Boulder resident who’s on a mission to limit the usage of disposable straws in the city. Earlier this year, Hill was awarded a $300 micro-grant given out by the city and the group C3 Boulder to support climate-related local initiatives.”

“Oil and gas operators in Garfield County reported seven spills in the second quarter of 2017,” reports The Glenwood Springs Post-Independent. “Encana Oil & Gas USA reported a spill April 3 of about 1.5 barrels of condensate, some of which breached secondary containment, south of Rifle. This spill occurred at a well pad where the fluids were being transferred from a tank to a truck. The spill, which the company reported as caused by human error when the truck was overfilled, was then sucked up and the impacted soil excavated. Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission listed this incident has resolved on the same day. TEP Rocky Mountain reported a spill from a well pad of an estimated five to 10 barrels of produced water north of Parachute on May 25. Some of this fluid was reported to have breached containment. The incident is not yet listed as resolved.”

“Newly seated U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch returned home to Boulder County to take part in Tuesday’s Fourth of July parade in tiny Niwot, drawing patriotic revelers and some protesters along the way,” reports The Longmont Times-Call. “Prior to the parade, Gorsuch was surrounded by a crowd of onlookers who took photos with him and wished him luck on the nation’s highest court. Gorsuch said he wasn’t doing any press, but did answer a Times-Call reporter’s question about what he’ll miss about Boulder County: “What’s not to miss?” Gorsuch responded, gesturing around at the festivities. “Everything.”

“People caught driving along Interstate 70 in Mesa County with large amounts of illegal drugs might be more likely to find themselves in federal court in the future, as the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Grand Junction moves to start adopting more trafficking cases from local law enforcement,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Acting U.S. Attorney Bob Troyer said that, thanks to a planned staff expansion, a new agreement with the Mesa County Jail and a solid working relationship with local law enforcement, his office’s Grand Junction branch is poised to start taking on more drug trafficking cases. “Grand Junction is the highest profile location (in Colorado) for our interdiction cases,” Troyer said. “It’s a fact that we have recently adopted some more drug interdiction cases. … You’ll see an increase in us taking those kind of cases.”

“The Larimer County Office on Aging is already bracing for the silver tsunami, and now questions about federal Medicaid funding have added another layer of concern for a growing number of seniors,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Republicans in Washington, D.C., are tinkering with a bill to change how the federal government handles Medicaid — one staple in a larger overhaul of the Affordable Care Act. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the draft bill released in mid-June — it has since been pulled back for further tinkering — would reduce Medicaid spending by $772 billion by 2026 and ultimately cull 15 million people from its rolls.”

“S’mores season could end early this year for some campers in Northwest Colorado if it doesn’t start raining soon.,” reports The Steamboat Pilot. “Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue Chief Mel Stewart said Monday Routt County currently meets two of the seven criteria for fire restrictions. Agencies usually start recommending some level of restrictions when four of the criteria are met.”

“When Deirdre Tonozzi went to her first Greeley Stampede Independence Day Parade, she was 3 days old,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The parade tradition was important to her family then, and it’s important to her now. Tonozzi sat in the shade near Lincoln Park, watching the floats go by. This year marks her 33rd parade. After all this time, seeing the longhorn steers clomp and bob down 10th Avenue is still her favorite part. The parade has changed over the years, she said. She remembers when the firefighters would spray the crowd. She and other kids would bring their water guns. Tradition keeps her coming back, and she wants to pass it down.”

“Local veterans will benefit early next year from the transfer of the Veteran Affairs medical clinic from Greeley to Loveland,” reports The Loveland Reporter-Herald. “The opening in February 2018 of the Loveland Community Outpatient Clinic at 5200 Hahns Peak Drive will result in an increase in services available to veterans in the area, according to Samuel House, public affairs officer with the VA Health Care System in Cheyenne, Wyo.”

“The protesters held control of Sen. Cory Gardner’s Denver waiting room for 57 hours,” reports The Denver Post. “The roughly 8- by 12-foot room felt cramped. The building designers probably didn’t take into account a nine person sit-in that included five wheelchairs — or the supporters who sneaked onto the closed-off floor to bring food and medications. The protest was organized by ADAPT, a national organization born in Colorado that has fought for the rights of people with disabilities since the 1970s. The group’s demand was simple: They would leave once Gardner vowed to vote no on the Senate health care bill.” (Read our coverage herehere and here.)

“No cars at Garden of the Gods?” asks The Gazette in Colorado Springs. A study will examine the possibility.

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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