The Home Front: Budget cuts, mine spill money and the fight to save a cottonwood tree

President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, released yesterday morning, dominates the front pages across the state today.

Declaring the budget a “priority shift,” the Denver Post leads with an infographic showing the percentage change for governmental departments: Defense, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs are all up, by 10 percent, 7 percent and 6 percent, respectively. Everything else, it seems — Commerce, Education, Justice, Agriculture, Transportation, NASA and, of course, EPA — are all reduced. This analysis shows how the proposed cuts will affect Colorado.

The Boulder Daily Camera reports that the cuts could cost Colorado more than 11,000 jobs, many of them in Boulder. According to numbers from environmental group Conservation Colorado, “the Trump budget could cost 482 jobs at theNational Institute of Standards and Technology and another 373 jobs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, both located on the Department of Commerce campus in Boulder… The National Park Service, responsible for Rocky Mountain National Park in nearby Estes Park, could lose 1,548 jobs in the state.”

A Trump team transition leader at the EPA says the cuts will “abolish the agency,” writes Peter Marcus for ColoradoPolitics.com. The Colorado Springs Gazette fronts the story, which reports that “environmental interests had feared Trump’s budget proposal would start to chip away at the EPA, ultimately leading to closure. News of the preliminary budget sent many into a tailspin, as it potentially signals a much faster outcome.”

The EPA will reimburse $90,000 more for cleanup costs related to the Gold King Mine spill, reports the Durango Herald. The award will be spread across five entities in Colorado and Utah, including La Plata County and the city of Durango.

Despite the federal hiring freeze, the Holy Cross Ranger District has been able to hire seasonal workers and firefighters, which are exempt from the freeze, Vail Daily reports. Nationwide, the Forest Service hires 20,000 such seasonal workers, which District Ranger Aaron Mayville says “would have been a big hit” to the agency if not for the exemption.

And fire season is already heating up, as shown by blazes in in Whitewater and Fruita Thursday. The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is investigating whether to charge a person with arson for the Whitewater fire, reports the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel.

Population growth in northern Colorado could negate I-25 expansion efforts, says the Fort Collins Coloradoan this morning. Because an expansion from Wellington to the Denver metro area isn’t set to be completed until 2075, “it’s likely that growth could outpace construction, creating a never-ending loop of more cars needing more improvements to roadways.”

The Greeley Tribune writes today that the Weld County government will be audited by the IRS following a complaint from a former City Council member. The audit, set to take place on April 6, “is likely to focus on reimbursements to county commissioners for travel between their homes and work.”

A Longmont family is making one more last-ditch effort to save a cottonwood tree in front of their home, writes the Longmont Times-Call, in the face of the city’s effort to remove the “controversial” tree. Neighbors complain about the tree’s mess and the problems it causes to those with allergies. The family says they have cared for the tree for almost 38 years, and that it cools their home and increases their property value.

The Colorado Independent is a statewide online news source operating in a time when spin is plentiful, but factual, fair and unflinching news in the public interest is all too rare. Our award-winning team of veteran investigative and explanatory reporters and news columnists aims to amplify the voices of Coloradans whose stories are unheard, shine light on the relationships between people, power and policy, and hold public officials to account. We strive to report the news with context, social conscience, and soul, and to give Coloradans the insight they need to promote conversation, understanding and progress in this square, swing state we call home.

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