The Home Front: Cory Gardner wants the BLM moved from DC to Grand Junction, Colorado

“If U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner has his way, top-level decisions by a major federal public lands agency would no longer be made in Washington, D.C.,” reports The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. “Rather, they’d emanate from right here in Grand Junction, which also could see hundreds of new jobs should the Colorado Republican manage to persuade Congress to move the Bureau of Land Management’s national headquarters to town. “I think it makes perfect sense to have the BLM headquartered in Grand Junction, Colorado, which is nearby other BLM-centric states, whether that’s Utah, Wyoming, states to the south and farther west,” Gardner said in an interview with The Daily Sentinel, expanding on an idea he has brought up publicly several times in recent weeks. The thrust of Gardner’s pitch is that the more than 99 percent of the nearly 250 million acres of land the BLM manages is west of the Mississippi River.”

The Longmont Times-Call reports on a court fight over a tree. “A Boulder District Court judge ruled that Longmont owns a disputed cottonwood tree on Pratt Street. With ownership, the judge said, comes the right to remove the tree,” the paper reports. “The McDonalds — the family that bought and planted the tree in the city’s right-of-way in 1979 — argued in the preliminary injunction hearing Wednesday that they have partial ownership of the tree and Longmont shouldn’t be allowed to destroy their property. But Judge Thomas F. Mulvahill agreed with Longmont Assistant City Attorney Dan Kramer that even though Kent and Patty McDonald planted the cottonwood, it is the city’s property because its trunk is fully in the right-of-way.”

“Greeley saw a 20 percent increase in some of its most serious crimes in 2016, but that number is due in large part to crime rates plummeting to a historic low the year before,” reports The Greeley Tribune. “The Greeley Police Department divides crime into multiple parts. More serious crimes — such as murder, rape, aggravated assault and motor vehicle theft — are referred to as Part 1 crimes. In 2016, there were 3,773 Part 1 crimes committed within the city’s limits, as opposed to 3,139 the year before. The spike might seem dramatic, but it’s more of a return to average crime rates from years past. In 2014, for example, the police department recorded 3,829 Part 1 crimes, and in 2013 there were 3,777. The reasons for 2015’s low crime rate are murky, Greeley Police Chief Jerry Garner said. “With all the unknowns, you just can’t nail it,” he said.”

The Pueblo Chieftain reports on the cost to finish an Arkansas River levee. “With three phases of the Arkansas River Levee project now complete, at a cost of $10 million, as much as $12 million more is needed to bring the project to completion,” it reports. “On Wednesday, the Pueblo Conservancy District board of directors moved to ask a district court judge for the authority to increase the current levee maintenance fund assessment fee. These additional funds, conservancy district officials maintain, are needed to not only pay off an existing loan but also to raise the remainder of the funds necessary to finish the work.”

“Fort Collins plans to appeal a federal judge’s decision to temporarily halt enforcement of the city’s ban on women appearing topless in public,” reports The Coloradoan in Fort Collins. “Attorneys representing the city on Tuesday notified the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver that they will appeal a preliminary injunction granted in February by U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson that blocks a section of the city’s public nudity law. In granting the preliminary injunction, Brooke stated he would likely rule in favor of members of the group Free the Nipple who sued the city claiming the ordinance violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution by discriminating against women.”

The Loveland Reporter-Herald reports on issues involving the I-25/402 interchange. “As pressure continues to mount on Johnstown Town Council members on their decision not to fund the full $6 million requested for Interstate 25-Colo,” the paper reports. “402 interchange reconfiguration, members aren’t ruling out meeting again and upping the amount. But they’re also not making any promises. Regional leaders have expressed their frustrations about the town council’s decision to approve only $1.2 million over a three-year period toward the $54 million project, with a $14 million local match. The project would have made improvements to the intersection as part of the north Interstate 25 widening project.”

“Residents in Erie’s Old Town are facing down a fracking order that harkens back to the early days of the oil boom, a controversial pooling born out of statutes used to force through horizontal drilling,” reports The Boulder Daily Camera. “Neighbors within the district have met the orders with a mix of confusion and resistance. The letters — from Denver-based Crestone Peak Resources — indicate the company’s intent to pool dozens of properties within the town’s most densely populated district to lease their mineral rights. “(Crestone) respectfully submits this application to the oil and gas conservation commission of the State of Colorado for an order pooling all interests in four approximate 548.44-acre horizontal wellbore spacing units established for certain portions (of the area),” the letter reads. The concept is known as statutory, or compulsory, pooling — or “forced pooling,” as many have come to refer to it — and delineates a practice that oil and gas companies can use to serve their horizontal drilling needs.”

The Durango Herald reports on a transportation bill at the Capitol. “The state’s big transportation deal went before a committee Wednesday night in the Colorado General Assembly, and turnout from people who are concerned showed something must be done to fix deteriorating roads,” the paper reports. “House Bill 1242, which would use a sales tax increase and existing revenue to raise roughly $677 million annually for the next 20 years and allow the state to bond for up to $3.5 billion to repair and expand Colorado’s transportation infrastructure, was heard by the House Transportation and Energy Committee. Late Wednesday night, the committee was still hearing testimony from the 79 individuals who signed up to testify. The bill, sponsored by leadership from both chambers and would require approval by voters, has been described as a starting point for talks and compromises.”

“A Department of Corrections officer was arrested March 8 after he allegedly sexual assaulted a child, according to a news release Wednesday morning by the Cañon City Police Department,” reports The Cañon City Daily Record. “Jeremy Gifford, 38, of Cañon City is being charged with sexual assault on a child and sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. “Is there a charge on me that I might go to jail?” Gifford asked police, according to the probable cause statement. Gifford is still employed by Colorado DOC, but has been placed on administrative leave, CDOC public information officer Mark Fairbairn said in an email. According to the statement, Gifford assaulted the victim on multiple occasions over the course of a year or two. According to CCPD, the victim is 9-years old.”

The Denver Post reports on how a Supreme Court decision added real-time drama to the Judge Neil Gorsuch hearings. “A landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday that sets a higher standard for how public schools must educate students with disabilities injected unexpected, real-time legal drama into confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the high court,” the paper reports. “The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Colorado case, dubbed Endrew F. vs. Douglas County School District, became a flashpoint Wednesday — the third day of Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings — when Democratic senators challenged the nominee on his past opinions in cases involving children with disabilities and the quality of education to which they are entitled. The lawmakers pointed to a 2008 case involving an autistic boy in the Thompson School District. Gorsuch, who sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, wrote in ruling on that case that a standard of education “merely” more than de minimis — or the bare minimum — was sufficient to meet Congress’ mandate that students in the United States be given a “free appropriate public education” under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, seized on Gorsuch’s use of the word “merely” in the 9-year-old decision during the hearing in front of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee.”

“The Air Force Academy will close its Cadet Chapel in late 2018 for up to four years to repair leaks that have plagued Colorado’s most iconic building since it opened in 1962,” reports The Gazette  in Colorado Springs. “The planned $68 million renovation will see the chapel’s gleaming aluminum skin and soaring stained glass removed as workers install a new system designed to stop the leaks. The closure of the chapel was announced Wednesday morning by AFA Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson. ‘We love it a lot, but it is over 53 years old,’ Johnson said during a speech for community leaders at the school. ‘We’re going to be putting scaffolding up in 2018.'”


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