COGCC: Just say no to Ursa plan |

COGCC: Just say no to Ursa plan

Recent developments concerning well pads in and around Battlement Mesa have people here shaking their heads over the desire of the Ursa Operating LLC to nestle its large-scale industrial operations next to residences, the community’s water supply and its high school. Of even more concern is apparent lack of will by regulators to do anything to deny industry its choice of pad sites.

Last month, the Colorado Oil & Gas Conservation Commission permitted the D Pad within Battlement Mesa. It was the first test of a new rule that was supposed to “resolve conflicts” between oil and gas operators and residents. This rule was the only constructive product of the governor’s task force and was supposed to provide new protections for neighborhoods and residents from large-scale multiwell drilling that has become the norm of the industry.

But rather than mandate greater setbacks for large oil and gas facilities from homes, the new rules only require operators to consider alternative locations farther away from homes and either justify the need to place a large-scale oil and gas facility within 1,000 feet of a number of homes or move the pad “as far as possible” from homes.

In this case, Ursa offered no alternative locations. Ursa simply made unsupported statements that “no other locations were available” and the COGCC accepted that as a fine justification to place an industrial complex in the middle of a residential neighborhood. So now, a well pad that will contain 28 wells, 28 separators, eight tanks and an emission combustor will be within 1,000 feet of an apartment building and single-family homes. It will be in operation for three years and be producing from the location for at least 20 years.

As of this writing, another Ursa permit for a well pad in Battlement is pending with the commission. The B pad application, if approved, would not only pose the same resident proximity issues for several of Battlement’s villages, but also allow a pad with 25 wells that is within 400 feet of the Battlement Mesa public drinking water intake in the Colorado River, that in turn serves 30 million people downstream.

The location of that pad has been seriously questioned by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Adding to CDPHE’s concern, and drawing its strenuous objection, is the transparent intention of Ursa to use one of its well bores there for a toxic wastewater injection well.

Based on the first approval, COGCC seems poised to approve the B pad with conditions Ursa feels are acceptable. While approving actions inherently threatening to the community, the COGCC will apparently attach conditions in the form of half-measures that will hopefully minimize the damage. If that is Colorado’s idea of protecting citizens, something is very wrong here.

As if this were not enough to arouse people here and around the state, consider that the same company has announced it wants to place another well pad site only 600 feet from the high school attended by Battlement Mesa youngsters, although the state requires a 1,000-foot setback from schools. This makes it clear that Ursa and other operators in the state intend to push the envelope as far as possible in order to drill absolutely anywhere they wish.

It seems equally obvious that the COGCC considers this up close and personal version of “responsible energy development” a fulfillment of its regulatory mission to safeguard communities. Instead of passing new rules to prevent neighborhood drilling, the COGCC passed rules that will facilitate it. Instead of protecting public health and welfare of the citizens of this state, the COGCC has chosen instead to fulfill its other mission of promoting the oil and gas industry by protecting its perfect record of never having turned down a proposed location for a well pad.

Impacted citizens have few recourses. The COGCC will not be required to have a public hearing on this issue because the COGCC only recognizes the industry, the owner of the well location and the local government as having legal standing to be able to request a hearing.

But, so long as industry reads “as far as possible” to mean “as close as we want” and the COGCC refuses to say no to a site, citizens groups across Colorado like the BCC will continue to pursue every means at our disposal to oppose heavy industry in residential settings; expressing our viewpoints publicly to localities or the state, attending hearings when they occur, criticizing approvals, lobbying elected officials, making legal challenges and supporting any ballot initiative offering a solution – ideal or otherwise.

We’d just like our homes to be kept out of harm’s way. “Neighborhood drilling“ is an oxymoron and large-scale industrial facilities don’t belong side by side with our homes and schools. Safe distances are the heart of the matter. Drilling does not need to happen on our doorstep, nor do nearby residents need to be subjected to having their health and happy homes becoming collateral damage.

Doug Saxton is the co-chair of the Battlement Concerned Citizens.

Garfield 16 completing $36M in capital improvements

When students in Garfield School District 16 returned to classes last week to start the 2016-17 school year, many of them stepped into some vastly improved facilities.

From the elementary school to the high school to the transportation department, the district is wrapping up sweeping capital projects totaling $36.4 million.

Some of those improvements, such as modified entrances intended to improve security at the Grand Valley Center for Family Learning (CFL), Bea Underwood Elementary School (BUE), L.W. St. John Elementary School and Grand Valley High School, are more noticeable.

As is the new turf football field at the high school, which was largely driven by a need to shed water away from the school.

Many of the repairs, though, are less noticeable, such as upgraded electrical service to BUE and a new boiler at the high school.

The projects completed over the past 16 months were made possible by a successful bond campaign in 2014 that, when factoring in premium sales, totaled $33 million.

In turn, part of that money was used for matching grant funds that brought in another $3.3 million over two years through the Colorado Building Excellent Schools Today program.

BEST, as it is known, receives money from state land trust funds, Colorado Lottery spillover funds, marijuana excise tax dollars and interest. The competitive grant program aims to help public schools with construction needs.

Over the past two years, BEST money helped fund new roofs at BUE and St. John, the latter of which now serves as the district headquarters but can easily be reopened as an elementary school should BUE reach capacity. BEST dollars also helped fund security and abatement work at those two locations, a vestibule at the CFL and multiple projects at the high school.

In addressing critical infrastructure issues throughout the district, Garfield 16 has positioned itself to be a destination for years to come, Superintendent Ken Haptonstall said earlier this summer.

“The core of what we were looking for was safety and security, but also to make sure our schools are an asset to the community,” Haptonstall said.

Megan Madden, who was taking her two children to BUE for the first time Tuesday, seemed to agree.

“I’m very excited they get to go to a very nice, new school,” she said.

Although the school is not new, it would be easy to make that assumption, especially from the outside. Along with the renovated main entrance, exterior doors and windows were replaced, a fence was built along the perimeter of the school grounds and the parking lot was expanded and improved.

So far, the projects have remained on time and within budget, according to Haptonstall. A field house at GVHS is the only remaining project on the list.

Overall, the district is a vastly improved one compared to 2013-14, when renewed discussions started at the community level. A committee was formed to discuss improvements that would increase the overall quality of the district, according to Haptonstall.

Among the few things that were broadly agreed upon was the need to upgrade the facilities and bring them into the 21st century.

Consultants were brought in to evaluate the facilities and determine repairs needed to either keep individual buildings functional or bring them into compliance with various codes.

After going through a lengthy list and prioritizing projects, the committee ended up proposing both the bond issue as well as a mill levy override to generate an additional $1.1 million per year for the district.

At the time, salaries had been frozen for five or six years, Haptonstall said, before noting the difficult nature of asking for both a bond and a mill levy increase.

It was a tough sell, recalled David Blair, fire chief with the Grand Valley Fire Protection District.

Blair, who ended up chairing the committee that campaigned for the ballot questions, said those involved went to great lengths to educate the public.

They had spreadsheets and hard numbers, including what the additional cost would be to individual property owners. Also, campaign organizers were able to show that with rising construction costs, the needed repairs would only become more expensive the longer they waited.

According to Haptonstall, the district would have wasted $5 million on construction escalation cost had it waited to start construction until now.

The bond question passed with 1,044 voting in favor and 943 voting against it. The mill levy also passed by an equally narrow margin; 1,046 for and 945 against.

The passing of both questions was a testimony to the work by community members, said Haptonstall, who noted that the district can not run the campaign for such issues

“Get yourself out of the way and let community leaders that you trust run the show,” he said. “It’s so key to have local community people champion the cause.”

In down-playing his own involvement, Blair seconded Haptonstall’s remarks.

“It was a community effort,” he said. “It wasn’t just me. It was several people on that committee and it was neighbors talking to neighbors convincing them it’s the right thing to do.”

Descendants of Devereux see his legacy

Sitting in the courtyard of the Hotel Colorado, Harris H. Bucklin looked up at the iconic Glenwood Springs landmark his great-grandfather had created.

“He pulled up stakes in 1912, but it’s like he’s still here,” he said. “This truly is his legacy.”

“This” was more than just the hotel. Bucklin, his wife, Barbara, and his son Harris J., had just spent the day visiting the town Walter Devereux put on the map.

The Bucklins hail from Williamsburg, Virginia, and had never seen the fruits of that labor first hand. They had contemplated a visit to Glenwood on several occasions, but despite coming as close as State Bridge on one occasion, it never worked out. When Harris J. — who bears a striking resemblance to his great-great-grandfather — decided to move to Durango to be part of the mountain biking scene, it gave them the impetus they needed, and he came up to meet them.

They already knew a great deal. From Harris’s mother and his uncle Alvin, the Bucklins had many stories of the illustrious ancestor. As interested as the rest, Barbara has poured over old documents to get a glimpse of the past.

“All we know about Glenwood comes from 20 years of perspective 120 years ago,” she said. “What happened in that time is remarkable.”

Walter Bourchier Devereux’s story starts in 1853 in Deposit, New York. After trying and failing to get into Princeton at a young age, he was successfully enrolled in 1872 when the school launched a geological expedition to Colorado near what would become known as the Collegiate Peaks.

He would later reflect that learning to tie a diamond hitch was more difficult than anything he studied in school.

After graduating, he spent a year on an expedition to Tasmania to observe a transit of Venus. He later studied mining engineering at Columbia University and held a wide array of mining and metallurgical positions in Michigan, North Carolina, South Dakota, Arizona and Mexico.

“It was a free country, and you went for it and made your mark,” Harris said.

He married Mary Porter Gregory in 1880. While he was managing Dakoma Copper Company in Globe, Arizona, she painted striking portraits of indigenous locals.

The pair moved to Aspen in 1883 to take charge of Jerome Wheeler’s smelting operation. In that capacity, Devereux patented several devices to improve the process and introduced electricity into the mines. He was also closely involved with the coal mine and rail improvements to support the endeavor.

According to one story collected by the Bucklins, Devereux may have been one of the first people to try skiing in the Aspen area. One winter, when train delays threatened to make him late for Christmas, he reportedly took inspiration from the emerging European sport and strapped a pair of barrel staves to his feet. He made it, but in such poor shape that he spend the holiday in bed.

After two years in Aspen, he moved downvalley to a piece of property on the river near Glenwood adjacent to the present day Devereux Road. His primary interest was in the development of the hot springs, but he also set to work bringing hydroelectric power to the town at a time when the technology was still in its infancy and served as vice president of the First National Bank of Glenwood Springs under rail magnate J.J. Hagerman.

“He wanted it to be a resort; to bring people out here,” Barbara explained.

After the completion of the natatorium and bathhouse in 1890, Devereux turned his focus toward making the area more attractive to visitors. In an effort to give the local cowboys a civilized pursuit, he developed a polo and horse racing area near the current high school. He and his sons became masters of the sport, and the area began selling polo ponies to the East Coast.

“He had a mind for so many different things,” Harris said.


In 1891, construction began on what many regard as Devereux’s crowning achievement: the Hotel Colorado. Modeled on Villa Medici in Rome and completed in two years, it went on to host everyone from Theodore Roosevelt to Al Capone. Devereux made frequent trips back to New York and even embarked an expedition in Alaska with such luminaries as John Muir. Mary proved herself a top-notch hostess, organizing events and picnics for the community.

“They were true partners in the development of Glenwood Springs,” Harris observed.

In 1905, Walter suffered a stroke which left him walking with a cane and unable to use his left hand. He began pulling out of his business ventures and only one visit to Glenwood is recorded after Mary’s death in 1911. His brothers, one of whom was a rough rider, stuck it out a bit longer.

Walter’s only daughter, Hester, died young, while Alvin had no children, leaving Walter Jr. and William’s lineages to survive to the present. William lost his wealth in a failed brokerage firm in San Francisco and turned to Walter for support.

William’s daughter, Mary — Harris’ mother — recalled one Thanksgiving at her grandfather’s house in San Mateo when her parents were away hunting. A servant accidentally shot the maid in the leg, but once the wounded was treated, Walter insisted that the police wait outside while they all ate dinner. They agreed. Despite his age and physical limitations, Walter remained a force to be reckoned with until his death in 1937.

“I’d love to have a conversation with all of them,” Harris said. “We get these glimpses, but you don’t get the entire character.”


Indeed, the Bucklins soon found that the people of Glenwood had things to share that they’d never heard before. Their tour took them to the Hotel Colorado, the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association — which occupies part of the former First National Bank building — the Frontier Historical Society, the Rail Museum, the Glenwood Center for the Arts — currently in the process of moving back into the former hydroelectric plant — and the Hot Springs Pool.

They encountered numerous plaques bearing Devereux’s name and a ubiquitous photo in a fur coat and hat.

“Wherever we went, everyone knew of him and what he had done. They all had another layer to add to the story,” Harris said.

They discovered that Devereux had been instrumental in re-establishing the local elk herd, which is now the largest in North America. They were told that the construction of the pool had involved rerouting the Colorado River since the spring had initially poured right into its icy water.

They learned that, in addition to using locally quarried stone, he had created a brick factory to supply the Hotel Colorado, then sold the bricks for many other buildings in town. The hotel, they found, had most of its original furnishings removed during World War II, when it served as a naval hospital. It later housed classes when the school was condemned and was stripped down into a motor lodge in the 1960s.

Despite all the changes, the visit doesn’t seem to have suffered from the passage of time.

“I really appreciate that Walter’s memory is so honored,” Barbara said. “He made a home for people to work and live and enjoy.”

Colorado’s bright energy future

The second fastest growing industry in Colorado? Solar and renewable energy.

Unlike wind power, which may plateau in the near future, solar will continue to experience astronomical growth. This billion-dollar industry is fostered by our favorable regulatory climate, sunny high elevations, and a bevy of savvy companies and labs that are pushing the frontiers of solar research. Like the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden.

Photovoltaic cells, or PV cells, are the linchpins of this industry. Such cells are microscopically thin silicon sandwiches that make energy from the sun. They’re composed of a veritable tongue-twister of ingredients, blended together to turn incoming solar energy into electricity.

There are three categories of PV systems:

• Utility-scale systems that consist of huge fields of PV panels connected together like a power plant.

• Commercial and residential systems dominated by roof-mounted solar panels.

* Community solar systems, aka solar gardens, which are stand-alone PV arrays that folks who rent, have shady roofs, face homeowners association restrictions or are on a tight budget can buy into.

Most of these PV systems are tied to the grid via some type of electrical meter, substation or the like, providing what’s called “distributed power generation” to our society. Rather than having all our power come from one place that a single entity controls, PV allows power to be generated in little batches, closer to where it will be used, with excess being sent back out onto the grid to benefit neighboring users.

Today’s PV technology is as mind-blowingly advanced as the stuff in an iPhone. Panel efficiency has risen while costs have dropped – just like occurred in computers and cell phones in recent decades. Panels are so efficient and cost-effective that modern utility-scale systems, like the Comanche Solar field near Pueblo, can produce power at about the same cost as a modern gas-fired power plant.

PV systems have other advantages besides being cost-effective. They’re quiet, maintenance-free, don’t use water like coal- and gas-fired power plants, and they help provide national and local energy independence. By offsetting fossil fuel emissions, they yield health benefits through cleaner air and reduce global warming. Homes with seller-owned PV systems sell faster, and for more money that those without.

Both residential and commercial rooftop PV systems reduce overall pollution and prices of electricity for everyone on the grid, even those without PV. That’s because panels generate the most power during the summer, when utilities are forced to buy higher-cost, less-efficiently produced power to offset a portion of society’s air conditioning needs. And they last — even after 25ish years of Colorado hailstorms, PV panels still perform at incredibly high rates of efficiency.

What about downsides? Photovoltaic systems, like any piece of technology and equipment, cost a lot of money to bring online. Their predictability, like wind, is subject to the vagaries of weather. Most aren’t coupled to electricity storage systems, so aren’t dispatchable on a moment’s notice, nor is their energy portable like jet fuel.

PV panels also produce DC power, so an inverter is needed to convert it to AC power, resulting in energy loss. Utility-scale systems, which tend to be mounted on the ground, also have land-intensive footprints. But with a bit of foresight, like the giant array mounted atop an old landfill on Fort Carson, their impact can be minimized.

Payback time for a system that provides 100 percent of an average Colorado home’s needs is five to eight years, after which all the electricity is free. For utility-scale systems that use ground-mounted arrays and newer cadmium-telluride thin-film PVs, payback can be less than a year.

So what’s next? Keep your eyes peeled on giant lithium-ion and similar batteries for your home or business, or perhaps even at the utility-scale. Such batteries have the potential to make PV-generated electricity dispatchable and predictable, just like oil-, gas-, and coal-fired power sources. The future might also include a return to homes that operate on DC, rather than AC. To step into this future, we’ll need to carefully manage our tangled electrical grid, to make sure that electrons from the sun are en route wherever and whenever needed. Microgrids, increasingly common in the Northeast and elsewhere, will almost certainly be part of that future.

And the fastest growing (pun intended) industry in Colorado? Marijuana is an electricity hog. But if it were to use LED lights fueled by rooftop PV panels, it could save money, help public health and the environment and grow even faster. Something to think about.

James Hagadorn, Ph.D., is a scientist at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Suggestions and comments are welcome at

Demons top Bulldogs

Opening up the 2016 season in style, the Glenwood Springs Demons’ boys soccer team picked up a 6-0 win over the Palisade Bulldogs, Saturday, on the road.

In the win, Miguel “Papas” Peralta, Clayton Horning and Finlay Roberts netted two goals each for Glenwood, which controlled the ball for a majority of the game to wear down the Bulldogs.

“It was a total team effort,” Glenwood Head Coach Wayne Smith said. “They played really well in the final third and set each other up well. They showed patience and waited for the right opportunities.”

Along with the high-powered attack, the Demons’ back line of Forest Walker, Alex Trejo, Jackson Cruz and Kai Uyehara stood tall for Glenwood.

Titans sweep Demons to start season

Getting some first-game jitters out of the way early, the Coal Ridge Titans’ girls volleyball team rolled to a season-opening sweep, Saturday, of the visiting Ridgway Demons by scores 24-14, 25-22 and 25-7 to move to 1-0 on the season.

Looking to defend their 3A Western Slope League regular season and district tournament titles, the Titans barely skipped a beat in Saturday’s matchup with the small 2A District 3 team as seniors Nicole Mooney, Kaitlyn Harlow and Dana Kotz led the way, while junior Cassie Greene and sophomore Kara Morgan chipped in on the outside, where the Titans dominated all game long.

“They did a good job of spreading it around,” Coal Ridge Head Coach Aimee Gerber said. “We’ve worked really hard on spreading it around knowing that outside is going to be key. We’ve worked hard on it and I was really happy with how well the girls played.”

Early in game one it was apparent that the Titans were figuring out a way to attack the Demons defense, resulting in a close game midway through with the Titans clinging to a 9-7 lead behind kills from Greene, Morgan and Harlow.

With the majority of the points coming from outside hitters, the Titans shifted their play to that area of the court, resulting in a quick 9-1 run as Morgan and Mooney took over on the outside, while junior Santana Martinez excelled at serving, picking up a big ace in the middle of the Coal Ridge run.

An ace and a kill from Harlow sealed the win in game one for the Titans.

From there, that’s where things got a bit testy for the experienced Coal Ridge squad.

Tied early on in game two at 7-7, the Titans pulled away for a 17-13 lead behind ace’s from Morgan and Mooney, along with kills from Greene, Mooney and Kotz, but that’s when the foot seemed to come off the gas for Coal Ridge.

Ridgway quickly took advance at tied it at 17-17 before later tying it again at 22-22, putting the second game in jeopardy for the Titans.

“We definitely started to play it safe,” Mooney said. “We weren’t really hitting the ball as hard as we could, so we weren’t getting as many kills and they were able to set up their offense and get kills against us. Fortunately were able to pick it up and get going again.”

Two straight kills from Mooney and a block from Kotz gave the Titans the close win in game two.

Behind the outside play to close the second game, Coal Ridge picked right back up where they left off in game three as the Titans raced out to an 8-3 lead behind a kill and an ace from Harlow, along with a kill and two aces from Mooney.

Coal Ridge eventually got out to a 20-6 lead to run away from the Demons for the dominant 25-7 win in game three, capping off the sweep.

“This definitely feels good to get the season off to a good start with a win,” Mooney said. “Especially with the new RPI system going into place this year. Our coaches preach that every point and every game counts, so it’s nice to get the season started off with a good win.”

In the win, Mooney led the way with 10 kills, while Greene and Harlow had nine and six kills apiece.

Morgan chipped in with four of her own.

Kotz added 29 assists, while Harlow tallied five blocks.

Martinez and junior Emily Wright tied for the team lead with nine digs each, while Martinez added four aces.

Mooney and Harlow chipped in with three aces each.

Despite the sweep of Ridgway, the Titans still have room to grow and improve according to Gerber, who enters her second season in charge of a terrific program.

“We just have to take it game-by-game,” Gerber said. “For us, it’s all about intensity, and I think that was there in the third game. There were some jitters today and we need to work on that and realize that we need to be as scrappy as the next team we play.”

The Titans will travel to Paonia, Sept. 6, for a matchup against the Eagles.

Letter: Waste Watch boosts safety

When most people see their waste and recycling being picked up, they rarely think here comes our local police backup. But local police now have backup in keeping our community safe as well as clean.

Waste Management drivers were trained on Aug. 23 to identify and report suspicious or criminal activity while on their routes. This program gives drivers an additional opportunity to serve our community by supporting first responders.

Lt. Chris Wurtsmith from the Carbondale Police Department and Kris Spilsbury from Waste Management corporate security trained all 20 local drivers through a program called Waste Watch.

Waste Management conducts 15-20 Waste Watch trainings each year across the United States and Canada.

“Drivers are encouraged to notice things such as open doors, suspicious activity or odd items,” says Spilsbury. “We hope our drivers can become an extra set of eyes and ears in the community”

Earlier this year, WM driver Jorge Carballo saved Pamela Paresky’s Aspen home from a gas leak. After hearing the hissing gas and smelling the leak, Carballo quickly notified officials who shut the gas off and saved the home.

“Their trucks are on our streets every day and their drivers are familiar with the routes, so they’re often the first ones to notice when something is going on” says Lt. Wurtsmith. “Training these drivers not only makes our community safer, but it makes us stronger.”

Enrico Dominguez

Communications specialist, Waste Management

Letter: How to steal a park, part II

Previously, I outlined the behind-the-scenes maneuvers used to make this theft of a park for a private profit center “legally” possible, now pretty much in place.

They had hoped to have the property completely cleared off to hand to the developer. The existing building razed and every mature tree cut down. Look at the picture they printed in the paper. Do you see any tree that’s there today? Best yet, this was all to be done with tax money and a grant.

Public money, folks, the same money that can be used to build a real park, not a private profit center with a park-like name. You, the public, were never supposed to see anything but a cleared-off space by the river and an enthusiastic editorial with a picture of a six-story apartment building ready to “make the most” of your park dilapidated sewage treatment plant property by selling to a developer. You wouldn’t have ever even known about the little bonus. If it’s such a great deal, why do the people have to kick in perhaps a million dollars to sweeten the pot?

Furthermore, there is an alternative proposal for an educational and learning center which would repurpose almost every structure on the property, saving several millions of dollar in new construction costs. This, to be owned by, and operated for, the benefit of the people.

Don’t believe their captive editor/spokesman when he tells you it can’t bring in the visitors and make money. Carefully, study the proposal at: and see for yourself. Then, listen to what local water groups are starting to say about the project. Then, get on the internet and see the amazing things that real confluence park projects are doing in communities around the nation, including Grand Junction.

Don’t let this self-serving cabal steal the park and the opportunity. Stop the willful vandalizing of this resource for private profit. Make City Council stop the destruction until the community has a fair look and a real vote.

R.W. Boyle

New Castle

Blackmon homers twice as Rox beat Nationals 9-4 in 11 innings

WASHINGTON — Even though the Colorado Rockies are all too accustomed to piecing together their lineup because of recent injuries, they were reminded Saturday what happens when their top players are healthy.

Back in the lineup together for the first time since Aug. 17, Charlie Blackmon, DJ LeMahieu and Carlos Gonzalez combined to drive in six runs on seven hits as the Rockies beat the Washington Nationals 9-4 in 11 innings. Blackmon hit two home runs and Gonzalez his 200th as Colorado snapped a four-game losing streak.

“There’s nothing like having your horses in there, and it changes the game when you’re at full strength,” manager Walt Weiss said.

NL MVP Bryce Harper was ejected in the 10th inning after getting called out on strikes. The Nationals star outfielder immediately yelled at plate umpire Mike Winters from close range and threw his helmet to the ground after being tossed.

“It just shouldn’t happen,” Harper said of Winters’ third-strike call. “Just bad behind there. It’s not a strike.”

After Jorge De La Rosa gave them five solid innings of three-run baseball with eight strikeouts, the Rockies went through plenty of twists and turns to win a game that took 4 hours, 49 minutes to play.

Colorado scored a run on a wild pitch during an intentional walk, lost the lead with two outs in the ninth on an RBI single by Jayson Werth off closer Adam Ottavino and roughed up Yusmeiro Petit (3-4) for five runs in the 11th.

With LeMahieu back after missing three games with a wrist injury, he and Blackmon combined to go 6 for 11 with three RBIs and four runs scored.

“We missed some guys earlier in the road trip,” said Blackmon, who has 23 home runs and five multihomer games. “It’s always a different lineup when DJ’s not in there, so to have him back was obviously a real good boost.”

LeMahieu went 3 for 5 to raise his average to .347 and pass the Nationals’ Daniel Murphy for the NL batting lead.

“This guy, he’s a professional hitter,” said Gonzalez, who hit his 24th home run of the season in the 11th off Petit. “He knows how to put great at-bats out there and give everybody an opportunity to drive in runs.”

Rifle man dies in crash on I-70

Matthew Day, 22, of Rifle, died Saturday morning in a one-vehicle crash on Interstate 70 east of Rifle, the Colorado State Patrol said..

The patrol said that a 2007 Toyota pickup was eastbound on I-70 near mile-marker 97 when it went off the right shoulder at about 8 a.m. Day attempted to steer back onto the roadway, but went across the lanes of traffic and into the median. The vehicle began to roll in the median, ejecting the driver. The pickup came to rest partially in the westbound lanes.

Day was declared dead on scene. The passenger, a 25-year-old male from Glenwood Springs, was checked for minor to moderate injuries and was not hospitalized, the patrol said.

Neither man was wearing a seat belt, and the patrol said alcohol was being investigated as a possible contributing factor.