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Local News Briefs

U.S. senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet announced Monday that they are leading a bipartisan group of Western senators in urging the U.S. Forest Service to treat the bark beetle epidemic ravaging the forests of Colorado and other states as a national emergency.

In a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, the senators asked him to rededicate an additional $49 million in existing funds to clear dead trees and perform other work to reduce the threat posed by the bark beetle in USFS Region 2, which includes the White River National Forest in Colorado, and other forests in Wyoming, South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska.

The senators’ request comes on the heels of major fires on Colorado’s Front Range and as another fire burns in Grand County, an area hard-hit by the bark beetle.

“The bark beetle has created a national emergency, and work to protect public safety, infrastructure and human lives should be funded as such,” the senators wrote. “Therefore, we encourage the USFS to supplement Region 2 funding to adequately address this disaster, which is decimating the West.”

Last year, the senators successfully convinced Secretary Vilsack to release $40 million in existing funds to address bark beetle damage in Region 2. Of that, $30 million was re-dedicated to do work in three national forests in Colorado: White River, Medicine Bow and Routt, and Arapaho and Roosevelt. The Forest Service is now in the process of beginning that work.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is extending the comment period for anglers interested in future fisheries management at Rifle Gap and Harvey Gap reservoirs in Garfield County of northwestern Colorado. The new deadline for comments is Oct. 29.

A public meeting was initially held on Tuesday, Aug. 31, in Rifle to present and discuss the existing fisheries as well as alternatives for future fisheries management at both reservoirs.

Three alternatives regarding future fish management for each reservoir were proposed to the public.

Those interested in providing written comments can fill out the public comment form and send it to: Lori Martin/Brian Gray, CDOW, 711 Independent Ave., Grand Junction, CO 81505. Questions can be e-mailed to lori.martin@state.co.us or brian.gray@state.co.us. Call (970) 255-6100 for more information.

As we all know, Colorado is arid country, where water is more valuable than gold. This talk looks at the history of water development in Colorado, particularly the many transmountain diversions and the impacts they have had on the Colorado River headwaters, including the Roaring Fork watershed.

Ken Neubecker presents this program during Colorado River Month on behalf of Roaring Fork Conservancy. The talk is free and open to the public, and takes place 7-8 p.m. Thursday at the Cardiff School House in Glenwood Springs.

For more information please visit http://www.roaringfork.org/coloradoriver, or call 927-1290. Other upcoming programs include:

Oct. 18, 6 p.m., Basalt Regional Library, Basalt

Oct. 21, 5:30 p.m. Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Aspen

Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m. Colorado Mountain College, Lappala Center, Carbondale

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