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KSJD Newscast - September 24th, 2015

  • Decision by Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to hold off reopening two grazing allotments has Montezuma County commissioners concerned.
  • Hazardous-materials unit responds to a two-vehicle crash on Highway 491 near Towaoc.

A decision by Canyons of the Ancients National Monument to hold off on reopening two grazing allotments has the Montezuma County commissioners concerned. On Monday, they learned from BLM Tres Rios Field Office Manager Connie Clementson that, because of protests, the agency will not move forward yet with its proposed decision to issue 10-year grazing leases for the monument’s Flodine and Yellow Jacket allotments, which have not been grazed since 2005. Advocates for the West, which protested the proposal on behalf of a number of environmental groups, claims on its web site that before 2005, “these allotments had a history of livestock-induced violations of key standards that protect soil, water, plant, wildlife, and other resources.” Clementson told the commissioners the BLM will now conduct an environmental assessment of the proposed leases. Commission chairman Keenan Ertel said the reversal is an example of the BLM doing what it wants without regard to the county’s needs, but Clementson said it appears the county and the agency have more to talk about than can be discussed in their regular 20-minute meetings once a month, and suggested they get together for longer work sessions.

In other news, a hazardous-materials unit had to respond to a two-vehicle crash on Highway 491 near Towaoc late Wednesday night. Cortez Fire Chief Jeff Vandervoorde says a man and woman in a pickup and hauling an empty horse trailer were trying to turn left from Mike Wash Road onto the highway when the man mistakenly thought he was on the wrong side of the median, attempted a U-turn, and was broadsided by a semi. The semi driver was unhurt, but the man and woman were taken to Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez. There was no word on their condition. A hundred gallons of diesel reportedly spilled from the semi and had to be cleaned up.

Gail Binkly is a career journalist who has worked for the Colorado Springs Gazette and Cortez Journal. She is currently a freelance writer as well as the editor of the Four Corners Free Press, based in Cortez.
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