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Montezuma County Implements Fire Ban After Sage Hen Wildfire

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A fire ban is in effect in the unincorporated areas of Montezuma County. The ban on open fires and fireworks was instituted Monday morning by the county commissioners following two wildfires over the past two weekends. The Sage Hen fire west of Dolores reportedly began Saturday as a controlled burn on private land and grew to about 175 acres, 16 of those on Forest Service land. The cost of fighting the blaze was estimated at $200,000, most of that to be paid by the Forest Service. A week ago, a 40-acre fire broke out near the county landfill, also human-caused. Cortez Fire Chief Jeff Vandevoorde says conditions are extremely dry and people need to use due caution.  Anyone violating the ban is subject to fines of up to $1,000 per offense.

The Montezuma County commissioners learned Monday that revenues from carbon-dioxide company Kinder Morgan will drop by nearly $2 million in 2016. Assessor Scott Davis said the company is producing about the same amount of CO2, but its value has plummeted because it is tied to oil prices. CO2 is used to pump the last dregs of oil out of depleted wells. Davis projected the county general fund will lose $1.27 million, the road and bridge department $320,000, Social Services almost $160,000, and the Law Enforcement Authority more than $147,000.

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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