KSJD Newscast - September 18th, 2015

Sep 18, 2015
  • Semi truck driver who ran into a gas pump and sparked a fire in Cortez has been found.
  • Montezuma County commissioners set to meet with Bureau of Land Management on Monday to discuss the Master Leasing Plan.
  • Homeless man amasses 8,500 pounds of debris in an illegal camp in the Uncompahgre National Forest.
  • DOJ and the DOI announce $940 million settlement with American Indian tribes.

A semi driver who reportedly ran into a gas pump and sparked a fire at the Alon convenience store in Cortez Tuesday, then fled, has been found. Cortez Police Chief Roy Lane says the Florida man, a commercial driver, was contacted in Salt Lake City and has promised to return to Cortez to speak with police. Lane says the man has stated that he didn’t realize he had struck anything; however, police are skeptical because he left part of his trailer at the scene. If the man fails to return to Cortez, a warrant will be sought for his arrest.

The Montezuma County commissioners are set to meet with the Bureau of Land Management Monday afternoon at 2:30 to discuss the BLM’s process for creating a Master Leasing Plan for public lands between Mesa Verde National Park and western La Plata County. The plan is designed to guide oil and gas development with an eye to protecting views, night skies, and air and water quality. The commissioners have voiced skepticism that such a plan is needed.

In other public-lands news, a homeless man who amassed some 8 thousand 500 pounds of debris in a camp in the Uncompahgre National Forest has been sentenced to six months in federal prison following a one-day bench trial before a U.S. magistrate in Durango. According to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, 41-year-old Benjamin Yoho was convicted and sentenced this week on three charges related to his illegal six-month stay in the forest near Telluride. A youtube video of the trash-strewn camp posted by San Miguel County Sheriff Bill Masters had drawn widespread attention. Forty-eight volunteers and a helicopter were required to remove the litter, much of which came from a “free box” in Telluride. Yoho has been recommended to receive mental health treatment while in prison.

And the U.S. Department of Justice and the Interior Department have announced a proposed $940 million settlement with hundreds of American Indian tribes. If approved by a federal district court, the settlement would resolve a 25-year-long legal dispute over funding the U.S. government provided for operating tribal programs. The settlement, which was filed Wednesday in U.S. District court in Albuquerque, will affect some 640 federally recognized tribes if approved.