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REGIONAL NEWS ROUNDUP (and other items of interest)

Expanded Motorized Routes Challenged

DENVER – Five environmental group are suing the U.S. Forest Service alleging that by approving expanded motor vehicle routes in the forest, it violated several federal laws.

The group would like to remove 500 miles of expanded motor vehicle routes in the Pike and San Isabel National Forests.

The expanded routes are being challenged as “unauthorized and unanalyzed” by the Center for Native Ecosystems of Denver, the Wildlands CPR of Montana, the Wilderness Society, the Quiet Use Coalition and the Great Old Broads for Wilderness, according to a Mountain Mail article.

According to the lawsuit, the expansion allows for “motor vehicle travel on approximately 500 miles of routes that have never been designated” in previous travel management plans. The groups are seeking an injunction to halt the forest service from initiating the expansion on routes that have not been analyzed under the Environmental Policy Act.

A courtroom proceeding and conference on the lawsuit are scheduled for May 4.


Redistricting Hearings Held

ALAMOSA – Hearings were conducted in March to determine the feasibility of redrawing congressional district lines in Colorado.

In a rare sign of bipartisanship, both Republicans and Democrats are discussing the possibility of returning Chaffee County to the 3rd District from the 5th.

A Joint Select Committee on Redistricting was formed with five Republicans and five Democrats to hold public hearings statewide on the issue.

Spokespersons for both parties spoke in support of moving the district back to the 3rd District where it was before the 2000 census. The consensus was that the 3rd District is more in line with the rural and recreational nature than the 5th which includes El Paso County and Colorado Springs.

Colorado District 3 currently includes Gunnison, Alamosa, Durango, Pueblo and Grand Junction among others.


Leadville Woman Sentenced for Aiding Terrorists

PHILADELPHIA – A Leadville woman has pleaded guilty of providing material support to al-Qaida during a federal court hearing held in Philadelphia, Pa.

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, dubbed “Jihad Jamie” may spend as much as 15 years in prison for conspiring to aid foreign terrorists who wanted to kill a Swedish cartoonist whose derogatory depiction of the prophet Mohammed lead to protests and death threats.

The 32-year-old Ramirez was indicted in 2009 on four courts, including conspiring to support terrorists and kill someone overseas.

Her six-year-old son was returned to Leadville to be placed in custody of his grandmother.


Mining Company Seeking “Rare Earth”

GUNNISON – A mining company is looking at a site in Gunnison County for its potential for “rare earth” metals according to the Gunnison Country Times.

Colorado Rare Earths has staked claims around Iron Hill near Powderhorn and hopes to begin exploration in the spring. The area has been under exploration in the past for its titanium reserves but company spokesmen claim they are seeking “heavy” rare earths which are used in the production of products such as solar panels and wind turbines as well as bombs and missiles.

Currently there are no rare earth mines in the U.S. The company planned to submit a plan of operation to the Bureau of Land Management by the end of March.


Salida Schools to Move to Four Days

SALIDA – The Salida School Board has voted to approve a four-day week for the 2011-12 school year in an effort to cut costs, according to the Mountain Mail. Members plan to solicit community input to determine whether to cut Fridays or Mondays.

The change would tentatively extend from the school session from Aug. 23 through May 25 with a school day schedule from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.. Tests have shown no negative impacts of the shorter schedule.


Versus to Televise Rac
The Quiznos Pro Challenge race, scheduled for August in Colorado will be televised by Versus, considered the top cycling TV network in the world. The international race, featuring some of the top pro racers in the world, will begin in Salida.