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December 20, 2013
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Ag Notebook: Boulder County, Colo., Youth Win National Arabian Horse Judging Contest; Watershed protection pushed

Boulder County, Colo., Youth Win National Arabian Horse Judging Contest

Boulder County 4-H Horse Judging Team members — making up the Junior Colorado Arabian Horse Club Youth Horse Judging Team — were named champions at the Arabian Horse Association National Youth Horse Judging Contest in Tulsa, Okla.

As champion team members, each individual on the team received a $250 scholarship and a Montana Silversmith trophy belt buckle from the Arabian Horse Association.

Team members were: Madison Zeier, Madison McKenzie, Ashley Doolittle and Emily Kingston.

The group was first in team halter, first in team performance and first in team reasons.

Overall, Madison Zeier placed as the high individual of the contest, receiving an additional $750 scholarship and a Dale Chavez Western trophy saddle.

Madison McKenzie was the second-high individual, receiving an additional $500 scholarship and a Dale Chavez Western show headstall. Ashley Doolittle was fifth-high individual and Emily Kingston was eighth.

Watershed protection pushed

Fires and floods have emphasized the need to protect watersheds in Colorado and should be incorporated into state water planning.

The Arkansas Basin Roundtable, which is drafting its piece of the state water plan, discussed how to evaluate which watersheds are most critical and how to prevent damage from drought, insects and fire at its meeting Wednesday.

“The question we’re trying to answer is how do you expedite permitting and how do you come up with a common technical platform,” said Gary Barber, chairman of the roundtable.

Forest fires in the last two years have damaged critical watersheds in the Colorado Springs, Canon City and Walsenburg areas. Grassland fires have created other problems in the Lower Arkansas Valley as well.

Fires increase the severity of flooding and increase levels of contaminants in the water.

Some watersheds may deserve higher priority because cities and farms rely on them for water supply, he said.

Barber suggested the roundtable use the same sort of method it employed for recreation and environmental uses by breaking the watershed into small units and analyzing each.

Using watershed models also would help in protecting from threats that arise in other basins, such as fires that top a ridge or spruce beetles that are blown by winds from one area to another.

Delays on long-awaited reports for Pavilion-area groundwater angers landowners

State officials said Tuesday two reports in the Pavillion area groundwater investigation would be delayed until early 2014, further angering landowners who have for years complained nearby natural gas operations contaminated their water wells. A third report will likely be delayed until after September, the initial deadline set for that study by the state, they said.

Those comments were delivered at a meeting of the Pavillion Working Group in Riverton and come after repeated delays in a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency investigation into potential water pollution. The EPA halted its study in June following a controversy over the agency preliminary finding that gas operations polluted water supplies in the area. The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission were tasked with completing the investigation, of which Tuesday’s meeting was a part.

Jeff Locker, a Pavillion area farmer who claims gas operations contaminated his water, said his wife and him are consulting legal counsel about the possibility of suing Encana Corp., the Canadian company that owns and operates the 130-well gas field east of Pavillion.

Their views were hardly universal, though.

The state investigation is making good progress, said Jon Martin, a local landowner who believes the link between gas operations and groundwater contamination is false. He described Tuesday’s meeting as “positive,” saying it cleared up residents’ questions about the investigation’s process and installment of cisterns for domestic water supplies.

Greeley residents get gift of holiday beans from Young Farmers

For the 22nd year in a row, the St. Vrain Valley Young Farmers Association is making sure the 108 families at the Island Grove Village Apartments in Greeley, Colo., have food to eat through the holiday season.

Each year, the group provides enough 20-pound bags of pinto beans for each family to take one home. On Friday, families came through the apartment complex’s office to pick up their bag of beans and bags of candy for the kids.

“I appreciate it dearly,” said Island Grove Village resident Crystal Ramirez, who has been a resident at the complex for a year. “It’s great these people are willing to give us a hand.”

The St. Vrain Valley Young Farmers Association provides the $1,600 worth of beans each year, with help from Northern Food and Bean, Teasdale Foods and Twin Peaks Seed and Grain.

“This is such a great thing for us to be able to do every year,” St. Vrain Valley Young Farmers Association advisor Steve Coleman said. “In a lot of ways, it makes Christmas and the holiday season even more special for all of us.”

Federal crews round up bison at Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge

There’s still no home for some of the bison that must be culled from the growing herd on a federal refuge north of Denver, and herd managers Tuesday had their hands full rounding them up into a circular corral

“Bison are a different kind of animal. These are wild. They don’t behave like cattle,” said Dave Lucas, manager of the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, as he looked down from a 12-foot elevated catwalk. “No human is getting down in there with these bison.”

A crew of 40 staffers and biologists — using native prairie grass and water as enticement — coaxed bison into a fenced area and chutes.

After blood tests, checking identity chips and plucking tail hairs for genetic testing, federal biologists are tasked with must decide which 27 bison must be cut from the arsenal herd of 87 — to avoid degrading the prairie.

Some may have to be killed.

Arsenal refuge managers have discussed holding the rest of the bison culled from their herd through January if necessary.

This week’s round-up and culling is seen as necessary intervention because the bison are multiplying too fast. The federal biologists say they must reduce the herd to 60 bison for now to avoid exhausting the prairie, where the bison roam across a 2,600-acre fenced area.


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