North Colorado secession: ‘It’d be better if the Front Range just left Colorado’ — Tom Mathers

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From the Craig Daily Press (Erin Fenner):

“It’d be better if the Front Range just left Colorado,” Mathers said. “If we had a governor that was actually a governor and not a mayor of Denver — of the Front Range — then this secession wouldn’t be happening.”

Frank Moe, who is running for Mathers’ soon-to-be-open seat, said Moffat County has been neglected by the Democrat-dominated state Legislature. “The state left us,” he said, “not the other way around.”

The 51st State Initiative made headlines when five counties in eastern Colorado approved putting the question of secession to voters.

“The goal is to form a 51st state,” said Jeffrey Hare, executive director of the 51st State Initiative. “The net result would be a state that better reflects the values of those outside the Denver/Boulder corridor.”

Kinkaid said Moffat County, under the referendum, would either join up with the 51st state or maybe become part of Wyoming. “It’s not just making a statement but initiating a process to change the way decisions are being made that affect the entire state,” he said.

Another solution, he said, would be to give each county its own state senator. “It would be a stretch to give each county a senator, but it would be a compromise,” Kinkaid said.

From KUNC (Grace Hood):

The movement for forming a 51st state has been moving forward with seven counties so far in eastern Colorado having decided to put the question in front of local voters.

The Denver Post reports that both Logan and Washington county commissioners voted Tuesday to put a secession question on the November ballot. They join Phillips, Cheyenne, Yuma and Sedgwick which have already passed ballot issues.

Meantime, Weld County Commissioners voted Monday to put the question on the ballot.

Kit Carson County Commissioners are expected to vote on the topic Wednesday.

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

Two more counties are officially on board for the 51st state ballot initiative, meaning just two of the nine counties involved have yet to vote. Logan and Washington county commissioners on Monday approved ballot language asking their residents if they would like to secede from Colorado and become their own state.

Kit Carson County commissioners will vote on the measure on Wednesday, and Morgan County commissioners have said they will only place it on the ballot if 15 percent of their voters petition for it.

Weld County commissioners on Monday unanimously voted to put the question on their ballot. “Now it’s in the people’s hands,” said Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway at their meeting.

Phillips County followed suit on Monday afternoon and voted in favor of the measure. Sedgwick, Cheyenne and Yuma counties voted to place the language on their ballots last week.

Leaders in the nine northeastern counties say they feel disconnected and disenfranchised at the state Capitol. They say their rural way of life has been under attack and their voices have not been heard in the past several legislative sessions.

If voters approve the initiative, it would go before the state Legislature and the U.S. Congress.

From The Greeley Tribune (Analisa Romano):

Finishing their comments with a quote by Gandhi and one of Barack Obama’s campaign slogans, Weld County commissioners on Monday voted to place the 51st state initiative on the November ballot. “Si se puede — yes, we can,” said Weld County Commission Chairman Bill Garcia just before commissioners unanimously approved ballot language asking Weld residents if they would like to secede from Colorado and form a new state. Obama used that slogan in his presidential campaign.

“Now it’s in the people’s hands,” Weld County commissioner Sean Conway said after reading a quote he found by spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi over the weekend — “First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.”

Echoing sentiments of a rural-urban disconnect at the state Capitol, commissioners said they received overwhelming support to secede from Colorado at public hearings in Fort Lupton, Longmont, Evans and Ault. “Frankly, I don’t think they share our vision, and they don’t share our morals,” Weld County Commissioner Doug Rademacher said of Denver-metro area lawmakers. Commissioners said legislation passed this year is harmful to the county’s agriculture and oil and gas industries.

Weld was the fourth county involved in the 51st state initiative to vote in favor of the ballot language, followed closely by Phillips County commissioners, who voted in favor of the measure on Monday afternoon.

Sedgwick, Cheyenne and Yuma counties have already placed the language on their ballots. Washington and Logan county commissioners are slated to vote on Tuesday and Kit Carson commissioners will vote on Wednesday. Morgan County commissioners are waiting for a citizen petition that includes 15 percent of their registered voters before moving forward with the initiative.

Rademacher said he expects the initiative to pass 60 to 40 percent when it’s put to Weld County voters this fall.

Weld County Clerk and Recorder Steve Moreno said adding the measure to the ballot won’t be an additional cost to the county because the county foots the bill for elections anyway. He said the cost depends on how many municipalities are holding local elections that year, in which case the county is reimbursed by entities coordinating with Weld.

Commissioners voted on the ballot language in a resolution, but opened the floor for public comment anyway.

“Some folks think that this is a fairly radical idea, they call secession very radical,” said Jeffrey Hare, who founded the 51st State Initiative Facebook page, which has garnered more than 11,000 likes. “I would argue that this is not radical, but it is something that our framers envisioned.”

Only two other people spoke before commissioners voted, one in favor and one against the initiative. “I hope that there will be a resounding defeat of this absurd proposal,” said Vicki J. Anderson, a Greeley resident.

Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said the board has been personally attacked since they introduced the initiative — they were called petulant, stupid crybabies, emotional and immature — and spoke directly in response to an editorial that ran in the Tribune, saying she disagrees that the initiative that is a waste of time and energy.

Kirkmeyer said she feels she and the board made an effort to establish a dialogue with a number of state lawmakers and officials about the issues facing Weld and other rural counties, but their efforts were “to no avail.”

Conway likened the secession proposal to an initiative in the mid-1970s to turn Weld into a home rule county, which gives commissioners local control over unincorporated areas instead of the state. He said residents called that initiative crazy, and it took three tries before it got on the ballot.

As a home rule county now, Weld has no short- or long-term debt, no sales tax and a $100 million reserve fund, Conway said.

“What did we learn from that example?” he said.

From The Denver Post (By Monte Whaley/Katharina Buchholz) Sterling Journal-Advocate:

The Logan County Commissioners voted today to join a growing list of northeastern Colorado counties getting serious about secession.

Prior to their vote, the commissioners of Weld and Phillips counties voted Monday to place a question on the fall ballot asking voters if they wish to divorce Colorado and create a 51st state.

Weld County Commissioner Sean Conway predicted secession will pass in his county on a 60-40 vote. He quoted Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi, who helped overthrow British rule, and warned others not to be dismissive of the movement. “‘First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win,'” Conway said.

Commissioners in 10 northeastern counties have been considering a breakaway since the end of the legislative session — a lawmaking season they said was the last straw after years of frustration over dealing with Denver-area lawmakers’ perceived indifference toward the concerns of rural Colorado.

Bills were passed at the expense of farmers, oil and gas producers and gun owners, Weld Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer said. “I know from meeting with people, they truly believe rural communities are now under attack,” Kirkmeyer said. “There are plenty who told us that we should vote Denver and Boulder off the island.”

Yuma, Cheyenne and Sedgwick counties already have OK’d secession ballot questions. Washington county commissioners also were slated to vote on the issue today, and Kit Carson County will take it up Wednesday.

Morgan County has set an Aug. 26 deadline for signatures to be submitted to place the question on the fall ballot. Lincoln County officials are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Four public meetings with Weld County residents this summer convinced the commissioners secession is in order.

“They want change,” commission Chairman Bill Garcia said. “They want to be heard. Policies being passed by the Legislature in Denver are having negative impacts on the lives of rural Coloradans.”

If voters do go for it, forming a 51st state will face huge obstacles, including approval in the Legislature and Congress, said state Sen. Greg Brophy, R-Wray, who is running for governor against Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Still, positive votes for the measure will send a message that rural Coloradans are tired of being overlooked, Brophy said. “It will tell the governor that he has a huge problem with people in the northern part of the state,” he said.

Weld County resident Vicki Anderson told commissioners she also wants the question on the ballot, but only in hopes that “it is resoundingly defeated for this absurd notion.”

From the Sterling Journal-Advocate (Callie Jones):

Come this November, Logan County voters will have a chance to give their input on whether or not several counties in northeastern Colorado should secede and form the nation’s 51st state. During their business meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners approved a resolution submitting to a vote of the registered electors in Logan County, the question of whether to pursue a 51st state.

The question on the ballot will ask “shall the Board of County Commissioners of Logan County, in concert with the county commissioners of other Colorado counties, pursue becoming the 51st state of the United States of America?”

Weld, Phillips, Sedgwick, Cheyenne and Yuma Counties have already OK’d secession ballot questions. Kit Carson will take up the issue today.

Morgan County has set an Aug. 26 deadline for signatures to be submitted to place the question on the fall ballot and Lincoln County officials are taking a wait-and-see approach.

Moffat County, in northwestern Colorado, is also looking at placing a question on the ballot.

The resolution passed by the Logan County Commissioners states that “the citizens of several rural eastern Colorado counties have voiced extreme dissatisfaction with the current political landscape at the state level and the passage of laws that conflict with the interests, convictions and lifestyles of rural citizens.”

It goes on to say that the commissioners have been “in communication with the county commissioners of at least nine other eastern Colorado counties who, in concert with each other and on behalf of their constituents, have discussed the creation of a 51st state.”

According to the resolution, “public meetings have been held in several eastern Colorado counties to discuss the creation of a new state to more effectively represent the interests and convictions of rural Colorado, and there is strong public support for the opportunity for citizens to voice their wishes in the matter by submitting the question to the electorate.”

The new state would need to be approved by the state legislature, the governor and the U.S. Congress.

More North Colorado secession coverage here.

‘Glen Canyon Dam has fundamentally altered downstream ecosystems in the #ColoradoRiver’ — Bob Berwyn

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From the Summit County Citizens Voice (Bob Berwyn):

..an in-depth three-year study done as part of the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Program offers a stark reminder of the changes wrought by drastically altering the river’s hydrological regime.
The study used food webs to feeding relationships. According to a press release about the study, scientists can predict how plants and animals living in an ecosystem will respond to change by describing the structure of these webs.

“Given the degraded state of the world’s rivers, insight into food webs is essential to conserving endangered animals, improving water quality, and managing productive fisheries,” said study oauthor Dr. Emma Rosi-Marshall, an aquatic ecologist at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies.

“Glen Canyon Dam has transformed the ecology of the Colorado River,” said lead author Dr. Wyatt Cross, of Montana State University. “Immediately downstream, cold, low-sediment waters have favored exotic plants and animals that haven’t co-evolved with native species. We now see reduced biodiversity and novel species interactions that have led to the instability of these river food webs.”

Near Glen Canyon Dam, the researchers found food webs dominated by invasive New Zealand mud snails and non-native rainbow trout, with large mismatches in the food web and only a small percentage of available invertebrates eaten by fish. In contrast, downstream food webs had more native fish species, and fewer invertebrates that were more efficiently consumed by fish, including a federally-listed endangered species, the humpback chub.

In March of 2008, the Department of Interior conducted an experiment that simulated pre-dam flood conditions, providing an opportunity to see how high flows affected food webs with very different characteristics.

“Food web stability increased with distance from Glen Canyon Dam, with downstream sites near tributaries proving the most resistant. At these locations, the flood didn’t cause major changes in the structure of food webs or the productivity of species,” said Rosi-Marshall.

Near the dam, the story was quite different.

“These energy inefficient, simplified food webs experienced a major restructuring following the experimental flood,” said co-author Dr. Colden Baxter, an aquatic ecologist with Idaho State University. “New Zealand mudsnails were drastically reduced. And changes in algal communities led to a rise in midges and blackflies — favored foods of trout — resulting in a near tripling of non-native rainbow trout numbers,” he said.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.

Weekly Climate, Water and Drought Assessment of the Upper Colorado River Basin #ColoradoRiver

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No one is ready to declare Colorado’s drought over but things have improved over a lot of the state. Click on the thumbnail graphic for the water year 2013 precipitation as a percent of normal map of the Upper Colorado River Basin from the Colorado Climate Center. Click here to go to their webpage for the drought discussion. Click here for the current assessment.

More Colorado River Basin coverage here and here.