w w w.cor tezjournal.com
Serving Cortez and Southwestern Colorado for more than a century.
July 3, 2012
VOL. 123, No. 040
n Second annual strongman competition set for next week.
n Cortez reader writes: Continued vigilance is a citizen’s responsibility.
n Local farmers show off produce to schools.
Weber Fire now in mop-up stage Federal team transfers command back to local organization Esc ar pmEnt Fir E
By KimBerly Benedict Journal Staff Writer Working with a target date of Thursday, July 5, for full containment, Weber Fire officials are in the mop-up stage of the 10,133acre blaze. The fire was sparked around 4:15 p.m. on Friday, June, 22 and spread quickly, driven by hot temperatures, unrelenting winds and dry fuels. Over the course of 10 days, 140 homes were placed under mandatory evacuation orders and 390 others were given a preevacuation notice. All evacuation orders were lifted Monday morning. After an initial assault by local firefighters, a federal incident management team was called in to manage the local fire. Now that
■ The Escarpment Fire burning south of Cortez on Ute Mountain Ute lands near Mesa Verde flared up Monday with live flames and smoke visible throughout the county. The fire was considered contained on Saturday evening after burning roughly 50 acres. Cortez Fire Protection District Chief Jeff Vandevoorde said a helicopter was dispatched to drop water on the fire, which is burning downhill. Vandevoorde said there are no immediate worries about the fire, which
is still considered to be contained. “Because of its location, it’s tough to get a hand crew up there,” Vandevoorde said. “It’s not endangering any houses, it is just flaring up a bit. There is no real urgency and it is contained in a good area.” Vandevoorde said flights will take place daily to monitor activity on the fire. Thursday’s Cortez Journal: A look at the ecology of fire and the rehabilitation process of the Weber Fire.
the fire is at 75 percent containment and officials are nearing full control, the federal Type 2 Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team C has transferred command of the fire back to a Type 3 organization. The transfer of management to the Type 3 organization is the natural result of the fire coming under control of the firefighting tech-
3 organization. Resource demands at other incidents around the country and financial considerations are also part of the equation when transferring from a federal team back to local control, La Price said. “No. 1, it saves on the overall cost of the fire,” he said. “The Type 3 organization costs less than the Type 2 team. The transfer also
niques employed over the past 10 days. Type 2 teams are pulled back from fires once the blaze reaches a point where local management teams can assume control. “As the fire gets into its later stages, the complexity of managing that fire really goes down,” said Eric La Price, public information officer with the Type 2 team. La Price will stay on to assist the Type
frees up the Type 2 team to respond to more complex fires and incidents that may occur.” Total cost-to-date of the Weber Fire is estimated at $3.2 million, according to the Montezuma County Sheriff’s Office. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has authorized use of federal
See weber on Page 8A
Pleasant View grocery store? Owners targeting mid-August for opening date
By KimBerly Benedict Journal Staff Writer
Sleeping Ute Mountain Motel owner Gene Baxstrom checks out the plans for south Broadway with Craig Glazier, the project engineer.
CDOT ready to begin work South Broadway work to run into December By michael maresh Journal Staff Writer
The U.S. 160/491 South Broadway Reconstruction Project beginning July 9 will bring in a lot of improvements once finished and a lot of community frustration while underway. Construction work between McElmo Road to the U.S. 160/491 intersection is expected to bring bumper to bumper traffic for the $4.8 million project, scheduled to be completed by Dec. 15. CDOT resident engineer Michael Coggins said the department and Lawson Construction will be working 24 hours a day
See cdot on Page 3A
Pleasant View residents in need of a gallon of milk or a loaf of bread will no longer have to make the long haul into Cortez to fill their pantry shelves. Allan and Elizabeth Bleak, owners of Pleasant View Vineyards, are remodeling a warehouse behind the Pleasant View post office to serve as the home of Pleasant View Mercantile, a small-town grocery store designed to provide a place for community, and necessities. “We want it to be a grocery store with dry goods and a deli, as well,” Elizabeth Bleak said. “Eventually it will have a little bit of everything, whatever the community needs.” The Bleaks decided to start the store partly out of concern for the community and partly out of a selfish desire to have a place to shop. “I have to make a 72-mile round trip any time I just need to get a gallon of milk,” Elizabeth said. “This is what we need here.” Bleak said she first began considering the idea of the grocery store shortly after she and Allan moved to the area in 2000. She discovered the post office was the place the community gathered, and while she enjoyed meeting other women at the facility, she just felt the community needed a different sort of space for gatherings. “We bought the post office building a few years after we moved here and set up our business in back,” Elizabeth said, referring the couple’s contracting business, Preferred Contracting and Consulting. “We just kept talking about what a great space it was and how it would work for a variety of purposes.” The 3,000-square-foot store will
ElizABEth BlEAk discusses the remodeling plans for the Pleasant View Mercantile. be equipped with a wall of refrigerator units, a walk-in cooler, normal shelving and a kitchen/prep area for deli sandwiches, breakfast burritos and other small food items. With red and white tiled floors, old-fashioned ceiling fans and wood details, the Bleaks hope to decorate the store with a Western theme and stay close to the roots of Pleasant View. “We want it to appeal to the history of the area and make it a destination just as much as a store,” Elizabeth said.” The Bleaks plan to make the market as locally focused as possible, and hope to contract with area producers to stock the shelves with local offerings. Elizabeth said
she also hopes to feature the work of local artists at the store. In addition to the commercial market, the store will also serve as the location for the local farmers market the Bleaks plan to host every Wednesday. “It is so much more than a store,” Elizabeth said. “It really is a place for the community to gather. We will have the farmers market and the elementary school can come here and the kids can see how the store operates and other people will gather here.” The Bleaks have grand plans for the store and the surrounding space. Elizabeth hopes to create a seating area near the post office, with a trellis and grapevines providing shade for those wanting to
catch up with friends. There is talk of opening a wine tasting room adjacent to the grocery store, and discussions of the possibility of offering diesel fuel and a water dock. “We just want to offer the community some of the things it needs,” Elizabeth said. Though most would say this isn’t the best time to jump into a start-up business, the Bleaks are confident the grocery store will be successful, if only by necessity. “It is a risk, and we have put a lot into it,” Elizabeth said. “But there are 1,600 people in a 10-mile radius of here and I’m sure they are all tired of driving so far just to get milk.” The Pleasant View Mercantile is scheduled to open by Aug. 15.
Bear management plans getting updated State officials looking for public input By KimBerly Benedict Journal Staff Writer Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials are revamping bear management plans for Southwest Colorado, and turning to members of the public for input on the process. Wildlife managers are rework-
ing plans for ursine populations in Dolores, La Plata, Montezuma, San Juan and San Miguel counties in an effort to provide better management for the ubiquitous mountain creatures. “A lot of the bear management plans are old and haven’t been updated in a while,” said parks and wildlife Area Wildlife Manager Patt Dorsey. “It was time to update those plans and look at our approach to bear management.” Dorsey said any time parks and wildlife officials work on new management plans, they strive to gather as much public comment as possible, in an effort to engage the public in decisions that im-
pact public lands. “Whenever we update management plans and set objectives for management, we like to involve the public,” Dorsey said. “We are trying to manage something that has different facets. One component is biological, but others are social and economical. We want to know what the people want. It is important to us and we know what we think the public wants, but sometimes the public surprises us.” Toward that end, officials are seeking public comments on human-bear conflict, bear interactions with urban populations, hunter input on license numbers
and anecdotal data on numbers and population growth or decline. As opposed to deer and elk populations, wildlife managers are still trying to put together a comprehensive picture of the health, and density, of the bear population in Southwest Colorado. “In the case of bears, they are a little bit harder to manage than elk and deer,” Dorsey said. “You can’t get in a helicopter and see the herd and know how many are male and female. There is a lot we don’t know right now and we are trying to use better tools in our management to evaluate what our populations are doing.”
One tool wildlife managers have utilized since 2006 is the collection of teeth from harvested bears each year. Hunters who harvest a bear must submit to mandatory checks at parks and wildlife offices. During such checks, a tooth is collected from the ursine, allowing researchers to gather information on the average age of bears harvested during a given hunting year. “Prior to having that tooth data, we didn’t really know how many mature bears versus really old versus young were being taken each year,” Dorsey said. “That has
See beArS on Page 8A