Craig briefs: Craig Rehabilitation Services now closed

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Craig Rehabilitation Services closed its doors earlier this week after a multiple-month search to find a replacement physical therapist to keep its operations going.

Rehab Services, located at 473 Yampa Ave., partially was owned by Jeff and Val Pleasant and the company Mountain Land Rehabilitation. When the Pleasants moved from Craig and Danny Foerster, the other therapist at Rehab Services, let Mountain Land Rehabilitation know he was planning on moving from the area, the company began a search for a replacement.

“We basically bought their ownership out and were anticipating being able to hire a therapist to continue with the operation,” said Mark Anderson, president of Mountain Land Rehabilitation. “We’ve had good experiences in Craig.”

The search lasted three months before Mountain Land Rehabilitation started informing patients and doctors that they would be closing their doors after failing to find a suitable candidate to come to Craig, Anderson said.

Centennial Home Help, which occupied the office space above Rehab Services, still is operating in a new location.

Anderson said he would “never say never” about the possibility of Rehab Services reopening in Craig because Mountain Land Rehabilitation still has a rehabilitation agency license for Colorado.

“It’s all about having a high-quality care provider,” he said.

Kids get free McDonald’s breakfast Wednesday

McDonald’s announced that it will be giving a free breakfast to kindergartners through eight-graders from 6 to 9 a.m. Wednesday. In an effort to help showcase the importance of a good breakfast for students, McDonald’s will provide a free Egg McMuffin or Egg White Delight McMuffin and milk or Minute Maid orange juice to children 15 and younger accompanied by a parent or guardian, according to a press release.

BLM reminds hunters to hunt responsibly

With the big game archery season opening this weekend and the rifle seasons just around the corner, Bureau of Land Management offices across Colorado have started receiving numerous calls from hunters with hunting access questions, according to a BLM press release.

More than 8 million acres of BLM land in Colorado are open to hunting, but there are a few things for hunters to understand about public access to BLM land.

■ First, BLM land is open to hunting, but you have to have legal access to hunt it. Legal access to most BLM land isn’t a problem. However, some public lands are surrounded completely by private land. If there is not legal access through that private land, such as a county road, you need permission to cross the private land. You are not guaranteed access, even though you are trying to reach public lands. It is your responsibility to know where you are, so use maps and GPS units. It is illegal to post BLM land as private land, but every year, a few people give it a try. If you suspect someone has posted public land as private, contact the local BLM office to clarify.

■ Outfitting is legal on BLM land as long as the outfitter is permitted through the local BLM office. Big-game hunting outfitters provide an important service that many hunters choose to use. Check with your outfitter or guide to ensure they are permitted for the area where you are hunting. The BLM issues Special Recreation Permits to outfitters on a case-by-case basis to manage visitor use and protect resources. The BLM typically limits the number of big-game outfitters permitted in a specific area to reduce conflicts, but these outfitter permits do not affect public access. Outfitters on public land do not receive “exclusive” use of public lands as they sometimes do on private lands. Call the local BLM office if you have questions about outfitting on public lands.

■ It is illegal to cross public land at corners. Some areas in the West are “checkerboarded” with public and private lands or otherwise have sections of public land that are difficult to reach. When the only place tracts of public land touch is at a corner, it may seem like a logical thing to step over the corner from one piece of public land to another. Every year, hunters armed with GPS units and maps give it a try. Unfortunately, it is illegal to cross at boundary corners.

■ Keep motorized vehicles on existing or designated roads. This includes retrieving downed game. Rules for motorized travel vary by office, and many offices either are updating or recently have updated their travel management plans. It’s best to contact the local office where you are planning to hunt to find out what is permitted.

■ Be sure to check with your local BLM office every year before hunting. Things like fire restrictions, road closures and rule changes can vary each year. The best way to make sure you know the latest to avoid disappointment or a citation is to check in with the local BLM office. Each office manages hundreds of thousands of acres, so be specific about where you are planning to go. You can find the local office you need by logging on to www.blm.gov/co.

Take precautions with off-highway vehicles

A recent accident on a back road in Montezuma County serves as a reminder to drivers of off-highway vehicles to be extra careful, according to officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

The man operating the OHV was driving on a dirt road in the San Juan National Forest that is open to OHV travel. He drove into the oncoming lane at a blind curve and collided with a car. The man swerved to avoid a head-on collision but was ejected from the OHV hit the windshield of the car, and sustained two broken toes and plenty of serious scrapes and bruises. He was transported to a local hospital, where he was treated.

The man driving the OHV was ticketed and fined $75. In Colorado, from 1982 through 2011, the Colorado State Patrol reports that 157 people were killed in OHV-related accidents — including 26 children younger than 16. Nationally, from 1982 to 2010, 11,000 people died in OHV accidents, 25 percent of them younger than 16.

OHVs can carry a lot of speed, but they’re also light, narrow and have a short wheelbase. So they are not as stable as regular vehicles on rough roads and trails where an operator might drive over boulders, rocks and tree roots. Even dirt roads in washboard condition present hazards to OHV drivers.

Even though there are no regulations governing how many people can ride on an OHV, passengers often interfere with the driver. Drivers can be ticketed in those situations.

On trails, OHV drivers should be extra careful if they see horses approaching. Some horses spook easily if they see something they don’t recognize. It is recommended that drivers pull off the trail, then get off the vehicle to allow a horse to recognize a human form.

Reporting of OHV accidents is required by Colorado law. Any crash that cause injuries resulting in hospitalization or death or more than $1,500 in damage to a vehicle must be reported “by the quickest available means of communication” to a local law enforcement agency. The operator involved in the accident or someone acting on his or her behalf also must submit a written report about the accident to Colorado Parks and Wildlife within 48 hours. The report must be compiled on the form available at the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website.

To learn more about OHVs safety and regulations, visit the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website at www.parks.state.co.us and click on “OHVs & Snowmobiles.”

Crane festival comes to Northwest Colorado

The second annual Yampa Valley Crane Festival takes place in Steamboat Springs, Hayden and Craig from Friday through Sept. 9, featuring crane viewing sessions, expert speakers, films, family activities, a crane art show and more. All scheduled events are open to the public and free.

A highlight of the festival will be the talks given by three crane experts. Internationally renowned conservation photographer Michael Forsberg will present a slideshow and talk entitled “From Cranes to Plains — A Photographer’s Journey Connecting the Heart of a Continent.” Wildlife biologist Rod Drewien, considered the world’s expert on the Rocky Mountain greater sandhill crane population, will focus on his work throughout the years with this subspecies. An update on the white-naped crane conservation project in Mongolia will be presented by U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region Avian Program Coordinator Robert Skorkowsky.

Additional festival highlights include guided bird/nature walks in some of the Yampa Valley’s most magnificent settings, children and family activities, a crane art show at the Depot Art Center that opens during the First Friday Artwalk in Steamboat Springs and daily guided crane viewing opportunities across the valley.

A new pre-festival event is planned this year for Craig. At sunset Wednesday, the public is invited to view sandhill cranes at a site to be announced in the Craig area. Yampa Valley Birding Club members will be available to answer questions, present fact sheets on cranes and provide spotting scopes for crane viewing. The exact time and location will be posted on the Yampa Valley Crane Festival website at www.coloradocranes.org just before the event.

Sandhill cranes are an iconic species of the Yampa Valley and Northwest Colorado. For years, a group of enthusiastic birders and nature lovers has gathered each fall at a small ranch near Hayden to watch the cranes — including the adults and their young — forage for food, dance in the fields and practice flying in anticipation of their grand migration south to warmer wintering territory. The sights and sounds of these birds on their fall staging ground in the Yampa Valley led some to dream about an event in which locals and tourists would gather together to learn about this population of cranes and to celebrate their presence in Northwest Colorado.

Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition is dedicated to the conservation and protection of Sandhill Cranes in Colorado. The Yampa Valley Crane Festival is presented by the CCCC with help from partners including the Bud Werner Memorial Library, The Nature Conservancy, Yampa Valley Land Trust, Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the U.S. Forest Service, Yampatika and many other local businesses and organizations.

For more information about the Yampa Valley Crane Festival’s daily schedule of festival events, visit www.coloradocranes.org.

Bird walk area open year-round by Hayden

The 921-acre Carpenter Ranch, located 3 miles east of downtown Hayden, is one of two local The Nature Conservancy areas in Colorado and designated as Important Bird Areas by the National Audubon Society. The other site near Hayden is the 329-acre Yampa River Preserve that is open to the public year-round for birding, fishing and hiking. The preserve includes one of the largest remaining examples of a rare riparian forest dominated by narrow leaf cottonwood, box elder and red osier dogwood, according to The Nature Conservancy.

For questions about the birding walks, contact Betsy Blakeslee, Carpenter Ranch facilities manager, at 970-276-4626. More information about Carpenter Ranch and the Yampa River Preserve can be found by searching The Nature Conservancy website at www.nature.org.

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