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Craig man runs, gets arrested during traffic stop: On the Record — July 12 to 15

Craig Police Department 

Friday, July 12 

4:19 a.m. On the 900 block of Industrial Avenue, police in Craig responded to a state parks related incident. Craig police said someone was looking around a business with flashlights, but police found the business secure and no crime had been committed. 

1:12 p.m. On the 300 block of West Victory Way, police in Craig responded to a traffic stop. A traffic stop led to the arrest of a 74-year-old Craig man on an outside warrant. 

3:40 p.m. On the 2000 block of Baker Drive, police in Craig responded to a trespass call. A caller reported they wanted another party issued a trespass warning. 

10:17 p.m. Near the intersection of East Seventh Street and Lincoln Street, police in Craig responded to a traffic stop. A 38-year-old Craig woman was arrested on charges of driving under restraint, invalid registration, no insurance, an equipment violation, and an outside warrant.

According to the Craig Police Department incident log, police in Craig responded to 49 calls for service Friday.

Saturday, July 13

3:36 a.m. At the Hatten Car Wash, police in Craig responded to a suspicious person/vehicle/article call. Craig police said there are possible pending drug charges related to this incident. 

6:55 a.m. Near U.S. Highway 40, police in Craig responded to an agency assist call. Craig police said they assisted Colorado State Patrol in a car versus elk accident. 

9:37 a.m. At the Craig Chamber of Commerce, police in Craig responded to an animal complaint. Craig police said they issued a citation to a dog owner on charges of vicious dog and dog-at-large after the animal allegedly bit someone. 

12:23 p.m. On the 700 block of School Street, police in Craig responded to a burglary call. A caller reported a suspicious party outside a residence. Police said they found 21-year-old Craig woman and arrested her on an outside warrant. 

2:43 p.m. Near the intersection of Bellaire Street and East Victory Street, police in Craig responded to a property damage crash call. Craig police said they responded to a minor two-vehicle accident with no injuries and one party issued a citation. 

4:32 p.m. On the 400 block of Ranney Street, police in Craig responded to a theft call. Craig police said a female suspect is still under investigation. 

According to the Craig Police Department incident log, police in Craig responded to 40 calls for service Saturday.

Sunday, July 14

6:30 a.m. On the 2000 block of West Victory Way, police in Craig responded to a hit-and-run crash call. A caller reported a possible accident at a local grocery store, but the caller soon called police back and declined any emergency response after it was determined there was very minor damage to the vehicle that may not have occurred at the grocery store. 

10:08 a.m. On the 2000 block of West Victory Way, police in Craig responded to a criminal mischief call. Craig police said a caller reported damage to a vehicle at a local grocer store and police continue to investigate. 

1:35 p.m. Near the intersection of West First Street and Doyan Avenue, police in Craig responded to a pedestrian contact call. Craig police said they arrested a 28-year-old Craig man on an outside warrant and on charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. 

2:04 p.m. Near the intersection of West Victory Way and Taylor Street, police in Craig responded to a traffic stop. Craig police said a passenger ran during the stop, so they identified and arrested the 22-year-old Craig man on an outside warrant and on charges of second degree criminal trespass, criminal mischief, and obstructing a peace officer. Police said they also cited the 42-year-old Craig driver for an improper turn and no insurance. 

4:04 p.m. On the 500 block of West Victory Way, police in Craig responded to a theft call. Craig police said they continue to investigate the theft of cell phone from a local grocery store. 

4:06 p.m. On the 2000 block of Baker Drive, police in Craig responded to a burglary call. Craig police said a caller reported a suspicious vehicle at a nearby residence, so police made contact with the suspects and determined no crime had been committed. 

7:59 p.m. Near the intersection of West Victory Way and Ranney Street, police in Craig responded to a complaint call. Craig police said a caller reported a vehilce possibly doing donuts in a parking lot, so police made contact with them and issued them a verbal warning. 

9:45 p.m. On the 2000 block of West Victory Way, police in Craig responded to a reported drunk driver call. Craig police said they made contact with and arrested a 34-year-old Hayden man on a charge of driving under the influence of alcohol. 

According to the Craig Police Department incident log, police in Craig responded to 43 calls for service Sunday.

Monday, July 15

8:13 a.m. On the 200 block of Colorado Highway 13, police in Craig responded to a follow up investigation. Craig police said they arrested a 27-year-old Craig man on an outside warrant. 

9:50 a.m. On the 600 block of Tucker Street, community service officers in Craig responded to a code enforcement call. A community service officer issued a verbal warning on charges of high weeds. 

11:30 a.m. On the 1000 block of Yampa Avenue, police in Craig responded to an alarm call. Craig police said they checked and cleared a residential alarm.

12:38 p.m. Police in Craig responded to a property lost/found call. A caller reported a lost license plate. 

6:13 p.m. On the 500 block of East Sixth Street, police in Craig responded to a theft call. A caller reported the theft of a package on their doorstep.

8:30 p.m. Near U.S. Highway 40, police in Craig responded to an agency assist call. Craig police said they assisted Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, but no additional information was available Tuesday. 

11:32 p.m. At the east Kum & Go, police in Craig made contact with a pedestrian. Craig police said they arrested a 29-year-old Craig man on charges of third-degree assault, possession of a controlled substance, and obstructing a peace officer. 

11:40 p.m. Police in Craig responded to a child abuse/neglect call. Police continue to investigate. 

According to the Craig Police Department incident log, police in Craig responded to 42 calls for service Monday.

From the Museum Archives: The Wallihans — The world’s first wildlife photographers

The history of Northwest Colorado has no shortage of fascinating characters. A.G. and Augusta Wallihan are no exception.

The Wallihans arrived in Northwest Colorado in the mid-1880s eventually settling near Lay — located between Craig and Maybell. Augusta and A.G. married in 1885; she was 22 years his senior. In fact, it is rumored that A.G.’s trademark long beard was to help mask the age difference.

Augusta was a strong woman who embraced the frontier life. A.G. described her as having no fear of “God, man or the devil.” She was also an expert marksman who even put on a shooting exhibition at Madison Square Garden!

Though the Wallihans stayed busy as the Lay postmasters and running a boarding house, in 1889 Augusta suggested that A.G. should try to photograph the abundant wildlife in the area. Surprisingly, wildlife photography hadn’t been seriously attempted due to the precarious size of cameras and the complicated developing processes of the day. The Wallihans were soon able to trade some travelers for a camera, and A.G. began learning how to shoot and produce photographs in the middle of nowhere.

A.G. Wallihan was soon capturing stunning images of wild animals, the first of their kind. George Shiras, another U.S. photographer, was shooting photos of animals at night with a “strobe trap” in the 1890s, but these weren’t the natural wildlife photographs Wallihan was producing.

Wallihan’s photographs caught the attention of an occasional hunter to the area: United States Civil Service Commissioner and eventual US President Theodore Roosevelt. They kept in touch, and by 1894 Wallihan had enough photographs to publish his first book. Roosevelt wrote the introduction for it as well as for their follow-up book in 1901. Not long after Roosevelt’s presidential inauguration in 1904, the Wallihans even visited the White House as his personal guests.

Wallihan’s photography books were a hit. Anything pertaining to the West was in big demand at the time, and these were the first photographs to extensively capture the West’s wildlife in their natural environment. A.G.’s photographs quickly grew in popularity until he was invited to showcase his work at the 1900 World’s Fair in Paris. He was again invited to the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis where his photos earned him the bronze medal.

Through their work, the Wallihans were vocal proponents of wild game preservation. They were witnessing firsthand and bringing to light the fast decline in wildlife populations due to unregulated sport and commercial hunting.

Augusta died in 1922 at the age of 86. A.G. died in 1935 at the age of 76 while still serving as Lay’s postmaster. He is one of the longest serving postmasters in US history. They are both buried on a hill above Lay overlooking the country they loved from both sides of the lens.

The museum has a permanent exhibit on the Wallihans including their original camera, Augusta’s hunting rifle, their marriage license and numerous photographs. Our collection also consists of dozens of their original photographs and glass plate negatives.

Paul Knowles is assistant director of the Museum of Northwest Colorado. To learn more, drop by the Museum of Northwest Colorado at 590 Yampa Ave., or visit the museum’s Facebook page, facebook.com/MuseumNorthwestColorado.

Charge of cocaine distribution to a minor dropped against Aspen family

ASPEN — An Aspen prosecutor dropped a bombshell in court Monday morning in the case against two Aspen parents accused of giving cocaine to a 17-year-old.

Deputy District Attorney Don Nottingham said he would drop the most serious charge of distribution of cocaine to a minor filed against both Joseph Lipsey III, 56, and his wife, Shira Lipsey, 44, because there’s not enough evidence to support it. The charge would have carried a mandatory minimum prison term of eight years upon conviction and a maximum of 32 years.

“(The) investigation has been somewhat stymied,” Nottingham said. “At this moment, there’s not a reasonable chance of success at trial with the details we now have on that count.”

Shira Lipsey and son Joseph Lipsey IV.
Courtesy Image

Nottingham said he will file a motion to dismiss the cocaine distribution charges against the Lipseys by next week. Charges filed against the couple’s son, Joseph Lipsey IV, 19, did not change Monday, though he was not facing the severe penalties his parents faced. 

“When this case broke all over the media was that the Lipseys are drug dealers,” said Yale Galanter, Joseph Lipsey III’s lawyer and the lead attorney in the case against the family. “Today …  (the prosecutor) agreed to dismiss (the cocaine distribution charge) indicating they are not.”

The development “totally changes the complexion of the case,” Galanter said. 

“They were looking at a minimum mandatory eight years in prison,” he said. “Now they’re looking at probation. It’s huge.”

Galanter praised Nottingham for taking a close look at the case and making an honest assessment of the facts Monday. He also said he’d like to revisit the $100,000 in cash each Lipsey posted as bond in order to be released from the Pitkin County Jail in March. 

Joseph Lipsey III and Shira Lipsey still each face three felony counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor and three misdemeanor counts of serving alcohol to minors.

Joseph Lipsey IV, who was also in court with his parents Monday, has been charged with two counts of felony distribution of drugs, felony contributing to the delinquency of a minor, four counts of possession of a controlled substance and other misdemeanor charges. He also is facing two counts of felony vehicular assault after crashing his parents’ Tesla with four other teenagers in the car in November. 

Ladies convene for 33rd Silver Bullet golf tourney

Though it may be named for another precious metal, the yearly women’s tournament at Yampa Valley Golf Course was as good as gold.

The 33rd annual Silver Bullet Ladies Golf Classic provided good competition across the weekend at YVGC as the ladies hit the links.

33rd annual Silver Bullet Ladies Golf Classic results
First Flight
Golfer — Day 1/Day 2; Total
Christy Rolando — 88/84; 172 — 1st gross
Susan Utzinger — 91/89; 180 — 1st net
Terresa White — 92/91; 183 — 2nd gross
Lani Cleverly — 92/94; 186 — 2nd net
Jamie Eckroth — 91/100; 191 — 3rd gross
Pattie White — 91/101; 192 — 3rd net
Angela Doane — 99/101; 200 — 4th net
Second Flight
Judy Kuberry — 95/95; 190 — 1st gross
Cindy Gilbert — 99/94; 193 — 2nd gross
April Branstetter — 97/99; 196 — 2nd net
Pam Horn — 103/101; 204 — 3rd gross
Lena Anson — 104/105; 209 — 3rd net
Renee Romano — 108/106; 214 — 1st net
Cathy Gush — 110/108; 218 — 4th gross
Judy Serbousek — 118/115; 233 — 4th net

Taking the top spot overall for this year’s tourney was Christy Rolando, whose gross score across Saturday and Sunday was 172, starting with an 88, followed by 84 to round out the event.

With a 180 overall, Susan Utzinger won the net totals adjusted for handicap.

Utzinger noted that there was a smaller turnout, though the competition was still solid.

“The maintenance people did a great job getting the course ready, and even though we had a rough winter out here, the conditions have really improved,” she said. “Everybody came out here with a good attitude, and we had tremendous sponsorship in the community.”

Utzinger added that another women’s event is coming up at YVGC; Rally for the Cause shoots at 9 a.m. Wednesday, July 24, with golfers encouraged to sport pink apparel, the signature color of breast cancer awareness.

“We want to go from green to pink out here,” she said.

Judy Kuberry and Renee Romano were the gross and net winners, respectively, in the Silver Bullet’s second flight.

The first day of the tourney saw the conditions go from somewhat sunny and warm to overcast and muggy with a little bit of wind and drizzle at the tail end before golfers headed into the clubhouse for dinner.

The later conditions were a welcome shift for April Branstetter.

“I was glad that breeze came up because it was pretty hot when we started,” Branstetter said Saturday. “It was just too hot for me before that.”

She added that new club pro Scott Ballif provided cooled towels to help compensate for the heat.

“That was perfect,” she said.

While Branstetter was second in net scores in the second flight, Pam Horn was third in gross scores, playing alongside Kuberry and Cindy Gilbert, who was runner-up in the overall totals.

Horn said her scores weren’t what she wanted, but it was a fun experience nonetheless, her third in a row playing in the tournament.

“There’s always a good group of ladies,” she said.

VFW Post 4265: Apologies to Yampa Valley Bank

Our sincere apologies to Yampa Valley Bank for failing to include you in our thank you list last week. They donate $400 annually in change to the kids’ money search. Craig V.F.W. hopes that you’ll forgive us! We always appreciate Yampa Valley Bank’s support for our events. 

Thank you, 

V.F.W. Post 4265

Obituary: Joshua Steven Webster

August 19, 1975- July 14, 2019

Josh Webster died peacefully at home July 14 surrounded by the love of his family and friends. A celebration of life will follow mid-August, date and location TBD.

Donations in Josh’s memory may be made to Rowan Webster’s college fund at Mountain Valley Bank in Hayden.

With full-time staff member, Friends of the Yampa aims to do more for Yampa River

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Lindsey Marlow grew up on the West Coast, but she’s no saltwater snob. That’s a good thing, because this month she started as program manager for Friends of the Yampa, becoming the organization’s first full-time staff member.

As a child and a teenager growing up in San Diego, she visited and fell in love with the Colorado River. From then on, her goal was to be around mountains and rivers.

“I just feel at peace when I’m in the presence of them,” she said.

As program director, she’ll be coordinating outreach, helping to plan and put on events and working to help the organization grow. She’ll also focus on promoting the Yampa River Fund and developing water planning efforts in the Yampa River Basin.

“The one main thing we’ve lacked over the years is capacity to do more,” said Kent Vertrees, Friends of the Yampa board president. “All nonprofits face the struggle of how do you get things done. You need staff to really get things done.”

Friends of the Yampa’s events, fundraising and programs — for the most part — have been coordinated by its volunteer board of directors.

The organization once had a part-time program manager, but the position went away when the organization ran out of grant funding to pay wages, he explained. Now, Vertrees said the organization has “grown up.” Marlow’s position is funded by regular donations to the organization.

The organization is also looking to expand its work in stretches of the river upstream and downstream of Steamboat Springs. It hopes to expand its board, Vertrees said, and is seeking people who can represent the upper Yampa River Basin in South Routt and the lower Yampa in Moffat County and people with experience in accounting or law.

Marlow has spent several years in Colorado, most recently working toward a master’s degree in watershed science at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. She’s a thesis away from completing that degree and plans to finish writing her thesis on the job.  

She worked in environmental compliance for the city of Loveland, and before that, she served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 10 years as an environmental regulator. She still serves in the Coast Guard Reserve. Her undergraduate degree is in film and media. At the time, she was interested in making films about nature and the environment.  

She hopes that background will help her in expanding awareness about the Yampa River and Friends of the Yampa. 

“Friends of the Yampa has been around since the 1980s, and they’re looking now to expand their voice and make it louder and expand their outreach to the community here,” she said.

Friends of the Yampa’s biggest goal in the coming years is making sure those who enjoy non-consumptive water use  — recreational and environmental use — have a voice, and that that voice is heard in policy discussions, Marlow said.

This is particularly important as states consider what happens in light of years-long droughts and concerns that Colorado one day might not be able to meet its obligations to send a certain amount of Colorado River water to states downstream.

“Those are issues that are impacting this area because, if there’s not enough water downstream, that might mean something happens to the Yampa,” Marlow said. 

She’s already floated the Yampa twice, through Steamboat Springs and Cross Mountain Canyon in central Moffat County.

When she’s not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and hiking, camping, biking, fly fishing and any sort of watersport.

Biggest US land agency moving from Washington to Western Colorado

DENVER (AP) — The Trump administration will move the headquarters of the U.S. government’s largest land agency from Washington to western Colorado, Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colorado, said Monday.

Gardner said the Bureau of Land Management’s headquarters will move to Grand Junction, but he did not say when the move would occur.

An agency spokeswoman in Washington said she couldn’t confirm or deny the move. She declined to give her name.

Moving the headquarters to a Western state is a key part of the Trump administration’s plan to reorganize the Interior Department, the parent agency of the Bureau of Land Management.

Interior Department officials have said they were considering Grand Junction as well as Denver; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Boise, Idaho; and Salt Lake City for the new headquarters.

Grand Junction is a city of about 63,000. It is 250 miles (400 kilometers) west of Denver.

The Bureau of Land Management oversees nearly 3 88,000 square miles (1 billion square kilometers) of public land, and 99% is in 12 Western states.

Gardner and other Western politicians have long argued the agency headquarters should be closer to the land it manages.

The headquarters of the U.S. government’s largest land agency will move from the nation’s capital to western Colorado, a Republican senator said Monday, a high-profile component of the Trump administration’s plan to reorganize management of the nation’s natural resources.

Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner said in a statement that the headquarters of the Bureau of Land Management would move to Grand Junction, a city of about 63,000 people 250 miles west of Denver.

A spokesman for Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop said Colorado, Nevada and Utah could each gain 50 bureau jobs as part of the reshuffling of the agency, and another 150 bureau jobs could be moved to other Western states.

The spokesman, Austin Hacker, said it was not yet certain whether all 300 relocated positions would come from Washington — where the bureau has only about 400 workers — or if any would move from other parts of the country.

A Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman who declined to give her name said she couldn’t confirm or deny the move. An announcement about the agency’s plans was expected Tuesday.

“The problem with Washington is too many policy makers are far removed from the people they are there to serve,” Gardner said in a news release. “This is a victory for local communities, advocates for public lands and proponents for a more responsible and accountable federal government.”

Bishop said public lands decisions would be made in the West, “not by bureaucrats from thousands of miles away.”

The bureau, part of the Interior Department, oversees nearly 388,000 square miles of public land, and 99% is in 12 Western states including Colorado. The lands are rich in oil, gas, coal and grazing for livestock, as well as habitat for wildlife, hunting ranges, fishing streams and hiking trails.

The bureau is in the vanguard of Donald Trump’s campaign to step up fossil fuel production on public land, and it has often been in the crosshairs of Democrats and conservationists who say the administration is more interested in mining and drilling than in protecting the environment.

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Arizona, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, attacked the headquarters move and noted that Grand Junction is not far from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s hometown of Rifle, Colorado.

“Putting BLM headquarters down the road from Secretary Bernhardt’s hometown just makes it easier for special interests to walk in the door demanding favors without congressional oversight or accountability,” Grijalva said. “The BLM officials based in Washington are here to work directly with Congress and their federal colleagues, and that function is going to take a permanent hit if this move goes forward.”

The bureau has 9,000 employees, most of them scattered among 140 state, district or field offices.

Grijalva said he suspects the bureau’s true motive is to force out some employees who would not be willing to move. The Interior Department has previously denied that was a reason.

Key details of the move were unknown, including how much it would cost, how many employees would remain in Washington and, most importantly, whether the move would have a significant impact on land-management decisions or would be more a symbol of the administration’s determination to decentralize the bureau.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, welcomed the change but included a reference to his party’s disputes with Trump over protecting the environment and recreational access on public lands.

“Hard to think of a better place to house the department responsible for overseeing our beloved public lands,” he said in a written statement.

Interior Department officials have said they also considered Denver; Salt Lake City; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Boise, Idaho, for the new headquarters.

Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke initiated the plan to reorganize his department. Zinke stepped down in January amid ethics allegations, and Bernhardt has continued the planning but with less fanfare.

“The problem with Washington is too many policy makers are far removed from the people they are there to serve,” Gardner said in a news release. “This is a victory for local communities, advocates for public lands and proponents for a more responsible and accountable federal government.”

Rep. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Ariz., chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, attacked the move and noted that Grand Junction is not far from Interior Secretary David Bernhardt’s hometown of Rifle, Colorado.

“Putting BLM headquarters down the road from Secretary Bernhardt’s home town just makes it easier for special interests to walk in the door demanding favors without congressional oversight or accountability,” Grijalva said. “The BLM officials ba sed in Washington are here to work directly with Congress and their federal colleagues, and that function is going to take a permanent hit if this move goes forward.”

About 400 of the bureau’s 9,000 employees are in Washington. The rest are scattered among 140 state, district or field offices.

Grijalva said he suspects the bureau’s true motive is to force out some employees who would not be willing to move.

The Interior Department has previously denied that was a reason for the move.

Grand Old West Days bringing weekend concert to Craig

Following the Memorial Day weekend, one of Moffat County’s signature events will be continuing into the summer.

Grand Old West Days will host a special concert at 7 p.m. Saturday, July 20 featuring Lendon James and the Highway 34 Band at Moffat County Ice Arena at Loudy-Simpson Park.

With sponsorship by GOWD, Candlewood Suites, and Stockmen’s Liquor, the concert and dance is open to area families as the first in a planned series of concerts.

Tickets are available at the door and are $10 for adults, $5 for ages 6 to 12 and free for children and younger.

For more information, visit Facebook.com/GrandOldWestDays.

The ‘hemp gold rush’: A look at the Routt County businesses leading the charge

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Twenty years ago, as a sophomore at University of Colorado Denver, Nathan Brough wrote an economics paper on hemp’s potential to grow the nation’s gross domestic product. 

As he described, people have identified more than 25,000 uses for the plant, from textiles to building materials to homeopathic medicines. It was among the most important crops during the 18th and 19th centuries as colonists were cultivating the land into an agricultural powerhouse. 

Many of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, were hemp farmers. 

“Even the Declaration of Independence was written on hemp paper,” Brough said. 

But since 1936, the plant has been effectively banned in the U.S. — that is, until Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill in December. The legislation legalized the production of hemp nationwide and removed it from the list of controlled substances. 

The move comes amid a growing interest in the plant, particularly for its medicinal potential. Hemp differs from marijuana in that it contains less than 0.3% THC, the cannabinoid that gets people high. Instead, it contains higher levels of CBD, which has become a popular alternative to pharmaceutical medications. 

Since the passage of the Farm Bill, farmers and business owners have flooded into the industry, trying to stake their claim. Brough, who owns Mountain Strong Hemp Co. based in Routt County, calls it the “hemp gold rush.”

While analysts hail the crop as a money boom — cannabis researchers BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research say nationwide sales of CBD could surpass $20 billion by 2024 — much confusion remains over how to regulate the industry and differentiate hemp from illegal marijuana.

Turning a new leaf

Brough discussed the benefits and challenges to the industry at his business’ farm in Oak Creek, owned by his fiance, Sulee Robin. He had never planned to own a hemp company, and before November, was indifferent toward the use of CBD. 

That changed the day before Thanksgiving, when he broke his back snowboarding with his kids. His doctor put him on a regimen of painkillers, but by the time his prescription ran out, he still was in pain and suffering withdrawal symptoms from the medications. 

He gave CBD a try and, within days, noticed an improvement. 

“It’s the only thing that works,” he said.

After the Farm Bill passed, he wanted to better understand the plant that assuaged his pain and help others find similar relief. 

Mountain Strong Hemp is Brough’s line of CBD-infused products, which range from lotions to dog treats. He and Robin also operate Evergreen Biotech, a genetics company seeking to cultivate hemp strains that have the maximum amount of CBD and the minimum amount of THC. 

So far, business has been booming. He has built partnerships with farms in about 20 other states, a number that grows with time as more farmers see the monetary value of hemp. 

According to Brough, a single acre of hemp can bring anywhere from $40,000 to $120,000 of revenue, depending on the amount of CBD in the particular strains. By comparison, corn and soybean farmers in the Midwest averaged about $700 in revenue per acre last year, according to a study from a Minnesota-based consulting firm. 

“For the American farmer, this crop (hemp) is huge,” Brough said.

That is why he does not want to just be a part of the industry — he wants to lead it.  

“We’re trying to build the first national brand in the hemp industry,” he said. 

A walk through the garden

On Friday, Brough gave a tour of his company’s grow operation, housed in a humble, nondescript log barn near the home where he and Robin live. Hundreds of small hemp plants grew under lights, clones of a few mother plants selectively bred to contain high levels of CBD. 

As he explained, Evergreen Biotech will grow the clones until they are ready to ship to four partner farms in other parts of the state with more favorable growing conditions than the Yampa Valley. There, they will reach maturity and produce flowers, which contain the greatest amount of CBD. 

Through a crop-sharing contract, Brough will receive a portion of the mature plants to turn into CBD oil, which will go into Mountain Strong’s range of wellness-focused products. 

Before that happens, the plant has to go through an extraction process, a similar process for making moonshine. That was how Steve Herron described it at his hemp business, Natural Path Botanicals, in Hayden. 

Like Brough, the cornerstone of Herron’s company is its genetics program. He partners with several small, family-owned farms in the Gunnison Valley, giving them clones grown in a two-story, vertical farming system. In exchange, he gets large bags of hemp flower and leaves. 

In a lab attached to the grow facility, his employees break down the plant material into a dark, viscous substance Herron called “hemp crude oil,” an homage to his years in the petroleum industry. 

“It’s gooey, it’s sticky — it’s not the kind of stuff you want to get on your hands,” he said. 

The substance contains about 90% CBD, which often will be distilled into a clearer, honey-like oil that can be put into devices like vaporizer pens for smoking. 

But, as Herron made a point of mentioning, his products are meant to help people recover from workouts, manage pain, relieve anxiety or for other wellness purposes — not get people high.

“We throw a very hard line between cannabis and what we do — industrial hemp,” he said. “We are a company that’s committed to making health supplements that are legal in all 50 states.”

Legal confusion

While the distinction is clear to Herron, the newness of the industry has raised more questions than answers. Legislators, banks and the farmers themselves still struggle to interpret and maneuver the laws, creating frustration for business owners like Brough.

In June, two shipments of his clones bound for a farm in Kentucky were mistaken for marijuana, which remains illegal to transport across state lines. The confusion cost him hundreds of dollars and delayed delivery of the plants. 

The troubles continue. Just last week, a bank shut down Brough’s account because of its association with his hemp company, he said. Advertisements that he and his associates try to post to social media get flagged for inappropriate content and taken down. As of Friday, he was still banned from Facebook because so many of his posts had been mistaken for marijuana. 

“It does cause me some migraines here and there,” he said of the legal snags. 

Brough is not alone in his frustration. In a letter to federal financial regulators, Colorado’s U.S. Senator Michael Bennet urged them to provide greater guidance and certainty to hemp farmers and processors.  

“In my home state of Colorado, farmers cultivated hemp on over 21,000 acres of land last year,” Bennet wrote in the letter. “Nonetheless, farmers generally continue to lack access to the banking system even though hemp is no longer a Schedule 1 drug.”

Taking root

Despite the headaches and confusion, hemp growers and producers in Routt County remain optimistic the industry will thrive. 

Brough continues to get calls from farmers in different states wanting to form partnerships. By next year, he hopes the clone operation turns a profit of about $400,000. 

In June, Hayden Town Council members approved a financial incentive package to support Herron’s company, Natural Path Botanicals, seeing it as a way to provide jobs and bring in tax revenue. 

Herron has plans for a significant expansion project, which he plans to announce in the coming days. He also is investing in technology to isolate other cannabinoids in hemp, such as CBN, a supposed sleep aid. 

Like Brough, he has seen firsthand the medicinal benefits of hemp and was able to stop using prescription medication to manage his pain by taking regular doses of CBD. He wants others to find similar relief.

“As a company, we want to see what we can do to better the lives of our customers,” he said.