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4-H open house tonight at Moffat County Fairgrounds

Moffat County’s 4-H group will continue to honor the long legacy of Moffat County’s farmers and ranchers tonight at the fairgrounds.

The Moffat County Extension Office will be hosting an open house event from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday for all families and friends of Moffat County’s 4-H program.

The open house will be inside the Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion.

Residents can learn about 4-H and the programs offered in Craig or enroll in said programs.

For more information, call the Moffat County Extension Office at 970-824-9180.

Broom sweeps into Moffat County commissioner’s office

CRAIG — Moments after he was sworn in Tuesday morning as the newest District 3 commissioner for Moffat County, Donald Broom took his seat next to Commissioners Ray Beck and Don Cook and got to work.

“Welcome to the team,” Beck said.

As Moffat County’s first black commissioner, Broom said he’s “working for all citizens of Moffat County whether they live in Craig or out in the country.”

Perhaps ironically, Broom’s first official act was casting a vote to approve a $9,000 contract with Bubbles and Brooms for the county’s custodial services. Commissioners also approved a final payment of $3,740 for a new boiler at the Public Safety Center for a total contract amount of $74,800.

Commissioners are aware boiler maintenance costs will continue as the years progress.

“It’s just going to be ongoing,” Cook said.

Most of the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday was spent finalizing and discussing a protest letter related to the Bureau of Land Management’s 2018 Northwest Colorado greater sage-grouse proposed resource management plan amendment and final environmental impact statement.

Moffat’s commissioners say the BLM’s sage-grouse resource management plan effectively sterilizes some 1.1 million acres of county land with oil and gas potential — land that could increase Moffat County’s revenue and tax base. Commissioners say BLM’s plan also destabilizes the livestock grazing industry in the area, jeopardizing private ranches and threatening the county’s custom and culture, according to the county’s agenda.

“We have the bulk of the sage-grouse in this state, so it really looks like our county’s going to be pretty well locked up because of these plans,” Cook said.

Beck reminded those in attendance that commissioners view their role as protectors of Moffat County’s ranching interests and providers for the responsible development of oil and gas. Commissioners then approved the protest letter and planned to send it before the BLM’s protest deadline Wednesday.

Commissioners also spoke with Colorado State University’s extension office in Moffat County and received an overview of all programs and services provided to the community.

Such services include planned 4-H programming in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club, working with ranchers on land conservation and the growth of experimental crops for livestock foraging and grassland preservation, succession planning for ranching families in Moffat County, the Annie’s Project for supporting women in agriculture, and plans for a sheep shearing school in conjunction with a local sheep farm, among many other services provided by Moffat’s CSU extension.

Before adjourning, commissioners appointed Cook as the commission’s new chair and Beck as vice chair.

Contact Clay Thorp at 970-875-1795 or cthorp@craigdailypress.com.

Dead Dog Fire shoots to 5,000 acres in western Moffat County

Wind gusts of more than 70 miles per hour Monday afternoon drove fast growth of the Dead Dog Fire in western Moffat County to more than 5,000 acres by evening, according to Bureau of Land Management spokesperson David Boyd.

The fire measured around only 40 acres 24 hours earlier and measured around 1,000 acres early Monday afternoon.

The Dead Dog Fire measured only 40 acres Sunday evening, pictured here from the entrance to Dinosaur National Monument Sunday afternoon. It grew to 5,000 acres by Monday evening due to extremely high winds, with no containment estimate yet available.

“The Dead Dog fire saw tremendous growth. It moved more than four miles because of the high winds,” Boyd said.

U.S. Highway 40 was closed around 3 p.m. when the fire approached within a quarter mile, but was reopened at approximately 7:30 p.m., said Colorado State Patrol Captain Doug Conrad.

Blue Mountain Road between U.S Highway 40 and Rangely — also known as Moffat County Road 134 and Rio Blanco County Road 1 — remains closed as of Monday evening.

The evacuation of the small community of Blue Mountain near Dinosaur has been lifted and residents have been allowed to return home. There is still no containment estimate for the fire.

The lightning-caused Hunter Fire southwest of Meeker grew quickly Saturday but did not grow significantly Monday thanks to the hard work of firefighting crews, Boyd said. The fire has burned 1,063 acres with 30-percent containment.

More than 200 firefighters are working both fires, according to a BLM press release, with additional resources en route. Air resources also worked to contain the fires before being grounded by high winds.

The cause of Dead Dog Fire is still under investigation. It began on BLM land 10 miles north of Rangely and was reported to be around only 40 acres with no containment Sunday evening.

A new incident management team assumes command of the two fires tomorrow to free up local resources, the BLM release said.

“It’s going to be a little cooler tomorrow, but we still expect very high winds,” Boyd said.

High winds sustained around 20 to 25 miles per hour with gusts up to 40 miles per hour are expected Tuesday as a cold front continues to blow through the area.

The Cross Fire 35 miles west of Craig remains at 55 acres, while crews were able to contain the 67-acre Temple Fire south of Juniper Hot Springs on Sunday, according to the BLM.