Headlines July 23, 2021

Headlines July 23, 2021

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Sloan’s Lake Closed Due to Toxic Algae

Denver City officials on Thursday closed access to Sloan’s Lake due to an increase in blue-green algae.

The Denver Post reports the park area remains open but the rise in toxic algae in the lake has led to a ban for anyone contacting the water.

Park officials first discovered the blue-green algae in the lake earlier in the month but now have replaced warning signs with closure signs due to the rise in toxin levels.

According to Denver Parks and Recreation staff, the algae occurs every year but the sustained heat has caused higher than normal levels.

Interior Secretary to Visit Grand Junction

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland will visit Grand Junction today as the Department reviews the future of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) headquarters. U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet invited Haaland to visit Grand Junction to hear from the community firsthand.

Hickenlooper and Bennet feel that with climate change fueling severe drought and catastrophic wildfires, restoring a strong public lands agency and fixing the previous administration’s mistakes is a top priority.

According to a January 28, 2021 Washington Post article, the Trump administration decided to relocate most the BLM headquarters staffers out west to Grand Junction.  87 percent or a total of 287 BLM employees, either resigned or retired rather than move.

The exit of longtime career staffers from the agency responsible for managing more than 10 percent of the nation’s land showed the extent to which the Trump administration reshaped the federal government.

The idea of the move led states and cities across the West to believe that hundreds of employees would move to a single city, improving BLM’s customer service and public land management.

Besides meeting with the Grand Junction community, Haaland’s trip will also include meetings on several other Colorado priorities, including drought and wildfire mitigation, maintaining resilient rural economics, and passing CORE, the Colorado Outdoor Recreation and Economy Act.

CU Researchers Study Wildfire Risk

New research from the University of Colorado Boulder and Colorado fire officials suggests that mountain residents overestimate how prepared they are for wildfires along with underestimating their risk.

According to the Daily Camera, fire officials assessed homes in the Burland Ranchettes subdivision near Bailey for wildfire risk factors which included vegetation, topography, and building materials.

Research Associate Professor Hannah Brenkert-Smith and her team then sent out over a thousand surveys asking residents to assess their homes with the same wildfire risk factors used by fire officials while also asking residents about their experience with wildfire, risk reduction, evacuation plans, and their sources of information.

More than 400 households responded showing residents thought they were more prepared than they were and that their own risk assessment was lower in comparison to the assessment done by the firefighters.

Boulder Planning Board Conduct First of Two Sessions on CU South

On Thursday, Boulder’s Planning Board conducted the first of two public hearings on the draft annexation agreement of CU South, a site owned by the University of Colorado Boulder.

The draft annexation agreement will guide development and flood mitigation work on the site.

The Daily Camera reports the Planning Board will return on July 29th for deliberation and then will provide a recommendation to the City Council, which is expected to make a decision in September.

Tax Reform Seen as Key for Equitable COVID Recovery

As Congress struggles to pass legislation to boost recovery from the pandemic’s economic fallout, tax experts are urging lawmakers to invest in policies that benefit working families by taxing the rich. Chuck Marr with the Center on Budget Policy Priorities says expanding access to affordable housing, quality child care and other supports can help families re-enter and remain in the workforce, and begin to close a widening racial wealth gap. He points to recent reports showing that the nation’s wealthiest households and corporations pay little or no income tax, the nation’s primary tax revenue stream.

“And the idea here is just (to) raise taxes on the wealthiest people in the country, and to use that revenue to improve the economic opportunities and stability of working middle-class families.”

Coloradans now seeing hundreds of dollars each month deposited in their bank accounts through the temporary Child Tax Credit, a policy projected to dramatically reduce child poverty, would continue to receive those benefits under proposals making their way through Congress. Democrats also are pushing to expand access to health care and giving all workers access to paid family leave. Critics warn that expanding safety-net programs will usher in an age of big government, and some lawmakers say raising taxes would slow economic recovery.

Marr says people have become wise to claims that cutting taxes boosts economic growth, and points to polls showing Americans overwhelmingly support raising taxes on the people who can most afford to pay.”There’s just an absence of evidence that cutting taxes for rich people and large multinational corporations has economic benefits. It’s sort of the ‘trickle down economics’ for the last 40 years, and it failed over and over again.”

Marr says tax policy can be crafted to narrow the nation’s racial wealth gap, or it can continue to allow wealthy families, which are overwhelmingly white, to pay little or no taxes. Marr says making investments in programs that help the bottom 60 to 80 percent of households, where people of color are disproportionately represented, would be a step in the right direction.

-By Eric Galatas, Colorado News Connection