Headlines August 18, 2021

Headlines August 18, 2021

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Mask Mandates in Effect as Local Students Return to School

Schools across much of the Front Range will have mask mandates in place when they reopen for the new school year. The mandate includes Adams Douglass and Arapahoe counties whose Tri-county board of health voted 4-4 in support of a mask mandate yesterday.

The Boulder Valley School District – which reopens today – has had a mask mandate in place since last week. As was the case last year, BVSD will continue to regularly test a pool of students whose parents have opted into the random testing program. Children in Pre-K and Kindergarten will have to quarantine if a case is detected in their group, but guidance for older groups depends on symptoms. The Boulder county health department approved the mandate for everyone 2 years or older in school buildings and child care facilities.

Boulder Announces More Covid Vaccine Clinics

The City of Boulder announced in a press release that, in partnership with the state’s COVID-19 vaccination clinic program, they will continue to offer free vaccine clinics through Sept. 19

They are hosting the clinics from noon to 5 PM at the main branch of the Boulder County Public Library. In the press release they said, especially as kids head back to school, families and students ages 12 -19 should get vaccinated.”

RMNP Renews Mask Mandates

Rocky Mountain National Park is also requiring masks for vaccinated visitors. The mask mandate includes all indoor spaces as well as the park’s most popular outdoor trails. A news release from the National Park Service says that the “latest science and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have informed the mandate and will be in effect until further notice. In May, the national park had lifted its mask mandate as vaccination rates rose, but the current surge in COVID-19 cases prompted the park service to reimpose it.

Groups Urge More Wilderness in GMUG National Forests’ Draft Plan

The US Forest Service has released its draft management plan for the Grand Mesa, Uncompahgre and Gunnison, or “GMUG,” National Forests. The plan includes a significant increase in the amount of land that would be available for logging, and groups that advocate for public lands are raising concerns that it recommends only 34-thousand acres of new wilderness across the forest. Forest plans are revised roughly every 15 years, and Allison Elliot, a former board member at the Western Slope Conservation Center, says there’s no time to waste.

“That’s just a small fraction of what could be set aside and designated as wilderness. So, to be able to protect wilderness and wildlife and water, watersheds – this is the moment.”

The GMUG National Forests are home to species on the Endangered Species List, from the Gunnison sage grouse to the Canada lynx. And Elliot adds this land also is home to diverse ecosystems and wildlife. Public comments about the draft plan can be submitted until November 11th.

Arvin Ramgoolam, a business owner from Crested Butte and a public-lands advocate, thinks the plan not only should include more wilderness land, but also take into account the impact that making so much land available for timber harvest could have on climate change. “It needs to be reflective of the state of Colorado, thinking in terms of the amount of water we might have available in the next 50 years, or even 100 years; the amount of impacts you might experience from climate change, changing temperatures in the West.”

He backs the theory that “public lands belong in public hands,” and urges people who care about how the G-MUG’s more than three million acres of forestland are managed to get involved in the process. Comments can be submitted online, or at open-house events and webinars hosted by the Forest Service on Zoom.

– Lily Bohlke, Colorado News Connection

Denver Releases Draft of Five-Year Plan to End Homelessness

The Denver Department of housing stability has released a draft of the city’s 5-year plan to address homelessness in the metro area. According to the Denver Post, the new report finds that, “Denver’s annual per-capita spending on the unhoused is at least twice as high as the cost of rent for a one-bedroom apartment.”

Researchers at CU Denver have estimated that “Denver spends between $42,000 and $104,000 each year per person experiencing homelessness.”

 Gov. Polis Rescinds Sand Creek Massacre Proclamations

Gov. Jared Polis on Tuesday rescinded two proclamations that led to the mutilation and mass murder of more than 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho people on the Eastern Plains, including women, children and the elderly, by military troops in 1864. Representatives and leaders from the Northern Arapaho, Turtle Mountain Ojibwe, Lakota, Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute tribes attended the ceremony outside the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.