News in brief
WASHINGTON (AP) – Boulder County, Colo., resident AJ Chamberlin thought she was protecting her rights when she blocked access to a dirt track that snakes across the middle of her 28-acre mountainside property.Instead, she started a battle. Neighbors fought back, arguing the track was a county road under an obscure 1866 law allowing local governments to claim rights of way across federal land.They said they had jogged, birded and motorbiked there years before the Chamberlins moved in and could document public use back to the turn of the 20th century.The dispute got nasty. Someone removed the post holding Chamberlin’s gate and scrawled an expletive on her no trespassing sign. She barricaded the road with an old truck.Three years later, despite appeals for help to the courts and the county, the neighbors are still divided. And no one is completely sure who owns the road.”It was a peaceful place,” said neighbor Walter Plywaski. “It isn’t now.”Chamberlin’s experience now is being used by advocates for change as an example of the problems caused by the old mining law, known as Revised Statute 2477. Thousands of tracks and paths crisscross the West, but deciding what is a road has become a tricky proposition.So many similar skirmishes have flared up in recent years that Chamberlin and others say Congress or the courts must help states and local governments or they will be forced to spend millions of dollars resolving road disputes.
DENVER (AP) – Fifteen-year-old Raven Lang misses the drama of life in New Orleans, from funeral parades to the sometimes violent school rivalry between students from different neighborhoods.”I miss it. It’s quiet here,” said Raven, who moved to Denver with her mother after Hurricane Katrina to join her uncle here.She is one of nearly 700 students adjusting to life in Colorado in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, a transition that has been difficult for some.”Right now I think they have one foot here and one foot there,” said Darlene Sampson, a social worker at Denver’s Montbello High School, where Raven now attends classes.”I’m not sure everyone’s decided they’re going to stay,” Sampson said.Counselors, administrators and advocates say some hurricane children are acting out or isolating themselves; others are afraid to talk about their feelings because they see their parents struggling. Some are sassing their parents for the first time; others are suffering physical problems, such as headaches and diarrhea.
DURANGO (AP) – About 4,500 people in southwestern Colorado could collect a portion of an almost $101 million agreement to settle claims of unpaid royalties from the production of coal-bed methane gas, their lawyers said.Sixth Judicial District Court Judge David Dickinson ruled in October 2003 that Amoco Production Co., now part of BP America Production Co., improperly deducted gas processing costs from payments to gas-royalty owners in La Plata and Archuleta counties.He said those payments were a reasonable cost of production that could not be passed on.Dickinson is expected to approve the out-of-court agreement – made in August – at a Dec. 7 hearing.In 1994, Ignacio lamb rancher Richard Parry filed the class-action lawsuit that challenged the company’s practice of deducting the expense of gathering, treating and compressing gas from royalty payments, which began in 1991.
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The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals this week affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit against the city of Aspen that challenged its zoning laws concerning Mill Street Plaza, which is home to locally serving businesses.