News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

DECKERS (AP) – Drenching rains washed out roads, left behind debris and flooded houses in areas of Douglas County still recovering from the largest wildfire in Colorado history, prompting Gov. Bill Owens to issue an order Saturday for a state disaster emergency.The order allows state and federal assistance in the area where the Hayman fire burned 138,000 acres in 2002.State officials reported that five homes in Douglas County had flooded and 40 more were threatened, Owens’ spokesman Nate Strauch said. Sheriff’s officials were still assessing the damage and said they expected to have more information in the next three days.Douglas County sheriff’s spokeswoman Cocha Heyden reported that at least one home had severe damage, but she did not have details. She said officials were surveying whether homes were primary homes or vacation cabins.Heyden said it was difficult for county, state and public works crews to get around the area, with Highway 67 closed from Deckers to Westcreek Road because of the flooding. Parts of the road were washed out.”They had so many trees and debris down on the roadways,” she said. “Our deputies aren’t going anywhere, other than the roadblocks.”

FORT COLLINS (AP) – The North Poudre Irrigation Co. has secured water loans from area water districts and municipalities to help fulfill promised allocations to area farmers, officials said.After hot, dry weather depleted mountain snowpack and flow in the Poudre River, the irrigation company projected it would be 5,000-6,000 acre feet of water short of what it had told farmers it could deliver this summer.Now, the company will work out exchanges with supply companies that have water stored in high-elevation reservoirs to get 10,500 acre feet from the Poudre River to the crops, operations manager Steve Smith said.The offering likely would reduce to the amount needed as it is lost to evaporation, seepage and plants growing along irrigation ditches, he said. An acre-foot of water can serve one or two urban families of four for a year.East Larimer County, North Weld County and Fort Collins-Loveland water districts as well as the cities of Fort Collins and Greeley are lending the water, Smith said.”The water districts and municipalities have really stepped forward to help us out,” he said.

DENVER (AP) – Signaling their frustration with the federal government and Congress’ failure so far to reform immigration laws, lawmakers Saturday tentatively approved a measure asking voters to direct the attorney general to sue the federal government to demand enforcement of immigration laws.The Senate also gave preliminary approval to a separate bill encouraging the state attorney general to do all he can – possibly including a lawsuit – to pry money out of the federal government for reimbursement of state costs related to illegal immigration.”We’ve seen year after year the amount of money coming from the federal government to implement certain requirements the federal government makes of us … go down further and further,” Sen. Abel Tapia, D-Pueblo, said.Tapia, who is sponsoring the bill (House Bill 1014) to encourage the attorney general to seek reimbursement, said for example, the federal government used to reimburse the state for 10 percent of the costs of incarcerating illegal immigrants convicted of state crimes. This year, however, Tapia said the federal government has withheld that payment.