News in Brief | AspenTimes.com

News in Brief

Work begins on Basalt stoplightBASALT Commuters will experience delays over the next two months during construction of a traffic signal at the intersection of Highway 82 with Original Road and East Valley Road.Work began this week and will continue until Nov. 30, according to a press release from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Upvalley motorists should anticipate closures to one lane of traffic from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays. Downvalley traffic should anticipate closures between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays.The project will include installation of a span-wire traffic signal and construction of a right-turn lane from Original Road onto eastbound Highway 82.The Basalt town government is paying for the traffic signal, even though it is on a state highway. CDOT confirmed that a signal was warranted at the intersection, but couldnt commit to funding the project in the foreseeable future.Residents of the neighborhood convinced the Town Council to pay for the project. CDOT paid for the design; Basalt is paying $504,000 for the installation of the light.Groups: Drilling plan fails to address habitat impactsPARACHUTE Contributing to tamarisk removal along the Colorado River is an inadequate tradeoff for impacts on deer and elk that will result from a drilling plan near Parachute, three conservation groups say.The Colorado Wildlife Federation, Colorado Mule Deer Association and National Wildlife Federation say a federal decision to allow drilling of 139 wells doesnt include crucial mitigation to address loss of winter range habitat for big game.The wells would be drilled by EnCana Oil & Gas (USA) on 4,820 acres of public and private land about three miles southeast of Parachute. EnCana would drill directionally from 16 existing and 10 new well pads.The company did agree to fund a project by the nonprofit Tamarisk Coalition to remove the invasive species and otherwise restore habitat on about 250 acres along the river, generally west of Parachute. The conservation groups filed a protest Sept. 27 with the BLMs state headquarters over the drilling decision made by its Glenwood Springs office. The BLM must respond within 10 days of that protest.Mule deer move from Battlement Mesa into the proposed drilling area each fall. The BLM found that the drilling would result in a reduction in habitat use on about 53 percent of the 4,820 acres.The wildlife groups contend the agency manipulated the planning area so drilling and road-building densities would fall below the thresholds at which the BLM would require off-site habitat mitigation. They say the BLM enlarged the planning area to include areas not envisioned for drilling so the well pad density would be less than a threshold of four per square mile.The conservation groups also say the BLM is misinterpreting its own 1999 Glenwood-area management plan language regarding habitat mitigation. That plan refers to a threshold of four wells per square mile, but the BLM now is counting the number of pads. (Glenwood Springs Post Independent)

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