A Rio Grande cutthroat trout.

A Rio Grande cutthroat trout. (New Mexico Department of Game and Fish)


Judge vacates part of protection decision on trout species

A judge has asked U.S. biologists to explain part of a determination that a trout native to Colorado and New Mexico doesn't merit an endangered species listing.

But U.S. District Court Senior Judge Marcia S. Krieger found that a 2014 decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service not to list the Rio Grande cutthroat trout was otherwise sound.

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the agency after it changed course from a 2008 finding that the trout merited protection.

In her ruling, Krieger vacated part of the 2014 decision. She ordered the agency to explain why it considers isolated trout populations of less than 2,500 to be stable.

The Rio Grande cutthroat was the first North American trout to be recorded by Spanish explorers centuries ago.



AG Weiser hires first assistant in western Colorado

The state Attorney General's Office has hired a dedicated assistant working exclusively in western Colorado for the first time.

Democratic Attorney General Phil Weiser named Durango attorney Carolyn Linsey to act as senior assistant attorney general.

Weiser says Linsey will work in the State Services Section, the office's largest division that handles legal matters for state agencies and universities.

Weiser says the main part of her job is to act as general counsel to Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction and Fort Lewis College in Durango.

Officials say Linsey moved to Durango after serving as general counsel to the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut.

Linsey was also a former member of the U.S. Air Force's Judge Advocate General's Office.



County commissioners plan to appeal fracking cases

Boulder County commissioners say they intend to appeal a court decision dismissing the county's legal claims against an oil and gas drill company.

The county filed three lawsuits aimed at blocking planned fracking operations by Crestone Peak Resources. However, a Boulder County District Court judge dismissed the lawsuits.

Commissioners said they intend to appeal. In addition, the county plans to use new regulatory authority that requires oil and gas companies obtain approval from county commissioners before the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission can green-light the drilling permit.

Crestone spokesman Jason Oates says the company remains confident the project to drill 140 wells in unincorporated Boulder County will be approved.


First-grader brings loaded handgun to school

Authoriies launched an investigation after a handgun was found in the backpack of an elementary school student.

The El Paso County Sheriff's Office was conducting an investigation into how the first-grade child obtained the gun, which was loaded with a single round from a different firearm.

Authorities say the handgun was discovered and secured after the first-grader showed the single round to a staff member at Falcon Elementary School of Technology.

Falcon School District 49 officials say the gun was secured immediately, and the student was removed from class without disruption to school day operations.

A school statement says "the student told administrators he did not want to hurt anyone, and we do not believe the student intended to threaten, or harm, students or staff."



Deputies relocate homeless due to fire danger

Aauthorities have closed a homeless camp after fire danger, trash buildup and impacts to nearby neighborhoods resulted in heightened scrutiny and concerns.

The La Plata County Sheriff's Office reopened an alternative site further south of Durango after announcing a decision last week to close the camp.

Deputies say the department met with about 45 people living in the area to alert them of changes before the closure and offered rides to move them to the new location.

Authorities say heaps of garbage including human waste, camping equipment and other items were left behind despite cleanup in the area last year.

Authorities say there are not enough resources to clean the camp again and a community cleanup day is expected to be scheduled.



Steel plant plans large solar project

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a solar developer, an energy company and a steel plant have announced a large solar project in Pueblo.

Lightsource BP would build, own and operate the proposed 240-megawatt solar facility on property owned by EVRAZ North America, a steel manufacturer. The project would sell its power to Xcel Energy, which would sell it to the steel plant.

The Bighorn Solar Project would be one of the state's largest. It would give EVRAZ a long-term contract that provides the steel mill price certainty through 2041.

EVRAZ North America president and CEO Skip Herald said the solar power makes possible a planned $480 million investment aimed at producing longer railroad rails.

The mill employs about 1,100 people. The solar project would create about 300 jobs in construction, operations and maintenance.



Ex-deputy involved in double fatal crash convicted

A jury has convicted a former El Paso County sheriff's deputy who was involved in a crash that killed two people near Colorado Springs.

Quinlan Linebaugh was found guilty of two counts of careless driving resulting in death and two counts of careless driving resulting in injury.

Investigators with the Colorado State Patrol say Linebaugh was trying to pass a vehicle in his patrol car near Falcon on July 24, 2018, when he got in the way of an oncoming dump truck.

The truck fishtailed and slammed into a car, killing 75-year-old Kenneth Wuerfele and 71-year-old Dorothy Wuerfele, of Peyton. Two people in the truck were injured.

Linebaugh was fired shortly after the crash.



Judge: Teen should be tried for Colorado school shooting

Prosecutors have enough evidence for a Colorado teenager to be tried for a school shooting in Highlands Ranch that killed one of his classmates and injured eight others, a judge ruled.

District Court Judge Theresa Slade in Castle Rock found that Devon Erickson, 19, could be tried on over 40 criminal charges, including murder and attempted murder, in connection with the May 7 attack on STEM School Highlands Ranch in suburban Denver.

Previously released court records suggest the attack may have been planned by Erickson's friend, Alec McKinney. Written summaries of police interviews with the two suspected shooters portray McKinney as enlisting Erickson in a plan to kill students who bullied McKinney, who identifies as male.

McKinney, 16, has a preliminary hearing scheduled in November on the same charges. His attorneys are seeking to move his case to juvenile court.

During a two-day preliminary hearing, the judge heard testimony that the pair got their guns by breaking into a safe at Erickson's house the day of the attack.

She had only to find there was probable cause that Erickson committed the crimes he is accused of, a lower standard than will be required at a trial, and give prosecutors the benefit of the doubt.

District Attorney George Brauchler said Erickson showed total disregard for life by attempting to help his friend kill as many people as possible.

"At the end of the day, this is much like, in for a penny, in for a pound," Brauchler said.

Erickson and McKinney are charged with murder and attempted murder in the shooting that killed Kendrick Castillo, 18, one of three students who rushed Erickson after he pulled out his gun in the classroom.

They have not entered pleas to the charges yet.


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