Thursday, April 26, 2012

Rep. Waller: Nothing's changed in new civil-union bill

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:52 PM

Rep. Mark Waller
  • Rep. Mark Waller

It feels like we've been down this road before, doesn't it?

The state Senate Democrats look poised to sweep through a bill that would establish civil unions in Colorado, just as they did last year. If that happens, the House Republicans will have their chance to kill the bill in committee, just as they did last year.

There's no reason to think that they won't.

According to Rep. Mark Waller, who represents the Springs' House District 15 and also serves as the House assistant majority leader, as far as his reading of the SB12-002 is concerned, nothing has changed from last year's offering.

Last year, the House Judiciary Committee, on which Waller sits, voted 6-5 to kill the bill. It was a straight party-line vote, with Colorado Springs' Republicans representing half of the no votes.

Reps. Bob Gardner and Mark Barker chair and co-chair the committee.

Waller states that he has no idea if the bill will die in committee this year.

"I would never presume to speak for everybody on the committee," he says. "Maybe somebody changed their mind."

He does add, however, that if the bill comes to his committee with language identical to last year's bill, how he'll vote shouldn't be a surprise: "I cast a 'no' vote on it last year, and I don't think that's changing."

Waller explained his vote to kill the bill last year as a constitutional matter, saying that the civil unions bill was just an attempted end-run around the 2006 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It's an argument that he's sticking by this year; he suggests that the path to civil unions lies in the ballot.

"Go get the signatures, and put it on the ballot. If the polling data is where they say it is, they should be able to go get the signatures," Waller says, "and put it on the ballot, because it's at the ballot where this issue has been decided."

This year, he adds that he finds it disingenuous that the Democrats waited until Republicans took control of the House to introduce and push a civil unions bill.

"They waited till Republicans took control of the state House to run this two years in a row. This is a political issue," he says. "It takes focus off what this upcoming election ought to be about: jobs and the economy. It plays right into their hands by making this election about social issues."

The bill has yet to pass out of the Senate.

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Dooms-dating: Survivalist singles and domestic tranquility

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 12:33 PM

When it comes to prepping for Armageddon, a lot of us get so caught up in life’s little necessities — canned water, Jim Bakker bean buckets, monkey fist keychains — that we end up forgetting what a tragedy it would be to experience the end of the world without having someone special to share it.

But take heart, friends, for there are more than 3,000 like-minded seekers out there who’ve posted their profiles on Survivalist Singles, a dating website that promises you don’t have to face the future — what’s left of it — alone.

While there appears to be no way to sort members geographically (at least not without signing up, which I’m a little reluctant to do), even a casual scroll through their profiles quickly turns up a few Coloradans.

Like, for instance, Chainsaw.

Granted, the name may seem off-putting, but based on her profile page, Chainsaw is an attractive 46-year-old Denver woman who is spiritual but not religious; speaks English, Italian and Spanish; likes nothing better than a quick-witted comeback; goes to Bronco games, museums, art galleries, dancing, and is always up for new adventures.

Chainsaw's favorite food is chocolate. Her favorite color is camo.

“I've been planning and preparing with friends in the mountains for years now,” she writes. “Just found out about this site not long ago, I'm hoping to meet other local preppers, looking for a like-minded man. Drop me a line if that might be you. ;) ”

Chainsaw's winky face, I’m guessing, is meant flirtatiously. Unless, you know, it’s code for something I'm better off not knowing about.

On a related note, Indy Culture Editor Matt Schniper made me promise to include a link to his award-winning story on a local survivalist food manufacturer.

And finally, here’s a real-life preview of the romantic future that awaits you, along with a trailer from the classic dooms-dating flick, Miracle Mile.

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SunShare signs deal with D-11

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM

A local company started by a Colorado College grad has inked a deal with Colorado Springs School District 11 to build a solar garden on D-11 land.

SunShare built the Colorado Springs Community Solar Garden, the first public-private partnership of its kind in the nation, at Venetucci Farm last year. It has 300 households and schools as subscribers, and is subscribing a second project.

The D-11 deal was approved by the school board Wednesday night.

Here's SunShare's press release about it:

In another move for national firsts, SunShare announces its partnership with Colorado Springs School District 11 to build its next community solar garden. The project will be the first of its kind in the nation to be built in conjunction with a public school.

David Amster-Olszewski: Growing a business.
  • The Independent
  • David Amster-Olszewski: Growing a business.

The 2,500-panel solar garden will be built on a previously unusable piece of D-11 land located north of McAuliffe Elementary School. Its south-facing slope was unsuitable for school expansion, but is perfect for solar. Construction will begin this summer, and is expected to be complete before school resumes in the fall.

The solar garden is already 90% sold out to homeowners and schools across El Paso County, and will provide carbon-free energy for the District, helping to offset over $100,00 of their utility costs in the first 20 years. Each solar panel lease costs $550, with 10 panels powering 50% of the average Colorado Springs home, saving over $10,000 in rising electricity costs. The whole project will save Colorado Springs’ families $2.5 million over 20 years.

In return for the land, SunShare will pay the school district a combination of cash and solar panels, feeding power directly into the school, and saving the district money on it's electric bills for the next 30-50 years.

"Responsible energy management is a key focus for District 11 as we work to demonstrate fiscal prudence and financial responsibility. This partnership with SunShare will help our district recognize energy savings, while allowing both organizations to maintain high levels of organizational social responsibility," says District 11 Deputy Superintendent Glenn Gustafson.

“We are thrilled to be working with the District on this community solar garden. Together we can bring more solar energy to more households in the community, in a location that facilitates learning about the importance of renewable resources,” says SunShare founder and CEO David Amster-Olszewski.

Started in Colorado Springs, community solar gardens are gaining legislative traction in states across the country, including California, Texas, Maryland, Delaware, New York, and 8 others.

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Art: In the beginning...

Posted By on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 9:40 AM

It's no wonder E.O. Wilson, author, biologist, researcher and numerous other titles bestowed upon him, is a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner. He's known for popularizing the term "sociobiology" or even being the father of it, for crying out loud.

But at 82 years old, the man has something else going for him: He can write.

Obviously I just joined the party, but not since Yves Alain Bois have I gotten so invigorated by an academic article. In this case, "On the Origins of the Arts" which Wilson wrote for the May/June 2012 issue of Harvard Magazine, an extraordinarily lovely feature on the development of the arts in human history. (I found the article courtesy of

  • Photograph courtesy of the French Ministry of Culture and Communication, Regional Direction for Cultural Affairs, Rhône-Alpes region/Regional Department of Archaeology

Beginning with our physiological components (the senses) and moving onto early forms of artistic expression (cave paintings, jewelry) and then finally music (a possible offshoot of language), Wilson discusses the ways art and aesthetics grew more pronounced and specialized.

It starts this way:

The creative arts became possible as an evolutionary advance when humans developed the capacity for abstract thought. The human mind could then form a template of a shape, or a kind of object, or an action, and pass a concrete representation of the conception to another mind.

In this particularly lovely passage, Wilson demonstrates the way art influenced feelings of fear and bewilderment:

Burials began at least 95,000 years ago, as evidenced by thirty individuals excavated at Qafzeh Cave in Israel. One of the dead, a nine-year-old child, was positioned with its legs bent and a deer antler in its arms. That arrangement alone suggests not just an abstract awareness of death but also some form of existential anxiety. Among today’s hunter-gatherers, death is an event managed by ceremony and art.

Along the way, Wilson also talks about the similarities between the humanities and the sciences, which he compares by way of juxtaposing the writing of literary authors and scientific researchers. Each with an entirely different motive in mind, Wilson says, "Innovators in both of two domains are basically dreamers and storytellers. In the early stages of creation of both art and science, everything in the mind is a story."

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

State offers lifeline to MMJ enforcement division

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Representative Beth McCann
  • Representative Beth McCann

The Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division's cash problems are well-documented, but solutions thus far have been few and far between. In fact, only one solution has emerged: immediately hit up dispensary owners for fees they thought weren't due until months later. This has, of course, created a hardship, but look for more on that in next week's Independent.

In the meantime, state Reps. Beth McCann and Tom Massey, of Denver and Poncha Springs, respectively, are sending in the financial cavalry — or at least hope to do so.

As first reported by CBS4 in Denver, the pair will be introducing a bill in the House of Representatives, in the next few days, that would transfer, one time, almost $9 million out of a $10 million medical-marijuana account controlled by the Department of Public Health and Environment. It's funded by the fees paid by people applying to join the registry as patients: $5.7 million would go to the MMED to fill its budgetary hole, with $2 million in reserve, accessible only if the initial funds are burned through.

"And then, also, part of the bill is to put $2 million into a fund that’s in the Department of Public Health that deals with youth and prevention programs," says McCann in a phone conversation with the Indy. "So, trying to use some of that money to help kids, as they grow up, learn good behavior patterns."

McCann explains the reasons the funds are available to be transferred this way: "So the [registry] fee was $90. And they collected quite a bit of money to do all those processing, because they had so many applications in the beginning they got behind. And so they have now caught up and, as a result, have some excess funds in their fund — they’ve reduced the fee now to $35, but there is this excess money in there — so it made sense to me to take the money from the Department pf Public Health and move it over to the Department of Revenue."

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Rodney Wood showing in the Springs this June

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 4:46 PM

Last week, Rodney Wood announced he would return to Colorado Springs this June for a new show spanning the Millibo Art Theatre, the Modbo and S.P.Q.R.

Just don't expect the usual opening-showing-closing routine. Wood plans to host two premiere events at the MAT before opening with a more traditional reception at the alley galleries. The solo show, Galerie Vivante, will be unveiled June 1 and 2 on the stage at the MAT and then open at Modbo/S.P.Q.R. June 8 (running through June 29.) The MAT events will allow audiences to hear Wood speak on his inspirations, processes and thoughts as well as meet the artist and his models.

Wood puts it this way in his release:

Before the days of the commercial gallery, artists had few options for showing their work. Unless they were fortunate enough to be invited into an institutional exhibition, they mostly were compelled to have a "Salon Show". This had limitations. At some point in the mid-1800s the "Vivant" was invented. Artists would unveil their work on a theater stage. This type of event allowed the artist to share their art along with info, stories and thoughts about inspiration and process. So, this evening shall serve as the opening "Ta-da" for the "Galerie Vivante" exhibitions.

Seats at the MAT shows are limited, and will cost around $8-$10. They should be available through the MAT beginning in May.

For more information, read the whole release here. Read more on our coverage of Wood's last local show here.

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AFA disciplines cadets for drug use

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 4:45 PM

The Air Force Academy released an update Wednesday about the investigation into 31 cadets' alleged use of illegal drugs. The drug is probably Spice, an incense-type synthetic substance that's illegal and also was at the center of a similar academy investigation last year.

The academy reports that three cadets have received non-judicial punishment. Another four are facing non-judicial punishment.

Four await a command decision, and eight have been cleared of wrongdoing. Investigations involving another dozen are still underway.

Possession of this drug is a crime, but the academy is imposing non-judicial punishment, which usually is reserved for minor infractions. This avenue is typically called an Article 15 under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

The investigation began in January.

The academy said in a news release:

In April 2010, Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Mike Gould issued a General Order prohibiting the use of intoxicating substances other than alcohol, caffeine, tobacco or lawfully-used prescribed medications.

Cadets found in violation of this general order can face appropriate disciplinary actions that may include trial by court-martial, administrative discipline or involuntary separation from the Air Force.

However, all cadets under investigation are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

In another disciplinary action, the academy also acknowledged that a soon-to-be-graduating football player, Asher Clark, didn't travel with the team's seniors to Washington, D.C., to meet with President Obama on Monday because he was "not meeting Academy standards currently and wasn't allowed to travel with the team and represent USAFA," academy spokesman Lt. Col. John Bryan says in an e-mail. Asked how Asher didn't meet standards, Bryan refused to say, citing privacy laws.

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Franking Commission tosses Blaha's complaint

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 3:44 PM

Robert Blaha
  • Robert Blaha

"The real scandal in Washington isn't what is illegal, it is what is legal."

That's the response from the campaign of Robert Blaha after finding out that its complaint over U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn's use of taxpayer-funded mail was dismissed.

Blaha, the businessman who is running a Republican primary against Lamborn in the 5th Congressional District, lodged the complaint last month over a mailer that, he claimed, had violated federal regulations.

Today, the Lamborn campaign sent out the word that the complaint had been tossed. Catherine Mortensen, spokeswoman for Lamborn, is taking this opportunity to stomp on Blaha: "As we said from the start, this was an unfounded allegation made by an individual who shows stunning ignorance of the most basic operations of Congress. It was an unfounded, mean-spirited attack. "

Blaha's spokeswoman, Ashlee Springer, responds:

We are not surprised that the congressional commission is protecting their own instead of enforcing the rules. Doug Lamborn campaigned on the public dime and didn't follow either the letter or the spirit of the rules. The real scandal in Washington isn't what is illegal, it is what is legal. Doug Lamborn plays the game well, and the franking commission and the good ole boys have got his back. But the voters won't.


In the decision letter, forwarded to the press by Mortensen, there is a rundown of Blaha's four allegations, as well as the findings — such as this explanation of the acceptable amount of times a mailer is allowed to use "personally phrased references":

The first allegation is that [Lamborn] exceeded the allowable number of personally phrased references by using the words "I", "my" or "me" in the constituent mailing. However, the Commission does not count possessive pronouns such as "my" as personally phrased references. Therefore, the number of references complies with Franking guidelines.

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Keep pets away from marijuana, please

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 2:58 PM

Today, a column in the Daily Camera in Boulder reveals an interesting fact from the city's experience with marijuana: Cannabis and animals don't mix.

THC is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream. Signs of marijuana toxicity typically become apparent within minutes to a few hours. The most common symptoms of toxicity are neurologic abnormalities, including stumbling that potentially progresses to an inability to walk, depression, agitation, dribbling urine, twitching, seizures, pupil dilation and occasionally coma. Death is rare but can occur. About 30 percent of animals exposed to THC will develop gastrointestinal signs including drooling, vomiting and diarrhea. Because THC is lipid (fat) soluble, pets may exhibit mild to moderate symptoms for days as the chemical is slowly released from fat stores.

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Pueblo County provides safe haven for medical marijuana

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 1:56 PM

Commissioner John Cordova
  • Commissioner John Cordova

Unlike the city of Colorado Springs and the government of El Paso County, Pueblo and its county are of two minds concerning medical marijuana. The city of Pueblo, last year, passed zoning laws essentially making it impossible to open a center within city limits, while Pueblo County just granted its second license, to dispensary Nature's Remedy.

First reported by the Pueblo Chieftain, the license is one of six total the county expects to grant, says Commissioner John Cordova in a phone conversation with the Independent.

"There used to be 17 but what happened to the other 11 I have no idea," he says. "But we sort of expected that; you know, it was a flurry when we first started thinking about it and they’re down to six from 17."

The paperwork is modeled after Pueblo County's liquor licensing.

Meanwhile, the commissioner says the county has already collected over $70,000 in fees related to medical marijuana. Of course, that's not why Cordova and Commissioner Anthony Nuñez support the issue. (The third commissioner, Jeff Chostner, recused himself because of his current race for district attorney.)

"I’ve seen some of the patients that have lobbied here for it, and that’s what I went by," says Cordova. "Somebody brought me a picture the other day about this individual that had huge tumors on his head, on his scalp, and they’ve been treating it with a tar made from medical marijuana; and they’re reducing to the fact they almost look like they’re gone...

"I’ve heard a lot of people that have taken it for medical reasons and I’m glad that we made that decision to approve those. There’s always gonna be abuse of some kind and I don’t think we can punish the people that actually need it — and there is a medical benefit for — just because somebody chooses to abuse it."

As far as why the licensing is going forward now, the commissioner says it was that same common refrain: waiting on the state.

"We were sort of waiting for guidance, and finally I think we said, ‘Well, wait a minute — we don’t know when the state’s gonna act,'" Cordova says. "So we decided to go forward with it, and it turns out we’re pretty much in step with what the state is requiring."

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WYNOT Radio Theatre releases their first CD

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 12:28 PM

If you've ever seen the WYNOT Radio Theatre in action, you know how frantic and fast-paced their shows can be. So fast-paced, in fact, that you might find yourself wishing you could replay the show so you can catch all the one-liners and double entendres you missed the first time.


Well, now you can. Last week, the twisted troupe behind this spoof of 1940s radio shows released their first CD. It's something head honcho Cory Moosman has wanted to do for eight years — and fans have been clamoring for almost as long.

"People always ask, 'Do you have a CD?'" Moosman says. "It's another way to push what it is that we do out there."

I've listened to the CD, which sells for $10, and I'm happy to say it's professionally done and just as funny as the live show. There's no Rick Luger, but the CD does include the hilariously closeted antics of the Grimm Spectre and some of the group's best commercials, including Black Falcon Whiskey ("It gets you drunk and that's all right") and Hammer Cigarettes' famous smoking baby.

Moosman recorded and mixed the whole thing at his in-home studio in a week and a half. In addition to the usual suspects, Moosman brought in his old friend Tom Massmann to fill out the voice pallette. A voiceover pro, Massmann handled his new duties with aplomb — until they came to the Captain Comet sketch.

"It's got a lot of big weird words like 'cronoogler voltage' and 'quasi-gender-bender beam'," Moosman said. "We'd do takes of things and he'd be going along at a clip and then he's like, 'What the hell is this?'"

For now, the CDs are only available at performances of A Case of Mail Order Murder, currently appearing at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center through Saturday, April 28. But Moosman plans to offer them on the WYNOT website beginning next week.

In the meantime, Moosman and co-writer Sammy Gleason are cranking away on their next shows, including spoofs of Casablanca and Orson Welles' legendary broadcast of The War of the Worlds.

If these are anything like their previous shows, mass hysteria is assured.

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Trail advocates will rally Thursday

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:46 AM


Earlier in the month, I wrote about the conflict over including trails on the project list for PPRTA II (see "Fork in the road".)

Long story short, city groups think it's a grand idea; county groups think road projects need to come first.

But after catching some flack for that stance from trails advocates, the El Paso County commissioners decided to reconsider the recommendations of its PPRTA groups.

The county will meet on the issue tomorrow, and trails advocates, especially the Trails and Open Space Coalition, are seizing the opportunity to advocate.

Read on for TOSC's take:

El Paso County Trails projects were on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority draft list approved by the Commissioners on Feb 28, 2012. Subsequently they were removed. The Commissioners are now holding this public meeting on PPRTA-2, where trails projects will be considered for re-inclusion, due to TOSC advocacy efforts.

Where: Centennial Hall, Cascade Ave and Vermijo, Colorado Springs

When: Thursday, April 26, 7-9pm

Why: Ask the County Commissioners to add Transportation Trails projects back into the proposed Capital Program list for PPRTA-2, which will go to the voters in November.

Talking Points:

• Trails are an important part of the multi-modal transportation network solutions for the Pikes Peak Region.

• Commuters need trails to get to and from work efficiently and safely.

• School children need trails as a safe way to get to and from school

• Trails provide environmental benefits, including cleaner air by reducing the use of fossil fuels.

• Trails reduce traffic congestion by getting people out of their cars.

• Trails reduce our personal and governmental transportation costs by using human power.

• You don't have to be 16 to ride on a trail, they are open to all ages.

• The Cities of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and the Town of Green Mountain Falls all have included non-motorized trails projects in their transportation project lists. The County should also.

• Trails need continuity between points A and B. The County needs to be a player so trails don't stop at the City limits.

• Having bike lanes included in City and County road projects absolutely helps address our transportation needs, but may not meet the needs of users who feel unsafe or don't have the skills to ride next to moving traffic.

• Trails have been and must continue to be part of our multimodal transportation solutions for our region.

• Trails provide health benefits for commuters and trails users.
Urge the County Commissioners to put County trails back into PPRTA-2.

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A fox family feast on Wahsatch

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 11:01 AM

You've gotta appreciate Discovery Channel or Animal Planet moments when they happen right in front of you in the city.

Not that it's a good thing that a family of foxes has formed its den in the median on Wahsatch Avenue — I'd rather see them safe away from fast traffic.

But I happened to be driving by the other day, returning a kick-ass camera lens that I'd borrowed from Sean Cayton for the recent Radiohead show in Denver, when I noticed three kits playing with one of their parents in the median.

I quickly screwed on Cayton's lens — perfect for the up-close shots from a distance so as not to disturb — and took the following series of photos as the other fox parent showed up with a freshly-caught squirrel for breakfast.

Check out a quick slideshow here, detailing the whole family meal. (Or click the photo below.)

A not so secret fox den in the city.

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Blaha launches attack site

Posted By on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 at 8:26 AM


The campaign of Robert Blaha, Doug Lamborn's primary challenger in Colorado's 5th Congressional District, has launched a new website, coupled with a nifty radio ad and a mailer.

Blaha repeats criticisms that he made to the Indy during last month's Q&A, such as Lamborn's inability as a lead sponsor to usher legislation through Congress. He also promotes his own business savvy as a solution to Washington's ills.

From the site:

Robert Blaha, Republican candidate for Congress in Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, has released ads that will contrast his qualifications with those of his opponent, incumbent Doug Lamborn.

“As voters continue to learn more about the contrasts between me and my opponent, we will keep sharing facts they need to know about to make an informed decision at the ballot box,” said Blaha. “I have the experience it will take to revitalize the 5th Congressional District.”

“Since we are running a transparent, fact-based campaign, we will provide relevant data to the general public and the press in order to support our radio and TV ads,” continued Blaha. “I commit to this same transparency once I become the US Congressman from the 5th CD.”

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Firing range up for bid

Posted By on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 at 5:03 PM

Gun-slinging county commissioners, from left, Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Peggy Littleton.
  • El Paso County
  • Gun-slinging county commissioners, from left, Amy Lathen, Sallie Clark and Peggy Littleton.

Monday is the deadline for bids to build the Cheyenne Mountain Shooting Complex near Gate 20 off Interstate 25 at Fort Carson.

El Paso County is handling the bidding process, which will not be based on low bid, according to the specifications, which state:

NOTE: Proposers are advised that THIS IS NOT A SEALED BID OR LOW BID PROCESS. The
County intends to make an award using the evaluation criteria to determine the “Best Value” for the
County as indicated in this Request for Proposals (RFP).

The bid is to be awarded in mid-May and the project completed before the end of September, the bid documents state.

No cost estimate is included in the bid announcement, but county officials previously have given the cost in the $750,000 range. Funding will come from grants and contributions from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, National Forest Service and others.

The project includes construction of shooting lanes for handguns, small-bore rifles and high-powered rifles. The contractor also will improve the access road, build an unpaved parking lot, install gates and a barbed wire perimeter fence, and develop erosion control measures.

The respondents are advised that the stormwater and erosion control features reflected on the plan are conceptual and not fully developed. The contractor will have to prepare the full storm water erosion control plan for this site. Estimated quantities for typical temporary erosion control measures have been included in the cost proposal tab and will be used in determining the contract amount. These quantities may not represent the actual quantity of temporary BMP’s required, based on the contractor’s plan.
The following elements reflected on the drawings will be furnished and installed by others: overhead
shelters for the shooting area, picnic benches, vehicle gates, post and dowel fencing, parking blocks,
shooting benches, targets, a marquee entrance sign with a timber support structure, and range signing.

The shooting range is being built as a replacement for the Rampart Range shooting area, which was closed by the U.S. Forest Service in summer of 2009 after a man was killed there in a shooting mishap.

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