Colorado news roundup: Lawmakers push EPA to repay all costs of mine spill response | SummitDaily.com

Colorado news roundup: Lawmakers push EPA to repay all costs of mine spill response

Lawmakers push EPA to repay all costs of mine spill response

DENVER — Two members of Colorado's congressional delegation are pressing the Environmental Protection agency to fully reimburse state, local and tribal agencies for the cost of responding to a toxic mine waste spill triggered by the EPA.

Sen. Cory Gardner and Rep. Scott Tipton said Monday a law passed this month removed some of the obstacles the EPA cited in turning down $20.4 million in requests.

The EPA says it paid $4.5 million in claims but rejected the others, in some cases because the costs came after a cutoff date set by the agency. The EPA said it was following federal law.

An EPA-led crew inadvertently triggered the spill at the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado while doing preliminary cleanup work in August 2015.

Rivers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah were polluted.

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Snow, stranded crews causing problems for Frontier

DENVER — Flight cancelations due to snow are continuing to cause problems for some Frontier Airlines passengers.

The airline says about 70 percent of its flights were delayed over the weekend. Around 275 flights were canceled because crews were stranded or had reached the limit of hours they're allowed to fly.

Denver International Airport, where the discount carrier is based, got more snow than expected from a storm that started on Friday night.

A few more flights were canceled on Monday. Television footage and photos shared on social media showed rows of bags waiting to be claimed by passengers and long lines at ticket counters.

Skiing world cup finals calling for more volunteers in Aspen

ASPEN, Colo. — Organizers of the 2017 FIS World Cup Finals are looking for double the usual number of volunteers to staff the major skiing event in Aspen.

The Aspen Times reports that Aspen Skiing Co. is looking for between 500 and 700 volunteers to help run the Finals, which take place in March on Aspen Mountain. The traditional Aspen Winternational World Cup series of races typically needs about 300 volunteers.

Volunteer coordinator Brendan Collins says the Finals are a major event for Aspen and it's going to need lots of help. He says on-mountain volunteers such as gate judges and course slippers are most in need.

Steamboat Ski Area could fine skiers for rescues

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Skiers at one Colorado ski area could be fined up to $500 per person for rescues in the backcountry.

Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that the new policy has been added to the fine print on trail maps and signage at the Steamboat Ski Area in Steamboat Springs.

The ski area says it hopes to keep inexperienced skiers from going places they don't belong.

Colorado Ski Country USA trade group CEO Melanie Mills says she doesn't know of any similar fines at other Colorado ski areas, but says she supports it and says some areas are considering similar policies.

Steamboat Ski Patrol director John Kohnke says the popularity of backcountry skiing has increased, causing more people to venture beyond the out-of-bounds access gates required by the U.S. Forest Service.

CU dealing with spike in demand for mental health services

LONGMONT, Colo. — The University of Colorado has seen an increase in the number of students seeking mental health services this year.

The Times-Call reports walk-in appointments at the university's Wardenburg Health Services grew by 32 percent between July and November from the same period in 2015.

Matt Tomatz, who leads outreach efforts at the on-campus medical center, says the increase in demand is partly due to a mental health fee CU implemented last fall that allowed Wardenburg to start offering free psychiatric visits. He also says students are "much more open to therapy" than they've been in the past.

Wardenburg has increased staffing to keep up with the increased demand. Tomatz says the medical center is also exploring other ways to reduce wait times for students, including restructuring its treatment model.