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Public Service Announcements for May 3, 2018

In NM, Mother’s Day weekend means whitewater races!

PILAR — For 60-plus years, this Mother’s Day kayak and raft tradition still makes a big splash. Mother’s Day Rio Grande Whitewater Races, the second oldest, organized river race in the country, will once again host kayakers and rafters, canoers, spectators, campers, and Dutch Oven Cookoff competitors, from May 11 to 13. The races will be held on the 4.5-mile, Class III section of the Rio Grande known as the “Racecourse”, which begins just south of Taos, in Pilar, and runs along NM State Road 68. The three-day event is being hosted by the New Mexico River Outfitters Association, The Adobe Whitewater Club, The American Whitewater Association, and the American Canoe Association.

The schedule of events includes two nights of camping and social gatherings at the Rio Bravo Campground in Pilar, a Dutch Oven Cookoff and potluck dinner on Friday evening, and a full day of organized races on Saturday that will include short and long kayak races, a SUP (stand-up paddle board) race, kayak slalom, Down River Rodeo at Albert’s Falls, a family race, and 4 and 6-person raft races. Sunday offers a community, “on your own” paddle in the morning as well as Kayak New Mexico’s (501 C3) adaptive paddle session for special-needs river runners.

Helmets are required for all racers and participants. Spectators are invited to attend, free of charge. More schedule and event details can be found at www.mothersdaywhitewater.com.

Camping reservations can be made on a first-come, first serve basis by going to www.blm.gov/visit/orilla-verde-recreation-area or calling 575-758-8851. All racers are required to register for their events and online pre-registration is strongly encouraged. To register for races, go to adobewhitewater.org/events/mdrregistration. Special room rates for the Whitewater Races are being offered at the Sagebrush Inn & Suites in Taos, New Mexico. Rooms at special rate are available while supplies last, those interested must book before April 18.

For more information about Kayak New Mexico’s adaptive kayak programs and the Sunday morning adaptive paddle event, go to www.kayaknewmexico.org or contact Jane Bales at 505-980-7207.

Las Animas County fire ban prohibits fires in park and wildlife areas

TRINIDAD — Colorado Parks and Wildlife is alerting visitors to its wildlife areas and park in Las Animas County that fire restrictions enacted by the sheriff apply on state-controlled areas.

High winds and low humidity have created dangerous conditions and produced devastating wildfires leading Las Animas County to enact Stage 2 fire restrictions. Sheriff James Casias announced the fire restrictions, with approval of the Board of County Commissioners, after two wildfires broke out April 17: the 728-acre Broken Ranch Fire and the 4,783-acre Trinchera Creek Fire.

Specifically, the sheriff’s order bans: ~All open fire & open burning. ~Campfires, warming fires and charcoal fires regardless whether they are in fire pits or fire rings. ~Outdoor smoking, except within an enclosed vehicle or building.

The Stage II Restrictions shall remain in effect until further notice by the sheriff’s office. The restrictions apply in all unincorporated areas of Las Animas County including Trinidad Lake State Park, as well as six state wildlife areas covering nearly 60,000 acres. Those state wildlife areas are Bosco Del Oso, James M. John, Apishapa, Spanish Peaks, Lake Dorothey and North Lake.

Dan Prenzlow, CPW’s Southeast Region manager said, “Our wildlife officers will be watching our wildlife areas to ensure compliance with the county restrictions.”

That message was echoed by Crystal Dreiling, park manager responsible for overseeing the 73 campsites and 46 picnic sites at the 2,724-acre Trinidad Lake State Park.

“We understand the fire restrictions might disappoint some of our guests, but it is imperative we avoid any more dangerous wildfires like those we’ve seen recently in Southeast Colorado,” Dreiling said. She said park rangers would aggressively enforce the fire restrictions, working in conjunction with county authorities.

CPW reminds turkey hunters to be extra cautious in the field

MONTROSE — Spring turkey season provides a long hunting season, April 14 and through May 27, and a unique opportunity for hunters to get into the field during warm weather. Turkey season is also a great way to introduce novices to the sport of hunting. But turkey hunting provides some unique challenges and Colorado Parks and Wildlife urges hunters to be extra cautious in the field.

“Turkey hunters must be extremely vigilant, everyone’s dressed in camouflage and most people are calling to bring in the gobblers,” said Renzo DelPiccolo, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Montrose. “So hunters need to pay that much more attention to the target, what’s in front of and beyond it. “

Here are some safety reminders: ~Always be 100 percent sure of the target before pulling the trigger. That means securing a clear visual on a turkey and what’s in front of and behind it. NEVER, EVER shoot in the direction of a noise or sound. ~During the spring season only bearded turkeys can be taken. This requires accurate target identification. ~Sit with your back against a tree or rock with a clear view in front of you so that you can see other hunters. Avoid sitting in thick brush. Consider tagging the tree with orange surveyor’s tape. ~Remember that some of the turkey calls you hear are probably coming from other hunters. You might be calling in another hunter. ~If you are calling and you see another hunter approaching, sit still but speak up in a loud, clear voice and say “Hunter.” ~Call only from a stationary position. Do not call and move. A human moving slowly through the brush with dead leaves underfoot sounds just like a turkey moving. ~Do not stalk turkeys. They are very wary, can easily detect movement and stalking is not usually a successful tactic. When changing locations walk upright and quickly so that you are easily seen by other hunters in the area. ~Decoys are used to fool turkeys, but they can also fool hunters. Avoid using decoys of Tom turkeys. Place decoys in a safe position in relation to your position. ~When walking in to your hunting position consider wearing an orange vest. ~When carrying decoys to your hunting spot keep them completely covered in a bag; do the same when you’re moving them – even if it’s a short distance. ~Do not wear anything or handle anything with the colors red, white or blue. Gobblers display those colors on their heads. ~After harvesting a turkey display orange on yourself and the turkey. Be sure to read CPW’s 2018 Colorado Turkey regulations brochure. The brochure also offers safety tips.

‘Paycheck Checkup’ taxpayers should check their withholding

WASHINGTON — Following recent tax changes and the approach of the April tax deadline, the IRS is launching a special week beginning Monday, March 26 to encourage taxpayers to do a “paycheck checkup” to ensure they are having the right amount of taxes withheld at work.

The week-long campaign will show taxpayers how a “paycheck checkup” can help them prevent having too much or too little tax withheld from their paychecks. These steps can help avoid an unexpected tax bill or potential penalty at tax time in 2019. And with the average refund topping $2,800, some may prefer to get more money in their paychecks now.

The campaign will also show taxpayers how the Withholding Calculator tool on IRS.gov can help them accomplish a “paycheck checkup” and decide if they need to change their withholding with their employer. Several categories of taxpayers will be especially encouraged to review their tax withholding.

Omnibus Bill includes more USDA funds to address opioid epidemic

WASHINGTON — The Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett today praised an omnibus spending bill that includes an additional $20 million for a key USDA program that is helping address the nation’s opioid crisis. The funding comes at a time when President Donald J. Trump is pursuing an ambitious agenda to combat the nation’s opioid crisis.

The $20 million supplement is being provided in USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant Program. Advanced technologies supported through the DLT program give rural communities all the modern tools possible to fight the opioid epidemic, including: 1) Prevention: making sure doctors’ offices and pharmacies are connected to real-time controlled substances (opioid) patient registries; 2) Treatment: training health care providers on how to identify and treat addiction; 3) Recovery: providing remote access for addiction treatment counseling.

DLT grants are available to most state and local governmental entities, federally-recognized tribes, non-profit groups, for-profit businesses, or a consortia of these.

The $20 million supplement is in addition to $29 million that Congress provided for the DLT program’s annual budget this year. The $29 million also may be used for opioid-related projects, but, unlike the $20 million, it is not specifically targeted to those purposes.The DLT program has been particularly effective in addressing generational poverty, which is often is linked to rural isolation and a lack of access to education. These factors can lead to a sense of isolation and desperation that sometimes results in drug abuse.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community services such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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