Environment

Environmental coverage

Sally Jewell, the Secretary of the Interior and Tom Vilsack, the Secretary of Agriculture, came to Colorado Tuesday to urge a change in how the federal government pays to fight catastrophic wildfires.

"The solution is for these fires to be looked upon in the same way we look at tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods, they're natural disasters and they should be funded as such," Vilsack said.

Interior's Jewell agrees the funding mechanism should change.

High Country News

The White River National Forest is about to get deluged with summer users. The Forest Service is contemplating a management plan, but it won’t be implemented this year. Aspen Public Radio’s Carolyn Sackariason has more.

District Ranger Karen Schroyer says she needs more information from the public before making any decisions on how to curb the overuse in areas like Condundrum Hot Springs or the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness area. She plans to get feedback from recreationalists in Denver this summer.

http://www.thearmchairexplorer.com/colorado/glenwood_springs_colorado

The White River National Forest headquarters in Glenwood Springs has re-opened for business. The National Forest Service says the supervisor and staff returned this morning to their newly renovated offices at 900 Grand Avenue. Among the upgrades are improved heating and cooling systems, energy saving electrical, water saving plumbing as well as the removal of asbestos from the historic building. For the past two years, the 30-plus employees of the White River National Forest have worked remotely from ranger stations in Rifle, Carbondale, Minturn and the BLM office in Silt.

Auden Schendler – Aspen Skiing Company, Olivia Siegel – ACES, and Naomi Oreskes – filmmaker and historian on this weekend's showing of the film “Merchants of Doubt” at the Wheeler Opera House.

http://www.wheeleroperahouse.com/events/detail/merchants-of-doubt

Today on CrossCurrents - Annie Denver and Karmen Dopslaff on John Denver's Aspenglow Fund, which has been quietly supporting environmental and educational causes in the Roaring Fork Valley and around the world.

http://www.rmi.org/winter_2014_esj_rmi_in_brief_john_denver_aspenglow

Also, Aspen Public Radio is pleased to announce the receipt of a grant from The John Denver Aspenglow Fund at the Aspen Community Foundation to support news coverage, outreach, and education on the environment.

Elise Thatcher

Oil and gas companies were responsible for over seven hundred spills in Colorado last year.  There were 128 in Garfield County-- making up nearly twenty percent of accidents statewide.  That’s according to a review of public data by the Denver nonprofit, Center for Western Priorities.   A spokesman for the agency that oversees oil and gas development in Colorado, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, is "neither endorsing nor challenging" the report.  APR’s Elise Thatcher talks with CWP's Policy Director Greg Zimmerman, who points out the spills released more than a million gallons of oil and other chemicals into the environment.

Rios to Rivers

Weston Boyles, Executive Director of Rios to Rivers

Ríos to Rivers is uniting young kayakers from Patagonia, Chile and Colorado with kayaking expeditions in Chile on the Río Baker and in the US on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. The Chilean kayakers will see for the first time a mega-dam and the resultant impacts on the river. US students will experience the majesty of an undeveloped river flowing through a pristine wilderness. The group will learn about the ecological impacts of dams, explore viable renewable energy sources, and take part in cultural exchange.

Today on CrossCurrents - last month, the federal government released the new Record of Decision on oil and gas leasing on the White River National Forest.  Guests are Will Roush of the Wilderness Workshop and Zane Kessler from the Thompson Divide Coalition.

http://www.wildernessworkshop.org/

http://www.savethompsondivide.org/about-us/mission-and-vision.html

Today on CrossCurrents, Wilderness Workshop is presenting Untrammeled! Wilderness in the Human Era tonight at Paepcke Auditorium.

Guests are Will Roush, conservation director for Wilderness Workshop, Dave Foreman, director of the Rewilding Institute, and Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society.

About the Wilderness Workshop (from the organization's website):

The Wilderness Workshop is the conservation watchdog of nearly 3 million acres of public lands in western Colorado. Using science, the law and grassroots activism, WW works to keep the White River National Forest and nearby BLM lands more or less “as is” and, where possible, to restore wildness to this nationally important landscape.

Founded in 1967, the Wilderness Workshop has earned a national reputation for passionate advocacy, grassroots effectiveness, and scientific authority.

WW is the only nonprofit organization that’s devoted to protecting these particular public lands on a full-time basis. No other local group has the expertise and standing to participate effectively and consistently in the arcane bureaucratic processes that decide the fate of these lands; no state or national organization can devote as much time to our particular area.

We don’t represent any user group; rather, we provide a voice for nature on our public lands. We’re a community of people who enjoy and cherish wild places, and believe that wildlands and wildlife should be protected for their own sake (and for ours).

Although focused on the White River National Forest region, our work is part of a visionary movement to reconnect wildlife habitats and “rewild” landscapes on a continental scale. Thus we frequently partner with other local, state, regional and national groups on projects.

Western Water Assessment

There are lots of reports about climate change these days-- and a recent one takes a close look at how rising temperatures could affect water in Colorado. The report finds temperatures are likely to go up by several degrees by 2050… and that likely means less water. The findings come as water experts across Colorado are already planning for a future with less water. Locally, nonprofits are tracking temperature changes in the Roaring Fork Valley. Jeff Lukas is the lead researcher on the latest water and climate change study. He’s with Western Water Assessment, a CU Boulder program funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lukas talks with APR’s Elise Thatcher about what temperature changes could mean for rain and snow in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Women Target for Hunting & Fishing Skills

Jul 17, 2014
Lynn Waldorf

The number of women who are hunting and fishing is growing and in some years is outpacing the number of men who receive hunting licenses.  This trend hasn’t been missed by Colorado’s Division of Parks and Wildlife which relies heavily on license sales to fund its management of wild lands.  Earlier this week, Parks and Wildlife hosted a free hunting and fishing clinic for women in Basalt.  Dorothy Atkins went along and filed this report.

damnationfilm.com

  What happens when an outdoor clothing company makes a film? Fish, dams, and a conservation message are front and center. The movie is titled DamNation, and shows in Carbondale this weekend at the Five Point Film Festival. It’ll be the first showing in Colorado.

David Blume of Blume Distillation along with Chip Comins of the American Renewable Energy Institute on the technology of alcohol as fuel and its possible applications here in the Roaring Fork Valley.

http://www.blumedistillation.com/

Local Group to Study Fryingpan River/Ruedi Impact

Mar 27, 2014
http://www.flyfishingconnection.com/

The Roaring Fork Conservancy is taking a look at what a healthy Fryingpan River means to the local economy. The Fryingpan Valley Economic Study is underway and will continue into next year according to the Basalt based organization. The group says the study aims to understand visitor use and spending related to recreational activities on the Lower Fryingpan River and Ruedi Reservoir, and the river’s economic importance. The final result will give people an idea of what a healthy river means to the local economy. The Conservancy believes the report will also aid in helping to keep the river healthy. Colorado State University and Colorado Mountain College are assisting with the study that is funded in part by the town of Basalt, Eagle County, the Aspen Skiing Company Environment Foundation and other private donors. Over a decade ago the Conservancy conducted a similar study and found the Fryingpan Valley's recreational activities contributed an estimated $1.8 million annually in total economic output to Basalt's economy. Updated numbers are expected to be greater.

www.puma-net.org

 

     Insects and disease continue to assault forests across Colorado  The biggest growing threat is a beetle that's attacking high altitude trees. In the Roaring Fork Valley, the danger for private landowners comes from an insect that's been ravaging the state for much longer. It attacks lodgepole pines. That’s according to a new report by the Colorado Forest Service. To learn more, Aspen Public Radio's Elise Thatcher spoke with Colorado Forest Service Ranger Kelly Rogers. 

 

Garfield County

   The Thompson Divide Coalition announced yesterday that Garfield County is supporting proposed legislation to protect the Thompson Divide. Hours later, the County denied that description… and said Commissioners said no such thing. 

 It was a day of dueling press releases. Around eleven A.M., the Coalition announced that commissioners with Pitkin, Gunnison and Garfield Counties are making a plea... to Republican Representative Scott Tipton to support pending legislation that would limit oil and gas development on the Thompson Divide. 

Basalt Snow Birds

Feb 7, 2014
Roger Adams

Backyard bird feeders are especially popular and well-attended when the snow is deep.  Birds spend the majority of their waking hours in the search for food.  These photos were taken this week at feeders in my yard in Basalt.

The New Wheat Behind Whole Grain White Bread

Dec 23, 2013

A new wheat variety may have cracked the code to marry the fluffiness of white bread with whole grain nutrition.

Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife

Most hunting seasons are winding down, but things are just getting busy at the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. The agency is starting up its annual survey of animals across the state, which can require something called “net-gunning.” Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher talks with Division Spokesman Mike Porras.

 

 

Elise Thatcher

There’s a small army of citizen scientists just over the mountains from Carbondale. Residents in the Paonia area are donning special backpacks for twenty-four hours at a time, to collect real time data for scientific study of air pollution.  The aim is to measure what might be getting into the air from nearby oil and gas wells.

Editor's note: Below is a transcript of reporter Elise Thatcher's story. 

Alison Gannett: “Bluebell!”

Pages