Environment

Environmental coverage

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!”

Portfolio Hardcover

At least one former resident of the Roaring Fork Valley has played a part in the dramatic fracking boom in the last decade. He’s one of several characters examined in a book exploring how fracking started… and there’s an odd connection to restaurants and even the OJ Simpson trial.

 

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The Greater Sage Grouse is in trouble. The bird looks like a large chicken and has an elaborate mating dance… and it's habitat across the West has been under siege for several decades. There’s been big effort to help the bird. Now, Garfield County officials are watching closely as the federal government decides how closely to protect a big chunk of its Colorado habitat. There’s disagreement about how to do that... and huge restrictions on private and public land are at stake if officials get it wrong. The BLM is taking comments on its habitat plan for the Greater Sage Grouse.

Elise Thatcher

Colorado has a problem with air pollution… levels of ozone have been going up, and that can cause health problems. So the state is taking a look at tightening up air regulations for drilling companies. But, some say much is being done already. 

CU Boulder

Large swathes of spruce forests in the Northern Colorado mountains are dying due to the Spruce Beetle. Now, researchers are linking these massive beetle outbreaks to drought. The beetles’ impact on forests has the potential to be more devastating in Colorado than the mountain pine beetle. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with Sarah Hart, the lead author of the study. She says her team went over 300 years of drought data.

Peter Holy/University of Michigan

For several years, researcher Tom Painter has been examining what happens when dust gets on snow. At the same time, on a much larger scientific level, there research on European glaciers… and why they started melting in the mid 1800’s.

Tom Painter: “It’s funny on public television I heard somebody talking about the end of the little ice age in the Alps around 1850 and that’s when temperatures started going up. And I was yelling at the television ‘NO! That’s not when temperatures were going up!’ ”

Flickr (Creative Commons)/Nurpu

In most years, summertime thunderstorms in Colorado give way to clear skies in mid-September. But, not this year. Colorado State Climatologist Nolan Doesken says one of the unique parts of the torrential rains that flooded the Front Range last week is the pattern. Storms bringing heavy rain simultaneously over multiple places. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with him about the storms.

Stephen Ausmus / US Department of Agriculture

Bees around the world have been having a rough time for several years. Populations are going down, even completely disappearing in some places. Researchers haven’t fully figured out what’s wrong; pesticides are among one of the possible culprits. 

Now some good news from the Front Range about what’s called the Western Bumblebee. More and more are showing up in a multi-year study near Boulder. CU Boulder Professor Carol Kearns says it’s easy to spot them, because they have, well, white “butts,” or part of their abdomen. Kearns talks with Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher.

Anda Rojs Smalls

Unlike other Western states, Colorado’s moose population is growing. It’s healthier than ever with an estimated 2300 moose across the state. While other states are grappling with why their herds are shrinking, Colorado is studying the population’s fast growth. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

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