KAJX

Environment

Environmental coverage

Tracking Wildfire Risk in Your Backyard

Jun 6, 2013

 Fire season has already started in Colorado with the so-called Blue Bell fire igniting near Denver this week. Closer to home, fire officials are holding meetings in local communities to get people prepared. In an effort to educate people statewide, Colorado State University has unveiled a new website that pinpoints fire risk throughout the state. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports the website allows the user to type in their address to see how susceptible their home is to wildfire. 

The Forest Service isn’t hiring as many firefighters this year, compared to years past. That’s according to the agency’s top official. Tom Tidwell testified before Congress earlier this week. He said there will be five hundred fewer firefighters this year. That’s because of sequestration, or mandatory budget cuts. Bill Kight is with the White River National Forest. Aspen Public Radio asked whether those budget cuts will mean fewer firefighters for the Forest.

“Uh no, not really, we’re in good shape this year. We’re about the same number of folks we had last year.”

Marci Krivonen

Water managers, users, and other decision makers from across Colorado are meeting today in Keystone. It’s part of ongoing efforts to make sure water’s being used in a smart way across the state. And now officials are starting to put together a statewide water plan, as ordered by Governor John Hickenlooper. John Stulp is the governor’s water advisor--and he’s overseeing Wednesday's meeting.

Courtesy Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife

There are new restrictions for food and related items in all developed recreation sites on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District. The Forest Service announced what it calls a food storage order yesterday. It requires that all food and refuse be kept in bear-resistant containers. Bill Kight is with the White River National Forest.

Elise Thatcher

The fire season is underway, with evacuations near Denver for what’s being called the Bluebell Fire. The blaze started yesterday in the Evergreen area, just west of Denver.

Two much smaller fires were reported in the Roaring Fork Valley this weekend. One was up Thompson Creek, near Carbondale. The other was in Aspen City limits, next to Aspen Mountain. Right now, fire danger varies a little along the Roaring Fork Valley. In the Carbondale area it’s moderate, it is low in Aspen.  Ron Leach is Chief of the Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District.  Leach is advising caution.

Marci Krivonen

The summer season is beginning, and with it comes river recreation of all kinds in the Roaring Fork Valley. In our area, we’re used to roaring rivers and thrilling rapids. But, in other communities, rivers that once roared are still and quiet now. And, it’s a problem. An engineering firm in Glenwood Springs is working to put the rapids back in rivers damaged by human intervention. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

Colorado River Water Conservation District

Water officials are laying out a plan for meeting the growing demands of the Colorado River in the future. The group met yesterday in California. The meeting was prompted by a study out last year. It predicts looming shortages on the River, which supplies water to 40 million people, as well as farmers and ranchers in Western states. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

Elise Thatcher

The City of Aspen wants to know what “environmental sustainability” means to people here. Does it mean cleaner air or making sure there’s enough water to go around? Or maybe there’s another description It’s part of Aspen’s new effort to find out exactly how well the city is meeting its own sustainability goals.  Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher filed this report.

Dry Year Leads to Collaborative Water Conservation

May 15, 2013
Marci Krivonen

 

An effort is underway in the Roaring Fork Valley to get all of the communities here to collaborate on saving water. A local non profit will go before the Glenwood Springs City Council Thursday with a blueprint for how to do that. It’s called the Roaring Fork Watershed Regional Water Conservation Plan. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, it’s meant to help keep water in local rivers.

 

Courtesy Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife

The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife is still searching for who killed and dumped a female adult bear earlier this month. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher checked on the latest in the investigation.

NPR.org

 

Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper fired up a special task force Friday in response to the state’s ongoing drought. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, the group will focus on making sure communities across the state can deal with the effects of drought.

 

April snow showers brought needed moisture to our region, with conditions changing to moderate in the Roaring Fork Valley. But the southeastern section of the state struggling with extreme and exceptional conditions, and much of Colorado is still dealing with a major drought.

EcoFlight

The Aspen Skiing Company has given a combined fifty thousand dollars to organizations working to prevent oil and gas drilling in the Thompson Divide. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher has more.

The Earth's wettest regions are likely to get wetter while the most arid will get drier due to warming of the atmosphere caused by increased levels of carbon dioxide, according to a new NASA analysis of more than a dozen climate models.

Is Fracking Getting Greener?

May 2, 2013

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has just revised its estimate of the amount of greenhouse gas that leaks everyday in oil and gas drilling fields.  The EPA says that as much as 20 percent less methane gas is leaking from drilling operations than it had previously thought.  The announcement comes as good news for the oil and gas industry and is an acknowledgement, says David Ludlam, of big strides in engineering.

Photo by Colorado River Water Conservation District

As the demand for water grows in the West, there may come a day when water rights at ski areas will be worth more than lift tickets or real estate. Forest Service officials want to make sure those rights aren’t sold--but a previous attempt was struck down in court late last year. A judge decided, among other things, the agency didn’t get enough public input. This week saw the first of three public meetings... it’s the only one in Colorado. Denver Post reporter Jason Blevins was there.

Snow Storms Good News for Anglers

May 1, 2013
http://www.fryingpananglers.com/Photos-2013/fly-fishing-photos-4-April-1Jason.html

Recent snow showers have boosted local snowpack levels much higher than at this time last year. Yesterday the snowpack in the Roaring Fork Watershed registered 107 percent of normal. It’s good news for anglers who dealt with warm and dry conditions last year.

The latest “Fishing Report” on the Frying Pan Anglers website reads, “...this last week has put us in the best position all year, with the best water in the entire state.”

Owner Warwick Mowbray wrote that entry. He says recent storms paint a good picture for the upcoming fishing season.

Photo by Elise Thatcher

Most residents in the Roaring Fork Valley probably won’t be surprised to hear

there’s more snow in the mountains. Drought conditions are in the area again this year... but while the snow is helping... it’s cold temperatures that are making the biggest difference.

Wendy Ryan is with the Colorado Climate Center. She says the snowpack in the Roaring Fork Valley is at 87% of what’s normal.

"It’s way better than we had been just a few weeks ago, so April has brought us some really good moisture, mainly along the northern tier of the state."

Residents in the town of Parachute, and other area communities, are angry and worried about a nearby hydrocarbon spill. That’s a word for a substance like light natural gas, that seeped out from a pipe valve earlier this year. Officials say there isn’t any more leaking out, and they feel like they’ve got a good handle on the clean up. But many at a public meeting on Monday, April 29th, were skeptical. Aspen Public Radio's Elise Thatcher reports:

Photo by Dale Atkins/RECCO

This week is a tough one for many in Colorado’s backcountry community. Friends and family are getting used to the idea that five men died in an avalanche near Loveland Pass last weekend. Its the worst event of its kind in Colorado in a half a century.

Adam Schmidt is editor in Chief at Snowboard Colorado Magazine. He was good friends with one of the victims, Gypsum resident Joe Timlin. Schmidt got the call Saturday night that Joe was gone, killed in the avalanche.

“My first reaction was disbelief. Um. I was hoping it was a terrible joke.”

Marci Krivonen

Last month the Obama Administration laid out a plan to help plants and animals deal with the impacts of climate change. Already, polar bears are losing sea ice and waterfowl are flying south weeks later than decades before. The plan lays out strategies on how to help animals survive these changes.

In Aspen, a group of citizen scientists hope to do the same thing. They’re getting trained on how to recognize and record changes to the environment. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies is behind the effort. The group hopes to make it easier to track changes.

Pages