Environmental coverage

Raptors Descend Upon Aspen, Put On A Show

Jul 9, 2013
Olivia Siegel / ACES

In 1982, a baby golden eagle crashed on the backside of Aspen Mountain.  The eagle was rehabilitated at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, or ACES, where it has called home ever since. Recently, ACES held a celebration for its Golden Eagle and a number of other hunters of the sky.  Turns out these birds are not only cool to look at, they’re indicators of changes in the environment. Aspen Public Radio’s Science Reporter Ellis Robinson has more.

Tourists weren’t the only visitors to Aspen on Friday. The resort town played host to a handful of wild predators.

Tracking Air Quality in the Roaring Fork Valley

Jun 26, 2013
Drew's News at Roaring Fork High School

The US Supreme Court is in the news for decisions on same sex marriage and voting rights... but the highest court in the land is also planning to look at air pollution. At issue is who's to blame when air quality monitors go way past the legal limit. The court announced Monday it will soon review a 2011 EPA rule... one designed to help protect communities downwind of power plants. Part of the problem is figuring out how to regulate air pollution that goes across state lines. Aspen Public Radio’s science reporter wondered how air quality is measured and tracked. From a field in Carbondale, here’s Ellis Robinson. 

Congressional Office of Diana DeGette

Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette is again trying to expand wilderness in the state. The Democrat, whose district largely includes Denver, hopes to preserve more than thirty places around Colorado including land in Eagle County. DeGette announced her proposal legislation Monday, June 24th.  She has introduced similar versions for more than a decade.

More Bears and People in Colorado mean More Problems

Jun 21, 2013
Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Aspen sits smack dab in the middle of prime black bear habitat, and already this year several sightings and home break-in’s have been reported. The Colorado Department of Parks and Wildlife takes those reports and deals with problem bears. Julie Mao is a Terrestrial Biologist for the agency. She told Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen as populations of bears and people grow in the state, more run-in’s with the bruins are expected.

Courtesy: Rebecca Schild

A world-class climbing area near Rifle may reopen today. The Rifle Mountain Park has been closed for five days because of the nearby Ward Gulch fire. Now, the town’s Parks and Recreation Department says people may be able to return... but it all depends on the weather. 

Rifle Mountain Park has some of the best rock climbing in the country, and climbers from all over the world test their skills there. Everyone was evacuated last Friday, when the Ward Gulch fire got perilously close.  Tom Whitmore is Parks Director for the Town of Rifle.

[Photo: Esther Godson]

For firefighters, each new blaze presents different challenges. Where to get water... the boundaries between private and public property.. access roads and other details can be crucial to getting control of a fire. To make that easier, the Forest Service and other agencies are building their own Google Earth program.

Evacuees Allowed to Return to Homes in Ward Gulch Fire

Jun 17, 2013
Colorado River Fire Rescue

Residents who were evacuated near Rifle for a wildfire, were allowed to return to their homes yesterday. The Ward Gulch Fire north of town has burned about 480 acres and forced the closure of the Rifle Falls Fish Hatchery, which is managed by the state. The public is not allowed into Rifle Falls State Park. Helicopters have been dipping into the nearby Rifle Gap reservoir to fight the flames.

Coal Mines Provide Enticing Green Energy Source

Jun 14, 2013
Credit Kathy Browning - Flickr

One local company is already taking advantage of methane capture at coal mines. The Aspen Skiing Company last year, invested in a project that generates energy from methane at a mine near Paonia.  Their trailblazing will set the stage for other groups to try out similar projects. Aspen Public Radio’s Ellis Robinson reports.

Black Forest Fire Burns 360 Homes

Jun 13, 2013
NPR/Kirk Siegler

A wildfire burning north of Colorado Springs is officially Colorado’s most destructive fire, ever. Law enforcement officials announced this morning the Black Forest fire has burned 360 homes - that’s more than last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire. 15,000 acres have burned and nearly 40,000 people have been evacuated. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa gave credit to firefighters’ hard work.

Kirk Siegler / NPR

Just north of Colorado Springs, a destructive wildfire continues to burn. Reporter Liz Ruskin has been covering the Black Forest Fire, which started on Tuesday afternoon. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen spoke with her on Wednesday afternoon from KRCC’s studios, downtown where, she said, evidence of the fire was easy to see.

Study: The Western U.S. is Getting Dustier

Jun 10, 2013
National Snow and Ice Data Center

Living in the mountains, it’s easy to see changes in nature, especially in the snow. In recent years, dust from desert areas like Utah, has coated some of the area’s snowpack. Scientists in Boulder say the amount of dust being blown into Colorado and throughout the West, has increased over the last two decades. They measured calcium in rainfall to come up with their findings. Jason Neff is associate professor of geology at CU-Boulder and coauthor of the dust study. He told Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen the escalation of dust emissions is due to several factors.

The Roaring Fork Conservancy

More than 100 people jumped into rafts on Saturday for an annual float down the Roaring Fork River. Only, this float wasn’t just an excuse to cool off on a hot day. It was meant to be a learning experience or a classroom on water. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Alongside the river in Glenwood Springs, volunteers lug a big raft full of people to shore. They’re part of the Roaring Fork Conservancy’s 9th annual River Float. The non profit fills more than a dozen boats with participants and an ambassador who talks about the in’s and out’s of the river. 

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.