Environment

Environmental coverage

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.

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. 

 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.

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