Environment

Environmental coverage

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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.

Moose Population Healthier Than Ever in Colorado

Aug 22, 2013
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.

GasLand II/HBO

Since our report on the documentary film "Gasland II" aired on Monday, August 12th, the story has generated online buzz.  We’ve received emails and tweets from people across the country as well as Facebook posts and online comments.

GasLand II/HBO

Residents and visitors of the Roaring Fork Valley have a chance to see the latest from controversial filmmaker Josh Fox. The man behind "GasLand," which galvanized and focused an anti-fracking movement and was nominated for an Oscar. Now, "GasLand II" is showing tonight in Aspen. 

“My name is Josh Fox. It’s been five years since the first proposal to drill thousands of gas wells came knocking at my door...”

Marci Krivonen

Strong winds yesterday, whipped up flames on a wildfire burning south of Glenwood Springs. The Red Canyon Fire grew to 350 acres and mandatory evacuations forced 15 families from their homes. The fire is burning in rugged terrain, in a Pinyon/Juniper forest. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen was with firefighters when the blaze blew up and started creeping toward them. She filed this report.

Gypsum Biomass Plant First of its Kind in the State

Aug 12, 2013
Marci Krivonen

Colorado’s first woody biomass power plant is nearly complete. Senator Mark Udall and State Senator Gail Schwartz toured the facility in Gypsum on Friday, where wood cuttings from beetle kill trees will be turned into electricity. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen explains.

Heavy machinery is moving dirt around at a construction site not far from Interstate 70. The area used to be grazed by cows. Now, it’s being transformed into an industrial site, complete with two smokestacks and metal ramps surrounding a tall, main building.

The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy’s chief scientist will be speaking in Aspen Thursday. M. Sanjayan also contributes environmental reports to CBS News. In Aspen, he will talk about the role of conservation in improving human well-being, wildlife and the environment. He spoke with Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen.

M. Sanjayan is the lead scientist for the Nature Conservancy. He’s speaking at Peapcke Auditorium Thursday at 6:30pm. The event is being put on by the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies.

Elise Thatcher

Less than a decade ago, an oil and gas boom in Colorado started to fire up... and with it came strong opinions on all sides. One of the first major controversies was over the Roan Plateau, a sweeping mesa in Garfield County. The discord centered on a Congressional mandate to drill-- and worries that doing so would destroy world class hunting and fishing, and the local economy. Colorado’s governor and two senators weighed in, and the Rifle area was featured in the documentary GasLand.

Marci Krivonen

 

When citizens want to block oil and gas development on public land, they usually get a lawyer and head to the courts.  In Carbondale, the Thompson Divide Coalition has taken another approach, choosing instead a game plan that is rarely used in the West. So far, the Coalition’s so-called “market-based” approach has yet to bear fruit. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

U.S. Senators Focus on Colorado River Challenges

Jul 17, 2013
Marci Krivonen

The Colorado River and its future imbalances were the focus of a Senate hearing in Washington D.C. Tuesday. The river supplies water for cities and farms in seven states and parts of Mexico. Lawmakers went over a 2012 study that projects water demand will outpace supply in the coming decades. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Tribes in Western U.S. Use Water to Assert Sovereignty

Jul 15, 2013
Marci Krivonen

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana stand to become the first tribes in the country to own a major hydroelectric dam. In Colorado, tribes are managing parts of hydro projects. All are examples of tribes regaining control of resources on their land. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

In Colorado’s southwest, the Ute Mountain Ute tribe co-manages part of the Dolores Water Project. And, near Durango, the Animas/La Plata project is partially managed by the state’s two tribes. Ernest House directs the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs.

Whitehouse.gov

Last month, when President Barack Obama rolled out a national climate change initiative, a number of decision makers in the Roaring Fork Valley were listening closely.  The President’s plans to cap carbon emissions and boost energy efficiency are in line with much of what has been routine here for years.  Lucy Emerson-Bell is with CORE, the Community Office for Resource Efficiency.

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. 

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