Elise Thatcher


Elise Thatcher is a reporter with Aspen Public Radio since 2013. 

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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.

There’s a Red Flag Warning for the lower part of the Roaring Fork Valley. That’s until 8pm  and it comes as much of Colorado is holding its breath - the state’s most devastating fire is burning near Colorado Springs. Hundreds of homes have been destroyed by flames.

A brand new air tanker is part of the firefighting fleet in Colorado Springs.. and a Colorado Senator is trying to beef up forces with repurposed military planes, too.

Gabrielle Petron / Cooperative Institute for Research In Environmental Sciences

Some of Colorado’s top oil and gas promoters are worried that lawmakers... and residents... don’t understand the industry. In the coming months, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association plans to talk with both about the effects--and benefits--of drilling. The group hopes to, in their words, change the conversation about the industry... especially in Colorado’s legislature. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher recently spoke with Doug Flanders. He’s the Director of Policy & External Affairs for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. She asked Flanders why. 

Elise Thatcher

It’s coming down to the wire for the new Aspen Music Festival and School. Workers are cranking on finishing up construction and landscaping for the sixty-five million dollar project. It’s supposed to be mostly done by this Friday. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher toured the new digs last week has this report.

Alan Fletcher is President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and School. He carefully tip-toes his way across fresh dirt, pipelines and around a pond...finally he stops and points toward three striking buildings that overlook the water.

Aspen has a new mayor-elect.  Steve Skadron will be sworn in next week.  His first order of business will be to replace himself on the city council.

After Skadron is sworn in, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland becomes citizen Ireland after almost twenty years in public office.

Aspen’s bike sharing program is up and running.  Organizers hope it will become a model for other mountain towns.

A West Slope doctor is indicted on charges related to prescription drugs and money laundering, among other things. He could end up facing life in prison.

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.”

Farther down valley, the Basalt Police Department is still trying to reach someone who may have been one of the last people to see a man who died in Basalt last month. Daniel Perez Mejia was found in late May in a ditch near Big O Tires in Basalt. Police say Mejia got off a bus operated by the Roaring Fork Transit Authority late in the evening on Saturday, May 25th. There was another man who got off the bus at the same time.

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.