Bureau of Land Management

Elise Thatcher

There’s a small army of citizen scientists just over the mountains from Carbondale. Residents in the Paonia area are donning special backpacks for twenty-four hours at a time, to collect real time data for scientific study of air pollution.  The aim is to measure what might be getting into the air from nearby oil and gas wells.

Editor's note: Below is a transcript of reporter Elise Thatcher's story. 

Alison Gannett: “Bluebell!”

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.

Some of the effects of lawmakers’ continuing impasse on the federal budget are easy to see in the Roaring Fork Valley. The government shutdown has affected federal offices that handle outdoor recreation and other agencies. And as Elise Thatcher reports, it's not clear what effect it could have on social services.

Reporter: The government shutdown is visible along Highway 82. Traffic signs flash warnings to drivers, saying the road to the Maroon Bells is closed to cars and busses.. And if you poke around, there are other indications, too.

Marci Krivonen

The fire that burned through 400 acres southeast of Glenwood Springs last week is is now fully contained. Many of the firefighters were reassigned over the weekend. The focus now is monitoring hot spots and maintaining a fire line containing the blaze.

As crews fought the flames they found a surprise beyond the big smoke plumes. An archaeological site above Glenwood Springs was literally unveiled by the fire. As crews hacked away at brush they found a depression-era campground built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

[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.

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.”

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