Bureau of Land Management

southcanyonfire.com

Twenty years ago this month, a fast-moving wildland fire near Glenwood Springs killed 14 firefighters. On Sunday firefighters and family members will remember those who died in the South Canyon Fire during a special commemoration. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen spoke with David Boyd with the Bureau of Land Management. He’s helping organize the event.

The South Canyon Fire commemoration starts at 4:45pm at Two Rivers Park in Glenwood Springs on Sunday (6/7). For more information, visit this website.

Marci Krivonen

Pitkin County is reiterating its opposition to drilling in the Thompson Divide area through a letter to the Bureau of Land Management. The BLM is taking comments on its review of 65 oil and gas leases that stretch over the White River National Forest. Twenty-five of those leases are in the Thompson Divide, southwest of Carbondale.

Residents vote for change on the boards that represent Carbondale’s emergency services and a mid-valley park district.

New test results show third graders in the Roaring Fork Valley are better at reading than the statewide average.

A state senator wraps up her time under the gold dome in Denver.

And oil and gas proponents voice strong support for continuing to drill in Garfield County.

We’ll let you know what to expect for the upcoming Aspen Music Festival and School summer season.

And we get a taste of what Aspen middle and high school band students learned this year from a long-time jazz musician. 

savethethompsondivide.org

The public is getting a chance this week to comment on what happens to existing oil and gas leases in Garfield, Pitkin and Mesa Counties. Sixty-five leases within the White River National Forest are up for review. Just eight of them hold active infrastructure, like gas wells. The Bureau of Land Management handles the leases and is soliciting feedback on what do with them.

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.”

Pages