Mountain Edition - November 21st, 2013

Nov 21, 2013

Federal agents on the Front Range today are raiding medical marijuana dispensaries and grow operations with the help of local authorities. We’ll have the latest.

A new method for handling criminals is ramping up in Pitkin County. Instead of incarceration, a new wellness program is being tried for people who fit the bill.

As the Greater Sage Grouse’s habitat disappears across the West, federal officials are deciding how strongly to protect some of its Colorado habitat. Local stakeholders are watching closely.

College students around the country are getting an inside glimpse into the social workings of the Roaring Fork Valley...through a book called “The Slums of Aspen.”

A Wall Street Journal reporter explores the early movers and shakers in developing fracking - one of them is a former Aspen resident.

Finally, the fastest distance Nordic skier in the U-S grew up in Aspen. We profile Noah Hoffman in the Road to Sochi series.

Rocky Mountain Institute

A new report on non-profit organizations shows charities in the Mountain West have the among the lowest pay for high level staff among nonprofits across the country.   The survey by Charity Navigator found one standout here.  The top official at the environmental non-profit, Rocky Mountain Institute, was recently paid much more than counterparts at other non-profits, in fact, many times more.  (You can read the entire Charity Navigator report here.)

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.

Elise Thatcher

World renowned artist Christo still hopes to do an ambitious art installation in Central Colorado. Well known for The Gates, a New York City Central Park installation in 2005, he’s now proposing a project called Over the River. In it, fabric panels would be suspended over sections six miles of the Arkansas River. Christo’s work is often controversial, so it’s no surprise the proposal has met stiff opposition here.

Note: Want to hear Christo's entire talk at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center? Scroll the bottom of this post for full unedited audio.

Climate Change and Conflict and the Media

Aug 9, 2013
Solomon Hsiang, et al / Science, 2013

ROGER ADAMS, HOST: Global temperatures on are the rise, and scientists predict that that will make for more extreme weather events—things like higher temperature spikes, drought, and more intense storms. And a team of researchers has made headlines by quantifying how much increased violence comes from extreme shifts in climate.

Aspen Public Radio’s science reporter Ellis Robinson, joins us on Valley Roundup. Hey Ellis.


Study: River Forecasting in Rockies Needs Dusting

Aug 1, 2013

Snow in the Upper Colorado River Basin provides water for seven states.  Farmers, factories, and families alike depend on this water, and a considerable amount of effort goes into understanding and forecasting how much melt is going to come from the snowpack, and when.  

Mountain Edition - July 18th, 2013

Jul 18, 2013

Pitkin County’s library is moving ahead with designs to expand, but the plan is significantly scaled back because voters turned down funding the project.

In Southwest Colorado, a massive wildfire closed down businesses in tourist towns. Now businesses are trying to recover...They’re applying for special loans.

We’ll talk about fire with Congressman Scott Tipton. In response to deadly forest fires he has sponsored legislation to thin forests so they are less explosive.

And, we’ll make a trek to Gothic, Colorado on the other side of the Maroon Bells where scientists have been studying a colony of marmots....for more than 50 years.

Finally today...The Thompson Divide Coalition’s attempt to buy out oil and gas company leases is not new...It’s been tried in other Western states.

What Can Marmots Teach Us About Plastics?

Jul 18, 2013
John Breitsch / flickr user - breitschbirding

At the Rocky Mountain Biological Lab in Gothic, just over the Maroon Bells from Aspen, a number of long-term field studies are pumping out reams of scientific data. In part two of our report on the laboratory, science reporter Ellis Robinson looked at a study on marmots that raises questions about the abundance of plastics in human society.

The Marmots of RMBL

Jul 18, 2013
Ellis Robinson, Aspen Public Radio

A colony of small mammals lives high above Crested Butte, just on the other side of West Maroon Pass from Aspen.  And, for more than fifty years, the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory there has been watching the daily lives of these yellow-bellied marmots.  It’s one of the longest running animal studies in the world.  Our science reporter Ellis Robinson spent several days hanging out with the marmots and the “marmot-teers” who study them.  In the first of two reports, Ellis explores what data the researchers are collecting.

LANL (China, S, Mazzoleni, C, Gorkowski, K, Aiken, AC, Dubey, MK; Nature Communications, 2013)

As the country recovers from the worst wildland firefighting accident in years, there’s more attention on fire crews and the homes they’re trying to protect. But an often invisible result of wildfire can have a big effect on human health and climate... even after the flames die down. Science correspondent Ellis Robinson takes a look at the effects of wildfire smoke on air quality. And that means understanding something called a “tarball.”

From the iPod to the AC - Tony Fadell of Nest Labs

Jul 8, 2013
File Photo

In 2001, Tony Fadell’s design for Apple revolutionized the music player and eventually the cellphone. Today, he’s the CEO and chief designer at Nest Labs - a company aiming to making your thermostat more beautiful, intuitive and energy efficient. Fadell was in town this week to present at the Aspen Ideas Festival and he spoke to Aspen Public Radio’s Rob St. Mary.

For more about Nest Labs: nest.com/

Study Gives "Tree of Life" New Meaning

Jul 3, 2013
John Hritz / Flickr (user jhritz)

A sudden loss in the number of trees around you may slightly increase your chances for death. That's what a study from the US Forest Service published earlier this year suggests. Scientists found that areas with mass-tree deaths from beetle infestations had  increased numbers of cardiovascular and lower-respiratory related deaths.

Wilderness Workshop's Artist in Wilderness Program

Trent Burkett is a sculptor and professor of art. He is currently Full Professor of Ceramics and Sculpture and Chair of the Department of Visual Art at University of the Pacific in Stockton, CA.

Mary Dominick is on the board of Wilderness Workshop and heads up the Artist in Wilderness program


Fear and Hope: Climate Change and Policy Solutions

Few people appreciate just how badly our society will suffer under likely climate change. We are on the verge of unleashing runaway changes, wherein nature’s forces accelerate the impacts of humanity’s emissions, and we get cascading, unstoppable change. This is important to understand, for we will leave an earth a far diminished place, with many parts unrecognizable. Avoiding such a fate is possible, but only with rapid, serious actions. Presenting climate dangers at length, and without an antidote, just leaves depression in the wake. An emerging story is positive: There are new technologies growing at an astounding pace that can reverse CO2 emissions trends. Recent developments in Germany, Denmark, and China and several US states show the potential. This story begins darkly, but transitions to a discovery of solutions that can help build a much more useful conversation on climate change.

Hal Harvey, James Fallows

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. 

Congressional Office of Diana DeGette

Colorado Congresswoman Diana DeGette is again trying to expand wilderness in the state. The Democrat, whose district largely includes Denver, hopes to preserve more than thirty places around Colorado including land in Eagle County. DeGette announced her proposal legislation Monday, June 24th.  She has introduced similar versions for more than a decade.

Images & Information on Colorado Wildfires

Jun 24, 2013

As emergency crews work to handle fires in several areas around Colorado - there's a place you can go to find more information, as it happens, and see how things are developing.

The Colorado Department of Emergency Management has created a website and mapping tool through google maps.

You can see the Colorado Department of Emergency Management site here. The map is below.

Aspen Public Radio will keep you up to date on-air and on-line as the stories develop.

Coal Mines Provide Enticing Green Energy Source

Jun 14, 2013
Credit Kathy Browning - Flickr

One local company is already taking advantage of methane capture at coal mines. The Aspen Skiing Company last year, invested in a project that generates energy from methane at a mine near Paonia.  Their trailblazing will set the stage for other groups to try out similar projects. Aspen Public Radio’s Ellis Robinson reports.

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. 

Two days after the one year anniversary of the High Park Fire and ahead of the Waldo Canyon anniversary, Colorado’s wildfire season has started in earnest.