Forest Service

Phil Nyland/White River National Forest

Officials at the White River National Forest are anticipating significant cuts to their noxious weed management program. Funding to fight invasive species on the Forest has declined in recent years and it’s beginning to impact the land. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

The White River National Forest is expecting a 15 to 25 percent cut in the program that includes the management of rangeland and noxious weeds. Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams will get a final budget later this spring.

The White River National Forest is working toward the final stages of updating its oil and gas plan. The document sets out rules for the energy industry, like where and when they can operate on the Forest. And, it could impact what happens in the Thompson Divide. The agency is updating the old plan partly because oil and gas operations have advanced in the area. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

mape_s/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Forest Service is chipping away at plans to improve habitat on 10’s of thousands of acres in the Roaring Fork Valley. The large-scale project includes thinning overgrown vegetation in areas like the Frying Pan and Crystal River Valleys. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Marci Krivonen

Once again, this summer, the Western United States saw plenty of forest fires. Many of them, like California’s Rim Fire, continue to burn. When the flames are extinguished, the dollar signs emerge. States handle fire suppression costs differently. In Colorado, it depends on what kind of land is burning and how big the blaze is.

Facebook/Carbondale and Rural Fire Protection District

The Red Canyon Fire burning southeast of Glenwood Springs didn’t see any growth yesterday. Favorable weather and more resources allowed firefighters to get a handle on the blaze. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

So far, about 390 acres have burned in the rugged area, three miles outside of Glenwood Springs. As of yesterday evening, nearly 30 percent of the fire had been contained.

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.

[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.”

Photo by Colorado River Water Conservation District

As the demand for water grows in the West, there may come a day when water rights at ski areas will be worth more than lift tickets or real estate. Forest Service officials want to make sure those rights aren’t sold--but a previous attempt was struck down in court late last year. A judge decided, among other things, the agency didn’t get enough public input. This week saw the first of three public meetings... it’s the only one in Colorado. Denver Post reporter Jason Blevins was there.