Local News

Capitol Coverage
2:50 pm
Wed April 2, 2014

Budget May Douse State Aerial Firefighting Fleet

A Type 1 helicopter, known as a snorkel, drops water on the High Park Fire near Fort Collins, Colo., June, 2012.
National Guard Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 10:56 am

Lawmakers on Colorado’s powerful joint budget committee are skeptical about finding money for an aerial firefighting fleet for the upcoming wildfire season. A report from the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control recommends spending $33 million on spotter planes, small air tankers, helicopters, and leasing large air tankers for wildfire season.

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Connecting the Drops
7:33 am
Thu March 27, 2014

Colorado Leads the Charge in Small Hydropower Projects

An old postcard depicting the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.
Credit US Bureau of Reclamation

Using the force of moving water to generate electricity is an old idea.  For much of the 20th century, hydroelectric technology led to the construction of giant dams across the American West and around the world.   But big hydro projects have a big impact on surrounding ecosystems, and Colorado is at the center of a growing move toward hydropower on a smaller scale.
 

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Local News
8:24 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Bear Creek-Cutthroat Trout Public Comment Period to End

The public comment period on a U.S. Forest Service proposal that could close or reroute several trails in the Pikes Peak region is drawing to a close tomorrow. KRCC’s Eliza Densmore reports.
 

Some trails in Bear Creek Park could be closed to help protect what the U.S. Forest Service calls the last known habitat of Colorado’s endangered native greenback cutthroat trout.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife Senior Aquatic Biologist Doug Krieger says Bear Creek is home to between 500 and 700 greenback cutthroat trout that have adapted to this particular stream.

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Capitol Coverage
5:00 pm
Wed March 26, 2014

Telecom Proposals Move Forward

Credit clipart

Even in 2014, many parts of the Colorado are still not connected to the Internet – and if they are it’s not at high speeds. A package of bills to reform and update the state’s telecommunications industry cleared its first committee at the state capitol on Tuesday.
 

Similar proposals have failed in the past, but this year there’s more momentum and strong backing from the Governor’s office. Supporters say the flagship measure would redirect some of the money currently used to pay for high cost land lines into building broadband in underserved areas.

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Agriculture
8:06 am
Wed March 26, 2014

Urban Agriculture in the Pikes Peak Climate

Lettuce starts and mature leafy greens flourish in the grow beds of Christine Faith's aquaponics system. Koi live in the tank under the beds.
Michelle Mercer KRCC

The backyard farming movement continues to grow in Colorado Springs, but exactly what kind of farming makes sense in our challenging climate is a complicated business. The harsh, high altitude sun, thin topsoil, short growing season, and especially, the limited water supply present obstacles for even the most dedicated urban homesteaders.
 

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Capitol Conversation
4:59 pm
Tue March 25, 2014

Annual Report on Children's Well-Being

Colorado Child Well-Being Index
Credit Kids Count in Colorado! / Colorado Children's Campaign

Child advocates say more children continue to live in poverty in Colorado compared to when the state was in the depths of the recession. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
 

 (You can find the full report from the Colorado Children's Campaign here.)

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Capitol Conversation
10:51 am
Mon March 24, 2014

Capitol Conversation: The Upcoming Budget Debate

Bente Birkeland
Credit file photo

Lawmakers in the statehouse are gearing up to debate the budget in the coming days. As part of our weekly capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about what to expect and what makes this year's dynamic different.
 

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Southwest Chief
8:12 pm
Thu March 20, 2014

Railroad West: Colorado Lawmakers Weigh In on the Southwest Chief

Amtrak's Southwest Chief pulls into the Lamar station.
Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Colorado’s Amtrak rail line in southeastern Colorado is in need of major repairs. Upgrades to the track are expected to be in the millions, and a measure is moving through the statehouse to try and find ways to finance the project and save the rail line.  It’s part of a multi-state effort.
 

The Southwest Chief line runs through the towns of Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad. It’s part of a longer passenger route stretching from Chicago to Los Angeles.

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Capitol Coverage
10:10 am
Thu March 20, 2014

Cigarette Restriction Bill Goes Up In Smoke

Smokers in Old Town Fort Collins, in this file photo from May 2007.
Paul L. Dineen Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 8:44 am

A bill to increase the smoking age in Colorado to 21 failed in the house finance committee Wednesday. One Democrat joined with Republicans to defeat the measure.

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Capitol Coverage
5:28 pm
Tue March 18, 2014

State Budget Forecast is Stronger than Anticipated

Credit clipart

Colorado lawmakers learned today that the state’s economy is stronger than expected and they’ll have more money to spend in next year’s budget.
 

For the past few weeks, the grumblings around the state capitol were that the revenue forecast would be lower than anticipated. Instead, it’s $61 million higher.

“Right now you have a lot of flexibility in the budget because revenues are growing,” said Natalie Mullis, the state’s non-partisan chief economist.

She says the recovery has been slow, but it’s picking up.

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Agriculture
7:33 am
Tue March 18, 2014

Climate Change Could Benefit Some Invasive Plants

Ellen Nelson has battled invasive plants that out-compete native grasses on her grass-fed beef ranch near Bellvue, Colo. Some climate studies suggest that fight will worsen in the coming decades.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media

Most climate models paint a bleak picture for the Great Plains a century from now: It will likely be warmer and the air will be richer with carbon dioxide. Though scientists don’t yet know how exactly the climate will change, new studies show it could be a boon to some invasive plant species.
 

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Capitol Conversation
5:05 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Health Bills & the Budget

Bente Birkeland
Credit file photo

A number of controversial healthcare bills are up for debate at the statehouse this legislative session.  For this week’s Capitol Conversation, statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about some of them, and also talks about one of the biggest budget fights going forward.
 

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Local Non-Profits
5:38 pm
Thu March 13, 2014

Michael Hannigan Announces Retirement From PPCF

Michael Hannigan, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation Announced his retirement in this press release on March 3:

Michael Hannigan, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF), has announced his retirement from the organization effective December 31, 2014.

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Capitol Coverage
10:12 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Cell Phone Driving Ban Defeated

Credit clipart

A bill to ban talking on cell phones while driving failed in the House Transportation Committee on Wednesday. Two Democrats joined Republicans in defeating the measure.
 

The hearing was emotional at times and lawmakers were brought to tears after Shelly Forney from Fort Collins testified about her 9 year old daughter Erica’s death. Erica was biking near her home when a woman talking on her cell phone hit her with her car.

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Southwest Chief
7:33 am
Thu March 13, 2014

Railroad West: Southwest Chief Faces Possible Colorado Derailment

The Southwest Chief roughly 20 minutes east of Trinidad, Colorado. The Sangre de Cristo Range looms in the distance in this photo from July 2011.
Credit Steve Wilson / Flickr – Creative Commons

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long distance passenger train that travels daily from Chicago to Los Angeles.  Some riders travel the full route, others use it as their primary transportation between shorter distances.  The train follows the historic Santa Fe Trail, one of the oldest commerce routes in the American West.  Along the way, it passes through Southern Colorado—Lamar, LaJunta, and Trinidad—and then into Raton in Northern New Mexico.  But the rails are aging, and the Southwest Chief could be diverted, bypassing Colorado and Northern New Mexico entirely.
 

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Capitol Coverage
7:16 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Disaster Relief On The Docket At The State Capitol

Jim Hill KUNC

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:50 pm

The annual legislative session is typically marked with plenty of partisanship – but this year lawmakers in both parties are working together on flood relief bills. As dozens of natural disaster bills are making their way in the statehouse, some of the more significant policies are stalled.

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Southwest Chief
2:59 pm
Wed March 12, 2014

Railroad West: Amtrak along the Santa Fe Trail

Credit Maggie Spencer / KRCC

Amtrak's Southwest Chief runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, passing through towns in Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico.  The future of the route is in question, as the current rail lines require upgrades in order to maintain passenger rail speeds.  A partnership is on the table to share expenses for the upgrades; as proposed, Colorado’s portion would be about $40 million over the course of ten years. A bill making its way through Colorado’s legislature would set up a commission to study the issue, as well as the possibility of adding a depot in Pueblo.

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Local News
7:05 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Douglas Creek & Flash Floods: Info Meeting Tonight

Colorado Springs officials will talk flash floods along Douglas Creek at a public meeting tonight. KRCC's Eliza Densmore reports.
 

The meeting is expected to provide education and updated information about increased flash flood risk due to the Waldo Canyon burn scar, including the city’s planned response to a flash flood.

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Business
9:54 pm
Tue March 11, 2014

Vestas to Add Workers

Credit clipart

Wind turbine manufacturer Vestas says it’s expecting to add at least 850 factory workers statewide this year.  400 have already been hired.  The announcement comes after one of the best years for orders placed with the company, and after leaner previous years led to a series of layoffs at its Colorado plants.  In a statement, Vestas says 80 of those workers will be at its Pueblo facility, where they’re expected to reach full capacity this year.  The company also says it expects by the end of the year to employ more than 2000 total workers in its four factories in the state.

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Sports
7:33 am
Tue March 11, 2014

Born Missing a Femur, Athlete Aims to Medal in Sochi

Alpine ski racer Melanie Schwartz is racing for the United States in Sochi. The Canadian native has duel citizenship and raced for Canada at the Vancouver Games. She trains in Aspen.
Credit Marci Krivonen / Aspen Public Radio

Alpine skier Melanie Schwartz is racing for Team USA at the Paralympics this week. The part-time Aspen resident was born without a femur, but started skiing at a young age. This will be her second Paralympics, but her first competing for the United States. In 2010 she raced for Canada. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has this profile.

At the U.S. Adaptive Alpine National Championships, skiers fly down a steep slalom course at Buttermilk Mountain, just outside of Aspen. The competition, in mid-February, is one of the last contests before the Paralympic games.

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Capitol Coverage
8:12 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Taking A Tally At The Colorado Legislative Midpoint

Credit clipart

Colorado’s 2014 legislative session is already halfway over. So far lawmakers have tackled a whole host of issues – everything from gun law repeals to wildfire and flood related measures.

By all accounts this year’s session has been much less contentious compared to the previous year. In 2013, Democrats used their majority to pass stricter gun laws, a new voting bill, and tougher renewable energy standards for electric coops.

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Transmission Problems
1:20 pm
Sun March 9, 2014

Cañon City Translator Problems

We've received reports that KRCC's Cañon City translator is off the air.  We will be working on the translator on Monday.  We apologize for the disruption.

Local News
5:11 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Cuts Planned at USAFA

The Air Force Academy is planning a series of cuts as part of the Pentagon’s 2015 budget proposal. KRCC's Eliza Densmore reports.

The cuts would eliminate three percent of the Academy’s workforce and 10 academic majors at the school. Degrees in biochemistry, environmental engineering, and philosophy are among the proposed cuts.

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Health
4:14 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Colorado Loses "Least Obese" Title

January-December 2013; Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
Credit Gallup

Colorado is no longer the least obese state in the country, according to a new Gallup poll released yesterday. KUNC’s Luke Runyon reports.
 

Since 2010 Colorado has consistently topped lists as having the slimmest population in the country. Not anymore. Montana has usurped the title, where 19.6% of the population is obese, compared to Colorado’s 20.4, putting the Centennial State in second place. Mississippi has the highest level, at 35 percent.

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Education
6:49 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

Funding K-12: Bi-Partisan Bill Gets First Hearing

Credit Clipart

Dozens of school superintendents told lawmakers on the house education committee Monday that Colorado needs to do more to restore K through 12 budget cuts. After a 2013 ballot initiative failed to pass and solve the state’s funding challenges, the problem now falls into the laps of lawmakers. A bi-partisan bill to begin pumping more money into schools got its first hearing at the capitol.
 

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Capitol Conversation
7:33 am
Mon March 3, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Senate Race Shakeup

Bente Birkeland
Credit file photo

News last week that Republican Congressman Cory Gardner is entering the U.S. Senate race to try and unseat Democrat Mark Udall sent shock waves through Colorado’s political landscape.  The move has caused some Republicans to drop out of the race.  As part of our weekly Capitol Conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to reporters about the change.
 

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Local News
10:39 am
Fri February 28, 2014

Parks & Wildlife Suspends Big Game Access Program

Recent budgetary shortfalls have forced Colorado Parks and Wildlife to end the Big Game Access Program. KRCC’s Rachel Gonchar reports.
 

The Big Game Access Program, or BGAP, was intended to evaluate the potential of landowners leasing properties in southeastern Colorado to allow for big game hunting.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Abbie Walls says she’s unsure of what the budget shortfall means to the future of BGAP.

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Elections
3:36 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

GOP Candidates Swap Races

U.S. Representative Cory Gardner (R)

Wednesday’s surprising race swap between Representative Cory Gardner and Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck may demonstrate a game changer for Colorado’s Republican Party. Colorado State University political science professor Kyle Saunders says the solidly Republican 4th Congressional District is a more natural fit for Ken Buck. He thinks Gardner has a better opportunity to win the Senate race against incumbent Democrat Mark Udall.

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Capitol Coverage
9:39 am
Wed February 26, 2014

'The $100 Million Question': What To Do With All That Marijuana Tax Money?

Marijuana at a newly legal grow operation in Colorado. Lawmakers are expecting a windfall of tax revenue from legalized recreational marijuana.
Brett Levin Flickr - Creative Commons

Originally published on Wed February 26, 2014 10:29 am

The market for legal recreational marijuana in Colorado is booming, and the state is expecting millions of dollars more in tax revenues that initially projected. That has lawmakers grappling with the best way to spend all of that additional cash.

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Capitol Conversation
7:33 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Capitol Conversation: Education

Bente Birkeland
Credit file photo

Lawmakers are rolling out a new bi-partisan funding plan for K through 12 schools, but many in the education community are not board with it. As part of our capitol conversation series, Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about the education agenda this session, and some unusual alliances it's creating.
 

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