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Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is nothing fancy when you first drive in. No towering cliffs or dramatic canyons. It’s a calm, sunny valley – 6,000 acres all totaled -- of meadow and ponderosa pine forest.

Reservoirs that store water along the Colorado River are projected to be less than half full later this year, potentially marking a historic low mark for the river system that supplies water to seven U.S. states and Mexico.

Forecasters with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation expect the river’s reservoirs -- Lakes Mead and Powell among them -- to be at a combined 48 percent of capacity by the end of September. That would be one of the lowest points ever for the combined water storage.

Sexual harassment allegations at Colorado's Capitol came with a sizeable price tag for taxpayers -- $275,000. That includes everything from fees for attorneys, sexual harassment training and consultants to staffing for a special committee of lawmakers meeting this summer and fall to study changes to the Capitol's workplace harassment policy.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may seem like an unlikely champion for an illegal substance, but the Kentucky Republican just added the legalization of marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin, hemp, to the Senate farm bill. The industrial hemp business is increasingly seen as an economic savior and substitute for vulnerable industries like mining, especially in Colorado, the first state in the nation to make hemp legal at the state level.

A bipartisan group of Colorado lawmakers kicked off an anti-gerrymandering campaign this month. They want to take redistricting decisions out of the hands of state legislators and put it into the hands of twelve voters.

National Archives and Records Administration

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed in February 1848, bringing an official end to the Mexican-American War. Among other things, it moved the southern boundary of the U.S. to the Rio Grande River, instead of the Arkansas River. Part of the original treaty is on display at the El Pueblo History Museum in Pueblo.

History professor Dr. Fawn Amber Montoya coordinates Chicano Studies at Colorado State University-Pueblo. 91.5 KRCC's Abigail Beckman spoke with Montoya about the implications of the treaty, which drastically changed the lives of the people living in this region.

The effects of climate change are already being felt at the headwaters of the West’s most important river system, according to a study released earlier this year.

The Rocky Mountain Climate Organization compiled the latest science on climate change in the Colorado River headwaters in a report titled Climate Change in the Headwater: Water and Snow Impacts (PDF), presented to the Northwest Colorado Council of Governments in February.

Teri Verbickis / Creative Commons 4.0

This month, Colorado became the first state in the nation to allow school nurses to administer medical marijuana to students. But not all nurses may be on board.

The last Republican governor of Colorado, Bill Owens, ended his term in 2007. That's why the GOP is pushing hard to replace term-limited Gov. John Hickenlooper.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

It's officially Hemp History Week. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes the “full growth potential of the industrial hemp industry.” But at the state level, real progress for the hemp industry is still all over the map.

United States Drought Monitor

Hot, dry weather is forcing fire bans across southern Colorado. Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs are the latest to enact restrictions.

Laura Bittner / Flickr/Creative Commons

Ballots for the 2018 Primary Election are arriving in voter's mailboxes this week. There is a change in the process this year, though, as unaffiliated voters are now able to cast votes in the primary. El Paso County Clerk and Recorder Chuck Broerman shares details what voters should expect. 

courtesy U.S. Air Force

Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson is a 1982 graduate of the Air Force Academy. Now she's responsible for the more than 670,000 active-duty Air Force personnel and their families. She also oversees the military branch's more than $132 billion budget. Wilson was in town recently for the Air Force Academy graduation and the change in command at NORAD and NORTHCOM. While here, she sat down with 91.5 KRCC's Andrea Chalfin to talk about space.

Voices continue to mount against the Trump administration's plan to lease land for oil drilling near the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. The Bureau of Land Management plans to lease more than 20,000 acres of land starting in early September, some of which comes within a mile of the park.

Dave Parker / Flickr, Creative Commons

Protests and blockades of clinics that perform abortions are up dramatically around the nation, including Colorado, the first state in the union to pass a law legalizing abortion more than fifty years ago.  

In the summer of 2012, fiancés David Mullins and Charlie Craig tried to order a wedding cake from a shop in a Denver suburb. The owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop refused to serve the same-sex couple because of his Christian beliefs. Now, the Supreme Court has sided with the baker, but not for the reason you might expect.

The four Democratic candidates vying to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper recently discussed everything from transportation and education to fixing the state's budget in a debate this week.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado Springs is launching a new program aimed at stemming panhandling and pushing money toward local aid agencies. City officials say it’s designed to encourage effective giving.

A warm spring has already melted much of the limited snowpack that sits high in the Sangre de Cristo mountains in southern Colorado. Water is already flowing through the ditches near the rural village of San Pablo.

It’s 9 a.m. on a windy Saturday morning. Every now and then Dan Quintana -- in weathered work gloves and a ball cap -- raises up his shovel and slams it into the mud and matted willows that line the waterway that runs through his hay fields. His slight frame makes it easy for him to jump across the narrow ditch.

Ken Lund / Wikimedia Commons

Colorado will be the first state in the country to test out so-called "smart pavement" on a stretch of highway this year.  The goal of these high tech roads is to make drivers safer.

The Colorado Department of Transportation is partnering with Integrated Roadways to install a half mile of high-tech road panels on a mountainous stretch of highway just outside of Denver later this year. Peter Kozinski is the director of CDOT’s $2.75 million “smart pavement” pilot project.

Jorge A. Gonzalez / courtesy UTAH GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

An article published in the journal, Nature, this month explains how a 130 million year old fossilized skull is shaking up scientists’ understanding of how and when the earth’s continents broke apart.

The skull was from a small fur-covered, egg-laying mammal that co-existed with the dinosaurs called the Cifelliodon wakarmoosuch.

Over the last decade or so, states in the Mountain West region have used less and less coal to make electricity. Wind is one of the energy sources replacing it.

Colorado’s biggest wind farm is set to be completed by this fall — and it might even help keep a piece of state history intact.

Mike McBride / Flickr-Creative Commons

Colorado's juvenile justice system will undergo a comprehensive review over the next six months. The goal is to bolster efforts to help keep youth out of the system as well as improve outcomes for those already in it.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

 

The Colorado Springs park system fell four spots this year in a national ranking put out by the non-profit Trust for Public Land. The organization cites below-average park funding as a primary reason. 

The ranking looks at the 100 largest cities in the country, and evaluates them based on factors including park acreage, accessibility, and amenities. This year, Colorado Springs ranked 46th.

You’ve probably heard about the GDP or those “best places to live” rankings. The Family Prosperity Index also factors in family life as a measure of well-being. And the latest rankings show Mountain West states doing pretty well.

 

Pueblo City-County Library via Facebook

The Pueblo City-County Library District is receiving the nation’s highest honor from The Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC


Peak Curiosity is a community-driven reporting series from 91.5 KRCC. We ask listeners to submit their questions about the Pikes Peak region and Southern Colorado, and then we answer them. Scroll down to the bottom of this post to submit your question!

The governors of neighboring Western states shared a stage Tuesday to talk about energy. Utah Republican Gary Herbert and Colorado Democrat John Hickenlooper agreed about many issues — until they were asked afterward about the Trump administration. That's when it became clear they have contrasting views on how the federal government is listening to the states.

Wildfire season is ramping up across our region. There are all sorts of people involved in waiting, watching and fighting them -- people you might not expect. We’re profiling some of them in a series, Faces Behind The Fires.


In 2016, a wealthy Utah family bought The Salt Lake Tribune, Utah’s biggest newspaper.  Now, the owner has shrunk the 90-person newsroom to just 56, citing waning ad revenue and dropping print circulation. It joins a growing pattern across the country and the Mountain West.

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