In the future, forests near Aspen and across the state will likely look a bit different. Already, mountain shrubs are replacing some Aspen stands and changing the complexion of the region. Pitkin County is now tracking these shifts on open space properties. Two Aspen-area non-profit organizations are helping. The new data is thanks to a pair of towers that’s tracking things like soil moisture and temperature. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.
Sunday’s mining accident near Ouray was one of the worst in recent Colorado history. Two miners died and nearly two dozen were injured. More details about what happened are starting to come out. Reporter Samantha Wright with the Telluride Watch newspapers has been covering the accident. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher spoke with her about the emerging details. Listen here:
As a government shutdown furloughs thousands of federal employees in Colorado, the state is reaching into its own pocket to ensure that work can continue on some roads and bridges damaged by flooding. Today, Governor John Hickenlooper said the state would pay the salary costs for 120 National Guard engineers, with some reimbursement coming from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"We want to make sure that we don't lose a single day in trying to get these roads open and getting these communities back together again."
Recent flood waters have left behind plenty of damage, but there is one silver lining. Rains recharged the soil, which the 2012 drought left bone dry. KUNC’s Luke Runyon has more…
While there are still pockets of dry areas in the state, the drought has been almost completely wiped out in the foothills and northeastern plains of Colorado. State climatologist Nolan Doesken says these types of weather extremes happen. Colorado may have been drenched in rain, but Doesken says that can change in a matter of months.
The town of Lyons in Boulder County is one of the areas hardest hit by recent floods. There is no water, sewage, electricity or gas in the town and most of the bridges that connect the town north and south have been destroyed. The entire population of just over 2000 people has been asked to leave to allow officials to assess damage and begin reconstruction. Maeve Conran spoke with town administrator Victoria Simonsen by the banks of the St. Vrain, which charts a new course through the town.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:16 am
As the remaining flood survivors continue to be airlifted out of towns cut off by flooding, the focus is beginning to shift to recovery. Specifically on the very reason they have to be airlifted: roads.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:14 am
Rain ground recovery efforts from days of massive flooding across Colorado to a halt Sunday. Helicopters were prevented from conducting additional search and rescue efforts in Boulder and Larimer counties.
The Colorado River dominates much of the water landscape in our state and throughout the Western US. Join us today, Sunday, September 15th at 5 PM for a special statewide call-in program about the Colorado River. We'll be joined by listeners of other community public radio stations across the state. It's part of "Connecting the Drops" our year-long series about water. A special statewide call-in program on the Colorado River, Sunday, Sept. 15th at 5 PM on KRCC. Learn more about Connecting the Drops here.
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 6:08 am
For a second day flood waters, goaded by heavy rains, impacted large swaths of the Front Range. When skies finally broke, many were stranded, hundreds were in need of rescue and four lives were lost statewide.
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 currently pursuing a project called Over the River. In it, fabric panels would be suspended over sections of the Arkansas River. Christo’s work is often controversial, so it’s no surprise the proposal has met stiff opposition here. Christo recently spoke in Snowmass Village. Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher was there, and has this report.
Once again this summer, the Western United States saw plenty of forest fires. Some continue to burn. When the flames are extinguished, the dollar signs emerge, and states handle fire suppression costs differently. In Colorado, it depends on what kind of land is burning and how big the blaze is.
Colorado’s first biomass power plant is nearly complete. Senator Mark Udall and State Senator Gail Schwartz toured the facility in Gypsum recently, where wood cuttings from beetle kill trees will be turned into electricity. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen explains.
The number of suicides in Colorado is at an all time high. 1,053 people took their own lives in 2012 – giving Colorado one of the highest suicide rates in the nation. Jarrod Hindman is the Director of Suicide Prevention at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. He says the state’s geography limits access to mental health services, and the social stigma of getting help continues to contribute to the numbers.
The USA Pro Challenge kicked off in Aspen and Snowmass Village today. More than a hundred and twenty top cyclists are competing in the third edition of the race. As Aspen Public Radio’s Elise Thatcher reports, many explored the Roaring Fork Valley on two wheels this past weekend... and all of them were within arm’s reach during Saturday’s opening ceremonies.
Sagan won today’s first leg of the USA Pro Challenge, finishing the 66-mile stage in 2 hours, 26 minutes.
While Manitou Springs continues its cleanup process after recent flooding, the Western Slope is dealing with issues of its own. 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.
When genetically modified wheat was found growing in Oregon earlier this year, it didn’t take long for accusations to start flying. No one knew how the unapproved wheat ended up in the ground. A flurry of finger-pointing cast potential blame on a federal seed vault in Colorado, which housed the same strain of wheat. The facility's been cleared of wrongdoing since then, but the investigation brings up questions of how secure these seed vaults actually are. KUNC and Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon took a tour of the Colorado vault, and has this report.
A conveyor belt transports potatoes from Shriver's storage shed to a bagging operation. This load of potatoes is headed for North Carolina.
Credit Maeve Conran
A Colorado Department of Agriculture inspector examines potatoes from Karla Shriver's farm.
Credit Maeve Conran
Karla Shriver stands by a pumping system that draws water from the aquifer.
Credit Maeve Conran
A hydro pump meter which shows how much water Shriver draws from the aquifer.
Credit Maeve Conran
One of the irrigation ditches on Shriver's farm. The ditches run dry by the end of May, which means Shriver relies solely on the aquifer for irrigation water for most of the summer.
Credit Maeve Conran
Steve Vandiver, General Manager of the Rio Grande Water Conservation District, in his office in Alamosa. He’s charged with stopping the depletion of the aquifer in San Luis Valley, and is working to create subdistricts.
Credit Maeve Conran
Karla Shriver stands by one of the many pivot sprinkler systems that she uses to irrigate her farm, just north of Alamosa. She irrigates her land with water from ditches and the aquifer, and is concerned about the depletion of the aquifer.
In early July, Colorado designated 14 counties "primary natural disaster areas" due to agricultural losses caused by the recent and ongoing drought. Several of those counties are in the San Luis Valley in south central Colorado. Farmers there are now eligible for low interest emergency loans, but as KGNU’s Maeve Conran reports, that may not be enough for this agricultural hub, which is facing a long term water crisis that could permanently affect the entire valley.
Living near the mountains, it’s easy to see changes in nature, especially in the snow. In recent years, dust from desert areas like Utah has coated some of the area’s snowpack. Scientists in Boulder say the amount of dust being blown into Colorado and throughout the West has increased over the last two decades. They measured calcium in rainfall to come up with their findings. Jason Neff is associate professor of geology at CU-Boulder and coauthor of a recent dust study. He told Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen the escalation of dust emissions is due to several factors.
The American farmer is getting older. Most recent census data shows the average age is 57. And while that tells us who is farming now, it also shows who’s not. While the farming community continues to age, fewer young people are filling the ranks. Harvest Public Media’s Luke Runyon asks the question: Do young people even want to farm anymore?
The quick answer is yes, just not in the same numbers as they used to. And surveys indicate many of them don’t want to farm in conventional ways.
The Obama administration launched an initiative Friday aimed at reducing the risk of wildfire to water supplies in the West. As KUNC's Grace Hood reports, Colorado will be one of six states to see pilot projects.
Flows of ash and debris into streams after a wildfire can be damaging to the local water supply. Aiming to mitigate this problem, the US Departments of Agriculture and Interior signed a memorandum of understanding Friday. USDA Chief Tom Vilsack:
The Colorado River and its future imbalances were the focus of a Senate hearing in Washington DC yesterday. The river supplies water for cities and farms in seven states and parts of Mexico. Lawmakers went over a 2012 study that projects water demand will outpace supply in the coming decades. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.
Preliminary estimates show insurance companies will pay almost $300 million dollars to homeowners affected by the Black Forest Fire. About 3,600 auto and homeowner insurance claims have been filed since the June wildfire, according to the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association. But Executive Director Carole Walker expects that number will grow.
A group of sheriffs aiming to overturn new gun laws are happy with language they say clears up confusion. Yesterday, attorneys for the two sides came to an agreement on the measure that limits magazine rounds to fifteen. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.
A lawsuit filed by more than 50 Colorado sheriffs challenging two new gun laws is scheduled to go in front of a judge today. The laws went into effect July 1st. Now, an attorney representing the sheriffs is asking for the parts of the law setting limits on gun magazines be put on hold. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.