91.5 KRCC Newsroom + Local Stories

Colorado Springs local, and Southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico regional news from the award-winning 91.5 KRCC Newsroom.

Also, great stories from our producers, partners and people in our region. 

Looking for recent 91.5 KRCC daily newscasts?  Click here.

-------------------------------------------------

Subscribe to 91.5 KRCC News + Local Stories in iTunes.
Subscribe to 91.5 KRCC Newscasts in iTunes.
Subscribe with an Android device.

Patagonia

The Patagonia website recently took another swipe at the Trump administration over its decision to shrink national monuments in Utah. This political activism may be the new norm for the outdoor recreation industry.

The Colorado River Basin is likely to see one of its driest spring runoff seasons on record this year, according to federal forecasters.

Scientists at the Salt Lake City-based Colorado Basin River Forecast Center say current snowpack conditions are set to yield the sixth-lowest recorded runoff into Lake Powell since the lake was filled more than 50 years ago.

In parched states like Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, water is a big issue, especially with growing populations that constantly need more and more. But there’s a big question: How do we accurately forecast the amount of water that will be available any given year? It’s not easy. But some Colorado scientists think they’re onto a possible solution -- inspired by Pokemon.

I’m marching through a stand of blackened, towering pine trees with fire ecologist Philip Higuera. He stops and sniffs the air.

“We can smell the charcoal here,” he says. “You smell that?”

Higuera is a low-key guy with a trimmed beard and sporty sunglasses. But when I ask him whether the massive wildfire that raced across Lolo Peak in Montana last summer was bad, he corrects my choice of words. 

91.5 KRCC and Pikes Peak Library 21c are hosting the StoryCorps mobile recording studio April 30th through May 11th as part of the Military Voices Initiative.  

Veterans, service members, and military families are encouraged to share their stories, and in doing so, we will honor their voices, amplify their experiences, and let them know that we - as a nation - are listening.

For the third time in state history, Colorado lawmakers voted on whether or not to expel one of their peers. The effort failed. In a battle over #MeToo, respectfulness, fairness and principles, Republicans defeated a Democratic resolution to oust Sen. Randy Baumgardner of Hot Sulphur Springs, despite an independent investigation that found allegations of sexual harassment against him credible.

The 17-17 vote went along party lines with one exception: Sen. Ray Scott, R-Grand Junction, voted for expulsion. Sen. Cheri Jahn, an unaffiliated member, voted with Republicans. Baumgardner abstained.

For the second time in a month, Colorado lawmakers are debating whether to eject one of their own amid allegations of sexual harassment. First, it was Steve Lebsock, the former Democratic representative, who was ousted overwhelmingly in the first House vote of its kind in more than a century. At this moment, in an unexpected move, the Senate is poised to begin similar proceedings over Randy Baumgardner, a Republican senator.

The Chinese government has retaliated in what appears to be an escalating trade war. The government says it will slap tariffs on a long list of American goods including pork and fruit, a move that could put producers across the region in a bind.

China buys a lot of American pork. And while Iowa may be this country’s pig-producing colossus, tariffs would hit producers everywhere, including states in the Mountain West like Utah and Colorado.  

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

Teen birth rates have been going down for a while now but in one mountain west state -- Colorado --  they’ve gone down more than the rest of the nation. Could it be related to the national trend of kids having less sex or an attempt to make IUDs more accessible?

91.5 KRCC

Passing a balanced budget is the only thing Colorado lawmakers are required to do during the annual 120-day legislative session. A strong economy means there is more general fund money to spend on priority items including roads and schools. The 'long bill' as its known has cleared the Democratic-controlled House and now goes to the Senate which is controlled by Republicans.

Drought has basically divided the Mountain West into two separate regions this year.

Storms kept Idaho, Montana and Wyoming wet over the winter, and the national Drought Monitor shows no drought in those states.

Senate President Kevin Grantham, R-Canon City, said in a letter that sexual harassment allegations by a former intern against Sen. Jack Tate, R-Centennial, do not amount to sexual harassment.

“I have determined that corrective action based on this complaint is unwarranted, and that this investigation is therefore concluded,” stated Grantham.  He noted that Tate has participated in a mandatory sexual harassment training for legislators and staff, and a voluntary seminar with the Majority Caucus. 

Gallup

A new Gallup poll shows the majority of Americans do believe in climate change. The poll shows 66% of Americans believe that most scientists think global warming is occurring, 64% believe it is caused by human activities, and 60% believe its effects have already begun.

The humpback chub, a fish native to the Colorado River and considered endangered since 1967, has turned a corner.

In a recent analysis, scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service say the chub’s five distinct populations throughout the Colorado River watershed in Colorado, Utah, and Arizona are stable enough to reclassify the fish as threatened rather than endangered.

Details are unfolding about how British data-mining firm Cambridge Analytica influenced national elections. Meanwhile, a newly surfaced document suggests the group also had a hand in our region -- and in one especially tight Senate race in Colorado.

Senate President Kevin Grantham is under scrutiny  for his handling of harassment complaints. Critics say he’s been inconsistent, even partisan, and they question his ability to be fair and help make the Capitol’s culture more professional.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

 

As the march for gun reform in downtown Colorado Springs was winding down this weekend, 91.5 KRCC noticed something a little bit unexpected. Seated at a table in Acacia Park on the periphery of the rally were a man and woman wearing hats that immediately betrayed their political differences.

91.5 KRCC

For the second year in a row, Colorado lawmakers are working on a way to provide funding for the states roadways. In 2017 it was a proposed tax measure that failed. This time around it’s a bonding plan that would lock the state into annual payments coming from the general fund. This is where Democrats and Republicans disagree on the plan.

Jake Brownell / 91.5 KRCC

Hundreds of people, possibly 1000 or more, turned out in Colorado Springs Saturday to protest gun violence and call for legislative action on the issue. The downtown rally was part of a nationwide action, dubbed #MarchForOurLives, organized by survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Lucia Guzman said she had been thinking about her decision to step down as Colorado’s Senate minority leader for weeks. Finally, early on Thursday morning, the Democrat walked onto the Senate floor. It was quiet, mostly empty and she said she removed her name placard from her prominent desk.

“On the one hand it felt like failure and loss, but on the other hand it felt like success and empowerment,” said Guzman.

defenseimagery.mil

A new report from the personal finance website Wallethub says states in the Mountain West are among the most reliant on the gun industry. With gun sales down under the Trump administration and a heightened focus on federal gun control regulations, could this reliance be an economic concern for the region’s bottom line?  

Amanda Peacher

This Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people are expected at rallies for gun control across the country. And no one is speaking louder than those who inspired the rallies and who feel they have the most at stake: teens.

This weekend, hundreds of thousands of teens are expected to march on Washington D.C. and around the country, calling for gun control. The Mountain West News Bureau spoke with two students in Montana and Wyoming who do not plan to march, and are worried gun control reform could change their way of life.

It has been nearly two months since an independent investigator with the Employer’s Council concluded and found the accuser to be credible in allegations of sexual harassment against Sen. Jack Tate.

Weeks later, there have been no consequences as a result and the accuser said she wants to know why.

So she says she now wants to make the investigator’s report public (PDF), which is allowed under the General Assembly’s workplace harassment policy, in hopes it will spur action.

Sen. Beth Martinez Humenik said she has filed a formal workplace sexual harassment complaint against a fellow senator, Daniel Kagan, alleging that he was inside a restroom designated for female legislators and staff multiple times.

How bad is 2018 snowpack in the southern Rocky Mountains, you ask?

Let me count the ways.

Currently, snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin, which supplies the vast majority of water for what is arguably the southwest’s most important river system, sits at 69 percent of median. In 2002, the watershed’s driest year on record, there was more snow on the ground at this point in March than there is now.

Colorado’s public pension system needs more money to remain viable. The Public Employees Retirement Association, or PERA, is the retirement benefit for teachers and other public employees. Right now, it’s only 58 percent funded. Senate Bill 200 is starting its journey through the legislature and it will need bipartisan support if it is going to pass.

Statehouse reporter Bente Birkeland spoke with Brian Eason of the Denver Post and Ed Sealover with the Denver Business Journal about the bill, and what’s at stake.

USDOT

The collapse of a pedestrian bridge in Miami last week is raising questions about "accelerated bridge construction," something that happens across the country and here in the Mountain West. These so-called "instant bridges" are where most of the bridge is built off-site and then installed.

Pages