Volunteer firefighters protect about half of Colorado’s residents, with solely volunteer departments being responsible for about 70 percent of the state’s land surface.
And they are significantly understaffed.
The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association estimates that Colorado is short 3,500 volunteers in meeting National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) standards. That would require an increase of more than 40 percent to the present force.
Fort Carson is conducting a full-scale crisis exercise Tuesday and Wednesday. The training is expected to feature a simulated car bomb near Prussman Chapel on the Mountain Post.
Those on base can expect road closures from 5 am until 3 pm Tuesday, specifically Prussman between Berkeley and McGrath, and Porter Street. McGrath will be down to one lane for about a block. Detours may also be in place.
The annual exercise tests emergency response procedures. Previous simulations include chemical spills, terrorist attacks, and winter weather.
Colorado’s legislature this year created the state’s own air fleet for fighting wildfires. The endeavor includes four helicopters, two single engine air tankers, and two PC-12 single engine planes equipped with new thermal imaging technology. The move has put Colorado at the forefront of utilizing advanced technology to battle the destructive blazes. Reporter Ryan Maye Handy wrote a series of articles for the Colorado Springs Gazette about this new technology. She spoke with KRCC's Andrea Chalfin about it.
The Governor’s Oil and Gas Task Force charged with coming up with new recommendations for the energy industry is getting off to a slower than anticipated start. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
The USA Pro Challenge makes its way to Colorado Springs on Thursday for Stage 4. Cyclists will start at the Broadmoor and make their way through downtown before heading up to Garden of the Gods. They'll repeat the downtown to Garden of the Gods circuit four times for a total of 70 miles.
In preparation, road closures will begin on Wednesday, with various reopening times on Thursday.
Roads closures Wednesday start at 9:00 AM:
Tejon between Kiowa and Colorado Pikes Peak between Cascade and Nevada
Black Forest Fire Chief Bob Harvey is apparently no longer with the department. A statement from the fire district says Chief Harvey cleared his personal items out of his office on Wednesday. Harvey has been on medical leave since early June, and the Board of Directors was looking to schedule a meeting with him to discuss his condition and his intentions. The board then learned Harvey had said elsewhere that he was no longer employed.
It’s been over a year since Governor Hickenlooper issued an executive order calling for the creation of a state water plan. It won’t be a legal document, but the plan is expected to make recommendations that will guide future water planning and funding decisions. The process is well underway, with a deadline to deliver a draft plan by this December.
Mike Preston, manager of the Dolores Water Conservancy District, which stores and delivers water from the Dolores River, stands next to an irrigation outlet on McPhee Reservoir, near Cortez.
Drought conditions in Colorado have seen another week of slight improvements across the state, and the worst category of drought has disappeared altogether. One week ago, about .5% of Colorado was classified as “Exceptional Drought,” all in southeastern Colorado. Now, that area is categorized under “Extreme Drought.” One year ago, 3% of the state was listed as “Exceptional Drought.”
The U. S. Drought Monitor currently shows normal conditions across 60% of Colorado. One year ago, that number was 1.5%.
The Manitou Incline will close in mid August for trail maintenance. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, the heavily traveled path is showing the effects of use and Mother Nature.
The work will include repairing damaged retaining walls, unclogging culverts, and rerouting the connecting trail between the Incline and the Barr Trail.
Sarah Bryarly is a landscape architect for the City of Colorado Springs Parks Department and the Project Manager for the Incline reconstruction. She says the repairs are focused on protecting the incline from runoff.
Colorado’s commission to look at preserving Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line is gearing up to start its meetings.
The commission’s been tasked with coordinating efforts to try and save the line, which faces possible rerouting out of southern Colorado and northern New Mexico if necessary infrastructure upgrades aren’t completed.
Jim Souby is the President of the Colorado Rail Passenger Association, and was appointed to the commission to represent the tourism industry.
The Bureau of Land Management is finalizing an updated fire management plan for the Front Range. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
The Royal Gorge office has divided the Front Range into Northeast and Royal Gorge planning areas, with the latter including Las Animas, Pueblo, and Fremont Counties. Changes to the fire management plan include more thinning, seeding and controlled burns. Ed Skerjanec is the Fire Mitigation and Education Specialist for the Bureau. He says the new plan looks to be more flexible and widespread:
Now that Governor John Hickenlooper and Democratic Congressman Jared Polis have reached a deal to avoid an expensive fight at the ballot box over oil and gas drilling, Bente Birkeland takes a look at the next steps. She talks to statehouse reporters about what the deal means politically and the likelihood of a legislative compromise succeeding.
State energy regulators have dropped their lawsuit against the city of Longmont for adopting stricter oil and gas rules that Colorado officials argued infringed on the state’s rights. Bente Birkeland has more…
Meanwhile, a judge in Fort Collins today ruled that that city's ban on fracking violates state law.
Amtrak’s Southwest Chief is a long-distance passenger train that travels daily from Chicago to Los Angeles along the Mountain Route of the historic Santa Fe Trail. Along the way, it knits together rural communities, like La Junta, Colorado and Raton, New Mexico and connects them to larger cities, like Albuquerque and Kansas City. The route is at risk though.
Colorado will avoid a costly ballot fight this November over oil and gas drilling. One day after Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said he would pull the two anti-fracking ballot initiatives he’s backing, industry groups are following suit dropping a pair of pro oil and gas proposals. As Bente Birkeland reports, the agreement will still have ramifications for the political season.
Democratic Congressman Jared Polis said he would call on the withdrawal of two anti-fracking ballot initiatives he’s backing so the state can try to craft a legislative solution. He said he made the decision in the last few days, “I’ve said that from the very start my personal preference is to address these issues legislatively.”
Starting today Colorado residents who are in the country illegally can apply to get a state driver’s license. The Democratic controlled legislature passed the law in 2013. Ten other states have similar laws already on the books.
Undocumented immigrants must first prove that they’ve lived in Colorado for the last two years and have paid state and federal taxes. They’ll also have to show an ID from their home country such as a passport, and sign an affidavit pledging to apply for legal status.
Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 12:26 pm
Colorado voters will once again decide on an amendment that would give unborn babies the same constitutional and legal rights as a person. The measure is bringing out some familiar faces – it’s also impacting one of the closest U.S. Senate races in the country.
Hundreds of people are expected to testify in Denver this week on proposed rules to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Denver hearing is one of several the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting across the country on the plans.
Sixty-nine year old Stanley Sturgill is from a small coalmining town in southeastern Kentucky. He flew to Denver for the day just to make his voice heard…
Pueblo’s first needle exchange is set to take place Friday. KRCC’s Dana Cronin reports.
The exchange is geared toward illegal injection drug users in order to help prevent the spread of Hepatitis B and C, and HIV. Access Point Pueblo is a legal syringe access program and is hosting the exchange.
Dr. Michael Nerenberg sits on the City-County Board of Health and has helped bring the program to Pueblo. He’s also a retired emergency room physician who worked in the city for over 24 years. Nerenberg says he’s seen drug use, including heroin, escalate over the years.
Recipients of an annual federal transportation grant are expected to be announced this fall. As KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports, officials in Southern Colorado are hoping the grant will help keep Amtrak’s Southwest Chief line on its current route.
The grant is known as the TIGER grant, and is part of a federal funding program that helps finance large transportation projects nationwide.
A furry beast, a brave rider and a roaring crowd make up the list of ingredients for the Western rodeo tradition known as “mutton busting.” Think of it as bull-riding, but for 6-year-olds, and the furry beast is actually a wooly sheep.
Mutton busting has its roots in Colorado, where it was first introduced in the 1980s at the National Western Stock Show in Denver. The crowd-pleaser is now a favorite at many rodeos and county fairs across the Midwest and Great Plains.
Waldo Canyon restoration continues this weekend on Saturday with an effort from Volunteers For Outdoor Colorado. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
The project looks to help protect nearby water supplies, infrastructure, and Highway 24, by working on a number of erosion control issues, including dead tree removal, sandbagging, and reseeding grass and trees.
Volunteer for Outdoor Colorado spokeswoman Jessica Von Duerring says it’s part of an ongoing effort to help restore the burn scar.
A federal judge in Colorado struck down the state’s gay marriage ban Wednesday. The judge put a temporary hold on the decision so the state can appeal it to a higher court. Bente Birkeland has more from the state capitol.
The judge in this case has issued a stay until late August as part of the ruling to give the state a chance to appeal. While Attorney General John Suthers and Governor John Hickenlooper both requested a stay so the issue could eventually be decided by the U. S. Supreme Court, both agreed the state ban should be declared unconstitutional.
While campaigning for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob Beauprez, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie refused to back down from his comments made earlier in 2014, criticizing Colorado’s quality of life after legalizing recreational marijuana.
“We’ve got to stop in public life worrying about making everybody happy and faking it, like we’re going to agree all the time,” said Christie.
The historic September 2013 flood reshaped waterways across Colorado’s northern Front Range, making major changes to both the manmade and natural environments. Over the past ten months, homeowners, planners and policy makers have grappled with difficult decisions over where and how to rebuild, and when to let Mother Nature take her new course.
Lyons resident Phyllis Casey stands watching the demolition of her home. The sound of heavy equipment along Apple Valley Road in Lyons competes with the rush of North St. Vrain Creek full of spring run-off.
The city of Colorado Springs is accepting public comments on their new Park System Master Plan. KRCC’s Tucker Hampson reports.
The plan looks to address the most important issues for the upcoming decade. The Executive Director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition is participating in the blueprint process, and TOSC Advocacy Director Bill Koerner says one of the issues in the draft is the need for more open space.
A federal judge in Denver said Colorado’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional and three county clerks have been issuing marriage licenses in the state. Bente Birkeland talks to statehouse reporters about the changes and what it means politically.