Shanna Lewis


Shanna Lewis’ work as an independent radio producer and journalist has aired on NPR’s newscast and news magazines, Voice of America, Prime Time Radio and Pulse of the Planet, among others. Freelance print and photography work by Shanna has been featured in The Denver Post, The National Post (Canada), High Country News and other publications. She is the recipient of a Colorado AP (Associated Press) Broadcast award and has garnered seven Colorado Press Association awards for reporting and photography.

Shanna is a member of the Association of Independents in Radio, Society of Environmental Journalists, National Press Photographers Association and Journalism and Women Symposium. She also serves on the board of directors for KWMV 95.9 FM, a community radio station in rural Colorado.

Results of bloodwork and soil testing done in the area of the former Colorado Smelter Superfund site in Pueblo were released this week. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports that evidence of toxins was found.

135 people considered most at risk for exposure to lead had their blood drawn two years ago. Seven children were found to have elevated levels.  The report notes that even low levels of lead could cause serious health problems in children.

Greg Owens / National Park Service

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison just became Colorado’s first International Dark Sky certified National Park, and the ninth in the nation. The Western Slope park was recognized for its exceptional night sky views, as well as its efforts to preserve those views and educate people about the value of a dark night sky.

Ranger Nick Myers leads the astronomy program at the park. He says they’ve worked to reduce bright lights that can drown out the stars.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The Colorado State Fair is in full swing in Pueblo. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to check out the annual celebration of the state's agriculture and more. They'll have plenty to do from spinning on rides at the carnival to eating festival foods to watching young Coloradans show off their livestock and other 4H projects.  KRCC's Shanna Lewis captured some of the sights and sounds from the fair, starting in the swine barn.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

A lot of dirt needs to get moved to repair the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo, and plans for the repairs are changing so that dirt can be put to use on other projects. Those changes may affect efforts to preserve historic sections of the murals painted on the levee.

Originally plans called for reducing the height of the levee by 12 feet in phases, but now other projects can use the dirt quicker than first thought. Pueblo Conservancy District consulting engineer Kim Kock said that means they need to keep moving forward.

Work on the first phase of rebuilding the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is complete, and the conservancy district that oversees the levee is starting to at potential recreational opportunities as they plan the rest of the repairs.

In addition to a new pedestrian walkway on the top of the levee, the district is considering adding footbridges across the river, more access points and redoing the kayak park. Corrine Koehler leads district’s recreation committee. She says they want to be sure that ideas for recreation aren’t just coming from the engineers.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Repair work on the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is destroying the world’s largest mural. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports on the discussion about repainting it.

The Pueblo Conservancy District board oversees the levee. It’s preparing guidelines to cover design, approval, and maintenance for new artwork. They got mixed comments from the couple of dozen people at a public meeting last night.

Initial work to rebuild the aging Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is winding down. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports that structural issues discovered during this phase will likely mean the project will cost more than originally projected.

Work began late last year to lower the height and replace the concrete facing on the levee in order to meet FEMA flood control requirements. The bottom of the 90-year-old structure is about nine feet deeper than expected, according to Rick Kidd, the administrator for the Pueblo Conservancy District, which oversees the levee.

The International Dark Sky Association certified the neighboring towns of Westcliffe and Silver Cliff in southern Colorado’s Wet Mountain Valley as the world’s ninth Dark Sky Community. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports.

Stars stretch from horizon to horizon on a clear night in the Wet Mountain Valley. The designation recognizes the community’s efforts to protect this view by reducing light pollution. 

The Environmental Protection Agency and public health officials held open meetings Tuesday to talk with residents in the south Pueblo neighborhoods listed as a Superfund site in December. KRCC’s Shanna Lewis reports.

The EPA eventually wants to test soil samples around some 1900 homes. Previous testing found toxic lead and arsenic levels around the site of the former Colorado Smelter, which closed in 1908.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Demolition work has begun to remove the top 12 feet of a section of the Arkansas River Levee in Pueblo. It’s part of the first phase of a project to repair the aging structure and meet FEMA flood control guidelines.

Heavy equipment moves dirt and concrete as the contractors build a ramp to access the top of the levee. Part of the pedestrian path near the work area has been closed for safety reasons. 

Consulting engineer Kim Kock says they expect the first critical section to be complete by mid February, despite the delay in beginning work.

The former Colorado Smelter site in south Pueblo is now designated a Superfund Site by the Environmental Protection Agency. As KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports, this means the federal agency will investigate and clean up toxic waste in the area.

In 2010 state health department tests found elevated levels of lead and arsenic in properties surrounding the smelter - which closed more than 100 years ago.

The EPA’s Chris Wardell says residents have a variety of concerns about the Superfund listing, ranging from costs to the effect on real estate values.  

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The start of a massive repair project on the Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is being delayed until December due to historic preservation concerns and some delays in the funding.

The project’s consulting engineer Kim Kock says the state historic preservation officer has said the levee could be deemed historic because it was constructed in response to the deadly 1921 floods and used methods of that time period.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The Pueblo Conservancy District awarded the contract for phase one of the project to repair the aging Arkansas River levee. The estimated cost for this initial phase is $3.6 million and is expected to begin in November and end in March.  KRCC’s Shanna Lewis reports.

The full repair project is likely to span three or four winters and will destroy the collection of murals painted on the levee by hundreds of artists since the 1970s. It’s the largest outdoor mural in the world.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The mural that covers most of the 2.8 mile long Arkansas River levee in Pueblo is facing its demise. Hundreds of huge images painted over the last forty years by at least a thousand artists combine to make this artwork. It’s so massive, it’s listed by Guinness World Records as the largest outdoor mural on the planet. But it’ll be destroyed during the forthcoming repair project.

Pueblo Conservancy District

The levee that protects much of downtown Pueblo from potential floodwaters in the Arkansas River is about to get a major facelift. After levees failed in Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina in 2005, FEMA made a push for levee certification. And for Pueblo’s aging Arkansas River levee this means an estimated 15 million dollar repair project and the destruction of its famous mural. The alternative is downtown properties would have to buy flood insurance. The process has brought to the forefront structural deficiencies.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

The Pueblo Conservancy District, which oversees the Arkansas River levee, took action Wednesday to find a qualified contractor to repair the aging structure. The estimated $14 million project will involve cutting the height of the levee, resurfacing it and other work to improve structural stability and safety.

The levee was built following the deadly 1921 flood that killed hundreds and devastated downtown Pueblo. Now the levee needs to be brought into the 21st century in order to meet new FEMA requirements.

Courtesy: Bessamer Historical Society

Part of a small neighborhood near the former Colorado Fuel and Iron steel mill in southeast Pueblo could become a national historic district. As a post-World War II working class neighborhood, it’s not the kind of place you’d normally expect to get this kind of recognition. It’s long been known as Old Bojon Town after the Eastern European immigrants who came to work at the mill.

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill in Pueblo today to create a commission aimed at keeping Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rolling through southern Colorado. KRCC's Shanna Lewis reports from Pueblo.

The train follows the historic Santa Fe Trail through Kansas, Colorado and New Mexico as it travels between Chicago and Los Angeles. But it could be rerouted unless some $200 million in repairs are made to the tracks.

Rail travel supporters gathered behind Pueblo’s Union Depot to watch the governor sign the bill.

The Environmental Protection Agency last week proposed adding a site in Pueblo to the Superfund priorities list -the federal program aimed at cleaning up hazardous waste sites. 

Shanna Lewis / KRCC

Amtrak’s Southwest Chief rolls through parts of Colorado, New Mexico and Kansas following the historic Santa Fe Trail as it travels between Los Angeles and Chicago. But unless needed repairs are made to the tracks, this section could be rerouted to neighboring states. Yet, the threat of losing this train may be the catalyst that ends up bringing passenger rail service back to Pueblo after a long hiatus.

Jodene Parlapiano

This Sunday marks the 100th anniversary of one of the most deadly days in labor history -- the Ludlow Massacre. Southern Colorado coal miners went on strike for safer working conditions in September of 1913.  It ultimately led to violent conflict between the miners and the companies they worked for. On that day in April a century ago,  21 people died - including women and children.

CSU Extension

Colorado's climate puts it among the top 10 states for sunflower production, but many of the state's farmers have cut back on planting sunflowers. Last year Colorado’s sunflower production dropped to a fraction of its high in 1999. Now, growers are considering how much they're willing to pay to help reverse the trend. Shanna Lewis reports farmers are voting on whether to double the fee on sunflowers.


Sunflower growers currently pay three-cents per hundred weight to support marketing and research on their crop. 

I-25 Pueblo / CDOT

A seven-mile section of I-25 through Pueblo is slated for improvements starting this spring. It’s the first part of a two-phase project called the New Pueblo Freeway. Some 165 people attended a recent public hearing for the project hosted by the Colorado Department of Transportation. KRCC's Shanna Lewis was there and has this report.

Testing for lead and arsenic exposure is underway for a sampling of Pueblo’s south side residents this week. KRCC’s Shanna Lewis reports:

Federal staffers recruited participants who live within a half mile of the former Colorado Smelter. The smelter ceased operations in 1908, but slag – waste material from making steel – was left behind. The tests are aimed at children and women of childbearing age. Dr. Bruce Tierney is a medical officer with the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. 

Voters Oust Morse, Giron

Sep 11, 2013

Voters ousted two Democratic state lawmakers yesterday in the first ever recall elections of state legislators.  The recalls come in the wake of new gun legislation passed earlier this year. 

Senate President John Morse of Colorado Springs conceded around 9:30, calling the defeat symbolic.  Morse was unapologetic over his stance on the new gun control measures, and says it was worth the political risk.

Shanna Lewis

The Colorado State Fair is well underway in Pueblo.  KRCC's Andrea Chalfin went down to catch some of the judging, from produce to rabbits and Pet Rock Olympics. But of course, the State Fair also has rides and games.  Here’s an audio postcard of some of the sights and sounds of the Colorado State Fair.

The Colorado State Fair runs through September 2nd, in Pueblo.