ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT
1:24 pm
Thu June 25, 2015

How A Historical Blunder Helped Create The Water Crisis In The West

A bathtub ring marks the high-water line on Nevada's Lake Mead, which is on the Colorado River, in 2013.
Julie Jacobson AP

Originally published on Thu June 25, 2015 2:57 pm

In 1922, seven Western states — Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Wyoming and California — drew up an agreement on how to divide the waters of the Colorado River. But there was one big problem with the plan: They overestimated how much water the river could provide.

As a result, each state was promised more water than actually exists. This miscalculation — and the subsequent mismanagement of water resources in those states — has created a water crisis that now affects nearly 40 million Americans.

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ENVIRONMENT
5:52 pm
Tue June 23, 2015

iSeeChange: Mushrooms Boom This Spring

Handfuls of black morels.
Credit Darcie Rose

The unusually wet spring has made some mushroom foragers very happy. 

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ENVIRONMENT
10:01 am
Mon June 15, 2015

Despite Spring Rains, Colorado Readies For Fire Season

One of Colorado's two PC-12 Multi-Mission Aircraft that'll be used for fire detection.
Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control

Originally published on Fri June 12, 2015 7:05 am

While Colorado has experienced much needed rain this spring, fire officials are still expecting an average fire season.

"The moisture has helped considerably, at least to forestall the onset of the fire season, which we know is coming," said Paul Cooke, the Director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control.

The addition of two specialized planes that can spot a wildfire in its very earliest stages means that the state should be better prepared for the fire season. Specialized equipment like this though, means the cost of fighting wildfires in Colorado and the west continues to go up – and officials at every level are planning accordingly.

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ENVIRONMENT
4:47 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

Scientists Cast Doubt On An Apparent 'Hiatus' In Global Warming

A fully loaded container ship sails along the coast. Historically, ships have taken most of the sea measurements that go into the estimate of Earth's average surface temperature.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 6:31 pm

A team of government scientists has revised its estimate for how much the planet has been warming.

The new results, published in the journal Science, may dispel the idea that Earth has been in the midst of a "global warming hiatus" — a period over the past 20 years where the planet's temperature appears to have risen very little.

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ENVIRONMENT
2:48 pm
Thu June 4, 2015

EPA Finds No Widespread Drinking Water Pollution From Fracking

Workers use perforating tools to create fractures in rock. An EPA study finds that "fracking" to reach and extract deep pockets of hydrocarbons has not caused widespread drinking water pollution.
Brennan Linsley AP

Originally published on Fri June 5, 2015 6:01 am

The Environmental Protection Agency says it has found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing — better known as fracking — has led to widespread pollution of drinking water. The oil industry and its backers welcome the long-awaited study, while environmental groups criticize it.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:19 am
Tue May 26, 2015

Farmers Step Up To Solve Rocky Mountain National Park's Pollution Problem

Jim Cheatham, a biologist with the National Parks Service, wants Rocky Mountain National Park to stay beautiful. That's why he's working to prevent excess nitrogen from coming into the park.
Stephanie Paige Ogburn KUNC

Originally published on Tue May 19, 2015 12:39 pm

It’s May in Rocky Mountain National Park, but on a mountainside 10,829 feet above sea level, snow is falling. It’s pelting Jim Cheatham, a biologist with the National Park Service. Shrugging off the cold, Cheatham seizes a teachable moment. This snow, he said, holds more than just water.

“Chances are it’s carrying the excess nitrogen we’re talking about,” mused Cheatham.

For the past eight years, the biologist has spent most of his time thinking about how nitrogen pollution is changing the park’s forests, wildflowers, and alpine lakes. He’s also been looking for a way to stop it.

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ENVIRONMENT
11:02 am
Sun May 10, 2015

iSeeChange: Birds Not Thrown Off By Warm Temps

Black Chinned Hummingbird
Credit Flickr User colorob

Spring is in full effect, and for quite a while birds have been migrating through the area.  One listener, Marylin Stone, commented on the iSeeChange website that she noticed, for the first time this year a Bullock's oriole and a hummingbird, she wasn’t positive which species.  I brought this observation to Jeff Birek, a biologist with the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:07 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Colorado Water Plan Aims To Head Off Predicted Shortages Down The Road

Originally published on Thu May 7, 2015 5:58 am

Copyright 2015 Colorado Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.cpr.org.

Transcript

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

In the 19th century, before Americans fully settled the West, some called it the Great American Desert. It wasn't considered fertile enough to develop.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

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ENVIRONMENT
2:36 pm
Sat May 2, 2015

iSeeChange: Frozen Fruit

A bright green new cherry, in front of blackened dead cherries.
Credit Jake Ryan / KVNF

A hard freeze in April damaged a wide range of fruit crops on the Western Slope of Colorado.

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ENVIRONMENT
2:50 pm
Fri April 17, 2015

As Lake Mead Levels Drop, The West Braces For Bigger Drought Impact

Lake Mead is at its lowest levels since it was built in the late 1930s.
Kirk Siegler NPR

Originally published on Fri April 17, 2015 8:05 pm

The historic four-year drought in California has been grabbing the headlines lately, but there's a much bigger problem facing the West: the now 14-year drought gripping the Colorado River basin.

One of the most stunning places to see its impact is at the nation's largest reservoir, Lake Mead, near Las Vegas. At about 40 percent of capacity, it's the lowest it's been since it was built in the 1930s.

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ENVIRONMENT
10:03 am
Wed April 15, 2015

Better Than 'Survivor': Wild Drama Hooks Viewers On Nest Web Cams

One of the two female ospreys that scuffled over the male on the Boulder County, Colo., nest web cam.
Boulder County

Originally published on Mon April 13, 2015 8:37 am

Fans of Boulder County's osprey nest cam saw a bit of drama last season.

Two females and a male were living in the nest, when a third female arrived and kicked the original female out. Observers said she bonded with the male.

"People called it ... the 'home-wrecker osprey,' " says Nik Brockman, Boulder County's web specialist.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:57 pm
Tue April 14, 2015

Looking Ahead To Dry Spring, Summer

Credit Jessica Reeder via Flickr (CC BY creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/)

Spring is in full effect, and it seems to have a head start. 

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ENVIRONMENT
11:19 am
Thu April 9, 2015

iSeeChange: Forecasting A Fire Season

The Hotchkiss Fire Department responding to a grass fire in early February.
Credit Hotchkiss Fire Department

With record wet and cold in the east, and record dry and hot in the west, some meteorologists are scratching their heads.

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ENVIRONMENT
3:14 pm
Wed April 8, 2015

HCN's Soundtable - Mega-Drought Discussion

Credit High Country News

The HCNU classroom program presents a live radio discussion, "When in (Mega?) Drought," April 8 at 6 p.m. Mountain time. We'll be broadcasting and live-streaming from our local radio station, KVNF, in Paonia, Colorado, with four experts on water, drought, agriculture and the climate.

CLICK HERE FOR ARCHIVED AUDIO STREAM AT HIGH COUNTRY NEWS

For more information, visit High Country News.

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ENVIRONMENT
8:28 am
Wed April 1, 2015

Scary Times For California Farmers As Snowpack Hits Record Lows

Dry, cracked earth is visible on a cantaloupe farm near Firebaugh, Calif., last August. Record-low snowpack levels in the Sierra Nevada mean most Central California farmers will face another year without water from the federal Central Valley Project.
Justin Sullivan Getty Images

Originally published on Wed April 1, 2015 4:23 pm

The water outlook in drought-racked California just got a lot worse: Snowpack levels across the entire Sierra Nevada are now the lowest in recorded history — just 6 percent of the long-term average. That shatters the previous low record on this date of 25 percent, set in 1977 and again last year.

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ENVIRONMENT
2:41 pm
Tue March 10, 2015

As Climate Wars Heat Up, Some Skeptics Are Targets

Climate skeptic Willie Soon has argued in the past that too much ice is bad for polar bears. An investigation into Soon's funding found he took money from the fossil fuel industry and did not always disclose that source.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Tue March 10, 2015 5:57 pm

Scientists who warn that the earth's climate is changing have been subjected to hacking, investigations, and even court action in recent years. That ire usually comes from conservative groups and climate skeptics seeking to discredit the research findings.

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ENVIRONMENT
3:14 pm
Sun February 22, 2015

California's Drought Exposes Long-Hidden Detritus

California's long-term drought has significantly dropped the water level at Lake Perris in Southern California. According to local fishermen, all of this sand used to be covered in water.
Tom Dreisbach NPR

Originally published on Mon February 23, 2015 8:15 am

The message from park rangers, amateur metal detectors and regular fisherman at California's Lake Perris is unanimous: The water is lower than they've ever seen it.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:42 am
Thu February 19, 2015

Tackling Water Quality (And Taste) In Sterling, Colorado

The City of Sterling spent $30 million on a water treatment plant that went into operation November 2014.
Maeve Conran KGNU

Originally published on Mon February 9, 2015 11:33 am

Coloradoans pride themselves on the quality of their drinking water, most of which originates high up in the Rocky Mountains. On the Eastern Plains though, many communities have water that not only tastes bad, it's out of compliance with federal drinking water standards.

At the J and L Cafe in downtown Sterling you'll find diners sipping glasses of tap water as they enjoy lunch. Just a year ago, that wasn't the case.

"You couldn't hardly drink it," said diner Kathy Orchid, she never used to drink the tap water. "It's much better [now]."

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ENVIRONMENT
10:56 am
Fri February 13, 2015

Colorado Sues Feds Over Gunnison Sage Grouse Listing

Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The Colorado Attorney General’s Office has filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the listing of the Gunnison sage grouse.

Last November, the grouse was listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. 

After the announcement, Colorado along with environmental groups and local governments threatened to sue. 

On Wednesday the state filed a lawsuit in federal court against the U.S. Department of Interior and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over the listing.

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ENVIRONMENT
2:38 pm
Mon January 19, 2015

U.S. Solar Industry Sees Growth, But Also Some Uncertainty

A worker installs solar panels atop a government building in Lakewood, Colo. The industry has added more than 80,000 jobs since 2010, according to The Solar Foundation.
John Moore Getty Images

Originally published on Mon January 19, 2015 5:32 pm

The solar energy business is growing fast, thanks in part to a steep drop in panel prices.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:17 am
Fri January 16, 2015

It's Official: 2014 Was The Hottest Year On Record, NOAA Says

January–December 2014 blended land and sea surface temperature anomalies in degrees Celsius.
NOAA

It's official: 2014 was the hottest year on record.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center crunched the numbers and came to this conclusion:

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ENVIRONMENT
11:25 am
Thu January 8, 2015

Another Unpredictable Year For Weather

Credit Travis Bubenik/KVNF

2014 is over, and Joe Ramey is looking back at what the weather was like. 

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ENVIRONMENT
1:52 am
Tue January 6, 2015

How Anglers Are Learning To Save Fish That Get 'The Bends'

Barotrauma can cause a fish's eyes to pop out of its head and its stomach to be pushed out of its mouth, according to Chris Lowe, a marine scientist at California State, Long Beach.
Jon Hamilton NPR

Originally published on Tue January 6, 2015 9:35 am

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ENVIRONMENT
6:00 am
Sat January 3, 2015

Utilities Fight For Revenue Lost To Solar Power

Originally published on Mon January 5, 2015 12:20 am

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ERIC WESTERVELT, HOST:

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ENVIRONMENT
8:15 am
Thu December 25, 2014

As More Resorts Make Snow, Climate Change Spells Trouble

The Aspen Skiing Company started making snow to supplement natural snow in the 1970s, after a devastating drought.

Originally published on Tue December 23, 2014 9:16 am

It’s that time of year when ski resorts crank up snowmaking machines to bolster Mother Nature’s delivery. Some resorts depend on man-made snow more than others and it’s possible  the practice may be used more in the future. For Connecting the Drops, Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

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ENVIRONMENT
12:51 pm
Wed December 24, 2014

Gunnison County Could Sue Feds Over Sage Grouse Listing

The Gunnison sage-grouse has been listed as a threatened species.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

On Monday Gunnison County sent a letter to the federal government saying that it plans to sue to stop the listing of the Gunnison sage-grouse as a threatened species.

The county follows the state in this move. Last week, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office sent a similar letter to the federal government. 

The Gunnison sage-grouse was listed as a threatened species last month. 

The birds are found in parts of Utah and Colorado. It’s estimated there are only 4,800 of them left. 

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ENVIRONMENT
10:41 am
Fri December 12, 2014

Great Outdoors Colorado Awards $7.7M For Conservation, Open Space Projects

Great Outdoors Colorado awarded the The Trust for Public Land $680,000 to purchase a 2,448-acre conservation easement on the Sawtooth Mountain Ranch in Ouray County.
Credit Courtesy of The Trust for Public Land

This week Great Outdoors Colorado announced it will give out $7.7 million in grants.

The money will be used to fund conservation and open space projects across the state. 

Great Outdoors Colorado has awarded $4.5 million dollars to local governments and land trusts to preserve more than 40,000 acres.

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ENVIRONMENT
11:12 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Dry Season Keeps Ski Resort Closed

A skier hitting the slopes in Colorado.
Credit flickr/zachd1_618

It’s well into December, but it may not seem like it.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:51 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Conservation Groups Cheer White River N.F. Oil, Gas Plan

This map shows which areas would be off-limits to oil and gas leasing under a newly-released plan from the White River National Forest. The areas shaded dark green would closed to future oil and gas development.

Originally published on Tue December 9, 2014 8:03 pm

The White River National Forest released a “conservation-minded” plan Tuesday for future oil and gas drilling. Conservation groups are cheering the plan, saying it proposes closing nearly all of the Thompson Divide to future leasing. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:36 am
Thu December 11, 2014

Hickenlooper Shows Off Colorado Water Plan Draft

Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed December 10, 2014 4:53 pm

Governor John Hickenlooper unveiled a draft of the state's first ever water plan Wednesday. The goal of the plan - a decade in the making - is to create a comprehensive water strategy to protect rural farm economies and bring more water to millions of people along the Front Range.

"Water is too important for bickering and potential failure. It demands collaborations," said James Eklund, Director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, which drafted the proposal. "This plan sets the stage for us to take the necessary next steps."

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