ENVIRONMENT

ENVIRONMENT
9:33 am
Mon September 22, 2014

Largest Of Calif. Wildfires Destroys 10 Homes, Other Structures

Firefighters from the U.S. Forest Service clean up hot spots of the King fire in the El Dorado National Forest near Georgetown, Calif., late last week.
Rich Pedroncelli AP

Originally published on Mon September 22, 2014 12:11 pm

The so-called King Fire, one of several sweeping through parts of California, has destroyed 10 homes and 22 other buildings, fire officials say.

As of early Monday morning, crews had been able to contain about 18 percent of the fire, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CalFire):

Sacramento's Capital Public Radio reports that more than 5,500 firefighters are battling the blaze.

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ENVIRONMENT
7:27 pm
Thu September 18, 2014

Colorado Forests Die In Beetle's Wake

Spruce beetles have invaded the inner bark of this spruce tree in Hinsdale County, Colo.
Credit Laura Palmisano

Over the past decade a tiny insect has been causing a big problem in southwest Colorado. And it’s getting worse. The beetle is devouring mature spruce forests and turning them into expanses primed for wildfire. The U.S. Forest Service recently unveiled a broad new plan to try to minimize fire danger but not everyone thinks it’s the best path forward. KVNF’s Laura Palmisano reports.

The Issue

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ENVIRONMENT
4:59 pm
Tue September 16, 2014

Prescibed Burn Planned Wednesday On Uncompahgre Plateau

The Forest Service is planning a prescribed burn Wednesday on the Uncompahgre Plateau.

The agency plans to burn 147 acres on the northern end of 25 Mesa Road, also known as the Delta-Nucla road.

Lee Ann Goupe is a spokeswoman with the Forest Service.

"This is an area where an Environmental Assessment was done and this is part of those prescribed treatments designed to enhance wildlife habitat, reduce fuels and reintroduce fire into that ecosystem," Goupe says.

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ENVIRONMENT
2:32 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

U.S. Gets Middling Marks On 2014 'State Of Birds' Report Card

"The State of the Birds" 2014 report found that red knots (above) and other shorebirds are among the most threatened groups in the U.S. More than half of U.S. shorebird species are on the report's Watch List — species that are currently endangered or at risk.
Gerrit Vyn The Smithsonian Institution

Originally published on Wed September 10, 2014 9:30 am

All is not well with the nation's birds. The most comprehensive study ever of birds in America is out today, and it says many populations are in steep decline, even as others are doing well.

The report, called "The State of the Birds," comes from the federal government, universities and conservation groups — 23 organizations that have spent years examining bird populations, as well as habitats where the various species live.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:01 pm
Tue September 9, 2014

After The Colorado Flood, Some Rebuild And Others Start Over

Sarah and Ed Egloff stand outside a garage on their new property.
Grace Hood KUNC

Originally published on Fri September 5, 2014 5:00 am

After waters washed over Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties during the September flood, many started to rebuild. Others haven't been able to go back.

The easiest way for Ed and Sarah Egloff to describe their lost home in the Big Thompson Canyon is to tell you what remained on the property afterward.

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ENVIRONMENT
9:53 am
Tue September 9, 2014

A Year Post-Flood, No Mandated Changes For Oil And Gas Operators

An oil and gas site near the St. Vrain Creek. Metal berms replace earthen ones.
Nathan Heffel KUNC

Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 6:00 am

One of the more striking images during the September flood was of inundated oil and gas pads, washed out earthen berms and overturned storage tanks. In all, over 48,000 gallons of oil and condensate spilled.

While changes have been made in the industry to prepare for another flood, so far, they’re strictly voluntary.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:33 am
Tue September 9, 2014

More Than Half Of U.S. Bird Species Threatened By Climate Change

A Baltimore oriole perches near apple blossoms in Mendota Heights, Minn.
Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Originally published on Tue September 9, 2014 6:33 am

People in Maryland love their Baltimore orioles — so much so that their Major League Baseball team bears the name of the migrating bird. Yet, by 2080, there may not be any orioles left in Maryland. They migrate each year and, according to a new report, could soon be forced to nest well north of the Mid-Atlantic state.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:53 pm
Mon September 8, 2014

Local Motion: Wayne Ranney

Geologist Wayne Ranney knows the Colorado Plateau like no other. With a career that started accidentally at the bottom of the Grand Canyon in the early 1970's he has since scrambled his way across all corners of the Colorado Plateau to a fresh geologic vantage of this remarkable region. Wayne sat down with KVNF' s JT Thomas to talk about his rock work near and far.

For more information about Wayne' s work on the Colorado Plateau and international field programs, visit www.wayneranney.com

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ENVIRONMENT
11:30 am
Mon September 8, 2014

Water Study Looks To Track Changes In The North Fork

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

There’s a new study that’ll be happening in the North Fork area.  The Western Slope Conservation Center and University of Colorado Boulder are teaming up to test water wells.

The collaboration is looking for drinking well owners who would like to participate in the tests.  The first round of testing is planned for September 20th and 21st. 

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ENVIRONMENT
2:42 pm
Wed September 3, 2014

Residents Worry Urban Drilling Will Turn Downtowns Into Oil Towns

When Dawn Gioia first received a request to lease mineral rights under her home, in a downtown neighborhood in Brighton, Colo., she thought it was a scam.
Lesley McClurg Colorado Public Radio

Originally published on Thu September 4, 2014 1:18 pm

Dawn Gioia lives just two blocks away from City Hall in Brighton, Colo., just north of Denver. She never expected to receive a thick envelope from Mid-Continent Energy in the mail, proposing she sell mineral rights for oil and gas drilling.

At first, she thought it was a scam.

"One of these forms asks you for all your tax information and Social Security numbers, so that was something that sort of caught me off guard," she says.

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ENVIRONMENT
1:46 pm
Fri August 29, 2014

Water Managers Discuss Drought And The Colorado River

The Colorado River fills Lake Powell and Lake Mead. A discussion about drought and the Colorado River took place at a conference in Snowmass Village last week.

Originally published on Tue August 26, 2014 11:55 am

NOTE: In the on-air version of this story we incorrectly stated the date of a U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announcement about Colorado River cut-backs to lower basin states. That announcement happened in 2013, not this year. (8/26/14)

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced this month water releases from Lake Powell to Lake Mead will increase next year, after historically low releases in 2014. Lake Mead has reached record low levels this summer. The Colorado River supplies these large reservoirs. At a water conference in Snowmass Village last week, drought and the Colorado River were discussed. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

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ENVIRONMENT
5:12 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Wild Neighbors: Black Bears

KVNF takes a looks at the recent increase of bear sightings in local towns and neighborhoods.  Find out how you can prevent bears from visiting and how to handle a bear that keeps coming back.  

Ali Lightfoot hosts this episode of "Wild Neighbors" with guests:

Brenda Miller,  a licensed wildlife rehabilitator at the non-profit Roubideau Rim Wildlife Rescue.   Brenda runs this wildlife rehab facility outside Olathe where she is involved in direct care and rehabilitation of wildlife, providing educational outreach programs, fundraising,  and training for veterinarians. 

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ENVIRONMENT
5:08 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

Scientist Presents Findings On Collbran Landslide

The toe of the landslide
Credit Mesa County Sheriff's Office

A new study will be presented at a summit of the Geological Society of America about the Collbran landslide.  KVNF’s Jake Ryan talked with the study’s author about what made this slide so different.

The landslide happened three months ago.  Jeff Coe is a geologist with the US Geological Survey, and he’s been working with a few other groups to monitor the slide since then.  A abstract of their findings can be seen here

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ENVIRONMENT
1:53 pm
Wed August 27, 2014

There's A Big Leak In America's Water Tower

Joe Giersch, an ecologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, studies stoneflies that live only in the melt from glaciers and snowpack in the northern Rockies.
Clint Muhlfeld USGS

Originally published on Wed August 27, 2014 5:29 pm

The northern arm of the Rocky Mountains is sometimes called "the crown of the continent," and its jewels are glaciers and snowfields that irrigate large parts of North America during spring thaw.

But the region is getting warmer, even faster than the rest of the world. Scientists now say warming is scrambling the complex relationship between water and nature and could threaten some species with extinction as well as bring hardship to ranchers and farmers already suffering from prolonged drought.

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ENVIRONMENT
11:14 am
Wed August 27, 2014

Colorado Looks to Advanced Technology for Battling Wildfires

An example of thermal imaging from the 2008 Freeway Fire near the City of Yorba Linda in southern California

Originally published on Mon August 25, 2014 7:30 am

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.

 

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ENVIRONMENT
9:32 am
Tue August 19, 2014

What Exactly Is That Birdlike Thing?

The hummingbird moth — Hemaris thysbe.
Courtesy of Elena Tartaglia

Originally published on Tue August 19, 2014 1:36 pm

For years I was convinced that there exists among us a strange, unidentified species of animal — something between bug and bird — jetting around gardens and flowers and trees.

Not too long ago one of these natural UFOs buzzed past me in broad daylight. Too big to be a bee, too itty-bitty to be a bird. Slow enough to glimpse, but too fast to identify.

Not exactly a hummingbird ...

Nor a bumblebee ...

What the heck was it?

The mystery was finally solved when a friend told me about ...

... the hummingbird moth.

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ENVIRONMENT
11:56 am
Thu August 14, 2014

There's No Longer A Doubt About This Cutthroat Trout

These undated photos provided by the Colorado Division of Wildlife show the endangered greenback cutthroat trout and the Colorado River cutthroat trout. Federal and state biologists have stocked the wrong fish for more than two decades.
AP

Originally published on Thu August 14, 2014 1:40 pm

It's been a cutthroat existence for Colorado's state fish.

The rare greenback cutthroat trout, for years on the receiving end of a well-meaning, but taxonomically misguided attempt to save it, now seems to be back on track (though not out of the woods).

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ENVIRONMENT
2:53 am
Sat August 9, 2014

New Mexico's Northern Landscape Gets A New Burst Of Color

Thanks to unusually heavy monsoon rains, mesa land east of Ghost Ranch in New Mexico has erupted into vibrant green life — an unusual sight in this region.
courtesy Harvey Day

Originally published on Sat August 9, 2014 9:40 am

Much of the American West is suffering from extreme drought this year. California is running out of water and wildfires have raged through Washington, Oregon and Idaho. But there is a bright spot out West — or, rather, a green spot. In New Mexico, unusually heavy late-summer rains have transformed the landscape.

It's a remarkable sight. The high desert is normally the color of baked pie crust; now, it's emerald.

Kirt Kempter, a geologist who lives in Santa Fe, says this transformation is far from ordinary.

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ENVIRONMENT
4:10 pm
Thu August 7, 2014

Pika Populations Doing Well In Colorado High Country, Wildlife Officials Say

Colorado Parks and Wildlife research shows pika populations are doing well in mountainous areas in the state.
Credit Sally King / National Parks Service

The American pika is closely related to a rabbit. They are about the size of a guinea pig and are found throughout Colorado's high country and other Western States in mountainous areas.

In the early 2000's pika were being considered for the endangered species list because they are susceptible to climate change, according to wildlife officials. 

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ENVIRONMENT
12:52 pm
Tue August 5, 2014

Early August Monsoons Set Record

Storms in Mesa County caused flooding, road closures and debris flows Monday. 

The National Weather Service in Grand Junction reported the area got over an inch of rain. 

Forecaster Tom Renwich, with the weather service, said Mesa, Delta and Montrose counties experienced a surge of monsoonal moisture that caused thunderstorms, storm winds, and flash flooding.

"Here at the airport we officially got 1.15 inches of rain," Renwick said. "The pervious record before that was .68 inches and that was set back in 1897."

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ENVIRONMENT
3:57 pm
Fri August 1, 2014

Feds, Western Water Providers To Fund Colorado River Conservation Projects

Lake Mead is the the nation's largest reservoir.
Credit U.S. Geological Survey

The federal government and municipal water providers in four Western states have reached an agreement to fund Colorado River conservation projects. 

The $11 million deal was announced Thursday. Municipal water providers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Colorado and the Bureau of Reclamation have agreed to fund projects to conserve Colorado River water.

Denver Water CEO Jim Lockhead said Denver is one of the four municipalities participating in the program.

Lockhead said half of Denver’s water supply comes from the Colorado River. 

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ENVIRONMENT
1:46 pm
Thu July 31, 2014

Drought-Stricken Colorado River Basin Drying Up Quicker Than Thought

The North Fork of the Gunnison River feeds into the Gunnison River, a tributary of the Colorado River, which supplies drinking water to millions of people in the West.

The drought-stricken Colorado River Basin is drying up faster than was thought, according to a recent study. 

NASA and the University of California, Irvine used satellite data gathered over a nine year period to track changes in the mass of the Colorado River Basin that has been experiencing severe drought since 2000.    

The scientists looked at monthly measurements between December 2004 and November 2013. They found the basin lost nearly 53 million acre feet of freshwater, that's nearly double the volume of Lake Mead, the nation's largest reservoir, during that period. The study said about 41 million acre feet of that lost water was groundwater.  

The basin provides water to millions of people in seven Western states: Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. It also supplies water to roughly four million acres of farmland. 

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ENVIRONMENT
3:01 pm
Wed July 30, 2014

Rainy, Cloudy Conditions Help Crews With Moffat County Wildfires

Rainy and cloudy conditions are helping firefighters battle two blazes in Moffat County. 

Crews responded to the Ladore Fire burning in Dinosaur National Monument Monday. The fire has burned 430 acres and an estimation for containment is not yet available.  

The Elk Springs Fire near Craig has burned 450 acres and is 90 percent contained. The fire started Saturday.

Susan Valente, with the Northwest Colorado Fire Management Unit, said both fires are burning rough terrain.

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ENVIRONMENT
10:45 am
Wed July 30, 2014

Denver EPA Hearing Draws A Crowd

Coal supporters opposed to the EPA rules rally in front of the state capitol, July 29, 2014. The EPA hearing was being held nearby in downtown Denver the same day.
Bente Birkeland RMCR

Originally published on Wed July 30, 2014 7:28 am

Hundreds of people are expected to testify in Denver 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.

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ENVIRONMENT
5:50 pm
Mon July 28, 2014

Bear Cubs Trapped In Crawford

A mother bear and her two cubs were causing trouble around Crawford, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

J. Wenum, the game manager for the North Fork Valley and Gunnison Basin, said the bears were reported last week. 

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ENVIRONMENT
5:03 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

20,000-acre Alkali Fire contained

The Alkali Fire northwest of Craig has burned more than 20,000 acres. 

Officials said the fire is now fully contained. 

The wildfire started Wednesday and the cause of it is still under investigation.

Lynn Barclay with Bureau of Land Management said the fire is burning sagebrush and grass. 

"This year because we did have a wet spring the grass that we have out there is thicker [and] tall and the sagebrush out in that area can get very, very tall, over five feet," Barclay said. "When you get some wind on that continuous fuel bed the fire just runs."

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ENVIRONMENT
1:19 pm
Fri July 25, 2014

Advocacy Group Looks To Forest Service Solution

The group working to protect the Thompson Divide area from natural gas development is awaiting a Forest Service plan.

Originally published on Fri July 25, 2014 12:00 pm

Natural Gas drilling in an area near Carbondale known as the Thompson Divide is still a possibility, despite protest from many local residents. The group trying to stop it is hopeful a Forest Service plan, due out later this summer, will prevent future drilling.

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ENVIRONMENT
4:37 pm
Mon July 21, 2014

BLM Seeks Comment On Gunnison Sage-Grouse

The Gunnison sage-grouse is being considered for the Endangered Species List.
Credit U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

It is estimated there are 4,800 Gunnison sage-grouse left. The largest population of the species, about 4,000 birds, inhabits the Gunnison Basin. 

The Bureau of Land Management wants the public to help it identify conservation measures to protect the sage-grouse on federal lands in Colorado and Utah.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommended the BLM adopt additional conservation measures for the bird.

The comments are due to the BLM by August 22.

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ENVIRONMENT
11:37 am
Wed July 16, 2014

No Roundup Of Wild Horses For Colorado

Credit Bureau of Land Managment

The Bureau of Land Management will not be having a roundup of Colorado wild horses this year. 

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ENVIRONMENT
10:39 am
Tue July 15, 2014

Well, I'll Be Un-Dammed: Colorado River (Briefly) Reached The Sea

Twelve hours after they had halted at the river's end, the team woke up to see that the previous night's small stream had become a river. Two weeks after this photo was taken, the leading edge of the water reached the estuary that was the river's final destination.
Courtesy Fred Phillips

Originally published on Sun July 13, 2014 9:20 am

For a few weeks this spring, the Colorado River flowed all the way to the sea for the first time in a half a century. And during that window of opportunity, writer Rowan Jacobsen took the paddleboarding trip of a lifetime.

The river starts in the Rocky Mountains, and for more than 1,400 miles, it wends its way south. Along the way it's dammed and diverted dozens of times, to cities and fields all over the American West. Tens of millions of people depend on the river as a water source.

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