forest service

This has been one of the worst — and most expensive — wildfire seasons ever in the Northwest, where climate change and a history of suppressing wildfires have created a dangerous buildup of fuels.

With fires burning hotter and more intense, there are renewed calls to change how the federal government pays to fight the biggest fires.

"These large and intense fires are a natural disaster in much the same way a hurricane or a tornado or a flood is," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says. "And they ought to be funded as such through the emergency funding of FEMA."

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.

The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service has announced a new plan to protect the greater sage grouse from extinction, while hoping to prevent the bird from being added to the endangered species list.

The sage grouse population has dropped from 16 million birds to less than half a million, mainly due to lost sagebrush habitat. The bird's range spans 11 western states including Colorado.

"As land managers of two-thirds of greater sage grouse habitat, we have a responsibility to take action that ensures a bright future for wildlife and a thriving western economy," said Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell at the announcement in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Browns Canyon in Chaffee County will be designated a National Monument by President Obama on Thursday. 

 

Conservationists, community leaders and businesses are praising the move, which comes after years of work to secure the designation.  It covers a 22,000-acre stretch of public land along the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida known for recreational opportunities. 

spruce beetle
Laura Palmisano

Over the past decade spruce beetles have 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 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.

Coal
NPS

Arch Coal and the Forest Service will not be appealing a decision that revokes the company's expansion lease, as well as vacating an exception in the Colorado Roadless­ Rule that allows for expanded mining in the North Fork. 

The Forest Service is beginning the discussion about how to deal with increasing problems with crowds in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. This summer saw huge numbers of visitors at popular spots like Crater Lake and the Four Pass Loop. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, forest service officials are working to educate the public before exploring solutions.

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.

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.

Headlines:

  • Loveland Pass Avalance Victims Were Back Country Experts
  • Hostetler hen-laying operation on Powell Mesa heads to another hearing
  • New marijuana players in a new environment
  • The Forest Service gets into the Aspen real estate market
  • Archaeological Conservancy buys Shavano Valley Rock Art Site
  • iSeeChange: Amber Kleinman and the journals of William Beezley

Headlines:

  • Loveland Pass Avalance Victims Were Back Country Experts
  • Hostetler hen-laying operation on Powell Mesa heads to another hearing
  • New marijuana players in a new environment
  • The Forest Service gets into the Aspen real estate market
  • Archaeological Conservancy buys Shavano Valley Rock Art Site
  • iSeeChange: Amber Kleinman and the journals of William Beezley

Headlines:

  1. Tips coming in about missing boy
  2. New Senate leader looks to lead Colorado forward
  3. Montrose, Crawford ban the sale of marijuana
  4. Montrose Medical Mission closes; Olathe picks up patients
  5. Forest services conducting slash pile controlled burns
  6. Tree from Meeker goes to Washington DC