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Biologists investigate wolf sighting near Grand Canyon

Gray wolf in the winter woods. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Gray wolf in the winter woods. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Agencies scramble to make positive ID of large canid

By Bob Berwyn

*More recent stories about wolves at this link.

FRISCO — An endangered gray wolf may have wandered into northern Arizona, perhaps from as far away as Wyoming or Montana, and has been spotted on national forest lands north of the Grand Canyon for about the past three weeks.

Federal and state biologists, as well as wildlife conservation advocates, are trying to figure out if the animal is in fact a wolf by collecting scat and doing a genetic analysis. Continue reading

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Energy: BLM finalizes northern Alaska drilling plan

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New oil and gas drilling set to start in National Petroleum Reserve. Map courtesy BLM.

Conservation groups say new road will hammer wetlands, tundra and wildlife

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new Bureau of Land Management plan for fossil fuel exploitation in Alaska has spurred criticism from environment groups, who say that a road included in the proposal will permanently damage the Western Arctic’s sensitive wetlands and tundra, with impacts to wildlife and subsistence values.

The BLM plan covers the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit 1 project in the 23 million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, also known as the Western Arctic Reserve, more than half of which is potentially open to oil and gas leasing. Conservation advocates are calling for more careful study of drilling impacts to ensure that the wildlife, subsistence and wilderness character of our nation’s largest parcel of public land are balanced with energy development. Continue reading

Morning photo: New day

Colorado eyecandy

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Hoping for some of this – soon!

FRISCO — Balmy temps linger into late October means no gloves needed — yet — for photography. A good thing or bad thing, depending on your perspective. If you’re a ski resort operator, you’re probably holding your breath, waiting for those cold nightime temps that enable full-scale snowmaking. Two major resorts have already announced that they’ll push back opening day of the ski season by at least a week. If you’re a cyclist, you’re probably enjoying some late-season laps around Dillon Reservoir or the snow-free ride up to Vail Pass. For now, enjoy the calm, because the winter storms are sure to arrive eventually!

Follow our Instagram feed for daily photo updates and visit our online gallery for a great selection of Colorado landscape and nature images, available as fine art prints and greeting cards.

A recent mountain sunset in Frisco, Colorado. Click it to see the full-size version.

A recent mountain sunset in Frisco, Colorado. Click it to see the full-size version.

Continue reading

Climate: New ice core record shows three distinct CO2 pulses about 10,000 years ago, as ice age ended

‘The natural carbon cycle can change a lot faster than we thought’

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How will Earth’s climate respond to the current rise in CO2?

Staff Report

FRISCO — One of the most detailed ice cores samples ever taken from Antarctica shows three sharp spikes of atmospheric carbon dioxide ushering in the end of the ice age about 10,000 years ago.

Based on the findings, the researchers said that the increase in atmospheric CO2 from the peak of the last ice age to complete deglaciation was about 80 parts per million, taking place over 10,000 years, with about half that increase occurring in just a few centuries.

They’re not sure what caused the sudden surges, but suspect it was a combination of factors, including ocean circulation, changing wind patterns, and terrestrial processes. But understanding the mechanisms that caused the changes would help determine what take the Earth in and out of ice age regimes. Continue reading

Forest Service to revisit SoCal wilderness protections

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More wilderness in Southern California?

Roadless lands to be evaluated for wilderness qualities

Staff Report

FRISCO —In a rare administrative reversal, regional U.S. Forest Service officials told the Los Padres National Forest to reconsider its plans for seven roadless areas encompassing more than 220,000 acres in Santa Barbara, Ventura and Kern counties.

The decision directs forest planners to reevaluate the wilderness characteristics of seven areas and clarify how biologists will monitor and protect imperiled wildlife. Continue reading

Genetics suggest early link between Polynesia and South America

The Rapanui are famous for building giant stone platforms and statues. Credit: Photograph by Natalia Solar Usage Restrictions: Credit Required

The Rapanui are famous for building giant stone platforms and statues. Photograph by Natalia Solar.

Findings may require re-evaluation of how the Americas were colonized by humans

Staff Report

FRISCO — Thor Heyerdahl’s 1947 Kon-Tiki voyage showed that people could have sailed from South America to the South Pacific islands even without modern instrumentation, and now, a new genetic study shows that it might have been a two way street.

Genomic evidence suggests that people may have been traveling from Easter Island to the Americas long before European explorers arrived at the remote oceanic outpost, and that they had significant contact with Native American populations, as early as 1300 AD.

Along with establishing genetic links, the study suggests that historians and anthropologists might need to take a fresh look at some of their most basic ideas about how humans spread around the globe. Continue reading

October heat wave delays start of Colorado ski season

Snow guns silent in late October as temps run 15 degrees above average

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2014 on track to become warmest year ever.

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How will the ski industry weather global warming?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Last year’s winter Olympics helped cast a spotlight on global warming and the ski industry. As the snow at Sochi’s alpine venues visibly melted during the live television coverage of the games, winter sports athletes advocated for action on climate change.

Now, just a few months later, some of those same ski racers who had planned early season training sessions at Copper Mountain, Colorado will have to wait. A run of extraordinarily warm temperatures in October all but silenced industrial snowmaking operations at several resorts, as both Copper and Keystone delayed scheduled openings because of the balmy conditions. Continue reading

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