More legal wrangling over uranium mine near Grand Canyon

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.

Impacts to water quality, cultural resources at stake, as conservation groups seek new environmental study

Staff Report

FRISCO — A U.S. Forest Service decision to allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon will be tested in court once again.

Conservation groups last week said they’ll appeal a lower court ruling that affirmed the agency’s decision on the mine, located about six miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell last month said conservation groups and the Havasupai Tribe failed to show that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws, but that decision will now be tested in a federal appeals court. Continue reading

Colorado: Annual State of the River sessions include vital information on snowpack, stream flows and reservoirs

Colorado River Basin snowpack and streamflow forecasts now similar to 1977, 2002 and 2012 drought years

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Statewide snowpack is just half of average going into the crucial phase of runoff season.

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Don’t miss this year’s State of the River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Continued drought in the Far West, along with Colorado’s push to develop a first-ever statewide water plan, should be reason enough for Coloradans to take an interest in the state of the Colorado River.

One of the best chances to get a user-friendly update is at the annual State of River meeting, sponsored by the Blue River Watershed Group.

Hands-on water experts will explain how this year’s snowmelt will play out and how that affects operations of Dillon Reservoir and Green Mountain Reservoir — both for water deliveries downstream and for onsite recreational use.

To accommodate a bigger turnout, the State of the River presentation has been moved to the Silverthorne Pavilion (Tuesday, May 5, 6-8 p.m.) Continue reading

Can organic farming save the world from global warming?

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Feed the world, and cut greenhouse gases? It can be done, scientists say. Photo courtesy USDA.

China study shows benefits of switching to sustainable, organic agriculture

Staff Report

FRISCO — A large-scale shift to sustainable organic farming could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions — and improve soil quality and crop resistance to pests at the same time, according to a new study from China.

Since about a third of all global greenhouse gas emissions are produced by agriculture, scientists have been taking a close look at how to manage the production of food in a way that reduces the global warming footprint. With best practices in place, agriculture could become a net carbon sink instead of a source of heat-trapping pollution, some scientists assert. Continue reading

Environment: Neonicotinoids kill bees’ brain cells

‘Neonicotinoid pesticides are a risk to our bees and we should stop using them on plants that bees visit’

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A bumblebee visits wild fireweed to gather nectar and pollen. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say that neonicotinoid pesticides prevent bees from learning, feeding and reproducing by killing their brain cells.

“It is ironic that neonicotinoids, pesticides developed to preserve the health of plants, ultimately inflict tremendous damage on plant life,” said Gerald Weissmann, M.D. “These chemicals destroy the insect communities required by plants for their own reproduction.” Continue reading

Morning photo: What next for Antarctica?

Big changes ahead for the frozen continent


FRISCO —I often write about the environmental changes expected in Antarctica as the world heats up under its man-made blanket of heat-trapping greenhouse gases because those changes will have huge implications for the rest of the planet. It’s not just the melting ice and rising sea level. When — and to be clear, it’s when, not if — the big meltdown begins, it will affect ocean currents worldwide and weather patterns in both the northern and southern hemispheres. Hard to say at this point what the consequences will be for places like Australia and South America. Click this link to read about how the Antarctic affects global climate.

But Antarctica is so vast, so distant and so unimaginably different from the rest of the planet that it’s sometimes hard to get your head around it without seeing it for yourself. Enjoy the gallery and check our archive of Antarctica environment stories to learn more.

Rare California condor spotted in New Mexico

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California condor in flight. USFWS photo.

Population of rare birds holding steady in the wild

Staff Report

FRISCO — The wild California condor population may not be growing by leaps and bounds, but biologists say they’re encouraged by a recent 600-mile exploratory trip taken by one of the rare birds.

The juvenile make wandered from his home roost near the Grand Canyon and is now spending some time on national forest lands near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The same bird also spent some time on southern Colorado during the trek.

According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, it’s the first recorded condor sighting in New Mexico in modern history, although scientists have found fossilized condor ones in the state. Continue reading

Environment: Rivers recover quickly after dam removal

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The Colorado River at Kremmling. @bberwyn photo.

Study findings will help river restoration efforts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say rivers recover quickly when dams are removed. In some cases, it only takes a few months or years, rather than decades, for most river channels to stabilize, particularly when dams are removed rapidly.

The new study, published in Science, came after the research team compiled a database of research and studies involving more than 125 dam removals. Important factors include the size of the dam, the volume and type of sediment accumulated in the reservoir, and overall watershed characteristics and history.  Continue reading

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