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Year in review: March – April

Online independent journalism in Colorado

Extensive environmental coverage in Summit Voice included several stories on Antarctica.

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the biggest stories of last winter was the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that wracked Japan, severely damaging a nuclear power plant. A few weeks later, the EPA reported radioactive rain falling across the USA. While the levels of radioactivity were very low, the entire episode gave pause to the quest to develop new nuclear power plants, as some countries even announced they would close existing facilities: Radioactive rain reported from West Coast to New England.

Some of the fallout was reflected in public hearings on a proposed nuclear power plant near Pueblo: Pueblo hearing on nuclear plant extended to third night.

In March, Summit Voice continued its sustained and often ground-breaking coverage of forest health issues. While lawmakers continued to ask for more federal dollars, we asked whether more money is really the answer, unless you plan to beat the bugs to death with stacks of $100 bills: Forest health: Is more federal money the answer?

Summit Voice was the first to report on ground-breaking Forest Service research that gives some clue as to what might grow in the wake of the pine beetle epidemic: Colorado: Beetle-kill a catalyst for dramatic forest changes.

And more forest coverage: Summit County: Dead forest equals more runoff.

In a local story, we reported on the Breckenridge Police Department’s  intent to crack down on “tourist harrassment.” The announcement came in advance of April Fool’s Day, when some locals think it’s OK to mock tourists. Talk about a tempest in a teapot, and a sad sign of how the tourism industry — which should be about fun — takes itself much to seriously: Breckenridge: Police to crack down on ‘tourist harrassment’

We also watchdogged politicians who tried to pressure the National Park Service into allowing a high-profile cycling race in Colorado National Monument: No pro bike race in Colorado National Monument.

This seemingly innocuous story about a planned mountain bike trail in Big Bend National Park in Texas drew a string of heated comments and a slew of page views: Mountain bike trail planned in Big Bend National Park.

In another local story, we reported on the departure of long-time water commissioner Scott Hummer: Commentary: Farewell to the waterkeeper.

Citizen journalism

Contributions from citizen journalists add to the mix at Summit Voice, and we’re fortunate to have a handful of dedicated correspondents who help round out our offerings.

Correspondent Jenney Coberly continued her outstanding multimedia reporting with this video coverage of Gov. Hickenlooper touring Summit County forests, and somewhat astoundingly, calling for an accelerated permitting process for oil and gas development: VIDEO: Gov. Hickenlooper talks biz in Breckenridge.

We also featured ski columns from correspondent Emily Palm Mulica, who delivered this little gem about Colorado hut skiing: Steep Shots: Ski touring on the Hinsdale Haute Route.

Emily brother, Garrett, also contributed to Summit Voice, including this wonderful photo essay on the end of the real estate boom in Nevada: Photoblog: Tumbleweed dreams.

More headlines:

April

We started the month with a great April Fool’s story that got several thousand page views: Natural gas drilling set to start beneath U.S. Capitol.

April coverage included timely coverage of a water deal touted as ground-breaking, even though it still hasn’t been consummated, nine months later. Talk about jumping the gun! Summit County to benefit from deal with Denver Water.

In national biodiversity story, we covered the plight of the Florida panther in a story that garnered readers and comments from all over the world: Environment: Last stand for the Florida panther?

Locally, Denver Water and Summit County weren’t totally on the same page for the Dillon Dam Road project that would ultimately result in enabling the road to re-open 24-7, but it’s all good now: Summit County, Denver Water tussle over Dam Road work.

Jenney continued her outstanding coverage of the local entertainment scene with a preview of a season-ending concert in Breckenridge: Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt — Natural Forces.

Always keeping an eye on backcountry access issues: Telluride backcountry skiers may face armed guards. 

And as the season ended, reports of record snowfall: A-Basin reports best snow year since ’96.

And we beat every other paper in the state with the followup story on the death of the Wolf Creek ski patrol director in an early season avalanche: OSHA finds ‘serious’ alleged violations during investigation of Wolf Creek ski patrol director’s avalanche death.

In a story that went on for months, we reported on the devastating Texas wildfires again and again … and again: Texas wildfires: Weather brings some relief.

Summit Voice was also first to report on a possible La Niña encore: La Niña may return for an encore next winter.

A big local environmental story that didn’t get a lot of play: Colorado: Frisco Holiday Inn owners, former staff indicted for exposing guests and workers to asbestos hazard.

Do you see the relationship between this story: Global warming: Arctic temps climb off the charts, and this one: Texas wildfires spread across a quarter-million acres.

I had the pleasure of speaking with some super-smart British Antarctica researchers for this story: Biologists document loss of emperor penguin colony.

A more April headlines:

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