Water, forests and more …
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — In the age of a global economy and a global environment, nearly all news is local. Case in point is last week’s report from the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. The IG audited the U.S. Forest Service’s oil and gas drilling program, and found that there is quite a bit of room for improvement when it comes to being prepared for potential spills, and even just keeping track of required inspections.
Since the IG’s office documented a total of almost 200 spills on national forest lands in 2010 and 2011, it’s more than just a hypothetical exercise, and with oil and gas activities expected to ramp up on the White River National Forest, there are implications close to home. Read the story here.
We also try to offer sustained and in-depth coverage of Colorado water issues, important any time, but absolutely critical in years of drought, when the outlook for summer water supplies is uncertain. Already, key players in the Colorado water stage are jockeying and juggling, trying to make a meager supply last through a long, hot summer. This past week, we reported on a Colorado River deal that will enable more storage in the Colorado River headwaters region.
Another story about the Colorado snowpack used charts and graphs to help illustrate the state’s ongoing drought conditions. Although parts of the high country did get some decent snows in March, it wasn’t nearly enough to alleviate overall drought conditions. In a typical winter, March accounts for 20 percent of the seasonal snow accumulation, but this year’s March snowfall was well below normal at most SNOTEL sites, with the exception of the South Platte and Colorado River basins. Read the story here.
Another recent story looked at the issue of potential over-crowding on Summit County’s popular recpath system, based on a recent study done by a Durango-based consultant. The study suggests that Summit County’s 55-mile recpath system is nearing capacity on busy summer weekends, especially when casual users share the path with special event participants. Read the story here.
On the energy front, Summit Voice was among the first to report on a proposed new law that would nudge rural power providers toward a renewable energy standard that would help decrease Colorado’s reliance on fossil fuel.
Summit Voice is also an acknowledged leader in reporting on the state and fate of Colorado’s endangered species, including lynx. Last week we published a story about the latest twist in the Peak 6/lynx saga. Despite years of consultations on how the ski area expansion may affect the wild cats, it turns out that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service missed a key step in the approval process. Read the exclusive Summit Voice story here.