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Climate Ranger project: We did it — thanks, everyone!

Check our stretch goals

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Rocky Mountains, here we come!

By Bob Berwyn

Thanks to the Beacon team, smart readers and generous souls, we’ve reached our $5,000 funding goal and we’re starting to plan the first leg of the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger journey, high into the alpine zone of the Rockies, where melting mountain permafrost is worsening pollution in mountain streams. We’ll post our first story within a week. If you supported the project by pledging toward a subscription, you will receive your login from the Beacon team as soon as this project closes. For now, there’s still time to scoot on over to the project page and get your subscription. We’ll continue to post material from the project here on Summit Voice, but the Beacon news feed will be the freshest!

You can follow the treks on Twitter at a #climaterangers hashtag, and we’ll use a Beacon forum, as well as a Facebook page, as places where you can post questions for us and for all the people we’ll be interviewing along the way. You see, this project isn’t just crowdfunded, we’re hoping to partially crowdsource our stories, and you will be a big part of that!

Meanwhile, our funding period is open for another 36 hours, so we’re aiming for a stretch goal of $1,500 to help us upgrade our video equipment and plan a longer trip segment heading north, to find the biggest remaining glacier in the Rocky Mountains — does anyone know where it is?

So for fun:

Videography Sponsor level - For $750 you can sponsor all the trip videos. You’ll help us upgrade our video capabilities, and you’ll be fostering important life skills in a teenager who already shows talent and interest in environmental journalism.

Glacier-hunting Sponsor level – For $750 you can support our trip to find the biggest remaining glacier in the Rocky Mountains. We’re curious as to where that is?

The Whole Enchilada Sponsor level – For $1,000 you get all the above, plus a free weekend of lodging in a luxury condo at Copper Mountain during the post-trip dinner event in Dillon Colorado.

All higher-level sponsors ($100 or more) are invited to the Harvest Dinner event, featuring local, sustainable food, and presentation from the trip. You’re also eligible to choose a high-quality, large-format fine art print from our online galleries.

Please continue to share this link – http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers – for another day or so. Extra funding will enable us to expand the scope and quality of our reporting.

Thanks again, Bob and Beacon

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Morning photo: High Rockies

The alpine zone

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How will furry denizens of the high alpine zone in the Rocky Mountains fare as the climate warms? Find out by following the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project.

FRISCO — Had a chance to visit Mt. Evans with my family over the weekend! We got a good look at some classic Colorado wildlife, enjoyed the tundra in full bloom and just narrowly escaped a wicked hailstorm, although we did see the aftermath, with quarter-size hail whitening the ground. It was also fun to see the normally white trunks of the bristlecone pines stained reddish-brown by a heavy rain. And, finally, we’re happy to report that the wild mushrooms are starting to pop. Also happy to report that our Climate Ranger project has reached it’s initial funding goal: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday set

Stomping grounds

Colorado wildflowers

Penstemon, two-foot tall, along the shore of Dillon Reservoir near Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — Yes, it’s fun to visit foreign locales, sample exotic food and take photos of new and different subjects. But you don’t always have to venture far to get a good shot. All the images in this set were taking in places where we walk our dogs on a daily basis, in some cases, right in our neighborhood, or more accurately where our neighborhood edges against the open space at the edge of Dillon Reservoir. Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding a new perspective in a familiar place. Check out my Instagram feed for daily updates and visit my online Fine Art America gallery to buy fine art prints and greeting cards. Continue reading

Environment: Ongoing cleanup tackles toxic Peru Creek

July 30 site visit gives public a chance to see progress in $3 million remediation project at abandoned mine in Summit County

November snow and ice along the Snake River, in Summit County, Colorado.

Heavy metal pollution from upstream sources has killed most aquatic life in the Snake River, near Keystone, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With recent increases in levels of toxic metals in Peru Creek, the ongoing remediation work at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine, near Keystone, Colo., takes on an even greater importance in the context of water quality in the Blue River Basin and the Upper Colorado.

The mine, which produced huge amounts of silver 100 years ago, has been pinpointed as one of the main sources of acid mine drainage. Water seeping through the rocky ground trickles into the old mine workings, picks up contaminants along the way, then percolates back into Peru Creek near the head of the beautiful alpine valley.

During the last couple of summers, scientists and engineers have been working to reduce the pollution, and this coming week (July 30) there will be a public field trip to the site, led by Jeff Graves of the Colorado Division of Reclamation Mining and Safety, as well as other members of the Snake River Task Force. Continue reading

Op-Ed: Happy Birthday, Colorado River – long may you live!

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No room for mistakes in the Colorado River Basin.

Conservation has to be the centerpiece of local, state and regional water planning efforts

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — When Congress 93 years ago formally renamed the Grand River as the Colorado, it probably didn’t have any inkling about what the mightiest river in the West would be subjected too early in the 21st century.

Now far removed from that era of hopeful development, the river is over-exploited from beginning to end. Headwater streams are diverted to water acres of bluegrass lawns in Denver, and mountain resorts mindlessly draw down tributaries for snowmaking during the low-flow season, just when trout most need the water.

Just this week, scientists said they’ve documented an astounding rate of water loss in the basin from groundwater pumping alone, which may turn out to be a worse problem than we think, groundwater development is state-regulated, therefore not as closely tracked as the diversions and storage related to major reservoir operations.

And all the pressures have intensified in recent years: More population growth, more development, more demand for food and irrigation, a 14-year dry spell across the West and a warming climate. Even without manmade global warming, ancient trees tell us that the region has seen longer and more intense droughts in the past few thousand years.

The Colorado is tapped out. Continue reading

Morning photo: Got sky?

Twilight scenes

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A moment of brilliance … This is an unedited iPhone shot.

FRISCO — A grab-and-go set, with a few images from recent dusk scenes around Summit County. With monsoonal moisture helping to fuel cloud build-up each day, we’ve enjoyed some amazing evening light in the high country. And for a while, smoke from wildfires in the Pacific Northwest mingled with the evening clouds, adding color, but taking away some of the sharpness of the light.

Continue reading

Groundwater depletion threatens sustainability of Colorado River

Satellite data suggests more than 75 percent of water loss in drought-stricken basin is from groundwater pumping

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A new study quantifies groundwater depletion in the Colorado River Basin. Map courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Groundwater pumping is a huge factor in the Colorado River Basin water equation, California-based researchers said this week, announcing the results of satellite study that for the first time quantifies how groundwater contributes to the water needs of western states.

Along with surface diversions and pipelines, water users in the basin are also unsustainably depleting underground aquifers. For example, mountain resort towns in  Colorado tap underground water from headwaters streams like Tenmile Creek and the Blue River for municipal use.

The new study found that more than 75 percent of the water loss in the drought-stricken Colorado River Basin since late 2004 came from underground resources. The extent of groundwater loss may pose a greater threat to the water supply of the western United States than previously thought, the researchers concluded. Continue reading

Colorado: District court judge voids voter-enacted fracking ban

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.

Signs of oil and gas development are visible on a landscape level from 35,000 feet in the air.

Are communities powerless against the fracking juggernaut?

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Banning fracking within Longmont city limits would result in “waste” of the state’s mineral resources, Boulder District Court Judge D.D. Mallard ruled today, voiding the city’s voter-enacted ban on the controversial drilling practice.

But  fracking won’t resume anytime soon in the northern Colorado town, as Judge Mallard said there will be no fracking “until further order of Court, either from this Court or a higher court.”

In Judge Mallard’s words: “Longmont’s ban on hydraulic fracturing does not prevent waste; instead, it causes waste. Because of the ban, mineral deposits were left in the ground that otherwise could have been extracted in the Synergy well. Mineral deposits are being left in the ground by all the wells that are not being drilled due to the fracking ban.” Continue reading

Morning photo: Purple mountains, really!

A quick Summit set …

Lookin' like Kodachrome!

Lookin’ like Kodachrome!

.FRISCO — I really do dig the way iPhone sensors pick up colors in the sky, and especially in the clouds — just check out the last picture in this set! So in the course of wandering around Summit County the last couple of days, I did manage to stop and point my camera at various things, usually involving wildflowers, the sky, clouds and/or some distant peaks. I’ve recently started shooting a lot more images in vertical format, because they’re easier to crop for Instagram that way. It kind of reminds of the old square-film format, so sometimes I pretend I’m shooting with a Hasselblad.

If you enjoy our near-daily feed of high country images, please visit our online gallery at Fine Art America.

And if you want to keep those photos coming, along with our stellar environmental reporting, visit our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger crowdfunding page at Beacon. We’re at 70 percent of our goal and really could use your help to help sustain world-class environmental reporting.

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation. Continue reading

Crowdfunding: Nearly 70 percent there!

The Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger Project needs your support

It's getting warm around here!

It’s getting warm around here!

Love the Rockies? Support our independent journalism project.

Love the Rockies? Support our independent journalism project.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With NOAA reporting yet another record high global temperature for June, and afternoon temperatures soaring into the 80s here in Frisco, there’s every reason to believe that we’re heading for uncharted climate territory in the Rocky Mountains. Already, the birds and bees are out of synch with wildflowers, the snowpack is melting weeks earlier than it used to, and spring dust storms are blackening the Rocky Mountain snowpack more frequently each year.

It’s really important to know what those changes mean for us, and especially for future generations — our kids and grandkids — because they will have to live in the greenhouse-gas warmed world that we’ve created with just a few decades of fossil fuel consumption. That’s why once again I’m asking you, faithful Summit Voice readers and subscribers, to support our Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project my making a pledge right now at Beacon, our crowdfunding partner: http://www.beaconreader.com/projects/rocky-mountain-climate-rangers.

And just to be clear, the Beacon-backed Climate Ranger project won’t have any negative effect on Summit Voice. In fact, your support will help enrich the Summit Voice news and photo feed.

Some of you already responded to our grassroots appeal in the last few months. It was your generous response that encouraged us to pursue funding for this two-month father-son climate journalism trek. And right now, Beacon is generously matching every pledge dollar for dollar, so when you support us, your money will be doubled. We’re only about a week away from the end of our pledge drive (July 31) and we’ll only be funded if we get the full amount, so your support is critical.

You can support the project for as little as $5 but we have some great incentives for larger pledges, including a free harvest dinner at the popular Sunshine Cafe in Dillon. A $100 pledge includes dinner for two, along with a climate journalism presentation at the Sunshine Cafe. It’s a great deal, and you’d pay almost that much just to have a nice dinner for two, so why not support homegrown environmental journalism at the same time.

For $200, you’ll be invited to the dinner AND you’ll be eligible for a large-format fine art print from one of Summit Voice’s acclaimed online galleries, or an image from the reporting trek — and I’m sure we’ll get some great shots!

With our deadline approaching, please consider making a pledge now, and if you can’t, please pass along this post via email to anyone who might be interested. Thanks for reading and your continued support.

Donate to the Rocky Mountain Climate Ranger project

mtnYour contribution to this independent journalism project will be matched dollar for dollar by Beacon. Click to learn more and make a donation.

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