Morning photo: Anticipation

Seasonal changes


FRISCO — After a few weeks of unseasonable warmth, winter made a bit of a comeback here in the Colorado high country, with two days in a row of snow and wind. We need the moisture — we ALWAYS need the moisture, so I’m not complaining, and I know that, this late in the season, the new snow won’t last long on the ground. After a couple of hours of sunshine, we’ll be back to green patches of grass starting to emerge in the warmer spots along the south side of buildings. But it’s still fun to dream about the warm and sunny days ahead — anyone else ready for the wildflower season? For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

One more time: Beetle-killed forests are NOT more likely to burn, according to new CU-Boulder study

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Beetle-killed lodgepole pines in Colorado. bberwyn photo.

New CU-Boulder study has implications for forest managers and Red Zone communities

Staff Report

*More Summit Voice stories on beetle-kill and forests here.

FRISCO — Communities and resource managers looking to address the threat of wildfires should focus less on tree-killing beetles and more on the underlying forces driving the trend toward larger fires.

Warmer temperatures and increased drought are the key factors, said Colorado-based researchers who took a close look at patterns of beetle-kill and wildfires in recent years.

Their study found that western forests killed by mountain pine beetles are no more at risk to burn than healthy forests. Those findings  fly in the face of both public perception and policy, the scientists acknowledged.

“What we are seeing in this study is that at broad scales, fire does not necessarily follow mountain pine beetles,” said CU-Boulder Research Scientist Tania Schoennagel, of the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. “It’s well known, however, that fire does follow drought.” Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday set

Enjoying the views …


FRISCO —You want drama? Wait around for a Colorado sunset, or get up early to catch those first rays and you won’t be disappointed, as this set of images from the past week shows. Even just a simple evening stroll along a well-worn path near Dillon Reservoir can turn into an intense light-hunting safari, as the sun near the horizon does its thing, illuminating clouds from below and lending its glow to the melting snowfields. Can you tell which shots are Instagrammed and which ones are straight out of the DSLR? For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

Morning photo: Monday magic …

Half-light


FRISCO —During a month when Colorado’s snowpack should be getting deeper, I’ve been tracking the rapidly vanishing Rocky Mountain snowpack, quickly turning to rotten mush under temps that have consistently ranged between 5 and 15 degrees Fahrenheit above average. I’m not complaining too much. I love spring and the warm, buttery light does magical things with the snowpack, but as an environmental reporter covering global warming, I am concerned. It’s not just the past few weeks that have been unusually warm. Temperatures have been running well above average for most of the winter, at least here in Summit County, and if this is the new normal, it spells big trouble.

Wildlife: Sandhill cranes migrating through Colorado

Tours and viewing opportunities abound in San Luis Valley

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Sandhill cranes. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Staff Report

One of Colorado’s great wildlife migrations peaks this weekend, as vast flocks of sandhill cranes stop in the San Luis Valley on their way from New Mexico north to Montana, Idaho and Canada. By mid-march, the fields, ranches and wetlands in the valley may see as many as 25,000 cranes.

“People in Colorado should take time to see the cranes; the migration is truly one of nature’s wonders,” said Rick Basagoitia, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The annual San Luis Valley Crane Festival is scheduled for this weekend, March 13-15. The cranes start arriving in late-February, stopping in the valley to rest-up and re-fuel for the rest of the trip. Continue reading

Morning photo: Psychedelic skies

Summit stunners …


FRISCO — After a couple of grayish days here in the high country of Colorado, I got to yearning for some vivid colors, so I perused the Summit Voice photo archives for some Saturday morning eyecandy. Frozen or thawed, the waters of Meadow Creek, where they meld with Dillon Reservoir, offer a perfect mirror for a groovy sunset or sunrise. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

Morning photo: Step outside …

Don’t fear the winter


FRISCO —After about five months of snow and cold, it’s understandable that some people might want to just curl up beneath a thick blanket for a few weeks to wait for spring. But if you do, you might miss scenes like this: Exquisite morning sunshine filtering through tall pines, the tangerine-colored glow of a winter sunset and the crumpled snow fields that look like cake frosting. Enjoy the last bits of winter, especially in the era of global warming, when winter snows seem far from a sure thing. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

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