Morning photo: Mountain love!

Springtime in the Rockies

FRISCO —There’s not much that can go wrong when you point your camera at some stunning Rocky Mountain peaks during the glow of a sunrise or sunset on a fine spring day. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for daily photo updates and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for more Colorado landscape photography.

Lawsuit filed over controversial Wolf Creek land trade

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The U.S. Forest Service approval for a land trade that would enable a massive real estate development near Wolf Creek Pass will be tested in federal court.

Watchdog groups say approval for the exchange was tainted by bias and political influence

Staff Report

FRISCO — Watchdog groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service to block  a land exchange near Wolf Creek Pass in southwestern Colorado. The swap would enable a huge real estate development near Wolf Creek Ski Area in the midst of important wildlife habitat.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for Colorado, alleges that the approval process was tainted by a lack of transparency and by an incomplete environmental analysis that was unduly influenced by the proponents of the exchange.

According to Rocky Mountain Wild attorney Matt Sandler, the lawsuit will show that the Forest Service review process was biased and conflicted. Continue reading

Water level in Lake Mead drops to ‘warning mark’

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The steady drop in Lake Mead’s water level is a sign of the West’s long-term drought.

Some states may see water cuts in years ahead

Staff Report

FRISCO — Early summer runoff is surging high in the headwaters of the Colorado River, but far below, in the Nevada desert, the water is draining out of Lake Mead faster than the river can replenish it.

The giant reservoir this week hit a new all-time low level, dropping just below 1,075 feet above sea level — a warning sign that some states may have to curtail their use of Colorado River water in the years ahead. Continue reading

Skiing: Weber Gulch Hut gets Forest Service OK

Approval includes summer closure to protect wildlife

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The new Weber Gulch Hut on Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, Colorado, will provide access to some outstanding ski terrain.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After more than five years of study, the nonprofit Summit Huts Association has a green light to build a new 16-person backcountry shelter on the northern flanks of Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, to be called the Weber Gulch Hut.

To protect wildlife habitat, the new hut will only be open in the winter, which represents a change from SHA’s initial proposal to include summer use.

White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams signed the formal decision notice on June 17, explaining that he weighed all the public comments and relied on a team of scientists and ski experts, who found in their environmental analysis that the hut wouldn’t have a significant impact on the environment. All documents related to the Weber Gulch Hut are posted on this Forest Service web page. Continue reading

Environment: Denver roundtable shows how climate action will benefit Colorado

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Global temperatures have reached record levels the past few months, with 2015 on track to be warmest year ever.

Heat waves, increased air pollution seen as key climate risks for Colorado

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new EPA report suggests that failing to curb greenhouse gas emissions could cause up to 57,000 additional deaths across the U.S. in coming decades due to poor air quality.

The study was released as part of the run-up to the finalization of the controversial Clean Power Plan, which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The EPA is set to finalize the plan later this summer.

The report’s findings were part of the discussion at a Denver roundtable convened by Environment Colorado this week, as EPA experts joined with state leaders and health experts to bring the message home to Colorado.

“Climate change is already having an impact on human health and is challenging EPA’s ability to fulfill its mission,” said EPA regional climate change coordination Laura Ferris. “We know that taking action to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions will significantly benefit Americans by reducing health impacts, saving lives and avoiding more costly damages across the economy.” Continue reading

Climate change threatens native plant diversity in California grassland ecosystems

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Global warming is likely to cut native plant diversity in California, with cascading ecosystem effects, a new UC Davis study suggests. @bberwyn photo.

UC Davis study documents ‘direct loss’ of native wildflowers

Staff Report

FRISCO — California scientists say they’ve documented a loss in native wildflower diversity after with a string of dry winters, showing how climate change will affect the state’s grassland ecosystems.

The study is based on 15 years of monitoring on about 80 sampling plots at McLaughlin Reserve, part of the natural reserve system at the University of California at Davis. Continue reading

Morning photo: Evening splendor

Twilight …


FRISCO —A short set from the past week featuring some late light magic in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for daily photo updates and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for some of our best Colorado landscape photography.

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