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Colorado boosts funding for early wildfire response

From flood to flames: Western Colorado under Red Flag warning; wildfire danger highest in far west and Southwest

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Wildfire potential for July 2014 courtesy NIFC.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It doesn’t take long to go from floods to fire in Colorado. Even with mountain streams still running high with runoff, weather experts say the fire danger is on the rise as June turns warm and windy. About a third of the state (mostly western Colorado) is under a Red Flag warning going into the weekend, with the National Weather Service warning that warm temps, low humidity and gusty winds will combine to raise the risk of wildfires.

Overall, the fire season outlook for Colorado is not as critical as the past few years, according to the National Interagency Fire Center, which is emphasizing the current fire danger in the far west and the Southwest, including big parts of Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. Continue reading

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Forest Service details cost of ‘fire borrowing’

A NASA satellite image shows smoke plumes from the massive wildfires in Alberta.

A NASA satellite image shows smoke plumes from the massive wildfires in Alberta.

Numerous Colorado projects delayed as feds juggle budgets in era of monster wildfires

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service officials said they’ve had to defer reviews of ski area projects, delay trail improvements and forest restoration work because of the high cost of fighting wildfires. This year, the agency projects a $470 million gap that ripples through the entire Forest Service budget.

More than a dozen important projects in Colorado were on the hit list, according to a  new report released this week by the Department of Agriculture. Some of the projects were canceled altogether because their funding has been diverted to fighting wildfires.   Continue reading

Climate: Forest growing season expands

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Some forests in the U.S. are greening up earlier than ever in a warming world. bberwyn photo.

Detailed Harvard research tracks changes in eastern forests

Staff Report

FRISCO — Forests in the eastern U.S. are greening up earlier than ever and staying green longer at the end of the growing season, Harvard scientists conclude in a new study.

Thanks to the extended growing season, the trees are storing more carbon dioxide, but there’s no guarantee that beneficial side effect will persist into the future, the researchers said, explaining that changing precipitation patterns could disrupt forests in other ways. Continue reading

Study shows flurry of threats to rainforests

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Tree canopy studies show rapid changes in Amazon rainforest. Photo courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech.

Is global warming the knockout punch?

Staff Report

FRISCO — After watching Amazon forests change for decades, a team of researchers say the region is under the gun from multiple threats that threaten to deliver a knockout punch.

The 35-year study focused on how diverse communities of trees and vines respond when the Amazonian rainforest is fragmented by cattle ranching. Continue reading

Independent journalism isn’t free — donate now

Support Colorado Environmental Reporting!

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Support independent journalism.

FRISCO — After almost five years and more than 6,500 stories, Summit Voice is still going strong. With your grassroots support, we’re going to renew our dedication to Colorado environmental news.

You won’t find better reporting on forest, water, endangered species and public lands. But independent journalism isn’t free. It involves a sustained commitment of time and energy. Direct funding by readers is the best way to avoid pressure from advertisers and to ensure continued in-depth and unbiased reporting.

Readers often ask how they can support Summit Voice, so we’ve added a PayPal button for donations.

Any amount is welcome. For $50 or more, pick out a set of three note cards from our selection at Fine Art America. Donate $250 or more, and choose a medium-size fine art print. Click here to see our artwork.

You can also donate the old school way by sending a check to Bob Berwyn, P.O. Box 340, Frisco, CO 80443.

Thanks for your continued support and please spread the word!

Is out-of-state firewood a threat to Colorado trees?

Trees? Or toothpicks?

Beetle-killed trees near Frisco, Colorado.

State Forest Service warns against transporting firewood

Staff Report

FRISCO — It may be a little like the Dutch boy putting his finger in the leaky dike, but Colorado Forest Service officials are warning that transporting firewood from place to place may increase the spread of invasive tree-killing bugs.

Moving firewood even short distances increases the risk to Colorado’s native forests and urban trees. With the 2013 detection of the highly destructive emerald ash borer in the City of Boulder, and ongoing bark beetle epidemics in the state’s mountain forests, the Colorado State Forest Service wants to be sure people are aware of the risks associated with moving firewood. Continue reading

Colorado: Small wildfire reported north of Silverthorne

Firefighter start containment, investigate cause

Colorado wildfire

Firefighters work Monday, May 5 to control a small wildfire burning in northern Summit County. Photo courtesy Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue.

Staff Report

SILVERTHORNE – Summit County firefighters worked quickly into Monday evening to quash a small wildfire on a private ranch in the Lower Blue Valley.No people or structures were threatened by the five-acre blaze, which was burning in shrubs and dead-standing aspens on a hillside on the Mount Powell Ranch about 10 miles north of Silverthorne along Colorado 9.

More than 30 firefighters and other personnel responded from as far as Copper Mountain, along with law enforcement and state transportation workers, according to Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue spokesman Steve Lipsher. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Lipsher said.

The fire in the still-damp northern mountains came as much of southern Colorado was under a red flag fire danger warning. The south-central plains are also facing critical fire danger, with persistent drought and the spring windy season at hand.

“Even though it’s early in the season, we take an all-hands-on-deck approach,” said Summit County Sheriff John Minor. “We aren’t taking any chances.”

The fire was reported about 4:15 p.m., and by 7 p.m. firefighters had it about 20 percent contained and were optimistic going into nightfall that they would keep it at its current size. Light winds allowed firefighters to work on containment, but they faced some hazards such as potential falling trees and occasional torching of trees amid the single-digit relative humidity.

Although early in the season, the blaze at about 8,100 feet was not unprecedented for the area at this time of year.

“Fire season is here,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley. “We all need to begin that mindset of preparation and awareness, and don’t let the heavy snow of this past winter mislead you into thinking it’s going to be an uneventful summer when it comes to wildfire.”

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