Posted on September 8, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Some aspens and cottonwoods have been hit by leaf blight
An aspen stand in the Lower Blue Valley, north of Silverthorne, Colorado.
FRISCO — Colorado’s wet spring and summer dampened the fire danger and kept the state nearly drought-free, but there may be a down side. Some of the state’s aspens and cottonwoods may not be at their most brilliant this autumn, after leaf-spot diseases afflicted some stands in northern Colorado and along the Front Range.
The Colorado State Forest Service says tree experts have been seeing an unusually high degree of leaf blight spreading as far south as Aspen, the Collegiate Peaks and Colorado Springs.
At least two fungal diseases are to blame for the leaves now showing significant spotting or dark splotches. Marssonina leaf spot is caused by the Marssonina fungus and is the most common leaf disease of aspen and cottonwoods in Colorado. The disease can be identified by the presence of dark brown spots or flecks on leaves, which can then fuse into large, black splotches on severely infected leaves. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: aspens, Colorado, Environment, fall colors, forests, leaf blight | 1 Comment »
Posted on September 2, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
The 2013 Big Meadows fire in Rocky Mountain National Park scorched more than 600 acres. Photo courtesy RMNP.
Drying grasses and shrubs up fire danger in parts of Colorado
FRISCO — Summer may be winding down, but the wildfire season is not over yet. In the past ten days, fire managers and park rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park have responded to four illegal, escaped campfires.
All four were quickly extinguished, each burning less than 0.25 acres, but park managers say they all had the potential to spread quickly and threaten lives and property. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Snow and weather, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, fire danger, public lands, Rocky Mountain National Park, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
There have been significant die-backs in Colorado aspen forests during recent hot droughts and the stands may never regenerate in some areas because of global warming. @bberwyn photo.
Giant fires, insect outbreaks could be ‘game-changer’ for some forests
FRISCO —Forest Service researchers say “mega-disturbances” like giant wildfires and insect outbreaks are likely to hasten the slow demise of temperate forest ecosystems in the coming decades.
Even without those large-scale events, some forests appear to be transitioning to shrublands and steppe, and big disturbances could speed that process, according to a new study published this month in Science. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, extreme weather, forest fires, Forest health, forests, global warming, pine beetles and wildfires | Tagged: climate change, drought, Forest health, forest regeneration, forests, global warming | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 25, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Drainage from the abandoned Pennsylvannia Mine in Summit County, Colorado, has been poisoning Peru Creek and the Snake River for decades, @bberwyn photo.
Common sense tweaks would require more monitoring as well as reclamation
FRISCO — Congress, under fierce lobbying pressure from the mining industry, may not have the political wherewithal to make meaningful changes to mining laws.
But public land agencies could tweak their regulations to reduce the chances of another event like the spill from the Gold King Mine that tainted the Animas and San Juan rivers earlier this month.
A coalition of community and environmental groups hopes to spur those changes at the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture with a formal petition under the Administrative Procedures Act. The petition seeks four key changes to mining rules that would go a long way toward averting future toxic spills.
The rules changes would:
- Limit the lifetime of a mine permit,
- Impose enforceable reclamation deadlines and groundwater monitoring requirements on mines
- Require regular monitoring and inspections,
- And limit the number of years that a mine can remain inactive.
Filed under: BLM, Environment, rivers, US Forest Service, water, water quality | Tagged: Animas River spill, Environment, Grand Canyon, mining law reform, mining laws, pollution, uranium mining | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 22, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Climate zones in boreal forests are shifting northward ten times faster than the trees’ ability to migrate
More monitoring, adaptive management needed in crucial forest zones.
FRISCO — The world’s vast boreal forests, stretching around the globe at high latitudes, could reach a climate tipping during this century, according to a team of international researchers who said there needs to be more attention on climate mitigation and adaptation with respect to these forests.
Boreal forests make up about 30 percent of the planet’s total forest area and play a vital role in in the global climate system by capturing huge amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forests, global warming | Tagged: boreal forests, climate change, climate tipping point, ecosystem services, Environment, Forest health, greenhouse gases, IIASA | 2 Comments »
Posted on August 21, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Towering flames at the Fork Complex wildfire in California, Photo via Inciweb.
Feds spending $150 million per day and seek firefighting help from Canada, Australia and New Zealand
FRISCO — This year’s wildfire activity in the U.S. has surged to the highest level in 10 years, with the National Interagency Fire Center reporting that about 7.2 million acres have burned so far, and officials said they expect the wildfire season to intensify in the coming weeks.
The drought-stricken far West is hardest hit, with 16 large fires currently burning in Washington, 14 in California and 12 in Oregon. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said federal agencies are currently spending about $150 million per day on fighting fires across the West. Continue reading
Filed under: BLM, climate and weather, climate change, Drought, extreme weather, global warming, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: climate, drought, Forest Service, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 15, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Yes, it’s mushroom season in Colorado
Tiny Mycena in pine litter.
Dime-sized mushrooms on the forest floor tackle the job of decomposing this summer’s layer of needles, twigs and pine cones.
Top of the stump …
Hydnellum Peckii, sometimes called the bleeding tooth, or bleeding Hydnellum, grows in moss near the base of young conifers.
Abundant Russula often dominate the visible ‘shroomscape in Summit County.
FRISCO — I haven’t been posting about mushrooms as often as in past years, but that’s not because I’ve lost my fascination with the curious, ephemeral forest fruits that only appear for a few weeks in summer and early fall. I’ve noticed a general uptick in interest in fungi during the past few years and am hoping that it goes beyond simply harvesting for the table to an appreciation of the incredible role that mushrooms play in forest ecosystems. To advance that appreciation, I suggest checking in with the Colorado Mycological Society, which holds mushroom forays on many summer weekends, when you can learn from experts. Of note, the group will hold its annual mushroom fair this year on Sept. 6 at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Another great chance to learn about mountain mushrooms is at the 19th annual King Bolete Festival in Buena Vista.
Filed under: Environment, mushrooms and fungi, public lands | Tagged: Buena Vista King Bolete mushroom festival, Colorado, Colorado Mycological Society, Denver mushrooms fair, forests, fungi, mushrooms | Leave a comment »