Environment: Blacktop runoff is deadly to stream life

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Off the road, into the stream … Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Transportation.

Coal-tar sealant fingered as highly damaging to DNA

Staff Report

FRISCO — New research led by U.S. Geological Survey scientists shows that pavement sealants made with coal tar are highly toxic. Runoff from surfaces treated with such sealants can kill fish and other stream organisms for months after it’s applied, the researchers concluded in a pair of recent studies.

Pavement sealant is a black liquid sprayed or painted on the asphalt pavement of parking lots, driveways and playgrounds to improve appearance and protect the underlying asphalt.

Pavement sealants that contain coal tar have extremely high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).  Coal tar is a known human carcinogen; several PAHs are probable human carcinogens and some are toxic to fish and other aquatic life. Continue reading

Colorado Supreme Court ruling bolsters stream protection

The San Miguel River near its headwaters in Telluride, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

The San Miguel River near its headwaters in Telluride, Colorado. @bberwyn photo.

Challenge to instream flow rejected by state’s top judges

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The Colorado Supreme Court this week rejected a legal challenge to a state program designed to protect rivers and streams.

The ruling makes it clear that the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s instream flow program furthers state policy of preserving the natural environment for the people of Colorado.

At issue is in the case is an instream flow right in the wild and remote San Miguel River, flowing out of the high San Juans near Telluride to its confluence with the Dolores River in Montrose County. The San Miguel is one of the last relatively free-flowing rivers in Colorado. As such, water experts say it still has some water that could be developed in the future. The instream flow right will help ensure that any future diversions won’t harm the river’s animals and plants. Continue reading

Morning photo: Austria!

Colorful countryside …


FRISCO —Not sure exactly what spurred me to re-post a few of my favorite shots from what I consider to be at least my spiritual homeland. Both my parents hail from towns along the banks of the Danube, albeit from different countries, and every now then, I realize that, for all the decades I’ve lived in the West, there’s a big part of me that’s still connected to this wonderful slice of Central Europe. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

Colorado: Ambitious restoration project in Summit County aims to heal Swan River’s mining scars

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$975,000 state grant will help fund environmental work

Staff Report

FRISCO — An ambitious effort to restore the Swan River got a big boost this month with a $975,000 state grant.

The restoration area includes about 3,500 linear feet of the river along Tiger Road in the Swan River drainage, 11 miles northeast of Breckenridge, on land jointly owned by Summit County and the Town of Breckenridge.

“We’re extremely fortunate and grateful to have received this grant,” County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said. “Undoing the damage from Summit County’s mining past is an immense undertaking, but these infusions of funding are critical in accelerating our progress.” Continue reading

Environment: Study shows endocrine-disrupting chemicals can affect multiple generations of fish

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New study confirms the transgenic impacts of endocrine disrupting pollutants in aquatic species.

Researchers warn of long-term impacts to aquatic ecosystems

Staff Report

FRISCO — Fish exposed to trace amounts of endocrine-disrupting chemicals like BPA  may not show any immediate ill effects, but the adverse impacts can show up three generations later, researchers said after conducting lab tests that confirm the transgenic effects of the pollutants.

The chemicals are part of a new class of pollutants that often aren’t addressed by traditional water treatment facilities, and aquatic environments are the ultimate reservoirs for many of the contaminants, some of which mimic the functions of natural hormones. Continue reading

Environment: Canadian Citizen groups say new tar sands rules too weak to protect the Athabasca River

Activist: ‘These new rules read like an oil industry wish list”

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A NASA Earth Observatory satellite image shows the scale of tar sands mining along the Athabasca River in Alberta. Visit the NASA site for more information.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A set of proposed new water rules has unleashed a storm of protest in Canada, where citizen and conservation groups charge that the government is giving away the store to energy companies exploiting the tar sans of Alberta.

The updated regulatory framework sets guidelines on how much water oil sands companies can extract from the Athabasca River, and guidelines regarding the management and production of toxic tailings waste. Continue reading

Environment: Nutrient pollution disrupts stream carbon cycle

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Excess nutrient pollution in streams means less organic carbon available for aquatic organicsms. bberwyn photo

Excess nitrogen and phosphorus speed breakdown of forest litter

Staff Report

FRISCO — Along with causing unwanted and potentially toxic blooms of algae, nutrient pollution also causes a significant loss of forest-derived carbon in stream ecosystems — to the detriment of aquatic life, according to a research team led by University of Georgia scientists.

Even moderate amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus in a stream cause the carbon to break down twice as fast, their research found. In Colorado, regulators have made efforts to reduce nutrient pollution in streams. Continue reading

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