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Colorado ready to grant $5.2 million for wildfire risk reduction projects on non-federal lands

Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Summit County's forests.

Heavy machinery is on the move in the quest to restore Colorado’s forests.

Applications due March 13

Staff Report

FRISCO — Neighborhoods looking to reduce wildfire threats can now apply for grants under a state program that will disburse a total of $5.2 million for projects that reduce the risk for damage to property, infrastructure, and water supplies, and those that limit the likelihood of wildfires spreading into populated areas.

The grant program, administered by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, is accepting applications through March 13. The grants will be awarded in early May. Information and applications are online at the DNR website. Continue reading

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Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper seeks statewide water plan

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Water pours down the Blue River in the high runoff of July 2011. Bob Berwyn photo.

Governor says state must figure out a way to address impending shortages

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado water experts will try to figure out how to manage the state’s most precious resource in an era when all signs points to increasing shortages and the potential for growing conflicts within the state and the region over its allocation.

Under an executive order issued this week by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Water Conservation Board will lead the effort to address the growing gap between supply and demand. Especially worrisome is the gap in the South Platte Basin, the state’s most populous and at the same time, the most productive agricultural basin.

Hickenlooper acknowledged that the recurring drought could hasten the impacts of the gap between supply and demand, noting that the past two decades have been Colorado’s warmest on record, dating back to the 1890s. Read the order here. Continue reading

Colorado gets new state forester

Mike Lester says Colorado forests face ‘extraordinary changes’

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Colorado’s aspen forests may see more die-offs as a result of last summer’s drought.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado’s new state forester and director of the Colorado State Forest Service may be moving here from Pennsylvania, but his forestry roots are pure Colorado.

Mike Lester is a CSU alumnus and spent time with the Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. He currently serves as assistant state forester for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, a position in which he is responsible for more than 300 staff, manages 2 million acres of state forest land, oversees the Pennsylvania State nursery manager, and manages a silviculture program that yields $25 million in annual revenues.

As Colorado  state forester, Lester is responsible for the protection of Colorado’s forest resources; ensuring forestry education, outreach and technical assistance to private landowners; and carrying out the duties of the Division of Forestry within the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Continue reading

Colorado: State to study drilling emissions

Methane leakage from the gas production fields of northeastern Colorado may be twice as high as previously estimated, according to new research from NOAA.

Methane leakage from the gas production fields of northeastern Colorado may be twice as high as previously estimated, according to new research from NOAA.

Energy boom contributes to regional haze problems and potential health impacts

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado officials took another small step to address growing public concerns about the impacts of the state’s energy boom by announcing a $1.3 million study of emissions from oil and gas drilling operations.

According to a press release from the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the study will help provide information about how oil and gas emissions behave, how they travel and their characteristics in areas along the northern Front Range.

A second phase would assess possible health effects using data collected in the first phase. Testimony at this week’s Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission rulemaking hearing reinforced the views of experts for both industry and the conservation community that more and better science is needed related to oil and gas emissions. Continue reading

Colorado: Headed for drought?

More of this is wanted in Colorado. PHOTO COURTESY DYLAN BERWYIN.

Third-year La Niña could spell trouble for state, officials warn in latest drought outlook

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A drought outlook for Colorado issued March 28 offered a gloomy outlook for the spring and summer unless weather conditions turn around drastically in the next few weeks.

Even worse, state water experts said there’s still a greater than 40 percent chance that La Niña could stretch into a third year. Three-year La Niñas are associated with some of the driest periods on record, according to the update issues by the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. Continue reading

Colorado: Walk-up big-game hunting licenses on sale

A majestic Colorado bull elk. PHOTO BY MICHAEL SERAPHIN, CDOW.

State boasts the largest elk herd in the U.S.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado big game over-the-counter hunting licenses for deer and elk are available starting today at more than 730 authorized locations around the state. A capped number of over-the-counter licenses for black bear are also going on sale at that time. The licenses can be picked up in person or ordered by phone.

For elk hunters who missed the draw or failed to draw their first choice, over-the-counter elk licenses offer the opportunity to hunt bull or cow elk during the archery season or bull elk during the second and third rifle seasons in many game management units in Colorado.

Colorado’s elk population is larger than any other herd in North America. With roughly 283,000 elk, 23 million acres of public land and elk seasons that run from August through January, Colorado offers a tremendous variety of hunting opportunity. Last year, more than half of the bull elk harvested in Colorado were taken by archery and rifle hunters with over-the-counter tags. Continue reading

Colorado: Regional U.S. Forest Service chief Rick Cables picked to head new combined parks and wildlife division

After10 years as regional forester, Rick Cables will take charge of a newly combined state parks and wildlife division in Colorado.

Veteran resource manager should help ease transition woes

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sidestepped any potential friction over who will head the newly combined Colorado Division of Wildlife and Colorado State Parks by picking a well-respected U.S. Forest Service leader to head the new division and its 800 employees.

Rick Cables, who has served as Rocky Mountain Regional Forester since 2001, will take over in early July.

“I feel privileged to be joining the remarkable professionals of the newly created Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife,” Cables said. “Their passion, professionalism and dedication to Colorado’s wildlife and state parks make our wonderful state even more special. I’m very excited to pursue this new challenge. To my friends in the U.S. Forest Service, an agency that I love, I thank you for the experience and look forward to advancing Colorado’s conservation heritage.” Continue reading

Breckenridge: Planners huddle on outdoor strategies for kids

Access to outdoor play has huge health benefits for youth

A Colorado youngster enjoys some wide open spaces around Dillon Reservoir.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Educators and health experts agree that the rapid increase in the use of electronic media among youth creates potential health risks as kids spend less time in active outdoor play.

On average, youngsters spend an astounding 7.5 hours per day with electronics and computer games, Kaiser Permanente’s Sandra Hoyt Stenmark said Monday in Breckenridge at a national conference of recreation  resource planners.

“If they’re engaged with their media, they’re probably not outside in unstructured play,” Hoyt Stenmark said, adding that we’re potentially raising a generation that’s “disconnected from the land, doesn’t know where their food comes from … and doesn’t know why environmental preservation is important.”

Her remarks came at one of the opening sessions of the conference, where the planners and land managers will focus in part on how to re-weave an outdoor culture into the fabric of American life. Early remarks outlined some of the negative health impacts of sedentary indoor lifestyles, including an alarming increase in child obesity that leads to a host of associated health problems. Continue reading

Colorado River: ‘It shouldn’t be about power and money’

A vast plumbing system on the West Slope diverts up to 60 percent of the Colorado River's native flows to the Front Range.

Colorado Wildlife Commission hears input on mitigation and enhancement plans for proposed new Upper Colorado River diversions; residents call for public accountability, more money for long-term monitoring and action instead of meetings

* Take a video tour of the Grand County diversions

* A story with more details and numerous photos of impacts

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Grand County residents and other Colorado River advocates want more assurances that two proposed new transmountain diversion projects won’t wipe out trout populations in headwaters streams like the Fraser River.

“The bottom line is, I have a gold medal fishery with a lot of 24-inch fish. It’s a very viable fishery, but without the flushing flows, the river is going to die,” said Grand County ranch owner Ron Jones, speaking during a May 6 hearing of the Colorado Wildlife Commission in Salida.

A trickle of reddish water is all that's left of Jim Creek in Grand County, Colorado below on of Denver Water's diversion points.

“We all posture … they’re posturing it’s not a problem but it is,” Jones said, referring to the long-running negotiations over how to address existing impacts to fisheries in the Upper Colorado, and how to make sure that the Windy Gap firming project and the Moffat Tunnel collection system expansion won’t totally collapse the aquatic ecosystems in the Upper Colorado and Fraser River.

“If they want to take the water, then they should put the money into doing what it takes to protect the rivers. The wildlife commission has the responsibility to protect wildlife,” Jones said, asking the state agency to live up to its obligations.”It shouldn’t be about power, it shouldn’t be about money. It’s about doing the right thing. We need to  hold denver water accountable in perpetuity. The standard should be, the river shouldn’t be degraded any more,” he concluded. Continue reading

Colorado hunter fined $5,177 for killing moose

Conviction could lead to permanent loss of hunting privileges

A Colorado hunter must pay a $5,177 fine for mistakenly shooting a moose.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A Highlands Ranch man was sentenced to three years of supervised probation and ordered to pay a $5,177 fine after pleading guilty to shooting a moose (thinking it was an elk) and failing to report it to the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The case highlights a growing concern for Colorado wildlife managers — hunters who fail to correctly identify big game animals.

Joel D. Eady, 30, was charged with willful destruction of wildlife – a Class 5 felony, as well as hunting out of season, illegal possession of wildlife and failing to properly care for a harvested animal.

During an October 2010 hunting trip in the Missouri Creek Basin, east of Meeker, Eady mistakenly shot a cow moose after misidentifying it as an elk. According to witnesses, Eady told those at the scene that he would turn himself in, but never did.

“The biggest concern here is that Mr. Eady never reported this to us,” said District Wildlife Manager and lead investigator Jon Wangnild.  “We understand that mistakes happen and we will usually be more lenient with someone who reports an accident right away, but failing to report this incident turned a careless mistake into a felony.” Continue reading

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