Good news, bad news for Colorado forests

Pine beetle infestation slows, but spruce beetles continue to spread

sdfg

Healthy spruce-fir forest at Vail Pass. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — There’s good news and bad news for Colorado forests, according to state and federal officials, who said last week that the mountain pine beetle epidemic slowed dramatically in 2013, while spruce beetles continued to spread.

Statewide, mountain pine beetles were active on 97,000 acres in 2013, the lowest acreage of active infestation in 15 years. Since 1996, mountain pine beetles have killed trees across 3.4 million acres.

Spruce beetle were active on 398,000 acres, expanding by 216,000 new acres in 2013, compared to 183,000 new acres in 2012. The total area affected by this beetle since 1996 has reached more than 1.1 million acres. Continue reading

The news roundup

Weekly news roundup by Summit Voice editor Bob Berwyn.

Weekly news roundup by Summit Voice editor Bob Berwyn.

Public lands, climate, environment …

FRISCO — I had a chance to work on a half-dozen interesting stories the past 10 days as a freelancer for the MSN internet news channel, including a short piece on a Colorado town that considered a drone-hunting ordinance, and some food news about new rules that will encourage healthier food at national parks across the country.

The surge in requests for concealed weapons permits in Colorado was also big news across the country early in the month, while the states along the Lower Colorado River may be preparing for reduced water deliveries.

In environmental news, U.S. Geological Survey scientists explained how the country could store 500 years of CO2 emissions in rock formations 3,000 feet down, while federal wildlife officials have been accused of stacking the deck against gray wolves.

Summit Voice public lands coverage:

Wilderness conservation is at issue in Colorado, where several lawmakers have introduced measures to create new wilderness areas repeatedly in the last few years. But that effort has been bottled up behind a partisan divide in Congress. Will there be some movement this session? More than 1 million acres are at stake. Continue reading

Colorado: Gov. Hickenlooper temporarily blocks death penalty for convicted murderer Nathan Dunlap

Executive order cites concerns about Colorado’s capital punishment system

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Convicted murderer Nathan J. Dunlap got a temporary reprieve from the death penalty, as Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper exercised his authority to make a final review of the death sentence.

Dunlap, then 19, killed five people at a Chuck E Cheese restaurant in Aurora in 1993.

Hickenlooper cited concerns about possible flaws in the administration of Colorado’s death penalty, as well as a national and international trend toward abolishing the death penalty, as reasons for his decision. Continue reading

Colorado: Smart energy management helps Summit School District realize substantial savings

‘Energy Navigator’ tracks use, guides active management of heating, cooling and lighting systems

Smart computer-guided energy management is helping the Summit School district save big bucks.

Computer-guided energy management is helping the Summit School district save big bucks.

By Cameron M. Burns

Through a combination of energy efficiency and actively managing energy use, the Summit School District is on track to save more than $100,000 in energy costs this year.

In fact, after investigating the operation of lighting and HVAC equipment at Summit High School in the summer of 2012 with a new energy-management system called the Colorado Energy Navigator, Summit School District facilities manager Woody Bates and his staff were able to cut energy use by more than $50,000 during the three-month June-to-August 2012 period compared to the same period in 2011.

The energy-saving techniques they used are now being replicated across the district. Data compiled by Carbondale-based Clean Energy Economy for the Region show that, eduring the first three months of the school year, (Sept. to Nov.) energy savings across the district totaled about $24,000 compared to the prior year. Continue reading

Colorado: Skier donations build forest conservation legacy

National Forest Foundation awards $650,000 for stewardship work

kj

Ski area visitors leave behind a year-round stewardship legacy when they contribute to the Ski Conservation Fund. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Thanks to voluntary contributions from ski resort visitors, the the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will partner to invest about $650,000 in forest restoration and recreation projects. The donations are collected in a voluntary add-on to ticket and lodging sales, a dollar or two at a time.

The grants were awarded recently to organizations like the Blue River Watershed Group, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program for projects like trail improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement, tree planting and stream restoration. Continue reading

Summit Voice: Week in review and most-viewed stories

dgh

Will the federal government tolerate marijuana legalization?

FRISCO — Cycling and wrangling over marijuana legalization are both popular topics in Colorado these days, which is reflected by this week’s list of most-viewed stories. Third on the list, surprisingly to me, was a somewhat wonk-oriented story about a conservation bill introduced in Congress — but maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise, since anything that involves bipartisan compromise in Washington, D.C. these days is truly newsworthy.

Two of the Summit Voice photo essays also managed to crack the top-10 list, including some sweet shots of our big spring snowstorm, and, of course, a pair of stories about the deadly Loveland Pass slide were also in the mix. Click “Read More” to see the list, as well as a roundup of headlines. Continue reading

Summit Voice offers a unique Colorado news feed

mountain-pine-beetle-284x204

Ever wondered about mountain pine beetle genetics? Read Summit Voice.

Water, forests and more …

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In the age of a global economy and a global environment, nearly all news is local. Case in point is last week’s report from the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General. The IG audited the U.S. Forest Service’s oil and gas drilling program, and found that there is quite a bit of room for improvement when it comes to being prepared for potential spills, and even just keeping track of required inspections.

Since the IG’s office documented a total of almost 200 spills on national forest lands in 2010 and 2011, it’s more than just a hypothetical exercise, and with oil and gas activities expected to ramp up on the White River National Forest, there are implications close to home. Read the story here. Continue reading

Summit County: Forest Service starts new comment period on proposed sale of Dillon work compound

Agency may someday build new facilities along Dillon Dam Road

The White River National Forest is once again taking public comments on a proposal to sell an 11-acre parcel of national forest land near Dillon.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The ongoing process of selling an 11-acre parcel of  national forest land in Dillon got a temporary setback a few months ago when a federal court ruling in California required the Forest Service to reset public comment periods on some projects — including the Dillon conveyance.

Forest Service land specialist Kevin Warner said the agency only received a handful of comments during the initial comment period back in February. He emphasized that anyone interested in having standing in the ongoing process needs to comment again in the new comment period, which ends

As a result of the decision, the White River National Forest is once again taking comments on the proposed sale of the Dillon property, which includes warehouse and storage buildings as well as a few residences for long term and seasonal staff and volunteers. Details on the conveyance are online at this Forest Service website.

The Forest Service has also floated the idea of developing new compound on national forest lands on what’s known as the Lake Hill property, along Dillon Dam Road near Heaton Bay campground, but that proposal depends on first selling the Dillon land. Continue reading

Summit Voice: Most-viewed & week in review

Smoke from the High Park Fire as seen from Bellvue. PHOTO COURTESY INCIWEB.

Wildfire and weather

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Updates on the rapidly growing High Park Fire quickly jumped to the top of the most-viewed list, along with several other stories related to Colorado weather and the building drought. Click on the headline to read the story and

Summit Voice: Most-viewed and other tidbits

Reef shark populations are declining at a fast pace near inhabited U.S. islands.

Oceans, drought, wildfire and climate …

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A quick snapshot of page views from the past week shows readers tuning in both to national environmental stories and local and state coverage. An article on the stunning decline of reef shark populations near inhabited U.S. islands zoomed up to the top spot with a listing in the main Google News feed, while the Corn Harvest story was helped by word-of-mouth and social media. Click on the headlines to read the story and share with your own social media networks via the handy little link buttons at the end of each story.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,960 other followers