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Park Service trying to track fossil vandals at Dinosaur National Monument

Missing chunk of sauropod leg bone spurs investigation

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A vandalized dinosaur fossil has spurred a National Park Service investigation.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dinosaur National Monument rangers are trying to track down information  related to recent fossil damage and theft on the Fossil Discovery Trail. A tour leader first reported the damage to the large fossilized sauropod leg bone Sept. 2.

Rangers are requesting that anyone with information on the fossil damage to contact the monument at (435) 781-7715. A $750 reward will be provided for information that leads to a conviction. Continue reading

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Colorado: Spring flood cuts off road to Montezuma

High runoff taking a toll on roads

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Flood waters caused a major washout of Montezuma Road in Summit County, Colorado. Photo courtesy Summit County Road and Bridge.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Spring runoff is starting to take a toll on high country roads, with a major washout reported along Montezuma Road and minor flooding in other areas, including a partial washout on the Meadow Creek trailhead road in Frisco.

East of Keystone, Summit County officials reported a 45-washout of Montezuma Road, leaving Montezuma residents withouth vehicular access. According to the county, the road is washed out 15-feet deep near the Peru Creek trailhead. Continue reading

Summit Voice: Weekly roundup

Water wars, chapter 33?

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A new study spells out environmental impacts of new diversions from the Colorado River Basin.

By Bob Berwyn

The tug of war over western water is a never-ending source of fascination and a vital topic for everyone in Colorado. In the past couple of weeks, water users on both sides of the Continental Divide have started digesting details of a massive environmental study that spells out the impacts of new diversions from the Fraser River, a key headwaters stream in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

The story is complex and deserves in-depth and sustained coverage. I took a stab at an overview for the Boulder Weekly after talking to some really smart people about how the proposed Moffat Tunnel Collection System expansion might play out. Will there be enough common ground? Or will the push to take even more water from the Colorado spur an all-out water war?

One thing is for sure: Cheap water shouldn’t be the fuel for population growth and speculative real estate development, and water planning needs to be more fully incorporated into land use planning, including in the upcoming state water plan. If there is a disconnect between the state water plan and land use, the plan is doomed to fail.

Read more about the latest push to divert more of the Colorado River: “Water has never come easy in the West, and when people start eying the last few drops of an already dying river, things can get tense in a hurry, even in an era of Colorado River Kumbaya …”

Morel madness

M-mmmmorels! Photo courtesy Donald Hughes.

M-mmmmorels! Photo courtesy Donald Hughes.

I also reported on the start of the wild mushroom foraging season in Colorado, which starts in the grassy cottonwood bosques along the Front Range, when tasty morels start to sprout in hidden clumps. Morel, along with several other fungi, are important players in wildfire ecology, helping to prepare the soil at a very mollecular level for new shrub, grass and tree growth.

Read more: “Mushroom hunters are a strange bunch to begin with, scurrying through the forest with their eyes glued to all the damp and shady spots on the ground, hoping to find that treasure trove of delectable fungi …”

Frack no more!

And in case you missed it the previous week, the Boulder Weekly also let me ramble on about beer, fracking and travel in the food section, as I tried to track down whether there is any real threat to Colorado brewers. Read the story here: “As a red-blooded American beer enthusiast with deep roots in beer culture, I got a little riled up when I read a press release a few months ago from a group of brewers concerned about the potential impacts of fracking to their water supplies …”

Deep sea dump

For Summit Voice I interviewed marine ecology professor Kerry Howell about her study of human garbage that’s piling up in some of the most remote ocean depths. Heineken beer cans, Uncle Ben’s rice packets and more, all washing off land and down into submarine canyons, where samples across wide swaths of sea bottom, from the Arctic to the Azores, showed as many as 10 pieces of garbage per acre. Rea the story here: “It’s not the best when your feeding apparatus is covered with plastic …”

Pay to play?

Nobody in Colorado covers recreation fees like Summit Voice. The controversial pay to play program is back in the news, as a California judge ruled that the Forest Service violating the law by charging a general public lands admission fee with a widespread adventure pass program. At stake is free access to trailhead parking on public lands across the country. Read: “The Forest Service is prohibited from charging a fee solely for parking. If a visitor does nothing other than park, the fee is solely for parking and is, therefore, plainly prohibited by the REA,” the court ruled, referencing previous court decisions …”

A few more headlines:

Feds see $470 million gap in firefighting budget

Climate: Scientists surprised by level of ocean acidification impacts off the West Coast of U.S.

Can Squaw Valley slow the development juggernaut?

Wolves just can’t catch seem to a break in the West

 

 

Good news, bad news for Colorado forests

Pine beetle infestation slows, but spruce beetles continue to spread

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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

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