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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

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Water: Lake Powell may dry up within a few decades

Southwest, Great Plains most vulnerable to future water shortages

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Under some climate change scenarios, Lake Powell is at risk, according to a new study from the US. Forest Service. Photo courtesy Mission 31, ISS, via the Wikimedia Commons.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Some of the West’s biggest reservoirs could dry up completely as the region gets warmer and drier in coming decades, and major increases in storage capacity probably won’t help address regional water shortages, according to a new study authored by researchers with Colorado State University, Princeton and the U.S. Forest Service.

In the Colorado River Basin, “Lakes Powell and Mead are projected to drop to zero and  only occasionally thereafter add rather small amounts of storage before emptying  again,” the scientists concluded, adding that smaller upstream reservoirs might still be useful.

The report, published by the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station, combined climate projections with socio-economic scenarios of population growth and water use to determine future water supply and demand, to assess the likelihood of future water shortages region by region. 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 to revamp wildfire response

The Lower North Fork Fire burning March 26 in Jefferson County. PHOTO COURTESY JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF.

Gov. Hickenlooper proposes reshuffling agencies to unify command structure

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —Scrambling to beef up the state’s response capability at the start of what could be a long, hot fire season, Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said Monday he’ll ask the State Legislature to shake up the agencies charged with responding to public safety emergencies.

Based on the recommendations of a review panel, Hickenlooper said he’ll propose legislation that would put the Division of Emergency Management and wildfire resources at the Colorado State Forest Service under the authority of the Colorado Department of Public Safety. Continue reading

Breckenridge: Forest summit meeting comes to CMC

Panels will focus on science and management

There are still considerable areas of healthy forest in Summit County, but nobody really talks about them anymore.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Conservation experts, forest managers, loggers and scientists will gather at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge this week to pow-wow once again on the condition of Colorado’s devastated lodgepole pine stands.

The Colorado Bark Beetle Collaborative summit meeting is set for Friday, October 28, from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Colorado Mountain College in Breckenridge. Continue reading

Summit County: How do you measure forest recovery?

Local forest health group to discuss restoration and monitoring at a Sept. 15 lunch meeting in Frisco; the public is invited

The Summit Forest Health Task Force will focus on restoration and monitoring at a Sept. 15 lunch session.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After nearly a decade of pine beetle infestation and widespread clear-cutting in Summit County, the local forest health task force is starting to look at how to monitor and measure the success of forest health treatments.

At the group’s Sept. 15 lunch meeting at the Backcountry Brewery in Frisco, Dr. Tony Cheng, director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute will lead a conversation about how to enhance  capacities of local land managers, landowners, governments, and communities to mitigate forest wildfire risk and restore forest resilience. Continue reading

Global warming to take big toll on western trout

Habitat expected to shrink by 50 percent in coming decades

Anglers may have to climb high to find fish as global warming takes a toll on trout.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A combination of rising temperatures and changes in the timing of runoff and streamflows could reduce trout habitat in the western U.S. by about 50 percent during the next 70 years, with some populations disappearing completely within just a few decades.

The mechanisms for temperature-driven extirpations are complex, but the bottom line is that an ever-warming world isn’t going to leave much room for cold-blooded fish.

“They operate within a very narrow temperature range,” said U.S. Geological Survey biologist Andrew Todd. Variations in temperature can affect spawning, even if the temperatures don’t reach levels that are directly lethal to the fish, Todd said.

And the hydrology is also important, he explained. Even small changes in the amount and timing of precipitation can have a big impact on smaller headwaters streams. And unlike birds or mammals, trout don’t have the ability to move freely if conditions become unsuitable.

“They can’t just go to Montana,” Todd said. Continue reading

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