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Moose encounters near Aspen prompt warnings

‘If things continue this way at Maroon Bells, it’s not if someone will be injured, but when’

Colorado moose

A moose cow and calves grazing near Berthoud Pass, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado’s growing moose population is causing a safety issue in the popular Maroon Bells area, near Aspen, according to state wildlife officials, who say people are getting to close to the animals along the Crater Lake Trail. Forest Service rangers temporarily closed the trail, but said that risky behavior continues, despite numerous posted signs warning of the potential danger. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Mountain glory

Got sky?

An iPhone shot captures sunset light over the Gore Range.

An iPhone shot captures sunset light over the Gore Range.

FRISCO — It wasn’t until I finished posting this set that I realized how clouds are featured in every shot — although I guess it shouldn’t surprise me. Try to imagine how any of these scenes would have looked with an empty blue sky. Still nice, probably, but not nearly as dramatic. In fact, the clouds really alter the quality of the light, especially in the Peak 1 shot, and it’s really all about the clouds in the Dillon Reservoir scene. With the monsoon gradually building, it’s time to grab your camera and head for the hills. Send us some of your images and we’ll feature them in an upcoming photo essay, and don’t forget to check out our online gallery at Fine Art America! Continue reading

Colorado: Water plan briefing in Vail today

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Water, water everywhere – for now. @bberwyn photo.

Colorado business community weighs in on water principles

Staff Report

FRISCO — Vail and Eagle County residents will have a chance to get up to speed on an emerging state water plan today (July 10), with a lunchtime briefing at Donovan Pavilion in Vail, 12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Gov. John Hickenlooper ordered work to begin on the statewide water plan in May 2013; a draft is due to the Governor’s Office no later than Dec. 10, 2014, with the final plan complete by December 2015.

Business leaders have developed statewide business community water policy principles to be part of Colorado’s Water Plan and are seeking regional input to finalize the principles. Working through local business chambers, this statewide initiative seeks local feedback on the principles, which address the business and economic development needs of Colorado.

Speakers include:

  • Tom Binnings of Summit Economics will discuss the economics of water from a statewide perspective.
  • Linn Brooks of Eagle River Water & Sanitation District will share local water operations and policy, and discuss needs in the Eagle and Colorado River basins.
  • James Eklund, executive director of the Colorado Water Conservation Board – the state agency tasked with drafting the Colorado Water Plan.
  • Bryan Blakely of Accelerate Colorado and Mizraim Cordero of the Colorado Competitive Council will discuss the business community water policy principles.

Can amphibians bounce back from the brink?

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A live boreal toad from waters known to harbor the deadly chytrid fungus. bberwyn photo.

Research suggests some species can develop or acquire an immunity to deadly fungal pathogens

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Florida-based researchers say they may have some answers for the puzzling wave of amphibian deaths that’s been wiping out populations of some species. At least some frogs and snakes may be able to develop immunity to the deadly chytrid fungus that’s been implicated in the die-off, University of South Florida biologists said this week.

Their findings could be good news in general for biodiversity, as emerging fungal pathogens are seen as posing the greatest threat of any parastic pathogens, contributing to declines of  amphibians, bats, corals, bees and snakes. Continue reading

Feds launch greater sage-grouse website

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.

Dwindling birds caught in a tangled web of science and politics

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a couple of weeks after the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $25 million in funding for greater sage-grouse conservation in California and Nevada, the federal government took another step in the long-running process to protect the dwindling birds by launching a new website.

Coordinated by three U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service information specialists, the new site emphasizes the collaborative nature of the conservation effort to protect the birds and their oft-overlooked sage-steppe habitat.

The scruffy badlands that stretch patchily between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada may look empty, but there’s more than meets the eye, the USFWS explains on the new site’s intro page. Sage may dominate big slices of the landscape, but the ecosystem is threatened because not much of it is protected. Continue reading

Morning photo: Colorado sunset

Can you feel it?

A Bierstadt moment in Colorado.

A Bierstadt moment in Colorado.

FRISCO — We cruised down to one of our favorite Gore Range overlooks a couple of days ago on an afternoon when the clouds looked promising (from a photography standpoint) and weren’t disappointed. OK, so we didn’t get a firecracker sky, but some of the subtle glows that played across the craggy summits of the peaks were extraordinary. Here’s  a sample of the shots we got, and there are more Summit County nature and landscape images available for purchase at our online Fine Art America gallery. Support the arts and independent journalism with your purchase of prints or notecards! Continue reading

Morning photo: Lupine love!

Wildflower magic

Lupines against the backdrop of shimmering DIllon Reservoir in Frisco, Colorado.

Lupines against the backdrop of shimmering DIllon Reservoir in Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — As the Colorado wildflower season gets under way, I thought I would feature a set focusing on lupines, one of the most ubiquitous species. Lupines grow around the world, from sea level up into the high alpine zone — not to mention our beloved garden varieties. Each variety showing adaptations to their local environment. For example, lupines that grow in the craggy high country have tiny flowers that remain hidden low down in clumps of leaves that offer some shelter from the wind and extreme temperatures. What I haven’t been able to figure out is why the genus got a name that apparently has something to do with the Latin root word for wolves (Lupus). Perhaps in the early days, when people were naming plants, lupine habitat was associated with areas were wolves live, but that’s pure speculation on my part. Continue reading

Morning photo: Rocky Mountain love …

Weekend shots

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Tenderfoot boulder.

FRISCO — Get up early, grab the camera, load up the dogs … sounds routine, doesn’t it? But the reality is, you never know what you’re going to find. Like Sunday, when I waited and waited, watching the clouds, but unsure if the sunrise was really going to light up the sky. By the time I started along the Dam Road I could see that the sky would be dramatic, not with pinks and oranges, but with light and shadow, which can really help give pictures some depth. And I threw the sculling shot into the mix just because I love the color and the composition! Please have a look at our online Fine Art America gallery for more great Rocky Mountain nature and landscape image. Continue reading

Report: Local measures won’t save sage grouse

Gunnison sage-grouse

A male Gunnison sage-grouse struts as part of its spring mating ritual. Photo courtesy BLM.

Federal protections needed to protect dwindling Gunnison sage-grouse

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new report by conservation biologists suggests that local and state-based measures to protect Gunnison sage-grouse won’t prevent the species from sliding toward extinction.

With only about 5,000 remaining birds, the population is already at a high risk, and only strict federal conservation measures under the Endangered Species Act will help, according to Megan Mueller, a senior conservation biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild.

The once-abundant species has dwindled dramatically as its habitat has been fragmented by energy and community development, as well as over-grazing. Continue reading

How much will a critical habitat designation for lynx cost?

New lynx conservation studies posted for public comment

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New federal documents spell out how a critical habitat designation for lynx could affect activities on federally managed lands.

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Lynx kitten in Colorado. Photo courtesy Tanya Shenk/Colorado Division of Wildlife.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO —Designating 41,000 square miles of critical habitat for lynx in the northern Rocky Mountains won’t have a huge economic impact, federal biologists said last week as they took another step toward finalizing conservation measures for the threatened wild cat. Most costs associated with lynx conservation will be on the administrative side, as the critical habitat designation would result in the need for more coordination among federal agencies. Visit this Federal Register page to view all the documents and comment.

Two draft studies examining the effects of the proposed critical habitat designation in Maine, Minnesota, Montana, Idaho, Washington, and Wyoming were posted July 21 in the Federal Register for public comment. The latest version of the long-contested proposal includes revised critical habitat maps  “based on where the best science indicates the habitat could support lynx populations over time,” but includes only areas where lynx populations already exist” — with the exception of Colorado. Continue reading

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