Posted on July 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Test sites proposed to learn how drones could improve wildfire monitoring, mitigation, and containment
Images taken from space can provide a lot of information about wildfires, but low-level flights by unmanned aircraft could help make firefighting safer and more efficient, some experts believe. This image of the West Fork Fire Complex in the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado was taken June 26 from the International Space Station. Visit this NASA Earth Observatory page for more information about the image.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A pair of U.S. Senators wants to get a leg up on wildfires by spurring the use of unmanned surveillance aircraft to make firefighting efforts more efficient.
“Extreme wildfires have become an all too common occurrence in Colorado, leaving families without homes and hundreds of thousands of charred acreage in their paths,” said Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO). “We need to employ every tool available to help firefighters in their battles. This bipartisan amendment will help us develop UAS technology and teach us more about how they can strengthen our fights against wildfires more quickly and safely.”
Bennet (D-CO) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) this week introduced an amendment to create two additional test sites for unmanned aerial systems, with a focus on how they could be used for firefighting. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, forest fires, Forest health, public lands, wildfires | Tagged: drones, Federal Aviation Administration, Jeff Flake, Michael Bennet, UAS, unmanned aerial systems, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 10, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Federal biologists use a drone in the San Luis Valley as part of an effort to monitor sandhill cranes. USGS photo.
Political leaders pitch Colorado in a letter to the FAA
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado could be in the mix as the Federal Aviation Administration prepares to select six sites around the country to test drone technology, or Unmanned Aircraft Systems, as they are formally known.
Federal and state wildlife biologists are already testing drones to monitor birds in Colorado. NASA is also using drones to study tropospheric climate drivers, as well as hurricanes.
Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, Gov. John Hickenlooper and five of Colorado’s members of the U.S. House of Representatives recently sent a letter to the Federal Aviation FAA, urging the agency to choose Colorado. The bipartisan letter notes Colorado’s “unique mix of qualifications” for one of the test sites, including its thriving aerospace industry presence and the state’s world-class institutions of higher education. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Federal Aviation Administration, John Hickenlooper, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, Unmanned aerial vehicle | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The Hermosa Creek drainage near Durango is geting some bipartisan love in Congress.
Local stakeholder consensus may provide momentum for managment plan that includes modest amount of new wilderness
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Colorado lawmakers in Washington, D.C. are reaching across party lines to try and protect more than 100,000 acres of the Hermosa Creek watershed north of Durango.
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rep. Scott Tipton(R-CO) are introducing companion bills that would establish management for the Hermosa Creek Watershed based on recommendations from the Hermosa Creek River Protection Workgroup. The panel includes local water officials, conservationists, sportsmen, mountain bikers, off-road-vehicle users, outfitters, property owners, grazing permit holders and other interested citizens.
“We are lucky in Colorado to be able to enjoy many of the country’s most beautiful landscapes in our backyards. The Hermosa Creek Watershed represents some of the best Colorado has to offer,” Bennet said. “This bill will protect this land for our outdoor recreation economy and for future generations of Coloradans and Americans to enjoy. It is the result of a local effort that took into account the varied interests of the community, and that cooperation helped us put together a strong bill with the community’s input.” (more…)
Filed under: Environment, public lands | Tagged: Animas Mountain, Colorado, Durango, Hermosa Creek, La Plata County Colorado, Michael Bennet, San Juan National Forest, wilderness | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
This map shows the overlap of roadless areas and oil and gas leases in Western Colorado’s Thompson Divide area.
Withdrawal would protect some areas while honoring existing leases and create a path for buying back leases
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) says there’s overwhelming local support for his bill to resolve management of the 221,000-acre Thompson Divide, where conservation groups have long sought protection from potential oil and gas development.
According to Bennet, his bill would protects the land and local economies tied to it from future energy development, while also acknowledging and respecting the rights of current leaseholders.
“This bill to manage the pristine Thompson Divide area reflects the voices of stakeholders and Coloradans in the surrounding communities who live, work, and recreate in the area and rely on it for their livelihoods,” Bennet said in a statement. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling | Tagged: Colorado, Michael Bennet, oil and gas drilling, public lands, Thompson Divide | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
EWP funding will help restore areas burned in the High Park Fire. Photo courtesy USFS.
Federal dollars to help areas affected by High Park, Waldo Canyon fires
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Persistence by Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet paid off this week, as the U.S. Senate passed legislation that includes $65.5 million to help communities like El Paso County and Larimer County repair watersheds damaged in last summer’s wildfires.
Udall said it was a major victory for Colorado, with Emergency Watershed Protection (EWP) program funds also included in the Continuing Resolution that passed the U.S. House of Representatives. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, wildfires | Tagged: Colorado, EWP funding, High Park Fire, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, Wildfires | 2 Comments »
Posted on March 20, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Turbine shafts at the Hoover Dam. Photo courtesy U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.
Bipartisan measure has backing of river conservation group
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — With huge potential for increased hydropower generation, a bipartisan U.S. Senate bill and a companion measure in the house could help reduce some the red tape currently required to bring new hydropower sources online.
The bill, co-sponsored by Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ron Wyden (D-OR), would remove licensing barriers for smaller hydropower development and would require a study on a streamlined permitting process at existing dams and pumped storage products.
“In Colorado and the rest of the West, water is an extremely important resource for our families and the industries that drive our economy.” Bennet said. “This bill will accelerate development of hydropower resources as a part of a clean and diverse energy portfolio.” (more…)
Filed under: energy, renewable energy, rivers | Tagged: energy, Hydropower, Michael Bennet, renewable energy, rivers | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 8, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Will political meddling outweigh conservation science?
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designating about 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for Gunnison sage-grouse in Colorado and Utah.
Gunnison sage-grouse. Photo courtesy BLM.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With only about 4,000 to 5,000 Gunnison sage-grouse left in a few population pockets in Utah and Colorado, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided in January to list the birds as an endangered species. At the same time, the federal agency proposed designating about 1.7 million acres of critical habitat for the birds.
The announcement elicited a critical response from state wildlife officials and local stakeholders, who say they’ve developed locally based conservation plans that will help protect the birds.
Since then, U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and other lawmakers have urged the USFWS to extend the public comment period on the listing and critical habitat proposals to give affected communities more time to weigh in on the federal plans. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Colorado, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: Colorado, endangered species, endangered species act, Gunnison Sage Grouse, Michael Bennet, United States Fish and Wildlife Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on February 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.)
Global warming represents threats to agriculture, as well as economic opportunities
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Climate change is threatening pillars of the Colorado economy, including the ski industry and agriculture, according to Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), who this week encouraged the chairs of all the Senate committees he sits on to address the issue by holding hearings during the current session of Congress.
Bennet serves on the Senate Finance and Agriculture committees and the and HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families.
“Between Superstorm Sandy, last summer’s wildfires and a persistent drought, extreme weather events fueled by our climate constitute substantial challenges for families across the country,” Bennet wrote in a letter to Chairwoman Kay Hagan, chair of the HELP Subcommittee on Children and Families. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, global warming | Tagged: agriculture, climate change, drought, global warming, Kay Hagan, Max Baucus, Michael Bennet, Sen. Michael Bennet | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 29, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Protecting post-fire watersheds a key goal for Colorado’s U.S. senators. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Funds for watershed restoration and protection cut from disaster relief bill
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The refusal by the U.S. House to fund disaster relief for Colorado communities hit by wildfires raises an equity issue, according to Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), who said Americans from different regions must help each other when it comes to bouncing back from natural disasters.
“I am exceptionally disappointed that the House stripped out wildfire relief from this disaster assistance package,” Udall said. “But the House’s lack of action won’t stop us. I plan to continue to find any means available to secure help for Colorado. The Colorado wildfires occurred more than six months ago, well before the Hurricane Sandy emergencies, and should not have to continue to wait to be addressed. I plan to continue to remind Washington that we are all in this together.”
An amendment he and Sen. Michael Bennet introduced in the Senate would have restored funds for communities in El Paso, Larimer, Teller and Weld counties to repair their drinking water infrastructure damaged during the 2012 wildfires. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires | Tagged: Colorado, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, watershed protection, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on January 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Steep, burned hillsides in the Waldo Canyon burn area need more treatment, but Congress this week cut critical funding for watershed protection and restoration. Photo courtesy PSICC.
Partisan budget bickering continues
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Some of Colorado’s elected officials in Washington, D.C. are fuming over the latest partisan budget maneuvering, which included a move by the House GOP to cut funding that would have helped fire-scarred areas in the state protect their watersheds.
“It was wrong for the House to remove Colorado fire recovery funding from the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act,” Democratic Congressman Jared Polis. “Colorado experienced the worst wildfire season on record last year and our communities deserve a helping hand. If the House had passed the Senate disaster relief funding measure this money would already be on its way to Colorado.”
Monday night, Polis offered a motion that would have allowed consideration of the amendment on the floor of the House during a session of the Rules Committee, but it was defeated on a party line vote of 9-4. The emergency funding measure passed the House Tuesday by a vote of 241-180. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, forests | Tagged: Colorado, Congress, High Park Fire, Mark Udall, Michael Bennet, United States Senate, Waldo Canyon Fire, wildfire restoration, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »