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Colorado: Senators Udall and Bennet ask President Obama to use Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument

Gridlock in Congress prompts request for designation

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There’s a new push to create a national monument along the Arkansas River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing gridlock in Congress, Colorado’s U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have asked President Obama to consider designating Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

The request comes as Congress has all but ignored a huge backlog of public lands bills primarily based on ideological opposition to land protection measures by House Republican committee chairs.

According to Udall and Bennet’s Nov. 25 letter to President Obama, community leaders in the Browns Canyon area suggested the Antiquities Act path, recognizing the significant economic benefits of the designation for regional tourism-based businesses. Continue reading

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Colorado: More political diddling over modest land bill

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Will Colorado get a new wilderness area this year?

Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act passed by Senate committee

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — In what may become a Christmas miracle, Congress is poised to actually pass a land protection measure before the end of the session. Lawmakers this week said they reached a compromise on a bill to protect the Hermosa Creek watershed near Durango.

As written, the legislation would create a 70,000-acre special management area and a 37,000-acre Wilderness area in the San Juan National Forest. The compromise includes opening a huge section of alpine backcountry around Molas Divide to snowmobiling. Continue reading

Will federal agencies start taking climate seriously in analyzing proposals for public lands?

Coal, in this day and age? Really?

Coal, in this day and age? Really?

Lack of appeal in Colorado coal mining case may signal change of direction

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal resource managers may be inclined to take a closer look at the climate impacts of projects on national forests and BLM lands, after the Obama administration decided not to challenge a recent federal district court ruling on Colorado coal mining leases. Continue reading

Can good planning ease global warming impacts to wildlife?

An adult lynx in Colorado warily surveys its surroundings. The wild cats were recently named to a top-10 list of species most at risk from climate change impacts to habitat. PHOTO BY TANYA SHENK, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

An adult lynx in Colorado warily surveys its surroundings. The wild cats were recently named to a top-10 list of species most at risk from climate change impacts to habitat. Photo by Tanya Shenk, Colorado Division of Wildlife.

New report highlights actions aimed at buffering ecosystems from climate change

Staff Report

FRISCO — Congress may still be dithering over global warming, but some federal agencies are on a fast-forward path to addressing climate-change impacts to natural resources.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last month unveiled a new report describing 50 projects launched to strengthen climate resiliency, including wildlife movement areas that help buffer animals from global warming and reforestation projects focusing on climate-resilient native trees.

“Across the nation, a broad coalition of natural resource agencies is working with partners and stakeholders to collectively address the current impacts and future threats of climate change,” said USFWS deputy director Rowan Gould. “The concrete actions documented in this report represent real progress, but helping native species  cope with the effects of climate disruption requires us to build on these successes,” Gould said. Continue reading

Is smart land-use planning the best way to reduce wildfire risks?

‘Solely relying on public forest management to prevent homes burning by wildfire is simply barking up the wrong tree’

A wildfire burns through a western conifer forest. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

A wildfire burns through a western conifer forest. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Aggressive firefighting and preventive forest treatments are not making people less vulnerable to wildfire impacts. Instead, government authorized and funded  firefighting and land management policies may actually encourage development on inherently hazardous landscapes, leading to an amplification of human losses to wildfire, according to researchers with the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Colorado.

Their recent study in Nature says an adaptive approach, including changes in land-use policies, are the key to reducing wildfire risks, according to researchers with the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Colorado.

Continue reading

Election reflection from the mountains: Sun still came up today!

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The “blue” mountains of Colorado.

Time to move beyond tired election rehash stories and campaign post-mortems 

By Bob Berwyn

Mark Udall will be missed by many in Colorado’s high country towns, where people have developed a culture and lifestyle based on values that mostly transcend political and ideological divides. We don’t squabble so much about gun rights or abortion — mountain culture is global, rooted to natural resources and imbued, for the most part, with an appreciation of a clean and healthy environment.

Udall has hiked, skied and camped across the Colorado mountains and really involved himself in issues that matter to high country dwellers: Forest fires, outdoor recreation, water and wilderness preservation among the most important. He was probably the closest thing we had in Congress to a champion for the mountains, which isn’t surprising, given his family’s legacy, so there was a real sense of sadness in some of the social media comments on his loss to Cory Gardner.

More worrisome was the immediate nasty and partisan edge to some of the comments about Cory Gardner, who will represent Summit County, Vail, Steamboat Springs, Grand County … ALL of Colorado for the next six years.

Instead of setting the stage for more years of bickering and ideological grandstanding, this may be the time to make a genuine effort to reach out across party lines to try and find some common ground, even before the new Congress takes office. Continue reading

Energy: BLM finalizes northern Alaska drilling plan

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New oil and gas drilling set to start in National Petroleum Reserve. Map courtesy BLM.

Conservation groups say new road will hammer wetlands, tundra and wildlife

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new Bureau of Land Management plan for fossil fuel exploitation in Alaska has spurred criticism from environment groups, who say that a road included in the proposal will permanently damage the Western Arctic’s sensitive wetlands and tundra, with impacts to wildlife and subsistence values.

The BLM plan covers the Greater Mooses Tooth Unit 1 project in the 23 million acre National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, also known as the Western Arctic Reserve, more than half of which is potentially open to oil and gas leasing. Conservation advocates are calling for more careful study of drilling impacts to ensure that the wildlife, subsistence and wilderness character of our nation’s largest parcel of public land are balanced with energy development. Continue reading

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