Posted on May 14, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A wildfire burns in Keystone Gulch, near the base of Keystone Ski Area, in June, 2011.
Fewer firefighers, less wildfire fuels treatments and less post-fire rehab
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The federal budget crunch means firefighters will have to do more with less this summer, federal officials said this week. Because of the sequester, the Forest Service will not fill 500 firefighting positions and will make do with 50 less engines on the ground.
“We are facing another dangerous wildfire season. We are prepared; we’re not as funded as we might be about 5 years from now, so teamwork is really critical to what we have to do,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, speaking Monday at a briefing at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise Idaho.
In particular, parts of the West are facing another challenging fire season, with greatest potential threats in the Pacific Coast states and into the interior northwest, including Idaho and southwest Montana, according to the center’s predictive services team. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: federal budget sequester, forest fires, National Interagency Fire Center, Tom Vilsack, Wildfires | 3 Comments »
Posted on March 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Vilsack says latest contracts could also face protests, despite efforts to minimize potential issues
Federal contracts for airtankers have still not been finalized for the 2013 wildfire season. Photo courtesy Kari Greer/USFS.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Last week’s Galena Fire near Fort Collins was a stark reminder that firefighters need to be ready for the upcoming season, which could be long and hot in of the country.
Wrangling over air tanker contracts has already delayed Forest Service efforts to bring new planes online, but U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack this week said he’s done everything possible to make sure that up to seven “next-generation” large air tankers will be available for the 2013 fire season. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, federal government, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: Aerial firefighting, Forest Service air tanker contracts, Mark Udall, Tom Vilsack, U.S. Forest Service, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Groups want top federal officials to be more upfront about global warming
Drought is devastating a wide swath of U.S. farmlands.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Environmental activists want top federal officials to directly address the possible connections between climate change and the current drought that’s crushing the life out of U.S. heartland, with potential implications for global food supplies.
Specifically, Forecast the Facts and FoodDemocracyNow! want Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to directly address the massive implications of manmade climate change for our entire farming sector. Scientists are clear that climate change is already leading to more extreme weather, such as longer and more severe droughts, according to Daniel Souweine, campaign director for Forecast the Facts. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, global warming | Tagged: agriculture, climate, climate change, drought, global warming, Tom Vilsack, United States, USDA | Leave a Comment »
Posted on July 2, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
With extreme drought spreading across Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper is seeking to get ahead of the curve for federal disaster relief.
Gov. Hickenlooper seeks federal drought aid
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Several Colorado counties already meet federal criteria for drought relief, and more could be eligible soon, as farmers start to harvest wheat weeks ahead of schedule and some ranchers consider selling their cattle in the face of continued dry conditions.
In some parts of the state, ranchers won’t be able to grow enough hay to feed their cattle through the winter. Other areas were hit by an April frost after record warm temps in March spurred fruit trees to bloom.
As a result, Gov. John Hickenlooper last week requested drought assistance from Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, seasons, Snow and weather | Tagged: agriculture, Colorado, drought, federal disaster aid Colorado, John Hickenlooper, Tom Vilsack, United States Department of Agriculture | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 16, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack lauds cooperation, pledges post-fire assistance and continued focus on forest restoration
High Park Fire map updated June 16 by Larimer County. Click on the image to download the large pdf version.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, top federal officials toured the High Park Fire zone Saturday, then emphasized the high level of cooperation between local volunteer fire departments, the Colorado Forest Service and the U.S. Forest Service in working to contain the 55,000-acre wildfire, now one of the largest on record in Colorado.
Though more than 100 homes have been reported destroyed, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at an afternoon press conference that cooperation helped save thousands of other structures that were potentially in harm’s way.
Hickenlooper displayed photo of a tree he said was the source of the High Park Fire, struck by lightning a few days before the blaze grew out of control. He emphasized that the High Park Fire only burned across about 0.2 percent of public lands in the state, seeking to reassure visitors that the state’s forests are still open for recreation. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, forest fires | Tagged: Colorado wildfires, High Park Fire, High Park fire map, High Park fire map june 16, John Hickenlooper, Tom Vilsack, United States Forest Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 3, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
Forest Service leaders say wood matches up well as a green-building material.
Forest Service research shows that timber stacks up well against other building materials
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is touting the benefits of wood as a green building material, in part to encourage the use of beetle-killed timber from the Rocky Mountain region.
A recent study found that, “harvesting, transporting, manufacturing, and using wood in lumber and panel products in building yields fewer air emissions–including greenhouse gases — than the resource extraction, manufacture, and use of other common building materials.”
Specifically, the report concludes that over a span of 100 years, greenhouse gas emissions from wood-based houses are 20 percent to 50 percent lower than emissions associated with thermally comparable houses using steel or concrete-based building systems. (more…)
Filed under: agriculture, Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, global warming, Summit County news, US Forest Service | Tagged: beetle-killed wood, Environment, forests, green building, Summit County News, Tom Tidwell, Tom Vilsack, United States Forest Service, Wood | 1 Comment »
Posted on October 25, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
The ski industry is working with the Forest Service to try and speed the removal of beetle-killed trees.
Regional officials say normal timber contracting procedures are too slow and costly for dealing with the unprecedented emergency
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — Local ski resorts are working with the US Forest Service and with national and state ski industry trade groups to try and get a special exemption from timber sale requirments to help speed the work of removing beetle-killed trees from ski area slopes.
Under the regional proposal, ski areas and other special permit use holders like gas and power companies would be able to cut and remove trees without having to go through the red tape of a timber sale contract and without site-specific environmental reviews.
Regional forester Rick Cables sent a letter to the agency’s national leaders in May, explaining that some of the streamlining mechanisms that have already been adopted have helped, but that the problem is so urgent that more flexibility is needed. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, Forest health, pine beetles and wildfires, public lands, ski industry, Ski Resorts, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Colorado, Mountain pine beetle, National Environmental Policy Act, Tom Vilsack, United States Forest Service, US Forest Service | Leave a Comment »