Morning photo: Austria!

Colorful countryside …


FRISCO —Not sure exactly what spurred me to re-post a few of my favorite shots from what I consider to be at least my spiritual homeland. Both my parents hail from towns along the banks of the Danube, albeit from different countries, and every now then, I realize that, for all the decades I’ve lived in the West, there’s a big part of me that’s still connected to this wonderful slice of Central Europe. For daily photography updates, follow our Instagram feed, and visit our online gallery for an amazing selection of prints and greeting cards.

National parks visitation sets all-time record in 2014

Park visitors spent more than $15 billion last year

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Visitors enjoy the scenery at Colorado National Monument. bberwyn photo

Elk Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.  bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — As the National Park Service nears its 100th anniversary, the parks it manages are more popular than ever. Visitation to national parks broke a long-standing record last year, with more than 292 million visits. The previous record was set in 1987.

“As the National Park Service strives to share a more inclusive and well-rounded version of the American story through the places we care for, it is gratifying to see more people than ever coming to their national parks to enjoy nature, learn about history, and spend time with their families,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. Continue reading

Morning photo: Colors of Iceland

Flashback …


FRISCO — From the surreal mineral-tinted waters of the Blue Lagoon to glacial runoff in the highlands, Iceland is dominated by water features. As I recently wandered through the Summit Voice photo archives, I noticed how nearly every single image in the set included water in some form, including massive geysers, ubiquitous waterfalls and, of course, the sea!

Green groups push EPA to address airline emissions

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A commercial airliner flies over the Sierra Nevada.

Without regs, emissions could triple by 2050

Staff Report

FRISCO — With the EPA set to decide in May whether aircraft carbon pollution endangers public health or welfare, the battle over airline industry emissions in heating up.

Both the EPA and the airline industry have been dragging their feet for years, refusing to address one of the fastest growing sources of greenhouse gas pollutants. This week, six major green groups called on the EPA and the  Federal Aviation Administration to move quickly to set emission standards to curb greenhouse gas pollution from the nation’s aircraft fleet. Continue reading

Report: No gains in U.S. airline fuel efficiency

Industry foot-dragging continues,; lawsuits pending

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

An Iceland Air jet flies over Greenland en route from Reykjavik to Denver. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — U.S. airlines aren’t making much progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new report from the International Council on Clean Transportation. Despite some improvement by individual airlines, the analysis showed there was  no net improvement in the fuel efficiency of U.S. domestic operations from 2012 to 2013.

The nonprofit organization also calculated that two of the most fuel efficient carriers  — Alaska and Spirit — had the highest operating profit margins in 2013. Meanwhile less-efficient carriers like Allegiant made profits while using old, polluting and less efficient aircraft. The study findings contradict airline industry arguments that fuel costs automatically push airlines to maximize efficiency. Continue reading

Travel: Exploring Mesa Verde

Kim Fenske tours Colorado’s only world heritage site

Long Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park.

Long Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Arriving at the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor and Research Center ten miles east of Cortez in early evening, I worked with a ranger at the tour desk to build an itinerary at Colorado’s only World Heritage site. Despite the ranger’s doubts that I could meet the necessary schedule, I purchased tickets for the three possible tours at a cost less than a camping fee at developed campgrounds. The tours of both Wetherill Mesa in the southwest corner of the park, and Chapin Mesa in the southeast portion of the park, involved driving nearly a hundred miles during the day.

After paying the entry fee, I drove a few miles south to Morefield Campground and registered for two nights of camping at the campground store, open from mid-May through mid-October. The complex offers showers, laundry, internet, fuel, and basic camping supplies, more services than typical of my usual backcountry or primitive camping on national forest lands. After purchasing ice to defend against the ninety-degree heat of the day, I found a tent site conveniently located a short distance from the amenities. My primary criticism of the facilities is that new investment is overdue to update showers and restrooms in the campground. Continue reading

How do jet contrails fit into climate calculations?

UK researchers say rerouting flight paths could cut warming effect

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Flying over Greenland … bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Chemtrail conspiracy theorists aside, researchers at the University of Reading (UK) say that airplanes could reduce their climate impact by choosing flight paths in areas where jet exhaust condensation trails are less likely to form and persist.

The study, published June 19 in the journal Environmental Research Letters, shows that aircraft contribute less to global warming by avoiding the places where the thinly shaped clouds, called contrails, are produced – even if that means flying further and emitting more carbon dioxide. Continue reading

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