Posted on May 22, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A new U.S. Forest Service research paper outlines how wildfires can affect climate. Photo courtesy NOAA.
Smoke particles can cool ground temperatures and suppress cloud formation
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with resulting in huge on-the-ground disturbance, wildfires also have an impact in the atmosphere. With wildfires expected to increase in a warming world, U.S. Forest Service researchers recently set out to document what some of those effects might be with a synthesis of recent research, focusing on the effect of emissions from wildfires on long-term atmospheric conditions.
“While research has historically focused on fire-weather interactions, there is increasing attention paid to fire-climate interactions,” said Yongqiang Liu, lead author and team leader with the SRS Center for Forest Disturbance Science. “Weather, the day-to-day state of the atmosphere in a region, influences individual fires within a fire season. In contrast, when we talk about fire climate, we’re looking at the statistics of weather over a certain period. Fire climate sets atmospheric conditions for fire activity in longer time frames and larger geographic scales,” Liu said.
Key findings included:
- The radiative forcing of smoke particles can generate significant regional climate effects, leading to lower temperatures at the ground surface.
- Smoke particles mostly suppress cloud formation and precipitation. Fire events could lead to more droughts.
- Black carbon, essentially the fine particles of carbon that color smoke, plays different roles in affecting climate. In the middle and lower atmosphere, its presence could lead to a more stable atmosphere. Black carbon plays a special role in the snow-climate feedback loop, accelerating snow melting. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, wildfires | Tagged: Atmosphere of Earth, climate, global warming, Radiative forcing, United States Forest Service, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 3, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
New mapping to help resource managers plan prevention and response
Non-native grasses have altered the wildfire regime across parts of the High Plains.
By Summit VoiceFRISCO — Invasive species may be much more common than we think, according to a new U.S. Forest Service study that documented non-native species in two-thirds of forest plots inventoried in the Northeast and Midwest. The study across two dozen states from North Dakota to Maine can help land managers pinpoint areas on the landscape where invasive plants might take root.
“We found two-thirds of more than 1,300 plots from our annual forest inventory had at least one introduced species, but this also means that one-third of the plots had no introduced species,” said Beth Schulz, a research ecologist at the Pacific Northwest Research Station who led the study. “By describing forest stands with few or no introduced species, we help managers focus on areas where early detection and rapid response can be most effective to slow the spread of introduced and potentially invasive plant species.”
Nonnative, or introduced, plants are those species growing in areas where they are not normally found. Whether they were intentionally released or escaped cultivation, nonnative plants ultimately can become invasive, displacing native species, degrading habitat, and altering critical ecosystem functions. (more…)
Filed under: biodiversity, Environment, invasive species | Tagged: biodiversity, Environment, Forest inventory, Introduced species, invasive species, United States Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 27, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Policy change enables agency to charge per-person fees
Cyclists cruise the Summit County recpath on Forest Service land during the 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties based at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Photo courtesy Steve Peterson/Copper Triangle.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — The White River National Forest has revamped its fee structure for special events using local bike paths that cross national forest lands. Under the changes, organizers of cycling events like the Copper Triangle will pay a graduated per-person fee ranging from $1 per person, up to $2 per person for larger events.
The new fees, authorized under a local special use amendment, will affect special events using three specific bike paths: Vail Pass, Glenwood Canyon and the recpath system around Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, according to WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. (more…)
Filed under: biking, Colorado, economy, events, recreation, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Colorado, Copper Triangle, forest service fees, Mark Udall, Summit County recpath, United States Forest Service, Vail Pass, White River National Forest | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 13, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Cherished stretch of river lands up for better protection
If you have questions about the Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness proposal, head over the Nathrop Saturday, April 13, when Sen. Mark Udall will host a listening session to get community feedback that will help fine-tune the plan.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Residents of central Colorado will get a chance to offer some input on a proposed new wilderness area along the Arkansas River this weekend (Saturday, April 13), when Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) holds a listening session in Nathrop. The session is set for 10 a.m. at Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting Company, 23910 U.S. Highway 285 in Nathrop.
Udall’s draft proposal for the Browns Canyon National Monument and Wilderness Area is based on more than a year’s worth of community input. It would cover 22,000 acres between Salida and Buena Vista on the Arkansas River, including 10,500 acres of new wilderness. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, Colorado, Environment, rivers | Tagged: Arkansas River, Browns Canyon, Browns Canyon wilderness plan, Bureau of Land management, Colorado, Mark Udall, United States Forest Service, wilderness | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Draft oil and gas leasing map on the White River National Forest.
Report questions agency’s readiness for potential spills
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service needs to tighten up its oil and gas leasing program, including procedures for reporting spills and monitoring cleanups, according to a new report from the Department of Agriculture’s Office of Inspector General.
Along with illustrating weaknesses in the Forest Service’s oversight of oil and gas drilling on national forest lands, the report also noted that the agency needs to work more closely with the Bureau of Land Management to streamline the permitting process on national forest lands. (more…)
Filed under: BLM, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Bureau of Land management, energy, Environment, oil and gas drilling, public lands, United States Forest Service | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 26, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Local company continue to offer spraying services, saying some property owners would rather be safe than sorry
Pine beetle populations have dropped to the lowest level in 30 years in parts of the Colorado high country. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — While some local property owners report that they’re getting advertisements from local tree spraying companies about protecting lodgepole pines from mountain pine beetles, state officials say there’s no need to apply pesticides this year.
“Mountain pine beetle numbers are the lowest they’ve been in 30 years,” said Ron Cousineau, district state forester for the area covering Summit and Grand counties. “The mountain pine beetle population has crashed … spraying has to be based on an actual threat,” he said. “The current population of pine beetles does not warrant spraying.”
Essentially, the bugs have killed most of the available trees. With very few brood trees remaining, beetle populations aren’t likely to reach epidemic levels again anytime soon. The latest forest surveys showed pine beetle activity on only about 200 acres in Summit County last year, with only a few pockets of trees within those areas affected by the beetles. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Forest health, forests, pine beetles, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news | Tagged: Colorado State Forest Service, Environment, forests, mountain pine beetles, pesticides, Summit County News, United States Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
A wildfire burns through a western conifer forest. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
Senate passes budget amendment that prioritizes spending for wildfire resources
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A budget amendment that would prioritize funds for fighting wildfires passed the Senate this weekend by voice vote without objection, according to a statement from Sen. Mark Udall’s office.
Udall (D-CO) said the amendment will increase the funding availability for fighting wildfires and modernizing the air tanker fleet by $100 million — critical funds that will help prevent fires from growing and threatening lives and homes in the West. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, Environment, wildfires | Tagged: 2014 senate budge, Colorado, firefighting, Mark Udall, United States Forest Service, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on March 21, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Even some ‘pristine’ streams show signs of human impacts
New research helps shed light on long-term nutrient level changes. Bob Berwyn photo.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nitrates are increasing even in some pristine forest streams in the mountain West and the South, while declining in the Pacific Northwest, in the Northeast, and in Puerto Rico, according to a new study led by Oregon State University researchers.
The long-term data from the Forest Service Experimental Forest and Range network, a system of 80 locations across the country. Many of the sites have long-term monitoring programs and data sets spanning decades and so provide unique opportunities to evaluate long-term trends. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, rivers, water | Tagged: Environment, nitrates, nutrients, Oregon State University, rivers, United States Forest Service, water, water quality | 1 Comment »
Posted on March 2, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on planned infrastructure improvements at Vail and Beaver Creek.
Eagle County resorts to add some six-seater lifts
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Vail Resorts is looking to boost uphill capacity at its Eagle County resorts by replacing a few aging quad chairlifts with six-seaters, as well as making a few other on-mountain infrastructure improvements. The upgrades are consistent with previously approved master plans for Vail and Beaver Creek, but the U.S. Forest Service is taking public input on the projects before approving them. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, recreation, Ski Resorts, skiing and riding, Vail Resorts | Tagged: Beaver Creek, Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado, lift improvements, skiing, United States Forest Service, Vail, Vail Colorado, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 25, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The grant proposal includes examples of how the funding would be used.
Local stakeholders support idea of summer motorized trail crew
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District is applying for a $96,000 state trails grant partly to patrol and maintain a trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain that hasn’t been approved or built yet.
An off-highway vehicle subcommittee heard the grant request earlier this month in the first step of a three-stage approval process.
The grant request has support from the Summit County Commissioners, the town of Breckenridge and several nonprofit stewardship groups in the area. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Dillon Ranger District, recreation, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Golden Horseshoe, motorized recreation, Summit County Colorado, Tenderfoot Mountain, United States Forest Service, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »