Anglers invited to join citizen science effort

TroutBlitz helps conservation and restoration efforts

Fishing for cutthroat trout at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Fishing for cutthroat trout at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s not always easy to gather good scientific data, especially in an era when political ideology drives policy, resulting in budget cuts that hamper government agencies.

That’s where citizen science can help, and Trout Unlimited wants anglers around the country to help record evidence of their trout catches both photographically and via mapping coordinates with the relaunch of TroutBlitz.

TU’s science team uses the data collected from anglers to learn more about native trout water, non-native trout proliferation and the health of entire watersheds. Continue reading

Environment: Study shows how growth hormones used in cattle linger in stream environments

Most modern cattle, including these longhorns near Silverthorne, Colorado, are descended from a

A new study suggests updated regulations are needed to protect the environment from growth hormones used in cattle. @bberwyn photo.

‘We expect impacts that extend through the aquatic food web’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Artificial hormones uses to fatten up cattle persist in the environment in unexpected ways, and for much longer than previously believed, according to environmental scientists, who say their study shows the need to update regulations based on new scientific research.

“What we release into the environment is just the starting point for a complex series of chemical reactions that can occur, sometimes with unintended consequences,” said Adam Ward, lead author of the study and assistant professor in the IU Bloomington School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

“When compounds react in a way we don’t anticipate — when they convert between species, when they persist after we thought they were gone — this challenges our regulatory system,” Ward said. Continue reading

Environment: New analysis helps pinpoint fracking pollution in Pennsylvania drinking water

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Fracking substances found almost two miles away from faulty drilling operation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists in Pennsylvania said they’ve been able to track pollution from fracking as the source of contamination in drinking water wells more than 1 mile from the fracked shale gas wells.

The stray natural gas and wastewater moved laterally along shallow to intermediate depth fractures to the source of the homes’ well water. The chemicals foamed from water faucets in three homes near a reported well-pad leak. The homes were sold to the gas company as part of a legal settlement in 2012, but scientists received samples before the transfer.

Previous studies had not been able to identify the cause of the foaming, but the new analysis found a chemical compound, 2-BE, and an unidentified complex mixture of organic contaminants, both commonly seen in flowback water from Marcellus shale activity.  Continue reading

More legal wrangling over uranium mine near Grand Canyon

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.

The confluence of Havasu Creek with the Colorado River (river mile 157) is a popular place for boaters to stop and admire the striking blue-green water of Havasu Creek. The turquoise color is caused by water with a high mineral content. At the point where the blue creek meets the turbid colorado river there often appears a definite break. NPS photo by Erin Whittaker.

Impacts to water quality, cultural resources at stake, as conservation groups seek new environmental study

Staff Report

FRISCO — A U.S. Forest Service decision to allow uranium mining near the Grand Canyon will be tested in court once again.

Conservation groups last week said they’ll appeal a lower court ruling that affirmed the agency’s decision on the mine, located about six miles from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.

U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell last month said conservation groups and the Havasupai Tribe failed to show that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws, but that decision will now be tested in a federal appeals court. Continue reading

Environment: Rivers recover quickly after dam removal

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The Colorado River at Kremmling. @bberwyn photo.

Study findings will help river restoration efforts

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientists say rivers recover quickly when dams are removed. In some cases, it only takes a few months or years, rather than decades, for most river channels to stabilize, particularly when dams are removed rapidly.

The new study, published in Science, came after the research team compiled a database of research and studies involving more than 125 dam removals. Important factors include the size of the dam, the volume and type of sediment accumulated in the reservoir, and overall watershed characteristics and history.  Continue reading

Satellite data may yield early warning on toxic algae blooms

Toxic algal blooms like this one in Lake Erie in 2011 can cause human and animal health risks, fish kills, and degrade drinking water supplies. Image Credit:  USGS/NASA Earth Observatory

Toxic algal blooms like this one in Lake Erie in 2011 can cause human and animal health risks, fish kills, and degrade drinking water supplies. Image Credit: USGS/NASA Earth Observatory.

NASA and partners to track developing algal blooms from space

Staff Report

FRISCO — As global warming threatens to make toxic algal blooms more frequent and more intense, NASA, NOAA, the EPA and the U.S. Geological Survey have teamed up to try and develop an early warning system based on satellite data.

Algal blooms are a global environmental problem. They pose a health risk to people and animals and threaten drinking water supplies. In the United States, the cost of freshwater degraded by harmful algal blooms is estimated at $64 million annually. In August 2014, officials in Toledo, Ohio, banned the use of drinking water supplied to more than 400,000 residents after it was contaminated by an algal bloom in Lake Erie.

The new $3.6 million, multi-agency effort will use ocean color satellite data to develop an early warning indicator for toxic and nuisance algal blooms in freshwater systems and an information distribution system to aid expedient public health advisories. Continue reading

Widespread stream monitoring needed in fracking zones

Fracked nation.

Fracked nation.

Methane found in stream near faulty Pennsylvania natural gas well

Staff Report

FRISCO — Gathering baseline water quality data from streams in fracking zones could help pinpoint impacts to drinking water, researchers at Penn State and the U.S. Geological Survey said after finding high levels of methane in a Pennsylvania stream.

Multiple samples from the stream, Sugar Run in Lycoming County, showed a groundwater inflow of thermogenic methane, consistent with what would be found in shale gas. The samples came from an area near the site of a reported Marcellus shale gas well leak. Continue reading

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