Posted on July 7, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
The far West and northern Great Basin are especially prone to wildfires this summer.
Potential for big fires still a concern in California
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — For the first time in 10 years, the acreage burned by wildfires was less than 1 million acres as of the beginning of July. With extreme drought and high fire danger in parts of the far West, that could change quickly, but for now, both the number of fires and the acreage affected is well below average for the season, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.
To-date, 26,684 fires have burned across about 909,000 acres, less than half he average 2.5 million acres for this time of year. By comparison, wildfires had already burned across more than 1.7 million acres last year at this time. In 2011 that number was at 4.8 million acres. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forest fires | Tagged: climate, Environment, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 4, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Fallow fields in Grand Junction, Colorado, with the Grand Mesa as a backdrop.
FRISCO — I haven’t joined in the #FriFotos Twitter chat for a few months, but when I saw this week’s topic, I did a quick scan of the Summit Voice archives to find some of my favorite pictures of fields around the world, starting right here at home in Colorado and ranging as far as Iceland and Antarctica. On a recent trip, Leigh and I had a chance to visit Iceland, and amidst the wondrous ice fields and stunning coastline, we were fascinated by the lava fields, some of which are carpeted with a squishy, thick layer of moss. Upload your field photos via Flickr, Twitter or Instagram, tag them with #FriFotos and then enjoy the global slide show! Continue reading
Filed under: agriculture, Austria, Colorado, Europe, Iceland, Morning photo, photography, Travel, West | Tagged: #FriFotos, Colorado, Europe, fields, Iceland, mobile photography, photography, Travel, West | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 16, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
NOAA report says it was the 15-warmest June on record
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Temperatures last month across the U.S. were 2 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average, making it the 15th-warmest June on record for the contiguous 48 states.
It was also the 13th-wettest June on record, precipitation 0.54 inches above the 20th century average, according to the monthly update from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.
Most of the above-average heat was focused along the East Coast and in the West, where California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico all reported top-10 readings for June. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, global warming | Tagged: climate, Colorado, global warming, June 2013 average temperatures, West | Leave a comment »
Posted on April 19, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
It’s not ALWAYS wild …
Looking out at the Golden Gate Bridge makes you realize you’re about as far west as you can be in the U.S.
FRISCO — When I saw this week’s #FriFotos theme I was pretty excited. After the West is where I first really spread my photography wings and learned to fly. In the early days, it was all I could do to hold the camera steady and straight while taking in those jaw-dropping vistas. Today, places like the Golden Gate Bridge still make my jaw drop, but thanks to digital photography and a slightly more sophisticated approach and technique, I do manage to capture a decent shot every now and then. Join in the Twitter chat fun by uploading your favorite west-themed pics and tagging with #FriFotos and posting them to Twitter. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Morning photo, photography, West | Tagged: Colorado, Golden Gate Bridge, Grand Canyon, photography, Travel, West | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 24, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The High Park Fire burns west of Fort Collins in June, 2012.
Comments wanted on draft fire management strategy
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — After an exceptional western fire season that included the largest wildfire ever in New Mexico, the second-largest in Colorado and the largest in Oregon since the 1860s, land managers are starting to brace for another long summer.
With parts of the West facing a second consecutive year of drought, there is some concern that 2013 could be even worse than 2012, which ended up ranked third all-time for the amount of land impact by wildfires. According to the year-end stats, wildfires burned across a footprint of about 9.2 million acres. All three of the biggest wildfire seasons on record have occurred during the past 10 years, coinciding with the hottest decade on record. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, wildfires | Tagged: climate, drought, forests, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 29, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Udall amendment would have boosted Forest Service readiness
A crown fire burns through a western forest. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Along with budget gridlock, the U.S. Senate this week rejected an effort by two western senators to fully fund the U.S. Forest Service’s wildfire budget for 2013.
Sens. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) had previously offered a budget amendment to pay for pre-placement of firefighters and equipment in anticipation of a wildfire season that could be even worse than last summer’s, which included the two most destructive wildfires in Colorado history, the High Park and Waldo Canyon fires.
“These additional funds would have ensured that the U.S. Forest Service was prudently and appropriately prepared to help prevent and fight catastrophic wildfires next year in Colorado and across the West,” Udall said. “I am concerned that the U.S. Senate has decided to turn a blind eye to these predictable disaster needs,” he said. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Drought, forest fires, forests, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: climate, drought, Mark Udall, U.S. Forest Service, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on December 26, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Reservoir storage is well below average across the West.
Reservoir storage near record low in some states
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — Without a surplus moisture this winter, drought conditions are likely to linger, and potentially even worsen, across parts of the West in 2013, according to the Western Governors’ Association, which last week released its new Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook.
Publication of the latest edition of the outlook came shortly after Dec. 12-13 National Drought Forum in Washington, D.C. The overall outlook is for drought to persist across most of the northern Great Basin south to New Mexico and Arizona and east into the high plains.
“Drought impacts next year could be far more severe, especially given that the reservoir storage in many basins has been depleted,” said Kansas Governor Sam Brownback, who spoke at the event.
The cold season is typically the driest part of the year in most mid‐continental locations, so even with average seasonal precipitation, there will likely be little relief from the drought, according to the National Drought Monitor. The exceptions are Montana and California, where some relief is expected, based on early season precipitation.
New Mexico has been hardest hit, with reservoir storage at just 18 percent of capacity, but storage is below average in all western state except Montana and Washington.
- The national drought conference identified some of the mitigation strategies for addressing the ongoing drought, including:
- Regular, real‐time coordination and information sharing on the status, impacts, and prospects for drought throughout 2013
- Identification of priority basins or projects that are severely affected by drought, in order to focus mitigatioon strategies for 2013
- Coordination with USDA on federal disaster declarations and drought relief programs
Working with the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge critical reservoirs and enhance storage capacity in the West.
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, Environment, global warming | Tagged: climate, drought, Environment, West | Leave a comment »
Posted on October 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The Eagle Creek Fire in Montana burns late in the 2012 wildfire season. Photo courtesy Inciweb/Air Attack.
Report outlines surge in fires since 1970s, as spring and summer temps increase and the snow melts earlier
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nearly all western states have seen a huge surge in wildfires during the past 10 years, as warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt make old forests more susceptible to large-scale blazes, according to a report issued by Climate Central.
The report also cites changed land-use practices and insect infestations as additional factors, and decades-long intensive fire suppression has also resulted in more widespread areas of fire-prone forests.
But the preponderance of evidence suggests that global warming will increase the likelihood of large fires into the future, with fire seasons up to 75 days longer than just 40 years ago — about the time the greenhouse-gas heating cycle kicked into high gear. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, forests, global warming, wildfires | Tagged: Climate Central, climate change, global warming, national forests, United States, West, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 5, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Fire risk expected to continue in northern Rockies
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Wildfire activity across the U.S. has surged past the 10-year rolling average in the past few weeks, with major fires still burning in the northern Rockies, as well as the potential for big fires in the far West, as California hits the peak of the dry season.
Nationally, wildfires have now burned across about 7.6 million acres, more than last year’s total of 6.9 million acres, when massive fires scorched Texas and part of the Southwest.
This year’s total is the highest since 2006 (7.6 million acres) and nearly 2 million acres more than the 10-year rolling average of 5.9 million acres. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Drought, El Niño, Environment, forest fires, forests, wildfires | Tagged: fire conditions, National Interagency Fire Center, Rocky Mountains, West, wildfire fall outlook, Wildfires | Leave a comment »
Posted on August 30, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Greater sage-grouse. Photo courtesy USFWS.
States, BLM trying to stave off an endangered species listing
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — A new draft report from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may help provide a road map for greater sage-grouse conservation by identifying high-risk populations of the birds, outlining specific measures needed to avoid or mitigate impacts and setting population conservation goals.
The draft report is part of a multi-state planning aimed at protecting sage grouse and enabling economic growth, including oil and gas development, across the interior West.
The USFWS is working toward a court-ordered deadline for making a decision whether list greater sage-grouse as threatened or endangered. As part of that process, the Bureau of Land Management is updating land management plans across huge swaths of the West. At the same time, western states are also involved in trying to develop sage grouse conservation plans, hoping to forestall an endangered species listing. Continue reading
Filed under: biodiversity, BLM, endangered species, energy, Environment, gas drilling, oil drilling, public lands | Tagged: biodiversity, endangered species, energy, gas drilling, Greater sage-grouse, John Hickenlooper, Matt Mead, oil drilling, United States Fish and Wildlife Service, West | Leave a comment »