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 “Morning photo: Fields”→
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 “Morning photo: West!”→
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 “Feds prepping for what could be another bad wildfire season”→
Udall amendment would have boosted Forest Service readiness
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 “Senate balks on wildfire preparedness funding”→
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.
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.