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Whether you get the help you need after a wildfire may depend on how wealthy or White your neighborhood is, a new paper suggests.

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It's been a tough year for gas and oil prices, but solar power has seen steady growth during this pandemic year. 

COURTESY OF THE COMMUNITY OFFICE FOR RESOURCE EFFICIENCY (CORE)

The Community Office For Resource Efficiency (CORE) is launching a valley-wide art installation to tell the story of climate change, in partnership with a host of local organizations, including Colorado Mountain College. 

The community mural project “Stories of Climate Change/Historias del Cambio Climático” is a part of both CORE’s third annual Imagine Climate series and the Inside Out Project created by renowned muralist JR

Cortesía De La Oficina Comunitaria Para La Eficiencia De Recursos

You can find an English-language version of this story here. 

La oficina comunitaria para la eficiencia de recursos (CORE, por sus siglas en inglés), en asociación con diversas organizaciones locales entre las que se encuentra Colorado Mountain College, está organizando una presentación artística en todo el valle para contar la historia del cambio climático.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Record-breaking wildfires in 2020 turned huge swaths of Western forests into barren burn scars. Those forests store winter snowpack that millions of people rely on for drinking and irrigation water. But with such large and wide-reaching fires, the science on the short-term and long-term effects to the region’s water supplies isn’t well understood.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

Months of dry weather have left much of the Roaring Fork Valley in critical levels of drought, even after snow in December. The region has not been so dry this time of year since 2002. The Roaring Fork River and many others across the state are below normal levels of flow, which is unlikely to change without an extraordinarily wet winter.

Courtesy Chris Cassidy

AJ Carrillo farms 18 acres outside of Hotchkiss, Colo., in the high desert of the Western Slope about an hour southeast of Grand Junction.  When he irrigates his peach orchard, water gushes from big white plastic pipes at the top of the plot and takes half a day to trickle down to the other end of his five-acre orchard.

The Colorado River is one of the most engineered river systems in the world. Over millions of years, the living creatures that call the river home have adapted to its natural variability, of seasonal highs and lows. But for the last century, they have struggled to keep up with rapid change in the river’s flows and ecology.

Colorado Avalanche Information Center

Snowpack in the Roaring Fork Valley is particularly ripe for avalanches this year thanks to an abnormally dry spell. Colorado is already considered the nation’s most dangerous state for avalanches, and unstable snow across the state has already led to a number of deaths this year. 

The Sony Handycam, of all things, foretold what may soon be a massive mine on public lands in Nevada.

In the early 1990s, the camcorder became the first product to use lithium-ion batteries commercially. Since then, the technology has been used to power our laptops, smartphones, and now electric vehicles and homes.

Dale Armstrong / Courtesy of Aspen Center for Environmental Studies

On a recent morning, local naturalist Rebecca Weiss led a small group of amatuer birders through the frozen cattails near the John Denver Sanctuary in Aspen. Dawning binoculars and masks, they stood at the edge of the Roaring Fork River to get a closer look at an American Dipper bobbing in and out of the frigid water as it foraged. 

“We heard this gorgeous singing and we were all looking and listening as hard as we could to try to pinpoint the sound and who was making it,” Weiss said. “And finally, we got a line of sight on the dipper.” 

States in the Colorado River Basin are poised to begin negotiating policies to govern the critical Western water source.

Officials from all seven states in the watershed sent a letter this week to Interior Department secretary David Bernhardt, letting the federal government know they’re ready to start hammering out details of operating guidelines for the biggest reservoirs in the country.

All signs are pointing to a dry start to 2021 across much of the Colorado River watershed, which provides water to about 40 million people in the Western U.S.

A lack of precipitation from April to October made this spring, summer and fall one of the region’s driest six-month periods on record. And with a dry start to winter, river forecasters feel more pessimistic about the chances for a drought recovery in the early part of 2021.

Efforts to save a rugged and iconic tree of the American West are in the spotlight after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed listing the whitebark pine as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

The tree is vital to ecosystems around the West. In seven states and Canada, it stretches across more than 80 million acres of land in areas where other conifer trees can't survive.

Back in 2018, the U.S. Geological Survey and several Western states formed the Corridor Mapping Team, a first-of-its-kind collaboration among state and federal wildlife biologists to map ungulate migrations.

Last week, the team published its first volume of maps, which document more than 40 big-game migration routes in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Utah and Wyoming.

The U.S. is now officially out of the Paris climate accord

Climate policy is mixed around the Mountain West, but many states are seeing action and a transition to renewable energy regardless of federal leadership. 

President-elect Joe Biden wants to move the U.S. away from fossil fuel development, but he will face some challenges.

  

waterdesk.org/lighthawk.org

2020 has been a tough year for some of the Colorado River basin’s long-planned, most controversial water projects.

Proposals to divert water in New Mexico, Nevada and Utah have run up against significant legal, financial and political roadblocks this year. But while environmental groups have cheered the setbacks, it’s still unclear whether these projects have truly hit dead ends or are simply waiting in the wings.

This summer in Colorado was the driest on record. But forecasters say weather patterns during the hotter months aren’t a predictor of what winter might bring.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed protections Thursday for the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act in the lower 48 states.


Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

In a normal year, a foot of snow in late October would mean the end of fire season. But with Western Colorado experiencing its driest summer on record, this year is anything but normal. As a result, the last remaining vestiges of the Grizzly Creek Fire are still smoldering.

Two snowboarders who triggered an avalanche in the backcountry of Colorado in March are facing criminal charges.


Bureau of Land Management

You can find an English language version of this story here.

 

Más de un tercio de Colorado está formado por tierras públicas y controlado por agencias como la Oficina de Gestión de Tierras (BLM). Las decisiones sobre cómo usar esas tierras pueden ser polémicas, ya que los conservacionistas y la industria privada compiten por los usos preferidos en esos millones de acres.

Drought, wildfire and record-breaking heat are all part of the current climate landscape in the Mountain West. 

It’s a triple whammy that’s expected to continue into the coming months. 

Bureau of Land Management

 

More than a third of Colorado is made up of public land and controlled by agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management. Decisions about how to use that land can be contentious, as conservationists and private industry vie for their preferred use on those millions of acres.

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

You can find an English language version of this story here.

Es imposible pasar por alto las señales del cambio climático, ya que el estado ha experimentado cientos de miles de acres de incendios forestales esta temporada, junto con la sequía por doquier en Colorado. ¿Pero cómo se manifiestan los problemas del cambio climático en la votación? Para responder a esta pregunta, Aspen Public Radio habló con Max Boykoff, profesor de la Universidad de Colorado en Boulder que estudia la política cultural y el gobierno ambiental. 

Alex Hager / Aspen Public Radio

It’s impossible to miss the signs of climate change as the state has experienced hundreds of thousands of acres of wildfire this season, along with drought in every part of Colorado. But how do issues of climate change manifest on the ballot? For the answer to that question, Aspen Public Radio spoke with Max Boykoff, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder who studies cultural politics and environmental governance. 

A recent report card on climate change education in public middle and high schools across the U.S. ranked Wyoming at the top of the class with a solid A. The rest of the Mountain West was mixed.

In June of 2002, nearly half a million acres burned in the Arizona high country. At the time, the Rodeo-Chediski Fire was the largest wildfire in the state’s history. There was too much fuel in the forest, a buildup that began more than a century ago. Enough people saw the record-breaking fire and agreed that something needed to be done to prevent the next big fire.

On the side of a rocky hill in Sheridan County in northern Wyoming, Brain Mealor is showing off all of his weeds.

“Here, let me grab a cheatgrass so you can see it, too,” he said, plucking a wispy sprig from among the grasses. “They all kind of look the same this time of year.”

Mealor is the director of the University of Wyoming’s Research and Extension Center in Sheridan. He’s performing experiments on how to manage and kill invasive annual grasses, like cheatgrass, ventenata and medusa head, with herbicides.

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