Americas Latino Eco Festival is coming up on Thursday, October 15th – Saturday, October 17th #PROTECTMITIERRA

Denver City Park sunrise
Denver City Park sunrise

From email from the Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter:

Americas Latino Eco Festival is coming up on Thursday, October 15th – Saturday, October 17th and there are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved!

On Thursday, October 15th there will be a People and Planet First Forum at the Metropolitan State University of Denver, St. Cajetan from 8:15 AM to 5:15 PM. For more details, a map, and to register for free, go here!

On Friday, October 16th there will be Climate of Hope Leadership Training at the Denver Art Museum Point Hall from 8:30 AM to 4:00 PM. For more details, a map, and to register for free, go here!

Also, join us on Saturday, October 17th from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM in front of the History Colorado Center (next to the Denver Art Museum)! We will be tabling with flyers and opportunities for people to sign up for outings, to be a part of our team, and learn more about our mission to explore, enjoy and protect our planet!

If you’re interest in volunteering to help us table, please go here and add your name, email and phone number and we can assign you a shift to help out.

For more information and to register for events, please go to! Let me know if you have any questions. Hope to see you there!

The Great Divide: “The growing need to find collaborative solutions” — Jim Havey


The Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center at CMU is showing the Great Divide next weekend. Here’s an interview with Jim Havey from Laurena Mayne Davis writing in The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel:

“The Great Divide” is both a documentary and a companion coffee table-style book explaining the complexities of Colorado water issues in relatable narrative, while underscoring the urgency that all Coloradans become informed and involved in how their water is used and conserved.

Stephen Grace, of Boulder, wrote the book and served as screenwriter for the film, which was produced by Havey Productions, of Denver, which since 1979 has specialized in telling the stories of the American West. Jim Havey produced the film and provided images for the companion book.

Grand Junction on Saturday will host a free screening of “The Great Divide” as part of a 10-city film tour.

Laurena Mayne Davis: Who, or what, was the main driver behind the film and the companion book?

Jim Havey: Havey Productions specializes in historical documentaries on Colorado and the American West. We initially saw this as a compelling thread weaving through Colorado history and a new way to look at the state’s heritage.

Davis: Why did you feel it was important to be involved?

Havey: The urgency behind this film and book is the need for a more informed and inclusive public conversation concerning looming critical decisions on the management and allocation of water in Colorado. The Department of Natural Resources anticipates a gap in the demand for water, in the not too distant future, and the ability of our water providers to supply that water. Most Coloradans have very little knowledge of where their water comes from and what it takes to deliver it to their taps.

Davis: You had a KickStarter campaign, multiple sponsors and grants. What was your budget for this project, and how did the funding piece come together?

Havey: Our fundraising goal was $350,000. My associate producer, Blair Miller, led the effort, and we attended conferences and met water leaders throughout the state, learning about issues and attitudes while asking for sponsors to bring this film to the screen. After three years we successfully completed the funding with 55 sponsors and a $20,000 KickStarter campaign.

Davis: Talk about the photos in the book. They are a combination of your photos, contributed photos and historical photos. Did you oversee their collection?

Havey: The book includes a compilation of visual material from contemporary and archival photos to maps, paintings and illustrations. My film editor, Nathan Church, and I took most of the contemporary photos, which include some shot as stills and some pulled from video frames filmed for the movie. Nathan led the search for archival material, which came from the water archive at the Colorado State University library, the Western History collection at Denver Public Library, History Colorado, Denver Water, Library of Congress and many other sources.

Davis: How did the collaborative creative process work with book author and screenwriter Stephen Grace?

Havey: Steve Grace is an immensely talented and lyrical writer, and I was thrilled to have him on board for this project. We worked on the structure and drafts of the script for over a year before the book deal emerged from Steve’s contacts and reputation in the publishing world. But the publisher needed the book to be ready in about a six-week timeframe, and Steve worked round the clock researching, writing narrative, editing interviews, writing photo captions, and cataloging references to get it done. My team worked on the visuals. Then I edited the book narrative into the narrative script for the film and included lots of more recent interview material with some of the interviews in the book and worked with Steve to fine-tune everything.

Davis: I imagine the audience conversations at film presentations on the Western Slope (where most of the water naturally flows) are significantly different from those on the Front Range (where most of the state’s population grows). You’ve been on both sides of the divide now on your film tour. What are you expecting to hear in Grand Junction?

Havey: There are many points of view regarding water on both sides of the divide, and West Slope audiences are justifiably concerned about the growth projections for the Front Range and further depletions to their water supplies. The days of anyone getting something for nothing in water are long gone and we have entered a new era where negotiated agreements are far more desirable than court battles.

Davis: Agriculture, an important economic driver in the Grand Valley, accounts for some 85 percent of the water use in the state. What are the most realistic ways to make agriculture more water-efficient, and do you expect farmers and ranchers will be open to those changes?

Havey: Most farmers and ranchers are as concerned about conserving water as anyone and they are very aware that their water use is being carefully scrutinized as part of the solution for supplying the growing needs of Front Range and West Slope cities.

Agriculture has changed considerably in the last 50 years, and irrigation techniques are much more efficient today. As a state we all need to be concerned about threats to our rural communities in the face of buy-and-dry deals that turn hay meadows to shopping malls. Ag-urban transfers, rotational fallowing and more efficient irrigation technologies offer some solutions.

Davis: What do you want viewers and readers to do with their greater understanding of Colorado water issues? In other words, what’s your best hope for a more water-aware state populace?

Havey: My hope is that the film and book impress audiences with the urgency and complexity of western water issues, and the growing need to find collaborative solutions.

NOAA funds CU-Boulder-based Western Water Assessment for another five years — CU Boulder

Plume of subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado September 2013 via Weather5280
Plume of subtropical moisture streaming into Colorado September 2013 via Weather5280

From CIRES via the CU News Center:

n 2013, the torrents of water that poured out of the mountains, ripping up roads and inundating Boulder, Lyons, Longmont and other Front Range communities, also resulted in a deluge of questions. Both the general public and local officials wondered just how unusual this rainfall and flooding had been. Had something like it happened before? Was anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change responsible?

“The intensity of the floods really caught a lot of us living in the region off guard,” said Lisa Dilling, director of the Western Water Assessment, which is part of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. Dilling is also a professor of environmental studies at CU-Boulder. “But because WWA has a long history of working with water managers and planners in Colorado’s Front Range, we could quickly assemble regional experts to assess the disaster.”

Within ten days of the floods, WWA researchers and their partners at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Colorado State University synthesized information about the atmospheric conditions that produced the floods, the potential role of climate change, and how these floods compared to others in the past. They released a 4-page handout at a public briefing and panel discussion. This rapid-response effort spurred additional WWA research projects to better understand Front Range flood risk, some of which are still ongoing – which is why the group was thrilled to find out that NOAA will support them with about $4 million for another five years.

The money comes from NOAA’s Climate Program Office, which has funded WWA since 1999. WWA, which focuses on Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, is one of ten teams under NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences & Assessments (RISA) program. It’s intended to help expand the country’s ability to deal with climate change by having scientists work with local and regional stakeholders and engage them as research partners.

For WWA, the NOAA agreement is invaluable. “NOAA’s support is our foundation,” said Dilling. “We are grateful for the recognition that our work in this intersection of environmental change and decision-making is relevant, important and timely.” In the last five years, WWA has issued a report examining how climate change in Colorado affects water resources, as well as a study on the state’s vulnerabilities to climate change: in tourism, recreation, education, public health and many other sectors. It also helped Salt Lake City, Utah evaluate the impact of a changing climate on their water supply. And WWA collaborated with the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) to create a report on climate change and the Navajo Nation.

In all of these projects, the goal has been to provide land managers, water managers and other officials with the best information possible so they can develop and enact effective policies.

Under this new round of funding, WWA plans to pursue three big research areas. One of those is to examine how the science developed by WWA and other research entities can be made more useful to decision-making. “We’re interested in enhancing the usability of science,” said Jeff Lukas, Research Integration Specialist with WWA. “We want to involve stakeholders in everything we do. And we want to spread our model of two-way dialogue and collaboration between scientists and stakeholders.”

Another big area of research over the next five years will be vulnerability and adaptation. WWA plans to focus on how Utah, Colorado and Wyoming are vulnerable to climate change, as well as how to design more adaptive and resilient systems, looking specifically at water supply.. Lukas also points out that adaptation and resilience aren’t just about infrastructure, like roads, buildings, and bridges. They’re also about getting organizations to think differently when it comes to climate change.

And, finally, in an extension of their work on the 2013 floods, WWA wants to better understand extreme weather and climate events and help to use that understanding to inform future decisions. “We need to glean all the information we can from the rich historical record,” says Lukas. “And also tease out what the climate models can really tell us about changes in these events going forward.”

“Every day, communities and businesses in the U.S. and around world are grappling with environmental challenges due to changing climate conditions and extreme events,” said Wayne Higgins, director of the NOAA Climate Program Office, which announced funding for WWA and other programs today. “People want timely and relevant scientific information about where and why climate is changing, and what impacts that has on human and natural systems. CPO’s competitive grants play a vital role in advancing understanding of Earth’s climate system and in transitioning our data, tools, information, and operations to applications the public can use to improve decision making.”

CIRES is a partnership of NOAA and the University of Colorado Boulder.

The latest “The Current” newsletter from the Eagle River Watershed Council is hot off the presses

Click here to read the newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:

Eagle River Watershed Council has teamed up with the U.S. Forest Service for the inaugural year of our Citizen Science program. This program aims to identify creeks and streams on Forest Service land that currently house populations of native cutthroat trout or could in the future. Participants were trained to collect Environmental DNA samples and assess the physical habitat of streams.

We are no longer accepting new volunteers for the Citizen Science program this year, but there will certainly be ways to get involved in 2016! Email to sign up for next year or simply to find out more.

Eagle River Basin
Eagle River Basin

Grand Junction: The Ruth Powell Hutchins Water Center is showing the Great Divide on October 17


Click here for the inside skinny and to register (free).

Click here for the Coyote Gulch review.

Why Colorado doesn’t create bold goals for greenhouse gas reductions — The Mountain Town News

From The Mountain Town News (Allen Best):

Colorado’s state government has produced an updated climate action plan, and it’s rich with detail about what Colorado has done in reducing greenhouse gas emissions as well as in addressing the challenges of rising temperatures.


But what value does this information provide? The document, “Colorado Climate Plan: State Level Policies and Strategies to Mitigate and Adapt,” neither sets goals nor does it makes a strong case for a specific agenda. Instead, among several dozen strategies and recommendations are these:

  • Promote and encourage water efficiency and/or conservation at the local and state agency level.
  • Assist all electric utilities in incorporating all feasible efficiency activities into resource planning and the EPA air quality compliance plans, and
  • Partner with federal and local agencies to preserve and protect forest health and wildlife habitat and to reduce wildfire risk. This latter is under the tourism and recreation heading.
  • Taryn Finnessey, lead author of the document, says many of the specifics of these recommendations remain to be worked out. The next step, beginning late this fall, will be to begin having conversations with various water, business, and other interest groups.

    When possible, she says, that outreach will be accomplished using existing events, such as when the Colorado Association of Conservation Districts meets. Climate change adaptation will be on the agenda when the state’s Department of Local Affairs holds sessions on land-use planning.

    “We recognize this is the beginning of the conversation, not the end, and there needs to be more dialogue with stakeholders going forward about where we need to go from here,” she says.


    “But this is a really good first step, the first time when we have pulled together all we have done about climate change adaptation and mitigation and put it in one document. And it is not be understated. There are a lot of really good efforts underway, and we don’t want to slow those efforts down.

    “There’s much more to be done. That’s clear not only in our strategies and recommendations, but also in our efforts to reach out to stakeholders and the public to see how they want to take the next steps of climate change and adaptation in Colorado.”

    Other states and some local jurisdictions have proclaimed bold, even brash goals. Colorado officials aren’t persuaded that’s the way to go.

    “When you drill down into the programs they have in place to achieve those goals, you find sometimes that the math doesn’t add up,” says Finnessey.

    The document makes the case that Colorado has done much since the first climate plan was released during the administration of Gov. Bill Ritter in 2007. Much of that work has been in reduction of greenhouse gases.

    The climate plan speaks to both transportation and cooperation with local entities. Photo/Allen Best - See more at:
    The climate plan speaks to both transportation and cooperation with local entities. Photo/Allen Best – See more at:

    State legislators have raised the bar of renewable portfolio standards for the investor-owned utilities and expanded the requirements to include the co-operatives and municipalities.

    Already, the initiatives (including the first renewable mandate adopted by voters in 2004) have added up. Just 0.54 percent of electricity came from renewable sources in 2004 (excluding the big hydro sources); as of 2014, the percentage had grown to 14.36 percent.

    Switching among fossil fuels has also reduced greenhouse gases. State legislation incentivized the replacement of coal by natural gas at power plants in Boulder and Denver. And, in 2014, Colorado became a national leader in instituting rules to limit emissions of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, from drilling operations.

    Gov. John Hickenlooper has said Colorado will go forward with efforts to meet standards of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan for 2030. (Another statewide elected official, Cynthia Coffman, the attorney general, has a different idea. She has joined her counterparts from 22 other states in challenging legality of the Clean Power Plan).

    And in its internal operations, the state government has completed measures to reduce petroleum use by fleets by 25 percent and, more broadly, cut energy use by 30 percent.

    “We have taken an incredibly multi-pronged approach. We don’t just rely on legislative actions or just on administrative actions or actions we have taken in the past,” says Finnessey.

    A chart of greenhouse gas emissions in the report shows a rapid increase in greenhouse gases from Colorado during the 1990s and until about a decade ago. Since then, the growth has moderated and, looking forward, the state report expects emissions to essentially flatline even as population and economic growth continue.