From Reservoirs to Corduroy: Snowmaking at Winter Park Resort

March 3, 2015

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Fiona Smith

Skiers around the state (and world) enjoy the benefits of snowmaking.

During the 2013-2014 ski season, Colorado saw 12.6 million skier visits. The ski industry across the United States alone generated around $12.2 billion during the 2009-2010 season. What makes it tick? What lies beneath that fresh corduroy and is responsible for Arapahoe Basin’s October open dates? Snowmaking. According to Winter Park Resort’s Slope Supervisor, Ron Richard, “Every other year we wouldn’t be able to open the way we do without snowmaking.”

In 1976, Winter Park became one of Colorado’s first resorts to use snowmaking. The tool is credited with saving the resort during one of the driest winters ever seen in the region. Winter Park’s snowmaking infrastructure now covers 300 acres across the resort.

While many ski areas in Colorado use automated equipment for their snowmaking, Winter Park continues to operate a manual system. “We have…

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Water and money: the Supreme Court on remedies in interstate water cases

March 3, 2015

Originally posted on westernriverlaw:

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Kansas v. Nebraska, a dispute over the waters of the Republican River. The Republican flows from Nebraska into Kansas, and for most of the last 17 years the two states have been fighting over whether Nebraska is taking more than its legal share of the water. (Kind of fitting, I think, that these two red states are squabbling over whether they are getting enough of the Republican.) By the time this case reached the Supreme Court, the parties had accepted that Nebraska took too much water in 2005-06; the key issues were about remedies for Nebraska’s excessive use, and what the Court said on those issues is potentially important for future interstate water cases.

First, a bit of context. This case dealt with the Republican River Compact, an interstate agreement involving Kansas, Nebraska, and Colorado (where the river originates)…

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New map IDs pesticide pollution hot spots

March 2, 2015

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

asdf Pesticide pollution hotspots are identified in a new map.

Global warming could exacerbate pesticide woes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The world has a long way to go to come to grips with pesticide pollution say scientists who recently created a global map showing which areas are most susceptible.

Their modeling suggests that streams across about 40 percent of the planet’s surface are at risk from the application of insecticides, with the Mediterranean region, the USA, Central America and Southeast Asia among the hotspots.

On average, farmers apply about 4 million tons of agricultural pesticides  annually, equating to an average of 0.27 kilograms per hectare of the global land surface.

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Call it a compact: Why examining the limits of Colorado River sharing is key to a successful state water plan

February 27, 2015

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

By Greg Trainor

As Colorado’s Water Plan moves forward through a year of revisions, there remains in the background a larger, most-worrisome issue of diminishing supply across the wider Colorado River Basin. This is evident from the dropping water levels of lakes Powell and Mead during the last 13 years. In 2014, these two major water storage reservoirs for the arid West reached all-time lows.

Colorado’s Water Plan is partially made up of eight individual river basin plans that hope to settle water supply allocations among themselves for various uses. However, like the interstate compacts that govern the use of Colorado’s rivers crossing state lines (there are nine such compacts between Colorado and adjacent states), the Colorado River Compact, on a larger, river-basin scale, already divided the waters of the Colorado River in 1922 among seven states that share the Colorado River Basin, and, in doing so, set the…

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Noontime Nature lecture, “The Story of Getting There” at the Loveland Public Library, March 3 and 4

February 26, 2015

From the Loveland Reporter-Herald (Kevin J. Cook):

John Wesley Powell earned his fame twice: once for taking a direct hit from a cannon during the Civil War and once for passing through the Grand Canyon on a boat. The first made the second seem all the more remarkable.

But Powell was a remarkable person.

His mind was so eclectic that had his thoughts been light they would have been a rainbow. His ideas were like so many brilliant and distinctive hues; his ambitions were like so many gradations.

This trio of diversity, ideas and ambitions was simultaneously his strength and his weakness, a conflict that would stymie a lesser man.

Powell was the quintessential 80-percenter. He had the passion to pursue his ideas, but he only had the drive to get them going. Once one of his ideas was underway with a substantial measure of progress — 80 percent done — his heart and mind turned to the next idea leaving the previous project for others to direct and to complete.

And the one project for which he is best remembered is one that others finished, for Powell did not boat the Grand Canyon alone. Yet few can name those who ran the river with him. The leader gathers the glory.

Another tidbit also gets little attention: To get from Illinois to the Grand Canyon, he passed through Colorado. In other words, to get there he traveled here.

On July 8, 1868, Powell and his troupe known as the Rocky Mountain Scientific Exploring Expedition crossed into Colorado from Cheyenne, Wyo. They spent the summer engaging Colorado’s mountains and passes, parks and rivers.

Rather than passing through like so many sightseeing travelers, they came to engage this young territory. Powell intended to document what others knew but did not preserve in the language of maps.

Anyone could hire the guide services of a man like Kit Carson, but Carson was an illiterate who was good on the ground but incapable of preserving or passing on what he knew.

Powell put Colorado on the map; Powell put the map on Colorado.

Some people might argue that Powell’s time in Colorado was inconsequential because his work here was eclipsed by the trip through the Grand Canyon. A better argument would be that he made it through the Grand Canyon because he made it through Colorado.

Powell’s experiences in Colorado prepared him for the challenges that filled his life as a dreamer and a realist, as a conservationist before the word was coined, as an anthropologist and as a reluctant but motivated politician.

In Colorado John Wesley Powell found his muse.

If you go

The Noontime Nature lecture, “The Story of Getting There” at the Loveland Public Library, 300 N. Adams Ave., will be presented twice on Tuesday, March 3: noon to 1 p.m. and again 2 to 3 p.m. and will be repeated 6 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday, March 4. Third in a free year-long series about nature writing specific to Colorado sponsored by Friends of the Loveland Library, “Getting There” will feature John Wesley Powell’s passage through Colorado in the summer of 1868, as presented in Wallace Stegner’s book, “Beyond the Hundredth Meridian.”

Thank you President Obama #kxl

February 24, 2015

From the Associated Press via The Greeley Tribune:

Defying the Republican-run Congress, President Barack Obama rejected a bill Tuesday to approve construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, wielding his veto power for only the third time in his presidency.

Obama offered no indication of whether he’ll eventually issue a permit for the pipeline, whose construction has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate about environmental policy and climate change. Instead, Obama sought to reassert his authority to make the decision himself, rebuffing GOP lawmakers who will control both the House and Senate for the remainder of the president’s term.

“The presidential power to veto legislation is one I take seriously,” Obama said in a brief notice delivered to the Senate. “But I also take seriously my responsibility to the American people.”

Obama vetoed the bill in private with no fanfare, in contrast to the televised ceremony Republican leaders staged earlier this month when they signed the bill and sent it to the president. House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said Republicans were “not even close” to giving up the fight and derided the veto as a “national embarrassment.”

The move sends the politically charged issue back to Congress, where Republicans haven’t shown they can muster the two-thirds majority in both chambers needed to override Obama’s veto. North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven, the bill’s chief GOP sponsor, said Republicans are about four votes short in the Senate and need about 11 more in the House.

Although the veto is Obama’s first since Republicans took control on Capitol Hill, it was not likely to be the last. GOP lawmakers are lining up legislation rolling back Obama’s actions on health care, immigration and financial regulation that Obama has promised to similarly reject.

“He’s looking at this as showing he still can be king of the hill, because we don’t have the votes to override,” Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, a vocal opponent of Obama’s climate change agenda, said in an interview. “If he vetoed this, he’s going to veto many others that are out there.”

First proposed more than six years ago, the Keystone XL pipeline project has sat in limbo ever since, awaiting a permit required by the federal government because it would cross an international boundary. The pipeline would connect Canada’s tar sands with refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast that specialize in processing heavy crude oil.

Republicans and the energy industry say the $8 billion project would create jobs, spur growth and increase America’s independence from Mideast energy sources. Democrats and environmental groups have sought to make the pipeline a poster child for the type of dirty energy sources they say are exacerbating global warming.

For his part, Obama says his administration is still weighing the pipeline’s merits, and he has repeatedly threatened to veto any attempts by lawmakers to make the decision for him.

The GOP-controlled House passed the bill earlier in February on a 270-152 vote, following weeks of debate and tweaks in the Senate to insert language stating that climate change is real and not a hoax. Republican leaders in Congress delayed sending the bill to the White House until they returned from a weeklong recess, ensuring they would be on hand to denounce the president when he vetoed the bill.

The veto forced Republicans, still reveling in their dramatic gains in the midterm elections, to confront the limitations of being unable to turn their ideas into law without the president’s consent — despite the fact they now control both chambers of Congress.

Republican leaders were mulling a number of potential next steps. In addition to trying to peel off enough Democrats to override Obama’s veto — an unlikely proposition — Republicans were considering inserting Keystone into other critical legislation dealing with energy, spending or infrastructure in hopes that Obama would be less likely to veto those priorities, said Hoeven, R-N.D.

“We’ll look to see if we can get some more bipartisan support,” said Hoeven.

Obama last wielded his veto power in October 2010, nixing a relatively mundane bill dealing with recognition of documents notarized out of state. With the Keystone bill, Obama’s veto count stands at just three — far fewer than most of his predecessors. Yet his veto threats have been piling up rapidly since Republicans took full control of Congress, numbering more than a dozen so far this year.

The president has said he won’t approve Keystone if it’s found to significantly increase U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas blamed for global warming. A State Department analysis found that the tar sands would be developed one way or another, meaning construction of the pipeline wouldn’t necessarily affect emissions. The Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month called for that analysis to be revisited, arguing that a drop in oil prices may have altered the equation. [ed. emphasis mine]

Rocky Mountain National Park hosts science summit

February 23, 2015

Originally posted on Summit County Citizens Voice:

Two-day Estes Park event highlights Rocky Mountain NP park research

j'o; Rocky Mountain National Park. bberwyn photo

ug Elk tussling along Trail Ridge Road, bberwyn photo


FRISCO — Along with drawing more than 3 million visitors per year, Rocky Mountain National Park is a hotbed of scientific discovery, Each year the park issues more than 100 research permits, with scientists coming from all over the world to study plants, animals, geology and water. Last year, citizen scientists volunteered thousands of hours to research projects. In addition, hundreds of students participate in field data collections and lab analysis.

Many of the researchers will be in Estes Park next week to share the findings from their studies during the two-day (March 4, 5) biennial research conference, which is free and open to all interested members of the community. No registration is required. The conference begins on Wednesday, March 4, at 8:00 a.m. See…

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