The Colorado Independent,2020
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Colorado’s future looks extremely hot and dry if current climate trends continue, and the city of Boulder is being proactive in planning for more drought conditions, less water and a relatively crispy climate outlook all along the state’s Front Range in coming years.
The announcement late last week that three Colorado sawmills are being let out of pre-recession timber contracts with the U.S. Forest Service was met with relief from U.S. Sen. Mark Udall and skepticism among some in the conservation community who say the move will only have short-term impacts.
The combination of an enormous mountain snowpack that’s just starting to melt and suddenly hot, summer-like temperatures and high winds has first responders across Colorado nervously eyeing both swollen waterways and tinder-dry forests and grasslands.
Wildfire season in Colorado’s super-saturated high country seems so far off, but the debate over thinning beetle-killed forests to reduce fire risk around mountain towns remains at the forefront of an ongoing campaign to further revise the Colorado Roadless Rule.
A bill to create a working group of Colorado forest health, environment and energy experts to draft a biomass plan for coping with the beetle-kill epidemic passed on third reading in the state Senate Monday and passed on second reading in the House on Tuesday.
The state of Colorado and U.S. Forest Service today announced yet another draft version of the controversial Colorado Roadless Rule (pdf) that has been hotly debated for nearly six years. Already environmental groups indicated the new draft rule falls short of protecting some of the state’s 4.2 million acres of roadless national forest land.
Gov. John Hickenlooper today issued an emergency disaster declaration for the Indian Gulch Fire in Jefferson County, authorizing $1.5 million in state funding to help pay firefighting costs. The executive order also directs the state to seek federal funds if needed to fight the tenacious wind-blown wildfire near Golden.
The U.S. Forest Service Friday released the results of new aerial mapping showing the mountain pine bark beetle epidemic raging since the mid 1990s has now consumed more than 4 million acres of pine trees in Colorado and southern Wyoming. In Colorado alone, more than 400,000 acres of trees were killed last year, mostly in the Arapaho, White River, Roosevelt, Medicine Bow and Routt national forests.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today praised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for delaying for three years carbon dioxide emissions permits for biomass boilers that convert wood and other plant material into energy. The move is significant in Colorado because backers of biomass energy say that more 2 million acres of national forest land hit hard by a mountain pine park beetle epidemic could be tapped to generate hot-water heat and electricity that would actually replace dirtier fuel sources like coal and natural gas. The EPA delay makes that process more realistic.
Citing last month’s wildfires near Boulder and Loveland and the ongoing Church’s Park Fire in Grand County, U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennet...