Water meetings need water reporters
Among the performance measures we hold ourselves to at Aspen Journalism is how many public meetings we cover. For our Water Desk especially, this is an important metric, given the complex structures of basin roundtables reporting to the state’s main water authority, the Western Slope-based Colorado River Water Conservation District with its own funds and agenda, and myriad other agencies with purview over smaller components of the water system impacting the state of Colorado and the wider Colorado River basin.
Part of Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett’s job description is that she covers at least 50 water meetings a year — oftentimes as the only reporter in the room. She’s already blown that out of the water this year, having covered 54 as of last week. The knowledge gained from this practice and the sources and documents it makes available are a big part of the reason our Water Desk’s work is recognized among water experts and the layerson alike as some of the best in the business. This is demonstrated again with Sackett’s most recent piece, “Wolf Creek project secures River District grant,” which debuted on our website, in the Steamboat Pilot & Today and Craig Press on Friday, staying on the story of how the River District will be spending additional funds approved by voters last year.
Also this week at Aspen Journalism, our Tracking the Curve project relayed how COVID-19 incidence rates regionally have plateaued, instead of dropped, in the course of the off-season, and our Data Dashboard has some interesting analysis of Aspen traffic numbers. With the onslaught of events in September, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the month was also a busy one for the entrance to Aspen.
On another note, we are entering a critical period for Aspen Journalism — our annual year-end giving campaign. While our nonprofit newsroom relies on the support of our philanthropic and community donors year-round, we are excited to share that, starting next week, we have an opportunity to make your donations go even further. Aspen Journalism is again participating in NewsMatch, an industry-wide movement to sustain journalism through matching gifts on the local and national level.
Starting Nov. 1 — through Dec. 31 — NewsMatch will match your new monthly recurring donation 12 times or double your one-time gift, all up to $1,000. That means that, through NewsMatch, we can earn at least an additional $10,000. That’s on top of a $5,000 matching grant program we have qualified for through the Colorado Media Project’s #newsCOneeds giving drive, with more matching opportunities to come. You’ll be hearing more from our team about this as we move through the campaign.
Your support will help us continue to produce the kind of public-service journalism you won’t find anywhere else. If you value the critical work we do, will you save the date to double your impact? If you are interested in inspiring our community to support Aspen Journalism by contributing to the challenge fund, please contact me at email@example.com.
Curtis Wackerle, editor and executive director
Wolf Creek reservoir project secures River District grant
$330,000 will go toward NEPA permitting for new water storage in northwest Colorado’s White River basin
By Heather Sackett | October 21, 2021
Rio Blanco estimates the permitting will take three to five years at a cost of $6 to $10 million.
Tracking the Curve
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | October 26, 2021
Pitkin County’s seven-day incidence rate is at 197 per 100,000 as of Oct. 25. Eagle County’s is reaching nearly 214, while Garfield County is hovering at 276 per 100,000.
Data dashboard: Traffic growth in Aspen in September, while August was below average
Maximum air temperature swings 29 degrees in one day
By Laurine Lassalle | October 26, 2021
• Aspen’s average daily car count reached 22,852 in September, up 3% from September 2019.
• Roaring Fork River running at 18.4 cfs on Oct. 24 at Stillwater, down from 37.4 cfs last week.
Bark beetles on the move in Aspen, and how the climate crisis is driving local infestations
“Climate change is becoming more apparent here in the Roaring Fork Valley. From smoke to drought, we’re still understanding how it all affects our community. But how do trees fit into the big picture? Our news team is trying to answer that question by examining the unique relationship between our valley’s trees and the climate crisis.”
Source: aspenpublicradio.org | Read more
Southwest states facing tough choices about water as Colorado River diminishes
“‘So, so wait a minute, Arizona is being called on to cut its water intake before California has to give up even one drop?’ Brad Udall: ‘Pretty amazing. It can’t work in today’s world. And it’s in some ways a little microcosm, right, of this whole law of the river with these systems that have been put in place that just don’t work. They can’t work. And that’s why a rethink’s needed.’”
Source: cbsnews.com | Read more
‘Wild and Scenic’ protection for Crystal River sought
“‘From the seat of a small, single-engine airplane, passengers will see firsthand the scenic beauty of the Crystal River watershed, and will gain a deeper understanding of the impacts that threats like new dams or diversions would impose on this vital waterway,’ (the application says).”
Source: aspendailynews.com | Read more
Even past delta spike, Eagle County COVID-19 cases are ‘higher than we want’
“Part of the reason Harmon believes the county has yet to drop back to the summer incidence rates — which were below 50 cases per 100,000 — is that ‘maintaining a lot of these healthier habits, these precautions around spreading COVID are just challenging for all our community members,’ he said. Those habits and precautions include masking and vaccines.”
Source: vaildaily.com | Read more
Black bear-human conflicts on the rise in Roaring Fork Valley
“Supplementing bear diets with human-provided sources is problematic, but in some areas, those unnatural sources are so plentiful that Yamashita said bears have reversed their diets — relying first on human-sourced food and foraging second.”
Source: postindependent.com | Read more
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