A public trust in pursuit of truth
Happy New Year from Aspen Journalism and we are pleased to bring you one last special edition of The Roundup, going out to all of our contacts and subscribers. Our dual purpose today begins with a heartfelt thank-you to the nearly 200 individuals and organizations who have made the last two months of our year-end fundraising campaign a success. This is also an assurance to all of our readers that we are happily getting back to what we do best, which is turning this tremendous support into journalism serving the public good, tackling critical and complex topics in a way that only an organization with time and resources such as ours can do.
This being my first fundraising cycle at the helm of our nonprofit organization, I wasn’t sure how all this was going to go. But our community has amazed me and we exceeded my wildest expectations. Since Nov. 1, a grand total of $127,861 has been donated or pledged — $21,400 in 170 gifts from “Community Donors,” who give less than $1,000, and $106,461 in 28 gifts from “Philanthropic Donors,” who give more than $1,000. This level of community support unlocks an additional $17,000 from NewsMatch, a national organization supporting nonprofit newsrooms, and $5,000 in matching funds from the Colorado Media Project. All added up, that comes to $149,861 to support independent, investigative journalism that brings critical information to light and nurtures a healthy community and environment. This level of support allows us to proceed into the new year on solid financial footing, feeling bright and confident.
A special shout of thanks goes out to all the hardworking staff, volunteer board members, advisors, consultants and contractors who make Aspen Journalism’s operations possible; you’ve heard from many of these folks throughout the course of our campaign and their passion for what they do is clear and inspiring. This group has gone above and beyond to keep me on my feet these last two months.
And to our donors who gave in many forms, thank you. We would not be doing this work without you. Please know what a joy it is to wake up every day to ensure the intention behind these gifts — that news is a public trust in pursuit of truth — is honored. We continue below with the regular discussion of the week’s work, the normal fare of our newsletter which, if you are not currently subscribed, we hope you will come along for going forward.
Can’t be created, only preserved
As we wrapped up our giving drive, I was glad to get back into the byline business, with a piece for our Connie Harvey Environment Desk we posted Dec. 30 taking a closer look at an important recent conservation action. “Coffman Ranch an ‘ambassador’ for a larger conservation mission” was my effort to understand how this relatively small land deal, at least in terms of acreage, fits into big-picture ecosystem planning that is happening regionally. The key thing to understand is that new open space is not created in the Roaring Fork basin — it can only be preserved. And the stakes are getting higher, as pressures mount on remaining properties that have important conservation values but are not protected.
Since data never sleeps, neither has our data desk, with Data Desk Editor Laurine Lassalle keeping the posts coming on Tracking the Curve and our Data Dashboard through the holiday season. These posts have daily updated charts and graphs to help you understand the metrics influencing the world around us.
As shown on the dashboard, the holidays have been good to the snowpack, with more than three new inches of “snow-water equivalent” coating the mountains of Independence Pass since Dec. 22. That shoots the total amount on Independence Pass to 7.9 inches of SWE, which is 111% of average for Jan. 3. Consider that before the snow started flying on Christmas Eve, most of the Roaring Fork basin was at around 80% of average snowpack.
As is typical, Schofield Pass, that snowy sweet spot between Marble and Crested Butte, dwarfs all the rest in terms of accumulations, with 13.5 inches of SWE as of Jan. 3, a whopping 178% of average.
And tracking the COVID-19 curve, Pitkin County, the Roaring Fork Valley and the state of Colorado are still seeing an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases, caused by the omicron variant. But as has been noted globally, here in Colorado, those record case numbers do not appear to be causing as severe of disease, with total hospitalizations still about 17% below their last delta-fueled, late-November peak. However, the number of total patients currently hospitalized and the number of daily new admissions have both been climbing since Christmas, the latter of those two more significantly so.
That’s all for this week. As always, thanks for reading, and supporting, Aspen Journalism.
— Curtis Wackerle, editor and executive director
AVLT’s protection of historic ranch anchors a unique habitat, speaks to future open space needs
By Curtis Wackerle | December 31, 2021
Much of what a land trust does happens “on the other side of the fence,” working with landowners to prevent development on private property. “This is an opportunity to bring people in.”
Documenting COVID-19 in Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties
By Laurine Lassalle | January 5, 2022
Despite a surge in cases, the number of patients in the hospital with COVID-19 remains lower than in late November. But total hospitalizations and admissions have been climbing since Christmas.
Indy Pass reports a snowpack at 111.5% of average. McClure Pass is at 124% of average.
By Laurine Lassalle | January 4, 2022
• Indy Pass reports a SWE of 7.91 in on Jan. 2, up from 6.5 in last week.
• Maximum air temperature dropped from 42°F on Dec. 23 to 31°F on Dec. 27
Our nonprofit mission is to produce good journalism for people who care about Aspen, the Roaring Fork Valley, and the upper Colorado River basin.