Through Dec. 31 your donation will be matched! New monthly donations will be matched 12 times or one-time gifts will be doubled – with no individual donation cap thanks to NewsMatch and local philanthropic donors. Thank you for doubling your impact and support of Aspen Journalism by donating today.
Good afternoon and thanks for checking in on another edition of The Roundup — the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of Aspen Journalism’s thorough reporting and through-provoking writing.
Good afternoon and thanks for checking in on another edition of The Roundup — the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of Aspen Journalism’s thorough reporting and thought-provoking writing.
Since our last send of this newsletter, we published a two-part series concerning the looming reintroduction of wolves to Colorado’s Western Slope from longtime local journalist Amy Hadden Marsh. Her assignment was to examine the tensions simmering around “lethal control” — or the ability to kill a wolf that preys on livestock. The series kicks off with an introduction to a North Fork Valley rancher who remains cautiously in favor of wolf reintroduction while laying out the anxiety roiling many others in the livestock-growing and hunter-outfitting community. In part two, Marsh breaks down the 10(j) rule recently formulated that will allow lethal control and takes a look under the hood of the state mechanisms enacted to fund wolf reintroduction. It may come as little surprise that more robust funding is tied to livestock-depredation compensation than to coexistence management strategies that might prevent reimbursement and lethal take.
Water Desk Editor Heather Sackett has had a busy couple of weeks, starting with her coverage of an Oct. 26 Carbondale community meeting about protecting the Crystal River. The topic at hand spoke to a central issue: Do the residents of the Crystal River Valley and their representatives wish to invite more stringent federal oversight in order to attain the strongest protection available for the river’s natural, scenic and recreational values? Many remain undecided on that question, but the process underway is helping the community grapple with the choices to be made.
Sackett also followed up her previous reporting on the discolored water that fouled Lincoln Creek in summer 2022. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently released its analysis following water-quality testing after conditions in the creek grabbed headlines. The report concludes that most of the contamination is naturally occurring — as opposed to leaching out of an early-20th-century mine near the creek’s upper reaches. But the contamination has gotten worse in recent years, to the point that the 2022 water samples tested above thresholds designed to protect drinking water and aquatic life. While specific root causes are yet uncertain, one suspect is climate change, which “may be altering hydrologic cycles and thawing once-frozen rock deep in the mountain,” according to the report. “These processes could expose more metals-bearing rock to oxygen, thereby increasing potential to generate acidic drainage and dissolution of metals.”
Sacket also scooped up some breaking statehouse news with her report on a proposed bill that made it out of an interim legislative committee that would — for the first time on a statewide level — prohibit the planting of new nonfunctional turf. That jargon refers to the grass in the roadway median, at the entrance to the subdivision or blanketing the edges of the corporate office building that is never walked on except when someone is pushing a lawnmower, yet still requires heavy watering all summer long. There is a growing movement to get rid of as much of this kind of grass as possible given our arid, climate-stressed state, with some jurisdictions paying up to $2 per square foot as an incentive to kill your bluegrass. So goes the thinking of bill proponents, why allow the planting of new grass that the state might later pay you to remove?
If you want to read more about this topic, you’re in luck. We are excited to announce that Aspen Journalism has partnered with Allen Best, the publisher of Big Pivots who has covered water and environment in Colorado for decades, on a five-part series examining the shifting landscape around urban turf. Statewide in scope, the series examines evolving cultural norms and policies, and how this movement is playing out on a neighborhood level. Part one will move just as soon as we get this newsletter out. Look for the rest to follow in the coming weeks.
And finally, I would be remiss to not mention that we have officially kicked off our end-of-year fundraising drive backed by NewsMatch, which has ponied up at least $28,000 to match individual donations to Aspen Journalism of up to $1,000. Philanthropic donors have created a pool of $43,000 to match donations over $1,000. And the Colorado Media Project is chipping in $5,000 to match donations up to $1,000 beginning Nov 28. That means now is the time to give if you support the work Aspen Journalism is doing and want to see us continue to thrive in 2024. Nearly 25% of our annual budget comes from individual donations made in November and December each year. The equation is simple: The more readers who give, the more journalism we can produce. If you want to be part of the solution in local news, helping to sustain both community and democracy, please give. Donate here and double your impact. We are grateful for your support.
Editor and Executive Director
Where some see mortal threat, others focus on ecosystem benefit
By Amy Hadden Marsh | October 29, 2023
Twelve of the state’s 64 counties voted in favor of bringing wolves to the state. Only five of those are on the Western Slope, home of the proposed wolf-release sites and the lion’s share of ranchers, hunters and outfitters who spoke up at CPW meetings.
Legislators guarantee depredation reimbursement, while non-lethal strategies are optional under federal 10(j) rule
By Amy Hadden Marsh | October 31, 2023
“It’s a perverse incentive to facilitate wolves killing livestock and for more wolves to be killed. The livestock industry, having failed with a big-money campaign to defeat [2020’s Proposition 114], has worked to subvert it through a wolf plan that includes the absence of a requirement for preventative measures.”
Increasing metals concentration may be caused by climate change
By Heather Sackett | November 9, 2023
The EPA is authorized to address elevated metals concentrations only from human-caused sources, not contamination from natural sources.
Bill aimed at ornamental bluegrass alongside roads and at commercial, industrial properties
By Heather Sackett | November 3, 2023
Up until now, developers have been able to continue to install grass that municipalities would later incentivize to remove.
Some say Wild & Scenic still the ‘gold standard’
By Heather Sackett | October 28, 2023
In Colorado, there are several ways to protect rivers, which vary depending on the goals. To maintain water quality, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment offers an Outstanding Waters designation. If boosting the flows for boating is the goal, municipalities can get a Recreational In-Channel Diversion (RICD) water right. And to protect the environment, the state water board acquires instream-flow water rights, designed to maintain minimum flows. But if the goal is preventing dams and transbasin diversions, and guaranteeing a free-flowing river, experts say a federal Wild & Scenic designation is the gold standard. That was the message […]
Lake Powell’s water levels keep decreasing
By Laurine Lassalle | November 6, 2023
• The Fork ran at 128 cfs below Maroon Creek on Nov. 5, down from 135 cfs last week.
• Lake Powell was 37.29% full on Nov. 5, down from 37.44% on Oct. 29.
• High air temperatures at ASE went from 59°F on Oct. 26 to 30°F on Oct. 29 or about 20 degrees below average. • • • Minimum temperatures dropped as low as 2°F on Oct. 30.
Nov. 1 through Dec. 31 your gift will be matched! Thanks to NewsMatch and local philanthropic donors, new monthly donations will be matched 12 times or one-time gifts will be doubled – with no individual donation cap (So far, we have a $71,000 matching gift pool!). Thank you for supporting Aspen Journalism and doubling your impact by donating today.