Environment

For years during the Cold War, large swaths of land in Nevada were used for atomic weapons testing. Nuclear bombs were dropped just miles from small towns and the people living in them.

Over time, men, women and children started getting sick, and three decades ago, a federal law offered a formal apology and eventually created a program to both reach out to affected communities and pay partial restitution when appropriate. That program is ending soon, but the nuclear tests’ health effects are not.

On a frigid Tuesday evening, Brent Yatkeman is scrambling to save an avalanche victim buried in the snow somewhere on a ski hill near Park City, Utah. 

Hart Van Denburg / CPR News

After a very dry January, much of Colorado has seen more snow this month. In fact, statewide snowpack is above average at 116 percent.

About one-third of Americans live in areas that regularly have unhealthy levels of air pollution, according to a new analysis out this week from Environment America, an organization of state-based environmental advocacy groups throughout the country.

Every time thick, dark rain clouds move over the deserts that surround Las Vegas, there's an anticipatory buzz. Flora and fauna alike begin preparing for the rare event, lying in wait for the first few drops.

Todd Esque is usually waiting for them too from his office in Henderson, Nevada. He knows how much desert life depends on their arrival. So when they do come, he's smiling.

Update, Jan. 15 10:11 a.m.: The Department of Interior has provided a statement, which is now included in this story.

The Trump Administration’s Interior Department has largely ignored public comment on proposed rule changes, according to an analysis from the Center for Western Priorities.

The conservation advocacy group looked at ten proposals from Interior, including the easing of offshore drilling regulations and Endangered Species Act protections. What it found was that while more than 95% of public comments were opposed to the changes, the agency still moved forward on most of them.

Many ranchers are applauding President Donald Trump after he announced an overhaul of the nation’s bedrock environmental law on Thursday. 

On The Colorado River's Banks, A Toxic Pile Continues To Shrink

Nov 20, 2019

In a park, nestled in a red rock canyon outside Moab, Utah -- a short drive from a giant pile of uranium tailings -- a crowd gathered for a celebration. Elected officials and community members mingled, and enjoyed refreshments. 

Volunteers placed pieces of yellow cake in small paper bowls.

Abigail Beckman / 91.5 KRCC

Wildfire is a continual threat in the West, but researchers say an invasive species of grass that’s taking hold in states like Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada could make things worse.

Ali Budner / 91.5 KRCC

You might not know it but there’s a branch of the U.S. Department of Agriculture whose job includes killing wild animals – to the tune of millions each year.  It used to be called Animal Damage Control. Now it’s simply called Wildlife Services. Depending on who you talk to, the agency is controversial and secretive or, well-managed and essential.

Invasive insects and diseases are killing tree species in forests across the U.S., and in turn, weakening one of the planet's natural ways to fight climate change. That's according to a new report published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The U.S. Forest Service wants to cut out parts of its environmental review process. The agency says it's a way to speed up certain projects. But that has conservationists worried.

Zebra and quagga mussels can devastate an ecosystem, and Yellowstone National Park is doing everything it can to keep them out. Most recently, that includes harnessing the power of a dog's snout.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

Advocates in Colorado are trying to put an initiative on the 2020 ballot that would bring gray wolves back to the state. If it passes, how would it actually work?

https://blm-egis.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=7ff7182ac6444b53b0d5b7b48210bc11 / Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management Royal Gorge Field Office is seeking public comment on a draft management plan for 658,000 acres of public lands in Eastern Colorado, including land along the Arkansas River.

NYC Parks

A recent study shows planting a trillion trees worldwide might be one of our best options for fighting climate change. 

MOAB — About 40 miles north from the tourist hordes in town and set against a backdrop of tan clay and red mesas, the vista looked primed for a nature magazine cover shoot: early afternoon, the desert bloom in full force, awash with purple and yellow flowers. Quiet.

It's been more than thirty years since Yucca Mountain in Nevada was picked as the nation's nuclear waste site, and the state has been fighting the project ever since. Under President Obama, it got its wish.

Fast forward to the Trump administration, and that long-running debate is back on the table.

USDA

Global methane in the atmosphere is on the rise again after a period of leveling off, but scientists tracking this phenomenon at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, in Boulder haven’t quite figured out why. 

Dan Elliott / Associated Press

Governor Jared Polis has signed a bill giving local governments more control over oil and gas drilling operations. 

Liam Neupert

Students went on strike Friday, March 15, in more than 100 countries around the world and every state in the Mountain West region. They want action on climate change.

A report out Monday from environmental groups looked at groundwater contamination from coal-fired power plants. Three of the worst sites are located in the Mountain West.

Coal ash is the solid waste leftover when you burn coal. It often gets mixed with water and washed into a pit — an ash pond. If the base of a pond isn’t properly sealed, pollutants in the mix can make their way into groundwater.

Imagine a swarm of big, black birds flying overhead at dusk. No, it’s not a scene from a Hitchcock film. This is Nampa, Idaho — a small community that’s become the winter home for tens of thousands of crows. They are noisy and messy, and Nampa residents are pushing back.

 


In an interview with the Washington Post published online Tuesday, President Trump brushed aside climate change concerns by hailing the state of the environment in the United States.

New cars sold in Colorado will have to run cleaner and average 36 miles per gallon by 2025 thanks to new emission rules adopted Friday.

The move was supported by ski areas and other businesses that have called on the state to take steps to combat the effects of greenhouse gases and climate change.

But some local government leaders and auto dealers in the state are afraid these new rules will have unintended consequences.

Pierre Grand / Flickr Creative Commons

The effects of the current drought in Colorado are hard to miss—water levels are down in rivers and reservoirs. Hay prices skyrocketed over the summer. Wildfires have been fueled by dry conditions and a lack of moisture. But the drought has also caused problems for pollinators, specifically, honeybees. 91.5 KRCC’s Abigail Beckman spoke with Mike Halby of the Pikes Peak Beekeepers Association about how honeybees - both wild domestic - fare when things dry out…

Creative Commons Zero - CC0 / Pixabay

The Trump administration just relaxed Obama-era industry regulations for methane leaks from oil and gas operations on federal lands. But reactions to the change in the Mountain West are mixed.  

A warming world could eventually make some of our most familiar ecosystems — deciduous forests, grasslands, Arctic tundra — unrecognizable.

That's the conclusion of a team of more than 40 scientists who took a novel approach to predicting the effects of how human-caused global warming will alter ecosystems. They looked about 20,000 years back in time.

In an open field in Longmont, Colorado, about a dozen people crouched in the tall grass, moving slowly and deliberately through mud that squelched underfoot. Some carried huge, serrated knives called hori-hori, a Japanese tool made specifically for gutting weeds. Others wielded gardening shears, saws or chemical sprays as their weapons of choice.

The Trump administration announced a new rule on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, called the ‘Affordable Clean Energy Rule.’ It would put regulatory power in states’ hands.

The Obama administration had previously tried to enact something called the Clean Power Plan, which was considered the country’s primary strategy for lowering emissions to meet its 2030 target under the Paris climate agreement.

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