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A new and sweeping partnership is looking at preventing and preparing for worsening wildfires in the West. 

The Colorado-based Rocky Mountain Restoration Initiative is a collaboration of 30 partners including utility companies, wildlife nonprofits, hunting groups, the Forest Service, and water management agencies with a mission to “increase the resilience of forests and communities.”

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.

Note: KRCC is a member of the Mountain West News Bureau. In order to avoid a potential conflict of interest, this story was overseen by an outside editor.

Colorado Public Radio has signed a new agreement with Colorado College to help operate one of the state’s largest public radio stations, KRCC, an NPR member station based in Colorado Springs. 

Tim Reckmann / Flickr

Electric scooters can be a cheaper, more convenient alternative to getting around in cities. You don’t have to pay for parking or sit behind cars in traffic. And in some places you can rent them anywhere you go using your smartphone.  

When Blondie's Diner closes around 9 p.m. and a table of hunters finish their green chili cheeseburgers and head back to their hotel, the town of Naturita feels a bit like a ghost town.

There are two new marijuana dispensaries still open late with green neon signs, but on a November night at the start of hunting season, not many customers are partaking.

The only sound punctuating through the cold evening is a semi-truck idling in the parking lot of the Rimrocker Hotel, its driver trying to stay warm.

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.

It's a good day when Tammie Delaney hears a train rumbling down the tracks outside of the century-old granary building she owns in Hayden.

"Oh, you get the train noise today!" she shouts as a train whistle pierces the usual silence in the small town of about 2,000 people.

The train whistles are an indicator of the economy in the Yampa Valley.

It was a dry start to the year for some mountain ranges in the region, but recent storms brought most Mountain West snowpack levels back to normal.

 


Kaje / Flickr

The United States could see tens of thousands more violent crimes per year as climate change causes warmer winters, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Courtesy Pueblo County Historical Society

On Jan. 15, 1920 the city of Pueblo bought some 600 acres in the Wet Mountains about a half hour southwest of town. This forested land near Beulah became Pueblo Mountain Park.

Abigail Beckman / 91.5 KRCC

Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler has announced her resignation to take on a new role. She is set to become the first female Chief Executive Officer of The National Geographic Society this summer.

As minimum wage goes up, suicide rates go down. That’s according to a new study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

The study found that increasing minimum wage by a dollar actually decreased the rate of suicide by 3.4% to 5.9% among those with a high school diploma or less. That is, those most likely working minimum-wage jobs.

Gov. Jared Polis recently outlined an ambitious agenda for lawmakers in 2020. He vowed to reduce health care costs, find a solution to the state's road funding woes and get more children into preschool. But some of the governor's priorities will prove to be contentious.

Capitol Coverage reporter Scott Franz sat down with the governor after his State of the State address to talk about some of the hot-button issues that are on the table this legislative session.

Over the last five years, the Mountain West as a whole has experienced a spike in population, while at the same time every state in the region saw a decrease in the number of people living in poverty, according to the latest numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The opening days of Colorado's legislative session are typically jovial and largely free of partisan politics. The governor capitalized on that mood during his roughly hour-long speech. After an interruption from a heckler in the gallery shouting, "Ban fracking now!" Polis started with a recap of his first year in office.

Photo Courtesy PK Knickerbocker.

The City of Colorado Springs is gathering reflections from community members on their personal connections to Pikes Peak. It’s part of a campaign called “My Mountain,” leading up to completion of the new Pikes Peak Summit Complex. The city has shared audio versions of several stories with 91.5 KRCC, which we are editing for broadcast. 

There were the usual jokes and friendly banter between the House and Senate.

State lawmakers from both sides of the aisle exchanged hugs in a chamber that felt a bit like a school getting back to work after an eight-month break.

But amidst the pomp and circumstance of the opening day of Colorado's 2020 legislative session, lawmakers also drew some clear battle lines.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

As the Mountain West grows and hunter numbers decline, states are finding ways to bring in more revenue to fund conservation.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife

DENVER (AP) — An initiative to reintroduce gray wolves to Colorado has qualified for the November ballot. The secretary of state’s office says supporters turned in enough valid voter signatures to qualify the measure.

The gray wolf has been successfully reintroduced to a number of U.S. states but was eradicated in Colorado in the 1940s.

A group called the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund is campaigning for the plan. Colorado ranchers and other interests strongly oppose it, saying it would threaten livestock as well as elk, moose, deer and other animals.

A group of chemicals called PFAS are common in firefighting foams, as well as household products like rain jackets, pizza boxes and non-stick pots and pans. They've been in use since the 1940s and have come to be known as "forever chemicals" because they persist in the environment.

PFAS, which stands for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have made their way into watersheds around the world, and as a recent study found, even into raindrops. Some are considered a threat to human health. 

Researchers including Jens Blotevogel, an environmental engineer at Colorado State University, are studying ways to get rid of the compounds. 

Back in mid-December, three children were hospitalized with measles after passing through the Denver airport and the emergency department of Children’s Hospital Colorado. The concern was that others might have picked up the disease at those locations. 

Colorado's poised to put the question of wolf reintroduction on the November ballot. One unanswered question is how the predators might affect the spread of chronic wasting disease, if at all.

CWD is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that currently infects deer, elk, moose and reindeer. Critics of wolf reintroduction argue that more predators on the landscape could further spread CWD.

Rep. Nate McConnell

Colorado and Utah are two of just six states nationwide that have laws allowing political campaign funds to be used for childcare expenses. But that number’s likely to climb, potentially freeing up more parents to run for office.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

Some of the biggest and most contentious laws the state legislature passed in 2019 go into effect on Wednesday, Jan. 1.

Together, the new laws aim to prevent suicides and gun violence, protect hospital patients from unexpected medical bills and give local governments the power to raise their minimum wages higher than the state level.

There are even new rules requiring tenants to report bed bugs to their landlords so the mitigation can begin sooner.

Courtesy photo / Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum

The weather on Pikes Peak is unpredictable, especially in the midst of the Colorado winter. Wind chills of 50 degrees below zero and icy, snow swept slopes are the norm. But for the past 97 years, a group of determined mountaineers has made their way to the summit of the 14 thousand-plus-foot peak to carry on a special New Year’s tradition.

Marcela Gara, Resource Media / Flickr

Heat pumps offer one of the best ways to cut carbon in homes and commercial buildings, energy and climate experts say in a new report.

Researchers from a number of states, including Idaho, Colorado and Nevada, have found that grazing does not help get rid of cheatgrass, a highly flammable weed. 

The Top 5: A Look Back At Our Most Popular Stories Of 2019

Dec 19, 2019
Clockwise from top left: Ali Budner/91.5 KRCC; ANSEL ADAMS / COURTESY OF SKIDMORE, OWINGS & MERRILL; ANDREA CHALFIN / 91.5 KRCC; BRENNAN LINSLEY / ASSOCIATED PRESS; COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE

As we prepare to close the books on another year, we'd like to take a moment to look back at some of our most popular stories and interviews from 2019.

Below are the local and regional pieces from the past year that drew the most traffic to our website, with comments from our reporters as they reflect on the stories.

Courtesy Congressional Pictorial Directory

The U.S. House of Representatives voted Wednesday to impeach President Donald Trump in a vote that fell largely along party lines. Representatives from Colorado are no exception.

With short-term drought plans finished, water managers from across the Southwest recently gathered in Las Vegas to figure out what's next.

The Colorado River Water Users Association annual conference brings together nearly every municipal water agency, irrigation district, Native American tribe and environmental group that relies on the Colorado River.

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