COMMERCE CITY — Three years after a former weapons and pesticides plant reopened as the nation’s largest urban wildlife preserve, bison are multiplying too fast.
There are 85 today, more than quadruple 2007’s number, threatening to degrade drought-prone prairie at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge. Federal biologists say they must cut the herd by 25 — and keep it at 60 until fenced habitat is expanded.
PUEBLO — Thirty black-footed ferrets bolted from cages onto barren ranchland Wednesday, potentially launching a new approach to rescuing endangered species — and introducing a natural predator of prairie dogs.
Although the federal government, led by biologists in Colorado, has bred thousands of black-footed ferrets in captivity, they still do not exist as self-sustaining species in the wild.
Plague has attacked some released ferrets in other states, but the bigger problem has been landowners hesitant to allow an endangered animal on their land fearing liability if anything happens to it.
Smog along Colorado’s Front Range is thickening again, exceeding federal standards, and government-backed scientists say the oil and gas boom is partly to blame.
If the industry expands, scientists at a conference this week said, air quality probably will deteriorate.
“It’s going to be harder to meet our clean-air requirements,” said Gabrielle Pétron, a researcher in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s global monitoring division.
More than 556,000 homes built in forest burn zones in Colorado could be rated for wildfire risk and the information made available to insurers under plans considered Wednesday by a state task force.
Colorado highway engineers are seeking U.S. Forest Service approval to use remote-controlled blasters to trigger small snowslides in an attempt to keep big avalanches from blocking Berthoud Pass.
State government enforcers increasingly are letting oil and gas companies that break rules do public service projects instead of imposing formal penalties.
The shift reflects evolving efforts by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to cope with expanding industrial operations in a way that demonstrably helps harmed communities.
The COGCC “continually seeks to put into practice a robust enforcement program,” COGCC director Matt Lepore wrote in response to Denver Post queries.
LOVELAND PASS — Oil and gas tankers roared through Colorado’s high-mountain tundra at a rate of one every five minutes Monday morning, two days after a crash that spilled 4,000 gallons of diesel and unleaded fuel into waterways that flow toward Denver’s Dillon Reservoir.
FRISCO —Coloradans living in forests are trying to fireproof their communities as larger and hotter wildfires destroy more homes and firefighting costs grow intolerable.
Increasing numbers of burn-zone residents are finding they have little choice but to coexist with wildfire — part of the natural environment and crucial to keeping forests healthy.
HORSETOOTH RESERVOIR — Top U.S. environmental officials Friday began a push to protect the nation’s federally run water-supply reservoirs against wildfires.
The fear is that worsening wildfires will trigger erosion that damages dams, canals and pipelines, and shrinks water storage, ultimately driving up water costs for ratepayers.
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Stafford Brochu, 75, has considered the costs of fireproofing as he rebuilds his 5,200 square foot stucco home that was destroyed by the Black Forest fire in June.
A heat-activated indoor sprinkler system would cost around $30,000, Brochu said. “And that doesn’t include the cost of the generator” to run the sprinklers if firefighters had to shut down electricity. “We’re talking a lot of money.”