Need an excuse to get out of Boulder this weekend?
Head up to Rocky Mountain National Park … FOR FREE!
The park entrance ranger will wave you on while waiving your $20 entrance fee through April 24.
Tomorrow–on Earth Day–there will be an open house at the park’s greenhouse, which features plants native to the area. Leave your car at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center on Highway 36 just west of Estes Park where park employees will direct you to the nearby greenhouse.
Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park means time to commune with nature, relaxing around the campfire, stargazing and long hikes.
And this summer, for two of the park’s five drive-in campgrounds, it also means views. Lots of them. Great vistas that are now totally unobstructed by the trees that used to be there.
That’s the positive spin that park Superintendent Vaughn Baker tried to put on the unfortunate fact that Timber Creek and Glacier Basin campgrounds have literally been clear cut to remove trees killed by pine beetles. The campgrounds used to have plenty of shade, he said. Now they have plenty of views, but campers should provide their own shade. Read more
Want to get some exercise and help the Rocky Mountain Nature Association raise a million clams? Now’s your chance: According to the Coloradoan, somebody has gone and given the association, which promotes educational programs and operates bookstores at the park and in visitors’ centers around the state, $1 million, with a catch:
The anonymous donor pledged $1 million to the association as long as it matches the donation dollar for dollar this year.
Nitrogen from fertizilizer and car exhaust that’s lofted into the air and then lands in the once-pristine lakes of Rocky Mountain National Park is creating junk food for fish.
“It’s like eating marshmallows all day and expecting to grow. You can’t do it,” James Elser, a professor at Arizona State University and the study’s lead author, told the Associated Press.
Nitrogen deposition is not a new problem, but the new study shows that the effects may be worse than scientists thought.
More nitrogen can reduce long-term lake biodiversity because algae become poor food for other microscopic organisms and, ultimately, fish. The algae are high in nitrogen, but low in phosphorous and less nutritious.
Previous studies have documented rising nitrogen levels in Rocky Mountain National Park, 70 miles northwest of Denver. … Read more
In the future, there may be fewer snow-capped peaks to gaze at in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The meadows on the west side of the park may change as the climate warms and dries, making them less hospitable to moose and pine martens, and aspens across the park may disappear along with the plants that call the tundra home.
These are the dire predictions of a report released yesterday by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council, which called climate change “the greatest threat ever” to national parks.
The report, called National Parks in Peril, listed the 25 parks most at risk of climate change and included two in Colorado: RMNP and Mesa Verde.
From the report’s Colorado fact sheet:
Mesa Verde is vulnerable to a loss of water, more downpours and floods, a loss of plant communities, a loss of wildlife, and a loss of cultural resources. Rocky Mountain is vulnerable to a loss of ice and snow, a loss of water, more downpours and floods, a loss of plant communities, a loss of wildlife, more crowding, a loss of fishing, and more air pollution. Other parks in Colorado, including Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, and Dinosaur National Monument, face similar vulnerabilities. Read more
There’s still a couple more days until the official first day of fall. But the aspens in Colorado aren’t waiting.
Some of the trees clustered along the Peak to Peak Highway have already changed a brilliant gold. Others remain a verdant green — but that won’t last for long.
Foresters are guessing that peak-leaf viewing may fall next weekend or the first few days of October.
On Tuesday — after this sunny, warm weekend has given way to a cold front predicted to sweep into Boulder County on Sunday night — the sun will shine directly on the Equator, and fall will officially begin.
And on the heels of autumn’s wintry entrance (the National Weather Service is forecasting a chance of snow in the high country both Sunday and Monday nights) comes the golden glow of Colorado’s changing aspen leaves.
“I usually tell people the third week in September will be the peak,” said Bob Sturtevant, a forestry specialist with the Colorado State University Extension Service. “And it seems to be right on schedule.”
During a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park this week, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall — D-Eldorado Springs — espoused his (relatively) new love for nuclear power at a press conference.
“I agree with Sen. McCain that nuclear power has to be a significant part of the mix,” Udall said. “There are some that would say, ‘Well, Senator, that’s a change of view on your part.’ It may be, but as I’ve listened and learned and studied, it’s clear that if we want to respond to the threat of climate change, nuclear energy has to be part of the solution.”
His comments frustrated all kinds of anti-nuclear environmentalists, including the folks at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center in Boulder, who blasted Udall in their weekly column for the Colorado Daily, Peace Train:
How could you, Senator Udall?
You, of all people — from one of the premier environmentally conservative and protective political families in the U.S. You must know that nuclear power is actually counterproductive to efforts to address climate change that are environmentally protective, effective and timely enough to avoid environmental catastrophe.
The nuclear energy industry is striving mightily to have its dangerous, polluting technology, declared “clean” by employing remarkably creative, persistent “greenwashing” techniques, in order to have it included with renewable, clean energy sources as the world scrambles to confront mounting global climate changes.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is studying whether pikas — fuzzy little cousins of the rabbit that prefer chilly temps and high altitudes — need protection under the Endangered Species Act.
Environmentalists are concerned that warming global temperatures will push pikas higher and higher, eventually eliminating their habitats altogether. (Temperatures above 78 degrees can kill the squeaky little critters.)
In Colorado, pikas are easy to find on the slopes of the state’s many fourteeners, but scientists are concerned about their futures. Rsearchers have recently been studying the pika populations in Rocky Mountain National Park, trying to figure out how many of the animals live there now so they can better understand how those populations are affected as the climate changes.
Historical baseline data for number of pikas in the park don’t exist.
“The way it was, there were so many pikas no one thought to count them,” said Judy Visty, park ecologist.
Scientists in the North Cascades National Park are starting a one-year study that is also aimed at establishing a baseline count of pika populations. Read more
About a hundred people showed up Wednesday to collect water samples from streams, rivers and lakes scattered throughout Rocky Mountain National Park for the second annual WaterBlitz.
When the samples are tested, scientists at the University of Colorado hope to learn how beetle-killed trees and global warming might be affecting the park.
Read more about the WaterBlitz at DailyCamera.com or check out the video above.
The pine beetles are still hungry, and nothing is going to stop them from killing the vast majority of Colorado’s mature lodgepole pines in the next several years.
(Last year, the beetles chewed through nearly half a million acres of trees in Colorado, bringing the total bug damage in the state to about 2 million acres.)
But some organizations and homeowners hope that there’s some chance of at least saving a few of the pines — the ones that shade campsites, line ski runs or decorate a back yard — and that hope goes by the name of carbaryl.
The problem is that carbaryl — which to have any hope of fending of the munching beetles would have to be sprayed every year for a decade — is a “likely carcinogen,” according to the EPA, that can also cause a host of other unpleasant neurological problems. And two years ago, it showed up in Boulder’s water for the first time.
This month, a group of residents in Estes Park have begun organizing to fight carbaryl, forming the Mountain Pine Beetle Defense Council, according to the Trail Gazette.
Around Estes, the chemical is sprayed by the city, the forest service and Rocky Mountain National Park. Read more