Stimulus dough for mine cleanups

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It seems like there is some good news contained in the stimulus bill on the mine cleanup front. Here’s a report from the New York Times. From the article:

Together, the Interior and Agriculture departments expect to set off a hiring boom among idled industry and agricultural workers whose charge will be to clean up thousands of abandoned hardrock mines that once formed the backbone of the region’s economy, but whose greater legacy is one of toxic wastes and thousands of miles of contaminated rivers, creeks and streams.

Three agencies — the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service — are working to finalize the list of cleanup projects to be funded with $105 million in stimulus money. Nearly half of the money, $50 million, will go the Park Service, whose lackluster attention to abandoned mines drew sharp criticism from the Interior Department’s inspector general in a report issued last July. The remaining funds will be split between BLM and the Forest Service, at $30 million and $25 million, respectively, according to a spokesman for Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.), who sponsored an amendment detailing the agencies’ shares…

One example of a mine whose lingering pollution problems could be addressed under the stimulus package is the Pennsylvania Mine in northwest Colorado.

The abandoned hardrock mine, whose operations date to the late 1800s, continues to bleed toxic metals, including lead and copper, into nearby Peru Creek. From there, the metals move down the Snake River watershed, cutting through the White River National Forest and past expensive ski lodges before emptying into a massive reservoir that provides drinking water for the Denver metro area (Land Letter, Dec. 4, 2008).

The pollution has decimated once-thriving stocks of rainbow and brook trout [ed. I think they mean Cutthroat trout.] and turned Peru Creek into the most polluted waterway in the Snake River watershed, said Jean Mackenzie, a remedial project manager at EPA’s Denver regional office who is overseeing the cleanup effort.

Now, the Pennsylvania Mine is a strong candidate to receive cleanup money from the stimulus package, said Kurt Muenchow, abandoned mine lands program manager for the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region in Denver.

Thanks to Colorado Trout Unlimited for the link. More Coyote Gulch coverage here.

Dry Gulch Reservoir update

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Here’s Part four and Part five of Bill Hudson’s series PAWSD Conjures $357 Million Project in Dry Gulch running in the Pagosa Daily Post.

More Coyote Gulch coverage here and here.

Department of Interior: Happy 160th birthday

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Update: It was the Department of Interior’s 160th. Thanks to Kara Lamb for alerting me to my error. Everyone needs an editor — especially bloggers. 🙂

The Bureau of Reclamation Department of Interior turned 160 years old today. Here’s a transcript of the celebration today from the Washington Post (Secretary Salazar):

Thank you all very much. I want to welcome all of you to the 160 anniversary of the Department of Interior. The Department of Interior’s history mirrors the story of our nation. We have changed as America has changed. We have taken on new challenges and responsibilities as the issues facing our nation and our world have changed over time.

We have been entrusted to serve as the stewards of America the beautiful. Purple mountains, rooted plains, the landmarks of our history and the icons of our heritage. When secretary of the interior, Thomas Ewing, took the oath of office on March 3, 1849, the United States of America ended at the Mississippi River. There were only 29 stars on the flag of the United States.

The Department of the Interior today now reaches across 12 time zones. It includes responsibility for places as grand as Yosemite, structures as mighty as the Hoover Dam, and creatures as small as the tiniest song bird.

Along the way, our nation has passed through times of deep crisis; the War Between the States, 13 economic recessions, the Great Depression. But with each crisis, the Department of Interior has helped our nation not only persevere but grow stronger.

At the dawn of the 20th century when America was losing its forests, its wildlife, and its open spaces, President Teddy Roosevelt turned an environmental crisis into the legacy of stewardship that we still enjoy today. He expanded our national parks, laying the foundation for a modern-day national park system. And he built the world’s largest system of lands dedicated to wildlife conservation, the National Wildlife Refuge System.

And in the dark days of the Great Depression, in those dark days of economic crisis never seen before, President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps put 3 million people to work on conservation and construction projects in our parks, refuges, and public works around America. Many of those projects were planned and designed in this very building.

When faced with a crisis, Americans always build a path to progress. And we will do the same as we face the economic crisis of today.

Snowpack news

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From the Sky-Hi Daily News: “While other parts of Colorado are experiencing below-average precipitation, Grand County is enjoying a comfortable snowpack at 119 percent of average, according to Mike Gillespie, Snow Survey supervisor of the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)…The Colorado Basin is running behind last year’s snowpack, which had steady increases through April. Estimated to be at 90 percent of last year, ‘It’s close, but still a little under. You don’t have the same cushion you had this time last year to try and endure a dry spell,’ he said.”

Pueblo: Council delays vote on Fountain Creek IGA

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From the Pueblo Chieftain (Chris Woodka): “Pueblo City Council on Monday postponed its vote on a proposed Fountain Creek intergovernmental agreement until next week.”

More Coyote Gulch coverage here, here and here.

2009 Science Adventures Summer Camps

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The best way to interest young people in science and engineering is to get them doing science at an early age, especially hands on outdoors. Here’s a look at the 2009 Science Adventures Summer Camps program, from Business Wire. From the article:

This summer, Science Adventures™ summer camps are introducing an innovative new program line-up to inspire a love of science and the environment. Science Adventures programs’ newest camp, Powerful Planet, offers fun and exciting lessons that teach the importance of energy efficiency and the need to manage our natural resources from wildlife to oil. Children use hands-on activities to explore science, and become better global citizens.

“This year’s Powerful Planet camp offers children the unique opportunity to become part of a global conversation and effort to understand and protect our environment,” said Andy Allan, Director of Program Development, also known as Andy the Science Wiz. “Science Adventures not only offers hands-on interactions that inspire a love of science, but keeps children on the cutting edge of discovery by introducing them to the relevant research being studied and developed today.”

Science Adventures programs are offered to students ages 5 to 12 years, at participating recreation facilities and schools. Children must have completed Kindergarten to enroll. Camps take science education out of the classroom to spark a child’s interest in the world of science and discovery. The 2009 summer camps, now open for enrollment, incorporate hands-on, interactive lessons designed to offer children new ways to learn through exploration, teamwork and engaging projects.

The importance of hands-on learning for elementary school students was highlighted this month in a Purdue University study conducted by the National Science Foundation. The study taught two groups of children about water purification, one by building a device, the other through traditional lecture and reading assignments. The children that learned the purification process through building the device scored 20 points higher on a test covering the subject. Melissa Dark, a professor that worked on the study, commented that the students who took part in the hands-on project learned more and showed deeper understanding of its science principles than the traditionally taught group.

Science Adventures program’s camp curriculum is developed by education experts and features activities that are fun, engaging and inspire exploration, imagination and creativity, while building skills such as self esteem and teamwork. Camps are led by expert instructors in small groups by age level, with each child completing their own projects. “Our camps differ in that we don’t do many group experiments. All children have a chance to build, experiment, and explore on their own,” said Allan.

Campers also have access to Science Adventures program’s exclusive online science club, Kid Zone. Kid Zone is an interactive members-only Web site that features at home science experiments, fun science facts, a downloadable membership card, science games, contests, and prizes.

Science Adventures Summer Science Camps begin the first week of June and are organized in four topical programs designed to engage and excite young minds. Each camp is one-week long with flexible options to accommodate families’ busy summer schedules, including half-day and full-day camps. Parents can enroll online at and may choose to register their children for all four weeks, or just one program. Day camp hours are 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. or 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. for half-day. Camp program schedules vary by geography.

2009 Science Adventures Summer Science Camp programs include:

Powerful Planet: Campers explore the planet’s most powerful forces, discovering how electrical energy can be turned into motion, experimenting with the elements of friction, learning how to use solar energy, gathering wind energy and much more. Lessons include building their own electric car, solar oven, wind turbines and other energy efficient gadgets. During this unit campers also investigate our impact on the environment as they turn eco-detective and conduct science experiments to solve the mystery of the missing turtles.

Gizmo’s Robot Factory: During this week, children discover the world of robotics through several hands-on projects. Campers design and build their very own walking robot while investigating what makes a robot tick. Lessons include taking a robot’s-eye view in 3-D, listening with electronic ears, and wiring a simple circuit. Campers explore the physics of simple machines, electric motors, and pneumatics as they unravel the extreme science of robotics.

Space and Rocketry: Blast off from planet Earth to explore the farthest reaches of the universe by launching your very own rocket! During the week, campers build their very own rocket and Mars rover. Campers investigate how fins stabilize a rocket in mid-flight, what air resistance and air pressure have to do with parachutes and when they must open. On launch day, campers put their rocket knowledge to the test and launch their rockets, which can exceed speeds of 70 mph and climb up to 300 ft. After flying high, campers learn to navigate the surface of Mars as they build their own motorized Mars rover complete with six wheels for surface mobility and an anemometer to investigate wind speeds.

Fabulous Physics Challenge: During this camp, mini-scientists explore how physics relates to their everyday lives from friction and skateboards to electrons and flashlights, investigating how science is all around us. Campers start the week learning about Sir Isaac Newton’s laws as they construct their own bowling alley and learn how weight and force are important to the stability of a flying disc. Campers go on to explore simple machines and build their own catapult basketball game, discover magnetic attraction and repulsion with a game of magnetic darts, and relate air pressure to the pastime sweeping the nation, Sport Stacking.

For more information on Science Adventures Summer Science Camp programs in your area, or to enroll, visit or call (888) 458-1812.