Meet State Senator Bruce Whitehead

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The Durango Herald (Katie Burford) is running some background and a short interview with newly appointed State Senator Bruce Whitehead. From the article:

While Whitehead, a Hesperus-area resident, may be a newbie to politics, he said he’s not a stranger to high stakes deal-making, having spent his entire professional career working on water issues. His personality disposes him toward consensus building and a careful study of the issues. “I think I bring a common-sense approach,” he said.

Big Thompson Watershed Forum 11th annual meeting September 22

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From The Greeley Tribune:

The Big Thompson Watershed Forum will host its 11th annual meeting — Protecting Our Watershed, Preserving Our Future — on Sept. 22. It will be at the Drake Center in Fort Collins and is scheduled for 8 a.m.-3:45 p.m.

The Big Thompson River Watershed, an area of about 900 square miles, provides drinking water to numerous cities in northern Colorado including Estes Park, Fort Collins, Greeley and Loveland. The Big Thompson River Watershed is vital to more than 800,000 people as it carries water from the Colorado-Big Thompson Project and is used for residential, commercial, agricultural, recreation and wildlife habitat purposes. The mission of the forum is to protect and improve water quality in the watershed through collaborative monitoring, assessment, education and restoration projects.

This year’s topics include a volunteer monitoring program water quality update; the future of the watershed movement in northern Colorado; Colorado’s source water assessment and protection program; what a changing climate means for the West’s water; Clean Water Act and proposed nutrient amendments; a model to plan, build and live water-smart; and an education and outreach panel discussion for the forum and local watershed groups.

State Rep. Randy Fischer, D-Fort Collins, will provide opening remarks. Cost is $15, which includes a continental breakfast and lunch.

For more information, e-mail Zack Shelley at zshelley@btwatershed.org.

More Big Thompson coverage here and here.

Climate Change: Senators Udall and McCain get an up close look at changes in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Arizona Senator John McCain and Colorado Senator Mark Udall were up in Rocky Mountain National Park yesterday getting a first hand look at the devastation wrought by pine beetles. They also heard a pitch about the need for climate change legislation from park officials. Here’s a report from Bobby Magill writing for the Fort Collins Coloradoan. From the article:

“The effects of climate change are not yet to come but are occurring right now,” David Schimel, senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, told Udall and McCain. “Colorado is in one of the parts of the Lower 48 to experience the greatest warming.” He said decreases in mountain snow and runoff could mean a 25 percent reduction in water in the Colorado River system compared with today’s levels. The amount of carbon the region’s forests absorb from burning fossil fuels will be reduced by half as the planet warms, he said. Climate change will submerge some Eastern national parks under rising oceans, melt Glacier National Park’s glaciers, kill Joshua Tree National Park’s Joshua trees and dramatically change the face of Rocky Mountain National Park, said Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. “We’ve never lost a national park before,” but global warming could change that, he said…

Udall and McCain reiterated their support for nuclear power as part of a cure for climate change. McCain said he will not support a climate change plan that does not include nuclear power. “If we want to respond to climate change, nuclear power has to be part of the solution,” Udall said, later calling nuclear part of an “all-of-the-above strategy.”

More coverage from The Denver Post (Bruce Finley):

“I agree with Sen. McCain that nuclear power has to be part of the mix,” Udall, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s subcommittee on National Parks, said Monday in the meadow. “It is clear that if we want to respond to climate change, nuclear power has to be part of the solution.” Later in an interview, Udall said his support includes emphasis on safety by improving the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and issuance of mining permits. Udall also noted that a project to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada appears to be “a dead project.” At some point, he said, “you have to have a geologic depository that is safe.”

The hearing Monday — following Udall and McCain’s two-day weekend swing through Grand Canyon National Park — focused not on the complexities of “cap-and-trade” legislation and energy policy but rather on using national parks as “canaries” to signal specific changes and convey them in a way that mobilizes tens of millions of Americans.

About 100 residents attended the hearing, where experts from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Park Service and other institutions warned that human activities are disrupting natural processes.

More coverage from the Summit Daily News (Bob Berwyn):

Tiny mammals, moths and birds such as Colorado’s famed ptarmigan are all threatened by rapid warming in mountain regions, and America’s national parks — the jewels in her natural resource crown — could be most threatened of all. That’s according to Stephen Saunders, president of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization, speaking during a federal parks subcommittee hearing Tuesday in Estes Park. Saunders, whose organization issued a landmark 2006 report on climate change threats to national parks, tried to rally Americans to protect natural treasures like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon. U.S. citizens have always responded when parks are in danger, he said, outlining concerns over more insect infestations, frequent wildfires and dramatic loss of habitat for many species. Saunders said the National Park Service too often has looked the other way, citing climate change impacts as external forces beyond the control of planners. The agency is mandated by law and its own policies use all available authorities “to protect park resources and values from potentially harmful activities.”

More coverage from the Boulder Daily Camera (Laura Snider):

Udall and McCain, R-Ariz., agreed that global warming is real, that it is negatively affecting national parks, that climate-change legislation will have to wait until health-care reform is somehow put to bed, that the president needs to lead the way in creating such carbon-limiting laws, and that nuclear power must be a part of the country’s future energy portfolio.

More climate change coverage here and here.