Legal agreement results in EPA taking action on deadly smog pollution in #Denver, other cities — Wild Earth Guardians

Denver smog. Photo credit: NOAA

Click the link to read the release on the Wild Earth Guardians website (Jeremy Nichols):

Affected areas in Colorado, Connecticut, Texas, New Jersey, and New York are home to nearly 40 million people

As a result of a lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups, today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency downgraded four areas across the country from a “serious” to a “severe” rating for their smog pollution. This downgrade in the ratings triggers more protective measures to reduce smog pollution.

The four areas, including the Denver Metro area, have some of the nation’s worst air quality. EPA downgraded the areas because their ground-level ozone pollution—commonly called smog—continues to exceed the levels that are safe for human health, wildlife, and plants.

“Recognizing that these areas have a severe smog problem marks an important step forward in reducing this pollution,” said Ryan Maher, an environmental health attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Now it’s time for concrete plans to fix it.”

Smog pollution is linked to human health problems like asthma attacks, cardiovascular problems, and even premature death. Those most at risk include older adults, children and people who work outdoors. The harm smog does to plants can damage entire ecosystems and reduce biodiversity.

“For the more than 3.5 million people living in the Denver Metro and North Front Range region of Colorado, today’s finding gives new hope for clean air,” said Jeremy Nichols, climate and energy program director for WildEarth Guardians.  “Now it’s up to Governor Polis and his administration to do the right thing and finally clean up this smoggy mess and restore healthy skies along Colorado’s Front Range.”

The four environmental groups sued the EPA in March 2022 after the agency missed its deadline to reclassify these areas from a serious to a severe rating for smog. The agreement resulting from this lawsuit required EPA to finalize the ratings for these four areas by today: the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston-Galveston-Brazoria areas in Texas; the New York City metro areas of Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey; and the Denver-Boulder-Greeley-Fort Collins-Loveland area in Colorado.

“The 37 million people who live in these areas with unsafe levels of toxic pollution deserve clean air and immediate federal action,” said Kaya Allan Sugerman, director of the Center for Environmental Health’s illegal toxic threats program. “Today’s victory will help protect these communities from the dangers of this pollution.”

Under this agreement, EPA must also determine whether the smog ratings for Ventura County and western Nevada County in California need to be downgraded by December 16, 2022.

The downgraded ratings finalized today are part of the environmental groups’ ongoing effort to compel the EPA to protect human health and the environment from smog pollution in accordance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act.

Smoggy day in Denver, August 11, 2022.

Other Contact

Ryan Maher, Center for Biological Diversity, (781) 325-6303, rmaher@biologicaldiversity.org , Kaya Allan Sugerman, Center for Environmental Health, (510) 740-9384, kaya@ceh.org , Ilan Levin, Environmental Integrity Project, (512) 637-9479, ilevin@environmentalintegrity.org

New Poll Shows Americans Strongly Support Clean Water Act on 50th Anniversary — Walton Family Foundation

Kayakers on the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. Photo: Erik Drost (CC BY 2.0)

Click the link to read the release on the Walton Family Foundation website (Mark Shields):

The Walton Family Foundation, in collaboration with Morning Consult, released new polling today showing that at least seven-in-ten adults nationally have a favorable opinion of the Clean Water Act (CWA). This comes with the Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments in October about whether certain waters can be protected under the Clean Water Act in the case of Sackett v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The poll, released as UN Climate Week gets underway, shows Americans strongly prefer that the federal government maintains water standards. The EPA is the top choice of Americans to set standards to protect the rivers, lakes and streams that provide drinking water from pollution — and 68% think it is very important the EPA has the authority to protect clean water through the Clean Water Act.

“Clean water and the Clean Water Act continue to unite Americans,” said Moira Mcdonald, Environment Program Director of the Walton Family Foundation. “We all believe that water is vital to every aspect of our lives — from our health to the economy to our ecosystems–and that we must continue to have strong laws that protect this vital resource. Americans do not want to roll back clean water standards, because they want to trust that drinking water is safe.”

Key findings from the poll include:

95% of Americans say that protecting the water in our nation’s lakes, streams and rivers is important. Further, 79% want to strengthen or maintain current standards, while just 8% want to relax them.

88% agree that it is important that the EPA has the authority laid out in the Clean Water Act – such as restricting pollution entering our waters and limiting the destruction or physical damage to lakes, rivers, wetlands, streams and other waterways.

– After a brief description of Sackett v. the Environmental Protection Agency, 75% of adults are supportive of protecting more waters and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

89% of adults would be concerned if polluters no longer had to meet water requirements before adding waste into streams or wetlands and 88% would be concerned if the permit requirement to make a permanent physical change to a water body was removed in some cases. 

Adults want more safety standards for water releases from factories and industrial processes (69%), municipal drinking water (68%) and drinking water in their community (67%).

Polling Methodology:

This poll was conducted between August 26th – 27th, 2022 among a sample of 2,210 Adults. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of Adults based on gender, age, race, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.

#Colorado Senate Race Barometer — The Buzz

Click the link to read the article on The Buzz website (Floyd Ciruli):

The Colorado senate race is being closely followed by the national media for indications of a Republican tide that could sweep even an incumbent out of a state that has been supporting Democrats since 2016.

In July, Mark Barabak wrote a column for the L.A. Times, “How bad could November be for Democrats? Watch this Senate race and see.” (7-26-22). I said it about incumbent Democrat Michael Bennett.

“He’s not in danger yet,” said Floyd Ciruli, a Denver pollster who has spent decades surveying Colorado voters. “But [President] Biden is in terrible shape and if that becomes a major factor, a lot of candidates we assume would be safe could be in trouble.”

The Denver Post updated the senate race in a weekend story by Nick Coltrain (9-10-22). He reported that mixed signals from polls still don’t show a Republican win and that the national party has not put much money behind their candidate, Joe O’ Dea. (Since the story appeared, McConnell gave $500,000)

Read:
How bad could November be for Democrats? Watch this Senate race and see
How close is Colorado’s U.S. Senate race? Campaigns ready for a ‘dogfight’

Weekly #cropprogress from @usda_nass and Brad Rippey at #USDAoce — @dennistodey

Drawing to end of growing season and start of #harvest22. #drought22 showing its issue in condition reports. Worst in #plains. Not as bad central #cornbelt.

US changes names of places with racist term for Native women, including in #Colorado — The #Aurora Sentinel

As you begin to descend towards Echo Lake on the Mestaa’ėhehe Pass road, Mt Evans and its barely visible road come into focus. Photo credit: Colorado Bike Maps

Click the link to read the article on the Aurora Sentinel website (Mead Gruver). Here’s an excerpt:

The U.S. government has joined a ski resort and others that have quit using a racist term for a Native American woman by renaming hundreds of peaks, lakes, streams and other geographical features on federal lands in the West and elsewhere…

The changes announced Thursday capped an almost yearlong process that began after Haaland, the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency, took office in 2021. [Deb] Haaland is from Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico.

The Native American Rights Fund, a nonprofit legal organization, welcomed the changes.

“Federal lands should be welcoming spaces for all citizens,” deputy director Matthew Campbell said in a statement. “It is well past time for derogatory names to be removed and tribes to be included in the conversation.”

Other places renamed include Colorado’s Mestaa’ėhehe (pronounced “mess-taw-HAY”) Pass near Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain about 30 miles (48 kilometers) west of Denver. The new name honors an influential translator, Owl Woman, who mediated between Native Americans and white traders and soldiers in what is now southern Colorado.

Interior Department Completes Removal of “Sq___” from Federal Use: Decisions of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names are Effective Immediately

Secretary Haaland meets with tribal, local leaders regarding conservation efforts in southern Nevada

Click the link to read the release on the Deparmtment of Interior website :

The Department of the Interior today [September 8, 2022] announced the Board on Geographic Names (BGN) has voted on the final replacement names for nearly 650 geographic features featuring the word sq___. The final vote completes the last step in the historic efforts to remove a term from federal use that has historically been used as an offensive ethnic, racial and sexist slur, particularly for Indigenous women.

“I feel a deep obligation to use my platform to ensure that our public lands and waters are accessible and welcoming. That starts with removing racist and derogatory names that have graced federal locations for far too long,” said Secretary Deb Haaland. “I am grateful to the members of the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force and the Board on Geographic Names for their efforts to prioritize this important work. Together, we are showing why representation matters and charting a path for an inclusive America.”

The list of new names can be found on the U.S. Geological Survey website with a map of locations.

The final vote reflects a months-long effort by the Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force established by Secretary’s Order 3404, which included representatives from the Department’s Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, National Park Service, Office of Diversity, Inclusion and Civil Rights, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service.

During the public comment period, the Task Force received more than 1,000 recommendations for name changes. Nearly 70 Tribal governments participated in nation-to-nation consultation, which yielded another several hundred recommendations. While the new names are immediately effective for federal use, the public may continue to propose name changes for any features — including those announced today — through the regular BGN process.

The renaming effort included several complexities: evaluation of multiple public or Tribal recommendations for the same feature; features that cross Tribal, federal and state jurisdictions; inconsistent spelling of certain Native language names; and reconciling diverse opinions from various proponents. In all cases, the Task Force carefully evaluated every comment and proposal.

In July, the Department announced an additional review by the BGN for seven locations that are considered unincorporated populated places. Noting that there are unique concerns with renaming these sites, the BGN will seek out additional review from the local communities and stakeholders before making a final determination.

Secretary’s Order 3404 and the Task Force considered only the sq___ derogatory term in its scope. Secretary’s Order 3405 created a Federal Advisory Committee for the Department to formally receive advice from the public regarding additional derogatory terms, derogatory terms on federal land units, and the process for derogatory name reconciliation. Next steps on the status of that Committee will be announced in the coming weeks.

The Way to Slow #ClimateChange Is as Close as Your City Hall or School Board — The New York Times #ActOnClimate

May to July 2022 County Average Temperature Ranks

Click the link to read the guest column on The New York Times website (Justin Gillis and Hal Harvey). Here’s an excerpt:

The big climate law that Congress just enacted will go a long way toward meeting Mr. Biden’s goal [of cutting GHG emissions]. Coupled with other policies and with trends in the marketplace, it is expected to cut emissions by something like 40 percent. But the law — even assuming it survives Republican attacks and defunding attempts over the coming years — does not fully redeem Mr. Biden’s pledge. How can America get the rest of the way toward meeting his 50 percent goal?

The answer is in all of our hands. Many of us are already trying to help as best we can, perhaps by nudging the thermostat a degree or two, by driving or flying less or by eating differently. These actions are useful, but they are not enough. The public must make the transition from green consumers to green citizens and devote greater political energy to pushing America forward in its transition to a clean economy. How? The answers may be as close as your city hall or county commission. Your local school board — yes, the school board — has some critical decisions to make in the next few years. Opportunities to make a difference abound in your state Capitol.

The reason the public needs to speak up is simple. What Congress just did was, in a nutshell, to change the economics of clean energy and clean cars, using the tax code to make them more affordable. But it did not remove many of the other barriers to the adoption of these technologies, and a lot of those hurdles are under the control of state and local governments.

Consider this: Every school day, millions of Americans put their children on dirty diesel buses. Not only are the emissions from those buses helping to wreck the planet on which the children will have to live, but the fumes are blowing into their faces, too, contributing to America’s growing problem with childhood asthma. It is now possible to replace those diesel buses with clean, electric buses. Has your school board made a plan to do so? Why isn’t every parent in America marching down to school district headquarters to demand it? Electric buses are more expensive right now, but the operating costs are so much lower that the gap can be bridged with creative financing. A school board that is not thinking hard about this and making plans for the transition is simply not doing its job.

Here is another example. The power grid in your state is under the control of a political body known as a public utilities commission or public service commission. It has the legal authority to tell electric companies what power plants they are allowed to build and what rates they can charge. By law, these boards are supposed to listen to citizens and make decisions in the public interest, but the public rarely weighs in. We once needed special state laws to push utilities toward renewable energy, but Congress just changed the ground rules. With wind and solar farms becoming far more affordable, every utility in America now needs to re-examine its spreadsheet on how it will acquire power in the future. The public utility commissions supervise this process, and they are supposed to ensure that the utilities build the most affordable systems they reasonably can. But too many utilities, heavily invested in dirty energy, still see clean energy as a threat. They are going to drag their feet, and they will ply their influence with state government to try to get away with it. Citizens need to get in the faces of these commission members with a simple demand: Do your jobs. Make the utilities study all options and go for clean power wherever possible.

One more example: The conversion to electric cars has begun, but as everyone knows, we still don’t have enough places to charge them, especially for people on long trips. State governments can play a major role in alleviating this bottleneck. Under Gov. Jared Polis in Colorado, the state is investing hundreds of millions of dollars to build charging stations, with poor neighborhoods included. Other states can do the same, and citizens need to speak up to demand it.

If you live in a sizable city or county, your local government is probably slowing down the automotive transition, too. These governments buy fleets of vehicles for their workers, and this year most of them will once again order gasoline-powered cars. Why? Because that’s what they’re used to doing. Citizens need to confront the people making these decisions and jolt them from their lethargy.

A native bug is flattening #Colorado’s wheat fields. Farmers are trying to keep ahead of it — #Wyoming Public Media

Photo credit: CC0 Public Domain

Click the link to read the article on the Wyoming Public Media website (Rae Solomon):

Dryland farming has never been easy. But in recent years, [Nate] Northrup has been battling a new challenge that would have baffled earlier generations: the wheat stem sawfly. It’s a pest that infests wheat stems at the base, flattening fields — usually just before the harvest. Northrup described a slow progression of sawflies infiltrating his wheat fields, starting in 2010.

“It used to be just a few swaths around the edges,“ he said. “And then, the next year following, it would just be entire fields, just laying on the ground.”

Adult wheat stem sawfly. Photo credit: Colorado State University

Last fall, Colorado farmers planted more than 2 million acres of winter wheat for the 2022 harvest. But persistent drought is hurting Colorado’s crop, and the sawfly infestation only worsens things.

Lodging cause by wheat stem sawfly. Photo credit: Colorado State University

The mature bugs emerge in the spring and lay their eggs in young wheat stems. As the wheat grows, so do the sawfly larvae, eating their way down to the bottom of the plant. Just as the wheat ripens and becomes ready for harvest, the larvae ripen and get ready to hibernate. It makes itself an overwintering chamber just above the root and, in the process, takes a final big bite at the base of the wheat stem, weakening it beyond repair. The first wind or sprinkling of rain topples the weakened stalks flat on the ground.

Dr. Erika Peirce is a postdoctoral researcher at Colorado State University who specializes in integrated pest management of the wheat stem sawfly, which, she is quick to point out, is not actually a fly.

“Contrary to the name. It’s actually a wasp,” she explained. She says sawfly may be a new pest, but the bug is not new to Colorado. “It was initially discovered in non-cultivated grasses – the grasses on the side of the road — in 1874 in Colorado. It only became a pest of winter wheat in Colorado in 2010.”

Peirce says the sawfly’s transformation from benign native insect to threatening pest happened because of a change in its lifecycle. Initially, adult sawfly timed their emergence to align with the growth of the non-cultivated grasses that were its native host. She explained that winter wheat develops earlier in the season than those native grasses.

“The sawfly, in order to use winter wheat, has to mature and emerge about 3 to 4 weeks earlier than they normally would for their native hosts,” she said.

And eventually, they started doing just that.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 8 (Homeward bound)

Denver. Photo credit: Colorado State University

Day 8’s drive was from Mesquite, Nevada to Fruita, Colorado. I always enjoy the Virgin River Canyon. The drive takes you up from St. George through central Utah, over the San Rafael Swell and then into Colorado.

We charged the night before in Mesquite during dinner, then again in Beaver, Utah, a short bump in Richfield, Utah, and then again in Green River. The Tesla seems to be designed for these high speed highways.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 7

Coyote Gulch’s rented Tesla Model 3 charging in Yermo, California August 5, 2022.

We started back home from Visalia, California on Friday with a stop in Las Vegas to drop off hellchild for her flight home.

We charged the Tesla at our hotel overnight and then once more in Yermo, California before a short charge in Las Vegas to get us to our destination, Mesquite, Nevada. The Model 3 is a fantastic highway ride. We shared every Tesla Supercharger location with others also charging and Teslas kept coming and going all the while when we were there. Tesla has done a great job building facilities for their customers.

This was eye-opening for me as I had to wait for local government and retailers to build charging infrastructure along the highways after buying my Nissan Leaf in 2016. On my first foray to Steamboat Springs in 2017 I had to use Level 2 chargers in Idaho Springs, Winter Park, and Kremmling. Now there are DC Fast Chargers in Granby and Fraser and all along I-70 from Silverthorne to Grand Junction.

Leaf charging at the Lionshead parking facility in Vail September 30, 2021.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 6

Sequoias in the Giant Tree Forest August 4, 2022.

We drove to the Atwell Mill and Grove on Day 6 and then up to the Giant Tree Forest for a nice walk in the light rain. During the walk we saw the Crescent Meadow which, according to the NPS John Muir called in the “Gem of the Sierra.” There was evidence of last year’s fire all around but that didn’t detract from the beautiful landscape.

Crescent Meadow Sequoia National Park August 4, 2022.

The Tesla Model 3’s charge was sufficient for the entire drive and we ended up at our hotel with 35% charge. We picked up charge coming back on Mineral King Road (5%) and down from the Giant Tree forest (6%). The all-wheel drive Tesla performed well on the steep twisting road above the river on the way to the Atwell Grove and back.

Some of the flora in the Giant Tree Forest August 4, 2022.

Sadly, Days 7,8, and 9 are travel days back to Denver, somewhere around 1,150 miles.

Sequoia standing tall August 4, 2022.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 5

Bear searching for dinner August 3, 2022 Sequoia National Park.

We drove to the General Grant Tree in Kings Canyon National Park area first thing to get in a hike and to see the many large sequoias in the area. The trails lead to trees named after the states. We then took the Generals Highway over to Sequoia National Park. There were lots of opportunities for “botanizing”. I have been informed that botanizing is the term you use when incorporating plant and tree observations into your enjoyment while hiking.

The Tesla Model 3 had more than enough range for the day. We picked up 7% charge from the regenerative braking system traveling down to the valley to charge at Traver, California for the next day.The car was at 38% when we hooked up, after starting the day at 95%.

Just for grins here’s a gallery of photos from Hellchild, Mrs. Gulch and myself.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 4

Rolling River Falls Kings Canyon National Park August 2, 2022.

We drove to the end of the road in Kings Canyon on Day 4. The canyon is impressive and it was great to see the turbid water in the South Fork of the Kings River indicating that the area had seen rain recently. In fact, when we were enjoying the Roaring River Falls thunder could be heard a short distance away. The canyon floor is forested with the now familiar varieties of trees that make up the canopy. There is also a variety of shrubs and flowers for the botanically suited like my traveling companions, the horticulturist and the geneticist.

A huge bonus for me were all the farms along the route that Tesla navigation chose for us. What a bounty of fruit and other crops. Folks that know me well know that I love farmers and farming, and of course the infrastructure to move water it where it is needed.

This was the first day that we really depended on the range of the Tesla Model 3. There are no charging facilities after you start the climb from the valley floor. There would be few locations where the trickle charger would be useful. We picked up 6% from the regenerative braking system from the Grant Tree lodge down to the valley floor. The Model 3 had good charge left when we stopped at the Supercharger in Traver to charge up for Day 5.

Charging the Tesla August 3, 2022 for the next day in Kings Canyon and Sequoia national parks.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 3

Coyote Gulch at the General Sherman tree Sequoia National Park August 1, 2022. Photo credit: Hellchild

We went up into Sequoia National Park on Day 3. The primary stop was to see the “General Sherman” tree which is largest tree in the world you are told by the NPS folks. It was quite an experience seeing the mixed forest of Sequoias, firs, etc.

We toured all day on one charge from our hotel — the Model 3 has good range. What a climb from the valley up to the area of the trees. On the trip down we picked up 7% charge from the regenerative breaking system. EV drivers love downhill just as bicyclist’s do. 🙂

Coyote Gulch attempting to hug a Sequoia near the General Sherman tree August 1, 2022. Photo credit: Mrs. Gulch

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias Day 2

Joshua Trees in California July 31, 2022. Photo credit: Hellchild

Day 2 was another travel day. We had to go from Mesquite, Nevada to Visalia, California, near Sequoia and King’s Canyon national parks. We stopped in Las Vegas to pick up our daughter who had flown in to meet us.

Ugh, the drive from Las Vegas to Baker, California was slow due to traffic. One reason was that mud and debris had washed over the road from convective storms in some places so traffic was backed up while the highway was being cleared. The major reason, we learned from the server at dinner, was that traffic is horrible on Sunday afternoon in that stretch. The traffic was something that I had not allowed for.

It was cool to see so many Joshua trees (this was a novel experience for me). This part of California is very different from our usual haunts. The Tesla navigation system worked flawlessly, even routing us around an accident (there were three in the stretch) down county two-lane blacktop at one point. There was standing water on that road in a couple of places. The NWS warning, “Turn around don’t drown, unless you see someone else get through safely,” was on my mind. 🙂

Screenshot of the Tesla’s “Go Anywhere” apps.

Our hotel is a Tesla destination hotel so after picking up a bit of charge in Bakersfield we plugged in overnight at our base for exploring the sequoias. We utilized Tesla superchargers in, Mesquite, NV, Las Vegas, NV and Bakersfield, CA but could have gotten away with fewer stops according to the Tesla trip planner. I am very impressed with the ease of navigation and the quick charging at the superchargers.

It is so cool that I can rent a Tesla for long driving vacations and not use my Nissan Leaf with it’s more limited range.

Leaf charging at the Beau Jo’s charger in idaho Springs August 23, 2021.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias (Day 1)

Coyote Gulch’s rented Tesla charging in Green River, Utah.

Saturday was a long day as we drove from Denver to Mesquite, Nevada. The route was all on I-70 and I-15. The Tesla charging network makes traveling along the interstate network worry free. We charged in Glenwood Springs, Colorado and Green River, Richfield, and Beaver, Utah. At every stop other Tesla vehicles were charging. There was a line of vehicles waiting to charge in Glenwood Springs and the Richfield location with only four chargers was full.

Explorer John Wesley Powell and Paiute Chief Tau-Gu looking over the Virgin River in 1873. Photo credit: NPS

In Green River, Utah, while charging we spent time at the excellent “John Wesley Powell River History Museum” next door to Tesla’s supercharger facility. The museum is worth your time if you are passing through, interesting displays and of course many old photographs of the area and the Colorado and Green rivers, settler stories, etc.

In the late afternoon we drove into Monsoon storms in S. Utah culminating in a spectacular downpour as we drove through St. George, Utah into the Virgin River Canyon. I was thinking of the bad situation in Flagstaff, not all that far away as the crow flies.

Coyote Gulch’s excellent EV adventure — Sequoias

Coyote Gulch’s rented Tesla Model 3 charging (Level 2) at Gulch Manor July 30, 2022.

I’ve started a bucket list of places I want to visit before climate change forever changes them. First up are the Sequoias in California. One article that I read recently said that 25% of them have burned since 2015 and last year wildfire threatened some of the most famous trees in the Sequoia and King’s Canyon National Parks (where I’m headed).

Like many Westerners, giant sequoias came recently from farther east. Of course, “recent” is a relative term. “You’re talking millions of years (ago),” William Libby said. The retired University of California, Berkeley, plant geneticist has been studying the West Coast’s towering trees for more than half a century. Needing cooler, wetter climates, the tree species arrived at their current locations some 4,500 years ago — about two generations. “They left behind all kinds of Eastern species that did not make it with them, and encountered all kinds of new things in their environment,” Libby said. Today, sequoias grow on the slopes of California’s Sierra Nevada.

For the drive I was able to rent a Tesla so I’ll be leaving zero emissions along the road except when I charge with dirty power of course.

Posting may be intermittent due to the possibility that I’ll be having too much fun.

#Colorado State University conference to address collaborative #conservation opportunities in the West

Click the link to read the article on the Colorado State University website (Nikki Martinez):

Confluence, an upcoming conference hosted by Colorado State University, will address the interests and needs of collaborative conservation groups in the West and is set to take place Sept. 19-22 at the Chico Hot Springs Resort in Pray, Montana.

Attendees at the last Confluence in 2020, where 120 participants gathered to learn from their peers, participate in workshops, and network with other collaboratives across the West.

The conference is hosted by the Western Collaborative Conservation Network, an organization housed in the CSU Center for Collaborative Conservation that promotes and supports community-based collaborative conservation efforts to strengthen and sustain healthy landscapes, vibrant communities and thriving economies in the West, including Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Texas and Wyoming.

The conference will focus on three key collaborative conservation topics: watersheds, regional governance and cross-cultural collaboration.

Online registration closes on Aug. 26 with early-bird registration prices ending on July 31.

Confluence will be held at Chico Hot Springs in scenic Pray, Montana, for three days of intensive learning and connecting with other collaborative conservation practitioners.

Confluence attendees can participate in peer-to-peer learning sessions on measuring collaborative impacts; supporting emerging leadership; storytelling, communications and media; conservation finance; cross-cultural partnerships; and essential skills for a collaborator’s toolbox.

WCCN member Shauni Seccombe, a project manager at the Center for Natural Resources & Environmental Policy at the University of Montana, said the conference’s carefully chosen case studies, workshops, speakers and field trips ensure participants will be engaged in content that is both relatable and relevant to the “vital work that is collaborative conservation in the West,” with applications ranging from the local to national scale.

“With its emphasis on genuine human connection and peer-to-peer learning, Confluence 2022 will bring together various forms of knowledge, experience and understanding with the hope of strengthening our vision and capacity for a more sustainable, collaborative future.”

Along with the peer-to-peer workshops and keynotes, attendees will immerse themselves in the Montana landscape to learn about relevant case studies through field trips and discussion about Montana collaborative conservation efforts. View the summary agenda and content summary for more details about the topics that will be covered during the event.

Photo from http://trmurf.com/about/

The flight of the Nez Perce — USGS

Click the link to read the article on the USGS website:

Summer 2023 marks 146 years since the flight of the Nez Perce, when an indigenous tribe crossed Yellowstone in an attempt to reach Canada and during a running battle with the US army.

Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles is a weekly column written by scientists and collaborators of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. This week’s contribution is from Cole Messa, Ph.D. student and Professor Ken Sims, both in the Department of Geology and Geophysics at the University of Wyoming.

Throughout its history, Yellowstone has been frequented by numerous indigenous tribes. All of these groups have a unique and cherished tale bonding them with the land upon which Yellowstone sits, but perhaps one of the most harrowing and tragic recent stories is that of the Nez Perce (Nimiipu).

Photo of Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it (Chief Joseph) taken in November 1877 by O.S. Goff in Bismarck. From Wikipedia (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chief_Joseph-1877.jpg).

In the summer of 1877, the gold rush and a series of treaty miscommunications resulted in the Nez Perce being driven from their homeland of the Wallowa Mountains in Oregon. A group of about 800 Nez Perce decided to refuse relocation to the newly established reservation, instead opting to seek a new home, led by their soft-spoken and stoic leader, Hinmatóowyalahtq̓it (also known as Chief Joseph). The voyage was meant to be peaceful, but skirmishes with settlers inevitably ensued, often times manifesting as back-and-forth revenge for killings committed during prior encounters. As a result, the Nez Perce’s trek to discover a new home, safe from the relentless encroachment of an ever-growing nation, became marked by fear and bloodshed.

After an initial skirmish in Idaho, the U.S. Army began to pursue the band of Nez Perce on their march east from the Wallowa Mountains, first making contact at White Bird Battlefield in western Idaho on June 17, 1877. While the U.S. Army was being greeted by a 6-person peace party of Nez Perce carrying a while flag, a civilian volunteer opened fire, sparking a battle which resulted in heavy casualties and ignited the flight of the Nez Perce toward Canada. The Nez Perce would continue to encounter the U.S. Army on numerous occasions during their journey, including at the Clearwater Battlefield (northeastern Idaho) and the Big Hole Battlefield (western Montana), before the group entered Yellowstone National Park on August 23, 1877.

Stinging from their loses at the 1876 Battle of Greasy Grass, or as it also known, the Battle of the Little Bighorn, and determined to punish the Nez Perce to discourage other indigenous tribes who might consider rebelling against the rule of the United States, the Nez Perce were pursued by over 2,000 U.S. Army soldiers. Yellowstone was not foreign country to the Nez Perce, who often visited the park in pursuit of its abundant resources and wild game. While within the park, the Nez Perce encountered 25 tourists, and looting of supplies and multiple revenge killings occurred. Today, you can follow the path of the Nez Perce through Yellowstone National Park along park roads near Nez Perce Creek, Otter Creek, Nez Perce Ford, and Indian Pond. The Nez Perce forded the Yellowstone River at Nez Perce Ford, traveled through Pelican Valley and Hoodoo Basin, and passed over the Absaroka Mountains, finally exiting Yellowstone National Park to head north towards the Canadian border, where they hoped to find safety. Before they could reach their destination, the Nez Perce were stopped by the U.S. Army once more in the foothills of the Bear’s Paw Mountains of northern Montana, only 40 miles away from Canada.

Route followed by a band of Nez Perce (or, in their language, Nimiipu or Nee-Me-Poo) in 1877. A band of 800 men, women, and children—plus almost 2,000 horses—left their homeland in what is now Oregon and Idaho pursued by the US Army. The group crossed through Yellowstone National Park in their attempt to reach Canada, and they were ultimately captured by US Army forces in northern Montana. Courtesy of the National park Service Yellowstone Spatial Analysis Center (https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/historyculture/flightnezperce.htm).

This epic journey of the Nez Perce covered more than 1,170 miles across four states and multiple mountain ranges, and about 250 Nez Perce warriors held off the pursuing US Army troops in 18 battles, skirmishes, and engagements. Ultimately, hundreds of US soldiers and Nez Perce (including women and children) were killed in these conflicts before the Nez Perce surrendered, and Chief Joseph—one of the last surviving chiefs of the band—gave the now-famous speech* in which he said, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.” Some of the Nez Perce were able to reach Canada, but the rest, including Chief Joseph, accepted resettlement in numerous reservations throughout the American northwest. Chief Joseph would pass away in 1904 at the age of 64 on the Colville Indian Reservation (WA) of a “broken heart”, per his doctor’s account. He is buried near the village of Nespelem, WA.

Yellowstone National Park is a place of wonder, beauty, and almost spiritual significance to all who look upon its enchanting landscape. But long before western society encroached upon its borders, indigenous people revered this land for its resources and cultural importance. The next time you find yourself driving along Wyoming Highway 296, also known as the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, on your way to visit Yellowstone National Park, remember the flight, and plight, of the Nez Perce, who walked the very trail upon which you drive.

You can visit numerous Nez Perce Commemorative Sites of Nez Perce National Historical Park along the 1,170-mile Nez Perce National Historic Trail, stretching from Wallowa Lake, Oregon, to the Bear’s Paw Mountains, Montana. For more details, see https://www.nps.gov/nepe/index.htm.

North American Indian regional losses 1850 thru 1890.

Extreme #drought, #sawfly infestation cause wheat yields to plummet: CSU scientists are working on strains of drought- and bug-resistant wheat — The #Sterling Journal-Advocate

Peetz Town Hall via Armchair Explorer.

Click the link to read the article on the Sterling Journal-Advocate website (Jeff Rice). Here’s an excerpt:

Wheat production in northeast Colorado is down by half or more, according to reports from area grain elevators, and experts put the blame on .an exceptionally dry year and an infestation of wheat stem sawfly. Although no hard numbers are yet available – the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s field workers are gathering that information now – reports from elevators in Sterling, Julesburg, Peetz and Haxtun are estimating between 20 and 30 bushels per acre and, in some hard-hit areas, as little as three bushels per acre…

Nationwide, the USDA has projected harvests of around 47 bushels per acre, or about 8 percent less than normal. But here in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, an almost complete absence of moisture has driven that number down even further…

Colorado Drought Monitor map July 12, 2022.

According to the U.S. Drought Monitor released Thursday, northeast Colorado remains in the grip of a severe to extreme drought, wile moderate to severe drought conditions cover most of the rest of the state. The best drought conditions in the state are along the Front Range, where upslope conditions wring water out of moist air moving over the Rockies, although even there it is mostly abnormally dry…

As if the drought wasn’t bad enough, wheat farmers face an old bug with a new appetite. Meyer said wheat stem sawfly has actually been around eastern Colorado since the late 1800s, but kept mostly to hollow-stemmed prairie grasses. The fly lays eggs on grass stems and when the larva hatch, they burrow into the stem and work their way down until the cut the stem off near the ground. Over the past five years, Meyer said, the flies have discovered wheat and increasingly migrated into wheat fields. A tour of area wheat fields by this reporter over the past two weeks showed that some fields showed as much as 50 percent sawfly destruction.

The Supreme Court’s attack on tribal sovereignty, explained — @HighCountryNews

North American Indian regional losses 1850 thru 1890.

Click the link to read the article on the High Country News website (Nick Martin):

Four federal Indian law experts digest the Supreme Court’s ‘shocking‘ decision to grant state governments the power to prosecute crimes in Indian Country.

As part of its recent precedent-breaking spree, the U.S. Supreme Court turned federal Indian law on its head this week on Wednesday, June 29. In the case of Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta, a majority of five conservative justices sided with the state of Oklahoma, finding that state governments have the legal jurisdiction to prosecute non-Native citizens for crimes committed against Native citizens on sovereign tribal lands. The opinion, authored by Trump-appointed Justice Brett Kavanaugh, breaks with centuries of established federal Indian law. Until this decision, state law enforcement agencies could intervene in Indian Country crimes only by an act of Congress.

The Castro-Huerta case revisited questions of jurisdiction and sovereignty that were central to the landmark July 2020 case McGirt v. Oklahoma. That case concluded that Congress had never disestablished the reservations of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Seminole, Chickasaw and Muscogee Creek nations in Oklahoma — roughly half of the state’s present land base — and that individuals charged with crimes on tribal lands could be prosecuted by either federal or tribal officials. This latest case now narrows the court’s previous ruling on tribal sovereignty in McGirt, and inserts state jurisdiction, as well. As the author of the dissenting opinion, Justice Neil Gorsuch denounced the majority decision reached by his conservative colleagues. “This declaration comes as if by oracle, without any sense of the history recounted above and unattached to any colorable legal authority,” Gorsuch wrote. “Truly, a more ahistorical and mistaken statement of Indian law would be hard to fathom.”

High Country News spoke with four federal Indian law experts in an effort to unpack precisely what this new ruling means for the citizens and nations of Indian Country, and to better understand what the court’s willingness to eschew established precedent will mean for the health of Indigenous sovereignty in the months and years to come.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

High Country News: On Wednesday [July, 2022], the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta that the state of Oklahoma, and presumably all states, have jurisdiction to charge non-Natives committing crimes against Native citizens. How significant of a departure is this from existing precedent, where a state’s right to prosecute in Indian Country required an act of Congress?

Stacy Leeds (Cherokee Nation; foundation professor of law and leadership at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University). Photo credit: High Country News

Stacy Leeds (Cherokee Nation; foundation professor of law and leadership at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University): The ruling represents a shocking disregard for centuries of prior precedent and a profound disconnect from historical context. The most basic tenet for federal Indian law is that the power over Indian Affairs is consolidated with the federal government to the exclusion of the states.

The sweeping language in this case upends the very foundations of the field. The court casually states without citation to any legal authority.

Elizabeth Reese (Yunpoví; assistant professor of law, Stanford Law School): This decision is a sweeping change in Indian law. It flips precedent and existing presumptions on their head. Yesterday, the preemption was that states have no power over crimes in Indian Country. The narrow exception, from McBratney, that states have jurisdiction over non-Indian on non-Indian crime was always a bit of a puzzle, given how contrary its reasoning was to the rest of Indian law decisions. It was treated like an outlier, a case with fragile foundations that scholars would occasionally ask me to make sense of because it was so inconsistent with the rest of federal Indian law doctrine. The holding in this case is ostensibly limited to just non-Indian on Indian crimes, but its reasoning supports a new era where state authority over tribal lands is the default assumption. I barely recognize the federal Indian law or the American history described in the majority opinion — it’s just that off base.

Matthew Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; foundation professor of law and director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center, Michigan State University). Photo credit: High Country News

Matthew Fletcher (Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians; foundation professor of law and director of the Indigenous Law and Policy Center, Michigan State University): Castro-Huerta is a dramatic departure and cannot be reconciled with McGirt v. Oklahoma. The court seems to believe that the (1832) Worcester v. Georgia rule that state law has no force in Indian Country — one of the foundations of federal Indian law — is dead. It doesn’t point to any case that says that, so it cannot even point to a year when that general rule went away, but there it is. The majority is going back to what I call “Canary Textualism,” where the Supreme Court takes the lead on national Indian affairs policy instead of Congress or the tribes.

Bethany Berger (Wallace Stevens professor of law, UConn School of Law). Photo credit: High Country News

Bethany Berger (Wallace Stevens professor of law, UConn School of Law): It’s big. It rejects the established law taught to every federal prosecutor working in Indian Country, every law student studying federal Indian law, and agreed to by every state court considering the question.

HCN: I recognize there will be a litany of responses to this question that will be determined by the relationship between states and the bordering tribal nations, but what do you perceive as being the immediate effects of this decision for tribal citizens throughout Indian Country?

Leeds: Read in its most restrictive light, this case is only about state concurrent jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit crimes inside Indian Country. It may lead to more law enforcement confusion in the field because starting Oct. 1, when the expanded Violence Against Women Act kicks in, all three sovereigns will be recognized as having jurisdiction over some situations. Two of those situations, the federal and tribal jurisdiction are expressly provided for by Congress in various statutes. Only one of those situations springs anew by judicial fiat.

Read in its most expansive light, this case seems to support many types of state intrusion into Indian Country with the erasure of Indigenous nations and their rights to be governed by their own laws to the exclusion of state law. Tribal sovereignty is the right to make local laws and be ruled (only) by those local laws. Now it seems as if the court would support states’ rights to pass laws that tribes oppose and the barrier to state power would not be tribal sovereignty and express treaty rights, but instead, whether a case-by-case federal preemption analysis would keep the state at bay.

Reese: You are correct to flag that a lot will depend on what different states decide to do and their relationships with tribes. Immediately, however, this means that non-Indian crime on Indian crime — including the domestic violence cases that led to all the VAWA activism and reform over the last few decades — are now going to fall to the state and federal government. Increased state police presence could happen on tribal lands immediately, and tribal laws or federal law which previously may have shielded non-Indians from certain state law decisions are no longer a shield.

Fletcher: I don’t know that states and counties are going to swoop into Indian Country to subvert federal and tribal criminal justice prerogatives right away, but they could. Suddenly, without any preparation or cooperation, states and counties are a third sovereign in Indian Country. Who knows what could happen? Justice Gorsuch’s dissent provides an easy suggestion for Congress to fix the decision. Some state legislatures could choose — at tribal request — to stand down from exercising jurisdiction. And — though very unlikely given the history of conflict between sovereigns, states and counties — (it) could actually enhance Indian Country criminal jurisdiction.

Berger: It will mean that tribal citizens will face less protection and more abuse by police. We have years of studies of criminal justice on reservations where Congress gave states full criminal jurisdiction, and state jurisdiction just undermines support for tribal and federal systems without increasing effective responses to crime. Tribal victims are less likely to trust or report crimes to state police, and witnesses are less likely to work with them. But states don’t do the effective community policing that makes tribal citizens safer. The Castro-Huerta case is an example of this. For two years, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services had received reports of possible neglect of the victim in this case, a little girl with severe disabilities who could not feed herself and needed five bottles of specialized feeding a day. Her mother had several other children, and her stepfather, Mr. Castro-Huerta, was an immigrant who worked multiple jobs. It was only when Mr. Castro-Huerta and her mother — who had just given birth — brought the child to the emergency room that the state took her into custody. Oklahoma also never notified the girl’s tribe, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians in North Carolina, to seek their help in finding a better placement for the child. The state’s response — to arrest the stepfather and sentence him to 35 (years) — is sadly typical in cases involving state criminal jurisdiction in cases involving Indians, focusing just on punishment and not on effective prevention.

HCN: I have a two-parter to end on: First, do you anticipate that the politicization of the court and its ruling today will embolden more states and private entities to challenge the sovereign rights of tribal nations?

Leeds: Yes, this provides the road map for the extension of state power.

Reese: Unfortunately, yes. Tribal sovereignty is even more vulnerable when the court is willing to disregard precedent and history. I fear that this case demonstrates how Oklahoma’s campaign to claw back power was more persuasive to the court than its precedents — that, in the words of Justice Gorsuch in McGirt, that “rule of the strong, not the rule of law” is what we can expect from this five-justice majority.

Fletcher: Justice Kavanaugh’s majority opinion is his first major writing in an Indian law case and it’s not good for Indian Country. He’s firmly in the Scalia-Rehnquist camp of skepticism toward Indian tribes, skepticism toward congressional policy decisions in Indian affairs, and extreme deference to states’ preferences. He claims to be a textualist, but he is happy to deviate from the text to fulfill those political commitments. The jury is still out on Justice Coney Barrett, another justice who has stated a commitment to textualism (and even wrote about textualism in her work as a law scholar). Her opinion in the Ysleta del Sur Pueblo bingo case was a good omen. When she is confronted with relatively clear text, she doesn’t so easily give up on her commitment to textualism just because a state government complains. Her vote in Castro-Huerta is disconcerting, however. We don’t have a separate writing from her in that case so we can’t be sure, but it appears she approved of the assertion of judicial power that has wreaked havoc in Indian affairs since the 19th century.

This court is quite likely the most radically activist court in American history. The court’s overruling of Roe is the tip of the iceberg. The court struck down the separation of church and state as well. In the next term, it’ll strike down affirmative action in higher education as well. This is a self-proclaimed textualist court that gratuitously deviates from its methodological commitments to advance certain political commitments — deference to states, deference to the police, deference to mainstream religion, and extreme skepticism of racial, gender and sexual minorities.

Berger: States and private entities have never stopped challenging the sovereign rights of tribal nations. This case just shows that — after a handful of cases where tribal sovereignty and precedent seemed to get some respect — the Supreme Court remains a very dangerous place for tribal rights.

HCN: And the second part: Given this is our bench for the foreseeable future, how much faith can those invested in the long-term political and legal strength of tribal nations truly put in this court? Particularly, I am thinking about Brackeen v. Haaland, the state-backed Indian Child Welfare Act challenge, among others. Put simply, can tribal citizens (and electeds and attorneys, etc.) trust SCOTUS after this decision?

Reese: Very little and no. I join the growing chorus of legal experts who are criticizing the faith we’ve put in the Supreme Court — particularly since Brown v. Board of Education — to be a guardian of law and the moral arc of the universe’s bend toward justice. We’ve given them a lot of power by putting so much faith in them. Far too much, I think. It’s time to stop waiting for the court to fix things or hoping that the best legal argument will prevail. It’s time to start talking about institutional reform to the Supreme Court, and to the Constitution broadly.

Fletcher: I would not trust this Court much at all, but that’s been true for the entire history of the United States. What makes this Court worse, however, is the extremity of its radicalism and lack of discipline. Nothing is sacred to this Court.

Berger: Given how much easier it is for the Justices to sympathize with states and non-Indians than with tribes and tribal citizens, trusting SCOTUS was never a safe move. For a few years starting in 2016, the Court seemed to be actually paying attention to precedent and the realities of life in tribal communities, and this breaks from that. It’s a bad sign for Brackeen, but that case always played into a lot of justices’ biases. But the choices facing tribes and their citizens are still the same: Try to stay out of the court, and try to make the best case possible if you have to go.

Nick Martin is an associate editor for HCN’s Indigenous Affairs desk and a member of the Sappony Tribe of North Carolina. We welcome reader letters. Email him at nick.martin@hcn.org or submit a letter to the editor. See our letters to the editor policy.

First image from the James Webb Telescope

Happy Fourth of July

Mrs. Gulch’s apple pie for today’s celebration.

Mrs. Gulch’s apple pie for today’s celebration.

#Climate data on top of the world: #Central #Wyoming College students trek to Everest — WyoFile.com

CWC ICCE Everest team member Red Thunder Spoonhunter, with a Northern Arapaho flag, and Adina Scott, engineer with the all-Black Full Circle climbing team, on Everest. (CWC ICCE Everest team)

Click the link to read the article on the WyoFile website (Katie Klingsporn):

he alpinist team Full Circle made international headlines when it became the first all-Black expedition to summit Mount Everest in May.

Full Circle’s accomplishment was widely celebrated. What was lost in much of the coverage, however, was this detail: Five college students from central Wyoming trekked to base camp to help Full Circle test climate sensor technology.

The Wyoming group, affiliated with the Central Wyoming College’s Interdisciplinary Climate Change Expedition program, included two Eastern Shoshone students, two Northern Arapaho students and one bike shop mechanic who’s the first in his family to go to college.

Members of the CWC ICCE Everest team hike toward the Himalayas. (CWC ICCE Everest team)

On the expedition, they met Full Circle’s climbers, tested emerging technology that may provide clearer data on high-altitude climate change and visited communities dealing with impacts of a changing climate. It was eye-opening, said Ryan Towne, the bike mechanic.

“The communities who are least responsible for climate change do not deserve to bear the brunt of its consequences,” he said. “Whatever we can do, as a school, as a community, to spread awareness for these cultures and their struggles is, you know, all that I can hope for.”

The young adults also had an adventure of a lifetime touring the vibrant city of Kathmandu, sharing meals with Nepali hosts, hiking into the thin Himalayan air and bonding as friends. They played a role in a historic achievement that felt singular in its own merit.

“I can say that I, a Native American female, have reached Everest base camp conducting climate change research,” student Jada Antelope wrote about the trip. “For this, I am beyond proud…”

An Everest expedition arises

Central Wyoming College’s ICCE program launched in 2014. The undergraduate research program weaves together science and outdoor education skills, and its students have undertaken expeditions to Tanzania (in partnership with the National Outdoor Leadership School), the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route and the Wind River Range.

The Everest project started as a nebulous concept and narrowed into focus only a couple months before it took place, said Jacki Klancher, director of instruction and research at CWC’s Alpine Science Institute, who wrangled the expedition. It spawned in part out of Klancher’s relationships with Full Circle members Phil Henderson and James “KG” Kagambi — all three have worked for Lander-based NOLS.

In conversations with the climbers ahead of their Everest attempt, Klancher said, the concept of a CWC student team came up. “They embraced us,” she said. “And the idea was we work with them to get their electrical engineer help testing some tech that we wanted to test.”

The concept of beta testing climate sensors, meanwhile, has roots in a NASA National Space Grant Consortium meeting in Jackson Hole in October, where young and promising STEM scientists gathered, Klancher said. That’s where she put out the message that she was seeking a portable climate sensor, something she has been wanting for some time for Alpine Science Institute programs.

“I was like, ‘y’all, all I want is a portable location-enabled temperature and [relative-humidity] sensor. Can anybody help?’” she said. That led to conversations with scientists from universities like Penn State, as well as the company MeteoTracker, who showed interest in developing prototypes.

As those conversations evolved and with a green light from Full Circle, Klancher next set out to secure funding and assemble a team. Several funders, such as Wyoming NASA Space Grant Consortium and Wyoming EPSCoR, backed the project. In selecting students, she first turned to program veterans like Towne and Aidan Darissa Hereford, who had ridden in the bike trek, and Red Thunder Spoonhunter, who was on the Tanzania expedition.

When Klancher first proposed the expedition, Hereford said, she was reluctant. Hereford was unsure about traveling abroad during a pandemic for one, she said.

“It seemed pretty scary,” she said. “So I was just debating on it for … about a week. [Then] I thought ‘why not? Just go for it. This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance.’”

Antelope, who along with Spoonhunter is Northern Arapaho, and Antoine Day, who like Hereford is Eastern Shoshone, rounded out the team.

Once the team solidified, Klancher and the students scrambled to apply for funding, train for high altitude trekking, expedite passport applications and secure requisite vaccinations with barely any time to spare.

On April 25, they left Fremont County on the first leg of an enormous journey. In the end, base camp occupied two days of their experience-rich three-week adventure.

Travel weary and trekking

After a ride on a triple-decker plane and a long layover in Dubai, the students landed in the teeming city of Kathmandu on April 28, jet-lagged from the 12-hour time difference. They spent a couple days touring temples and negotiating the incessant city traffic before riding a helicopter to the precarious Lukla airport. From Lukla, a carless city roved instead by yaks and trekkers, they set out on foot. They hiked for 10 days, stopping at tea houses, learning Nepali words from their guides and experiencing the countryside one step at a time.

“It was really surreal,” Hereford said. “And it was really nice to see, like, the villages and see how they live and how things are just really different over there.”

Jada Antelope perches on a boulder at Everest base camp with the Northern Arapaho flag. (CWC ICCE Everest team)

Each day was vibrant, Klancher said. “It was spectacular — tea houses and people and culture and the landscape. It felt like we did a month’s worth of living in those 10 days.”

The expedition wasn’t without trials. The team had to manage a gamut of illnesses — including acute mountain sickness, which felled Hereford — and contend with foul weather.

Members healthy enough to keep hiking reached base camp on May 9. It was a different world at 17,600 feet, Day said. “Base camp is tent city, tents everywhere,” he said, with constant helicopter traffic overhead.

There, they met the Full Circle team and hiked to the ice fields. They partnered with Adina Scott, a Full Circle researcher and engineer, to work with the sensor prototypes, and Towne carried one on the trek down.

After two nights at base camp, the students started the journey home. Full Circle reached the summit of Everest on May 12.

It was a wild ride. But reminders of home helped bridge the familiar with the foreign, Hereford said. “What I really loved the most was waking up every day and smelling … over here in our community, you know, we burn sweetgrass … and so it smelled like that every morning, but they called that juniper.” One thing that helped her through her altitude sickness, she said, was eating a Nepali version of fry bread.

Crunching data, telling the tale

The team returned on May 19. In early June, members were still processing the adventure, and hadn’t yet determined the quality of the data the prototypes collected or the technology’s potential.

“We were successful in doing what we wanted to do, which was to partner with Full Circle to beta test these prototype units and go, ‘Can these things even do what MeteoTracker says?’” Klancher said.

Not knowing the answer to that immediately illustrates the long and sometimes painstaking process of science, she said

Aidan Hereford and Antoine Day on the trek. (CWC ICCE Everest team)

“So, you know, like people asked, ‘What did you learn?’ It’s like, well, we didn’t solve climate change for all time and save the Nepalese and 1.6 billion people from surface water crises,” Klancher said. Instead, they tested an idea, and will offer feedback in an attempt to improve the devices and ultimately the science, Klancher and Day said.

It’s “baby steps,” Klancher said, that one day could lead to, for instance, Sherpas carrying the units to gauge high-altitude climate conditions.

“Did we meet my objectives of diversity, equity, inclusion in STEM? We did,” she said. “Did we educate students and help provide them with professional preparation…? Yes. Did we contribute to climate and water science data and tech? Yes. Did we work on a ton of partnerships…? Yes.

“And did we have a blast? Yes,” Klancher said. The team was a delight, she said. “These guys just figured it out and laughed so much. …I did not have to do a lot of interpersonal group management … It was kind of the magic group.”

The students will present on their expedition in September in Riverton, and Day will curate a photography exhibit of images he took later in the fall.

Their school custodian was doing a mic-check for assembly… — @RexChapman

Too close for comfort! Members of Ferdinand Hayden’s Survey stand precariously close to @YellowstoneNPS Old Faithful Geyser erupting, circa 1878 — USGS

Too close for comfort! Members of Ferdinand Hayden’s Survey stand precariously close to @YellowstoneNPS Old Faithful Geyser erupting, circa 1878. Photo credit: William Henry Jackson

More on the early surveys can be found here: https://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1050/pdf/CIRC1050.pdf?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=71d2e8e7-ca66-42be-8e2e-884d17ed9d62&utm_content=&utm_campaign=usgs.

Despite all the bad days and mean people, I still believe in good days and kind people. Plus, there are always dogs — @tinybuddha

Coyote Gulch and Olive 2021

AI and machine learning are improving weather forecasts, but they won’t replace human experts — The Conversation


Meteorologist Todd Dankers monitors weather patterns in Boulder, Colorado, Oct. 24, 2018.
Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Russ Schumacher, Colorado State University and Aaron Hill, Colorado State University

A century ago, English mathematician Lewis Fry Richardson proposed a startling idea for that time: constructing a systematic process based on math for predicting the weather. In his 1922 book, “Weather Prediction By Numerical Process,” Richardson tried to write an equation that he could use to solve the dynamics of the atmosphere based on hand calculations.

It didn’t work because not enough was known about the science of the atmosphere at that time. “Perhaps some day in the dim future it will be possible to advance the computations faster than the weather advances and at a cost less than the saving to mankind due to the information gained. But that is a dream,” Richardson concluded.

A century later, modern weather forecasts are based on the kind of complex computations that Richardson imagined – and they’ve become more accurate than anything he envisioned. Especially in recent decades, steady progress in research, data and computing has enabled a “quiet revolution of numerical weather prediction.”

For example, a forecast of heavy rainfall two days in advance is now as good as a same-day forecast was in the mid-1990s. Errors in the predicted tracks of hurricanes have been cut in half in the last 30 years.

There still are major challenges. Thunderstorms that produce tornadoes, large hail or heavy rain remain difficult to predict. And then there’s chaos, often described as the “butterfly effect” – the fact that small changes in complex processes make weather less predictable. Chaos limits our ability to make precise forecasts beyond about 10 days.

As in many other scientific fields, the proliferation of tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning holds great promise for weather prediction. We have seen some of what’s possible in our research on applying machine learning to forecasts of high-impact weather. But we also believe that while these tools open up new possibilities for better forecasts, many parts of the job are handled more skillfully by experienced people.

Australian meteorologist Dean Narramore explains why it’s hard to forecast large thunderstorms.

Predictions based on storm history

Today, weather forecasters’ primary tools are numerical weather prediction models. These models use observations of the current state of the atmosphere from sources such as weather stations, weather balloons and satellites, and solve equations that govern the motion of air.

These models are outstanding at predicting most weather systems, but the smaller a weather event is, the more difficult it is to predict. As an example, think of a thunderstorm that dumps heavy rain on one side of town and nothing on the other side. Furthermore, experienced forecasters are remarkably good at synthesizing the huge amounts of weather information they have to consider each day, but their memories and bandwidth are not infinite.

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help with some of these challenges. Forecasters are using these tools in several ways now, including making predictions of high-impact weather that the models can’t provide.

In a project that started in 2017 and was reported in a 2021 paper, we focused on heavy rainfall. Of course, part of the problem is defining “heavy”: Two inches of rain in New Orleans may mean something very different than in Phoenix. We accounted for this by using observations of unusually large rain accumulations for each location across the country, along with a history of forecasts from a numerical weather prediction model.

We plugged that information into a machine learning method known as “random forests,” which uses many decision trees to split a mass of data and predict the likelihood of different outcomes. The result is a tool that forecasts the probability that rains heavy enough to generate flash flooding will occur.

We have since applied similar methods to forecasting of tornadoes, large hail and severe thunderstorm winds. Other research groups are developing similar tools. National Weather Service forecasters are using some of these tools to better assess the likelihood of hazardous weather on a given day.

Two maps showing a machine learning forecast and actual flooding in the mid-Atlantic states after Hurricane Ida in 2021.
An excessive rainfall forecast from the Colorado State University-Machine Learning Probabilities system for the extreme rainfall associated with the remnants of Hurricane Ida in the mid-Atlantic states in September 2021. The left panel shows the forecast probability of excessive rainfall, available on the morning of Aug. 31, more than 24 hours ahead of the event. The right panel shows the resulting observations of excessive rainfall. The machine learning program correctly highlighted the corridor where widespread heavy rain and flooding would occur.
Russ Schumacher and Aaron Hill, CC BY-ND

Researchers also are embedding machine learning within numerical weather prediction models to speed up tasks that can be intensive to compute, such as predicting how water vapor gets converted to rain, snow or hail.

It’s possible that machine learning models could eventually replace traditional numerical weather prediction models altogether. Instead of solving a set of complex physical equations as the models do, these systems instead would process thousands of past weather maps to learn how weather systems tend to behave. Then, using current weather data, they would make weather predictions based on what they’ve learned from the past.

Some studies have shown that machine learning-based forecast systems can predict general weather patterns as well as numerical weather prediction models while using only a fraction of the computing power the models require. These new tools don’t yet forecast the details of local weather that people care about, but with many researchers carefully testing them and inventing new methods, there is promise for the future.

Maps of an evolving machine learning forecast for an outbreak of severe weather in the US Midwest in December 2021.
A forecast from the Colorado State University-Machine Learning Probabilities system for the severe weather outbreak on Dec. 15, 2021, in the U.S. Midwest. The panels illustrate the progression of the forecast from eight days in advance (lower right) to three days in advance (upper left), along with reports of severe weather (tornadoes in red, hail in green, damaging wind in blue).
Russ Schumacher and Aaron Hill, CC BY-ND

The role of human expertise

There are also reasons for caution. Unlike numerical weather prediction models, forecast systems that use machine learning are not constrained by the physical laws that govern the atmosphere. So it’s possible that they could produce unrealistic results – for example, forecasting temperature extremes beyond the bounds of nature. And it is unclear how they will perform during highly unusual or unprecedented weather phenomena.

And relying on AI tools can raise ethical concerns. For instance, locations with relatively few weather observations with which to train a machine learning system may not benefit from forecast improvements that are seen in other areas.

Another central question is how best to incorporate these new advances into forecasting. Finding the right balance between automated tools and the knowledge of expert human forecasters has long been a challenge in meteorology. Rapid technological advances will only make it more complicated.

Ideally, AI and machine learning will allow human forecasters to do their jobs more efficiently, spending less time on generating routine forecasts and more on communicating forecasts’ implications and impacts to the public – or, for private forecasters, to their clients. We believe that careful collaboration between scientists, forecasters and forecast users is the best way to achieve these goals and build trust in machine-generated weather forecasts.The Conversation

Russ Schumacher, Associate Professor of Atmospheric Science and Colorado State Climatologist, Colorado State University and Aaron Hill, Research Scientist, Colorado State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

R.I.P. Vangelis “Whenever the running man awakes”

Vangelis in 2012 with stars of the stage adaptation of Chariots of Fire. By Markdawson7 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20464114

Click the link to read the obituary from The New York Times website (Richard Sandomir):

Vangelis, the Greek film composer and synthesizer virtuoso whose soaring music for “Chariots of Fire,” the 1981 movie about two British runners in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, won the Academy Award for best original score, died on Tuesday in Paris. He was 79…

A self-taught musician, Vangelis (pronounced vang-GHELL-iss), who was born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou, recorded solo albums and wrote music for television and for films including “Blade Runner” (1982), “Missing” (1982) and “1492: Conquest of Paradise” (1992). But he remains best known for scoring “Chariots of Fire.”

The most familiar part of that score — modern electronic music composed for a period film — was heard during the opening credits: a blend of acoustic piano and synthesizer that provided lush, pulsating accompaniment to the sight of about two dozen young men running in slow motion on a nearly empty beach, mud splattering their white shirts and shorts, pain and exhilaration creasing their faces.

Vangelis’s music became as popular as the film itself, directed by Hugh Hudson, which won four Oscars, including best picture. The opening song, also called “Chariots of Fire,” was released as a single and spent 28 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including a week at No. 1. The soundtrack album remained on the Billboard 200 chart for 30 weeks and spent four weeks in the top spot. Vangelis said the score immediately came to him as he watched the film in partly edited form…

He was working at the time in his London studio with a Yamaha CS-80 synthesizer.

“It’s the most important synthesizer in my career and the best analog synthesizer design there has ever been,” he told Prog, an alternative music website, in 2016, adding, “It’s the only synthesizer I could describe as being a real instrument.”

R.I.P. Dennis Gallagher: “#Denver is a duller town today” #NorthSide

Dennis Gallagher officiating the Gulch’s wedding vow renewal celebration at the Baldpate Inn in Estes Park June 2003.

Click the link to read Westword’s obituary (Patricia Calhoun). Here’s an excerpt:

Denver is a duller town today. Dennis Gallagher passed away on Friday, April 22, after a short illness. He was 82. Word spread quickly through this city where he was born and raised, this city he’d devoted his life to serving. He did so everywhere from the Colorado Legislature to Denver City Council to the Denver Auditor’s Office, from classrooms to coffeehouses.

Gallagher grew up in north Denver and graduated from Regis University, where he taught off and on for forty years after getting a master’s degree from the Catholic University of America in 1967. Just three years later, he was elected to the legislature…he was still always out in public, hosting his St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, offering tours of cemeteries and other spots around town, and opining on just about everything, with that impish Irish wit and great, deep voice…He seemingly knew everything about Denver and everyone in it, past and present….

Dennis Gallagher’s world was this city. And for so many, he was this city.

#EarthDay 2022

Mammatus clouds, associated with strong convection, grace a sunset over Fort Collins, Colorado, home of the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere at Colorado State University. Photo credit: Steve Miller/CIRA

Water Planet

The abundance of water on Earth has shaped nearly every aspect of our lives, even if we are not directly aware of it. Using data sets from a variety of sources, including NOAA and NASA, water is shown to be the primary driver of Earth’s dynamic systems. It is the source of all life on the planet, which is astounding, considering just how rare and precious Earth’s fresh water resources are

Home court for #Colorado #climate lawsuits — @BigPivots #ActOnClimate

Suncor refinery Commerce City. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Click the link to read the article on the Big Pivots website (Allen Best):

San Miguel County and Boulder lawsuits against two oil companies will be heard in Colorado. That helps. But these cases will still have an uphill struggle to prove damages that might seem obvious.

Colorado has abundant evidence of destruction caused by the warming, and more volatile, climate. Wildfires, ever larger and more destructive, now happen year-round, including the ghastly Marshall Fire of late December and the much smaller fires of recent weeks. Rising temperatures have robbed flows from the Colorado River, from which Boulder and Boulder County get substantial amounts of water. Air conditioning has become more necessity than luxury.

But can Boulder and other jurisdictions show harm from burning of fossil fuels — the primary cause of warming — in their climate liability lawsuits against oil companies?

Marshall Fire December 30, 2021. Photo credit: Boulder County

In 2018, Boulder (both the city and the county) as well as San Miguel County sued two oil giants, ExxonMobil and Suncor. These Colorado cases are among more than 20 climate lawsuits now in courts from Hawaii to Massachusetts. They’re the only cases from an inland state claiming actual damages from climate change — and after a recent legal victory, they could be among the first where substantive arguments are heard in court. (Only Honolulu’s case is on a faster track.)

Despite all the evidence of climate destruction, the legal case will be challenging, according to Pat Parenteau, a professor of environmental law at Vermont Law School.

“In a court of law, you have to prove by the preponderance of evidence and you have to convince the jury, all 12 of them,” says Parenteau, who has advised some parties who filed similar lawsuits, but is not currently involved directly in the litigation.

He points to the difficulty of pinning health impacts on tobacco companies in the 1990s. “Cigarettes kill people. Global warming, per se, kills people: Heat waves kill people. High tides kill people.”

Proving responsibility in a courtroom will be the tricky part. “There are multiple links in the causal change that you have to prove with climate change,” Parenteau says. “It was difficult enough to prove with tobacco. It never was proven [in court]. It was just settled. Just imagine how difficult it is for climate change.”

Suncor operates a refinery in Commerce City northeast of downtown Denver that processes 98,000 barrels of oil daily. “We purchase crude oil from the Denver-Julesburg Basin, process it in Commerce City, and sell nearly 95% of our products within the state,” Suncor’s website says.

Exxon’s private prediction of the future growth of carbon dioxide levels (left axis) and global temperature relative to 1982 (right axis). Elsewhere in its report, Exxon noted that the most widely accepted science at the time indicated that doubling carbon dioxide levels would cause a global warming of 3°C. Illustration: 1982 Exxon internal briefing document

Exxon has no refinery in Colorado, but it does sell fuel in the state.

“They are the two most consequential oil companies in Colorado, given their local operations,” says Marco Simons, the lead attorney with EarthRights International, the organization representing the three jurisdictions in Colorado.

So far, the arguments in the Colorado cases (and others) have been about process, namely where the cases should be tried.

In legal cases, as in basketball, home court matters. This is likely why Exxon and Suncor wanted lawsuits filed against them by Boulder and San Miguel heard in federal courts instead of Colorado district courts.
“Basically, their argument was that you can’t let state law allow these people to seek remedy before climate change injury when federal law doesn’t provide that remedy,” Simons explains.

The oil companies lost that round. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit ruled on Feb. 8 that the two lawsuits should be heard in Colorado. The court then ordered, on March 2, for that mandate to take effect.

“The court is basically saying there’s nothing wrong with using ordinary state law to hold oil companies accountable to their contribution to climate change,’” says Simons. “That does not in any way violate federal law. It’s not something inappropriate for states to do.”

arenteau agrees there is value to the climate cases being heard in state courts. The empirical evidence is clear: “Where do the states and cities find the best success? It’s in their own courts. The faster these cases get back to state courts from federal courts, the better.”

Colorado’s cases, originally filed as one, have been separated. San Miguel County’s case is to be heard in Denver District Court, and the Boulder and Boulder County case in Boulder County District Court.

Telluride. San Miguel County alleges damages to its skiing economy at Telluride. The case will be heard in Denver District Court.

Home-court advantage goes only so far. Attorneys for EarthRights International must now prove that the fossil fuels sold by Suncor and ExxonMobil in Colorado have produced damages from a changing climate to the local jurisdictions.

While many legal analysts say that will be difficult to prove, some observers think the Colorado lawsuits could be successful, even short of total courtroom victories.

One of those making that case is Cara Horowitz, co-executive director of the Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment, a program embedded in the law school at the University of California Los Angeles. She has coordinated with counsel for several jurisdictions in California that filed climate change lawsuits in 2017, but is no longer involved in those other climate liability cases.

“On an even more deep level, one goal that the plaintiffs have across the set of cases is undermining the social license of the corporations to do what they have been doing for decades,” says Horowitz. “They just need one good victory to hang their hats on.”

That could help supporters of these suits win verdicts in the court of public opinion.

Neither Suncor nor Exxon responded to requests for comment, but the premise of the fossil fuel companies is that they have been doing nothing wrong by peddling gasoline, diesel and other fossil fuel products.

Climate change-related lawsuits have been filed since the mid-1980s. Early lawsuits generally sought to force actions by state governments and federal agencies. The most notable such case is Massachusetts v. EPA, which resulted in the Supreme Court’s landmark 2007 decision that gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency authority to regulate carbon pollution under the Clean Air Act. Other lawsuits, such as Connecticut vs. American Electric Power in 2011, targeted energy companies. For complex legal reasons, these cases using federal courts have struggled to go forward.

Investigative reports in 2015 by Inside Climate News and independent work by the Los Angeles Times about ExxonMobil, the world’s largest oil and gas company, were important in triggering the wave of lawsuits of the last five years. The journalists showed that the oil giant misled the public about what it knew about climate change and the risks posed by fossil fuel emissions decades ago. The investigative series were based largely on the company’s internal records.

Since then have come a wave of lawsuits by state and local governments.

California jurisdictions — first Marin and San Mateo counties along with the city of Imperial Beach in July 2017, followed by Oakland and San Francisco that September — were at the forefront of suits by state and local governments. Currently pending are lawsuits filed by seven states and the District of Columbia and 19 by cities and counties, according to the Center for Climate Integrity.

These lawsuits fall into primarily two overlapping buckets. The two cases in Colorado fall into both.

In one bucket of lawsuits are claims of fraud and deception by oil companies, primarily by Exxon. The second bucket consists of suits alleging the oil companies have created “nuisances” that have caused damages. In the Colorado cases, local governments have suffered harm as a result, the lawsuits say.

“It’s about fundamental principles of tort law that basically boil down to, ‘If you harm someone, you have to pay for it,’” explains Simons, the EarthRights attorney.

Brad Udall: Here’s the latest version of my 4-Panel plot thru Water Year (Oct-Sep) of 2021 of the Colorado River big reservoirs, natural flows, precipitation, and temperature. Data (PRISM) goes back or 1906 (or 1935 for reservoirs.) This updates previous work with @GreatLakesPeck.

The 2018 lawsuits for the Colorado jurisdictions cite many climate impacts from fossil fuels. Rising temperatures will affect water supplies. Emergency management services will have to be ramped up because of increased wildfires, heavy rainfall and other extreme weather events. Warmer temperatures will worsen the already problematic ground-level ozone in Boulder County.

This car in Superior was among the victims of the Marshall Fire in late December 2021 that burned 1,084 homes and caused 30,000 residents of Superior and Louisville to flee. Photo/Allen Best

Some increased costs have already occurred, the lawsuit filed by the three Colorado jurisdictions in 2018 says. It points to the West Nile virus spread by mosquitoes amid rising temperatures. Prior to 2002, Boulder had no mosquito control program. That was the year the virus first appeared in Colorado. After that, costs of mosquito abatement grew steadily. By 2018 mosquito management nicked the city budget roughly $250,000. In Boulder County, the cost approached $400,000.

Buildings will have to be modified, the lawsuit says. “Due to the expected continued heat rise in Boulder County, a place that historically rarely saw days above 95 degrees, Boulder County and the City of Boulder are expected to see increased public health heat risks, such as heat stroke, and their associated costs,” the lawsuit filed in 2018 says.

This increasing heat, the lawsuit continues, will drive up costs, such as that of cooling infrastructure for buildings. “Cooling centers that are available during heat waves, and/or assisting with home air-conditioning installation, could cost Boulder County and the City of Boulder millions of dollars by mid-century.”

The lawsuit cites the $37.7 million of a $575.5 school construction bond for the Boulder Valley School District used for air-conditioning and better ventilation.

How the Colorado cases are different

Colorado’s lawsuits were the first filed in an interior state. Even now, the only other states without coastlines to have filed climate change lawsuits against oil companies are Minnesota and Vermont. They claim fraud. That makes the Colorado cases the only ones claiming damages.

This duality, an inland state claiming actual damages from climate change, sets Colorado’s cases apart from all others.

“It’s easy to imagine a city like Miami or other coastal cities being imperiled by climate change,” says Horowitz, the UCLA law professor. “The Boulder case is helping to illustrate that even inland cities, cities in the middle of America, are being harmed by climate change.”

One long-sought goal of the litigation is getting to what in courts is called the discovery phase. That’s the stage where documents, emails, other correspondence and information related to the suits could reach the public and prove devastating to the company. (That is essentially what happened to the tobacco industry, with the release of memos and documents in discovery.)

Horowitz, the law professor in Los Angeles, expects the filings and rulings to accelerate. “You will start to get state court decisions sooner rather than later, by which I mean probably in the next year,” she says. Appeals will follow, but these Colorado cases — and those similarly proceeding in other states — will move along.

“I wouldn’t think it will take five to 10 years,” she says.
And the fact that Colorado has no beach-front property could spur other similar cases. Sea level rise is not imminently threatening Boulder the way it is in Imperial Beach, a city of 26,000 people near San Diego that has also filed a climate change lawsuit.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if more jurisdictions realize they will need help in funding climate change adaptation,” Horowitz says, “and the fossil fuel companies are logical places to look as sources for that funding.”

This story was prepared in collaboration with the Boulder Reporting Lab, whose editing and suggestions enormously improved the story.

Congratulations, soon to be Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson

Ketanji Brown Jackson via the White House. Photo credit: Lelanie Foster, a young black photographer from the Bronx

Click the link to read the remarks from President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson on the White House website:

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Good morning. Good morning. (Applause.) Good morning, America. (Laughs.) Have a seat, please.

President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, members of Congress, members of the Cabinet, members of our administration, and friends and fellow Americans: Today is, indeed, a wonderful day — (applause) — as we gather to celebrate the confirmation of the next justice of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)

President George Washington once referred to America as a “great experiment” — a nation founded on the previously untested belief that the people — we, the people — could form a more perfect union. And that belief has pushed our nation forward for generations. And it is that belief that we reaffirmed yesterday — (applause) — through the confirmation of the first Black woman to the United States Supreme Court. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Whoa! It’s about time!

THE VICE PRESIDENT: And, Judge Jackson, you will inspire generations of leaders. They will watch your confirmation hearings and read your decisions.

In the years to come, the Court will answer fundamental questions about who we are and what kind of country we live in: Will we expand opportunity or restrict it? Will we strengthen the foundations of our great democracy or let them crumble? Will we move forward or backward?

The young leaders of our nation will learn from the experience, the judgment, the wisdom that you, Judge Jackson, will apply in every case that comes before you. And they will see, for the first time, four women sitting on that Court at one time. (Applause.)

So, as a point of personal privilege, I will share with you, Judge Jackson, that when I presided over the Senate confirmation vote yesterday, while I was sitting there, I drafted a note to my goddaughter. And I told her that I felt such a deep sense of pride and joy and about what this moment means for our nation and for her future. And I will tell you, her braids are just a little longer than yours. (Laughter.)

But as I wrote to her, I told her what I knew this would mean for her life and all that she has in terms of potential.

So, indeed, the road toward our more perfect union is not always straight, and it is not always smooth. But sometimes it leads to a day like today — (applause) — a day that reminds us what is possible — what is possible when progress is made and that the journey — well, it will always be worth it.

So let us not forget that, as we celebrate this day, we are also here in great part because of one President, Joe Biden — (applause) — and — (laughs) — and because of Joe Biden’s vision and leadership and commitment — a lifelong commitment — to building a better America.

And, of course, we are also here because of the voices and the support of so many others, many of whom are in this audience today.

And with that, it is now my extreme and great honor to introduce our President, Joe Biden. (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Kamala. Thank you, thank you, thank you. The first really smart decision I made in this administration. (Laughter.)

My name is Joe Biden. Please, sit down. I’m Jill’s husband — (laughter) — and Naomi Biden’s grandfather.

And, folks, you know, yesterday — this is not only a sunny day. I mean this from the bottom of my heart: This is going to let so much shine — sun shine on so many young women, so many young Black women — (applause) — so many minorities, that it’s real. It’s real.

We’re going to look back — nothing to do with me — we’re going to look back and see this as a moment of real change in American history.

I was on the phone this morning, Jesse, with President Ramaphosa of South Africa. And he was talking about how — the time that I was so outspoken about what was going on and my meeting with Nelson Mandela here. And I said, “You know” — I said, “I’m shortly going to go out,” look- — I’m looking out the window — “I’m going to go out in this — what they call the South Lawn of the White House, and I’m going to introduce to the world — to the world — the first African American woman out of over 200 judges on the Supreme Court.” And he said to me — he said, “Keep it up.” (Laughter.) “Keep it up.” (Applause.) We’re going to keep it up.

And, folks, yesterday we all witnessed a truly historic moment presided over by the Vice President. There are moments, if people go back in history, and they’re literally historic, consequential, fundamental shifts in American policy.

Today, we’re joined by the First Lady, the Second Gentleman, and members of the Cabinet, the Senate Majority Leader. Where — there you are, Chuck. The Senate Majority Leader. And so many who made this possible.

But — and today is a good day, a day that history is going to remember. And in the years to come, they’re going to be proud of what we did, and which (inaudible) — Dick Durbin did as the chairman of the committee. (Applause.) I’m serious, Dick. I’m deadly earnest when I say that.

To turn to our children and grandchildren and say, “I was there.” “I was there.” That — this is one of those moments, in my view.

My fellow Americans, today I’m honored to officially introduce to you the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)

After more than 20 hours of questioning at her hearing and nearly 100 meetings — she made herself available to every single senator who wanted to speak to her and spoke for more than just a few minutes, answered their questions, in private as well as before the committee — we all saw the kind of justice she’ll be: Fair and impartial. Thoughtful. Careful. Precise. Precise. Brilliant. A brilliant legal mind with deep knowledge of the law. And a judicial temperament — which was equally important, in my view — that’s calm and in command. And a humility that allows so many Americans to see themselves in Ketanji Brown Jackson.

That brings a rare combination of expertise and qualifications to the Court. A federal judge who has served on the second most powerful court in America behind the Supreme Court. A former federal public defender with the — (applause) — with the ability to explain complicated issues in the law in ways everybody — all people — can understand. A new perspective.

When I made the commitment to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court, I could see this day. I literally could see this day, because I thought about it for a long, long time. As Jill and Naomi would tell you, I wasn’t going to run again. But when I decided to run, this was one of the first decisions I made. I could see it. I could see it as a day of hope, a day of promise, a day of progress; a day when, once again, the moral arc of the universe, as Barack used to quote all the time, bends just a little more toward justice.

I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but I knew the person I nominated would be put through a painful and difficult confirmation process. But I have to tell you, what Judge Jackson was put through was well beyond that. There was verbal abuse. The anger. The constant interruptions. The most vile, baseless assertions and accusations.

In the face of it all, Judge Jackson showed the incredible character and integrity she possesses. (Applause.) Poise. Poise and composure. Patience and restraint. And, yes, perseverance and even joy. (Applause.) Even joy.

Ketanji — or I can’t — I’m not going to be calling you that in public anymore. (Laughter.) Judge, you are the very definition of what we Irish refer to as dignity. You have enormous dignity. And it communicates to people. It’s contagious. And it matters. It matters a lot.

Maybe that’s not surprising if you looked to who sat behind her during those hearings — her husband Dr. Patrick Jackson and his family. (Applause.) Patrick, stand up, man. Stand up. (Applause.) Talia and Leila, stand up. (Applause.) I know it’s embarrassing the girls. I’m going to tell you what Talia said. I said to Talia, “It’s hard being the daughter or the son of a famous person.” I said, “Imagine what it’s like being President.” And he said — she said, “She may be.” (Laughter and applause.) I couldn’t agree more. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And Ketajh, her brother, a former police officer and a veteran. Ketajh, stand up, man. (Applause.) This a man who looks like he can still play, buddy. He’s got biceps about as big as my calves. (Laughter.) Thank you, bud. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

And, of course, her parents: Johnny and Ellery Brown. Johnny and Ellery, stand up. (Applause.) I tell you what — as I told Mom: Moms rule in my house. (Laughter.) No, you think I’m kidding. I’m not. My mom and my wife as well.

Look, people of deep faith, with a deep love of family and country — that’s what you represent; who know firsthand, Mom and Dad, the indignity of Jim Crow, the inhumanity of legal segregation, and you had overcome so much in your own lives.

You saw the strength of parents in the strength of their daughter that is just worth celebrating. I can’t get over, Mom and Dad — you know, I mean, what — what you did, and your faith, and never giving up any hope. And both that wonderful son you have and your daughter.

You know, and that strength lifted up millions of Americans who watched you, Judge Jackson, especially women and women of color who have had to run the gauntlet in their own lives. So many of my Cabinet members are women — women of color, women that represent every sector of the community. And it matters. And you stood up for them as well. They know it — everybody out there, every woman out there, everyone — (applause) — am I correct? Just like they have. Just like they have.

And same with the women members of Congress, as well, across the board.

Look, it’s a powerful thing when people can see themselves in others. Think about that. What’s the most powerful thing — I’ll bet every one of you can go back and think of a time in your life where there was a teacher, a family member, a neighbor — somebody — somebody who made you believe that you could be whatever you wanted to be. It’s a powerful, powerful, powerful notion.

And that’s one of the reasons I believed so strongly that we needed a Court that looks like America. Not just the Supreme Court. (Applause.)

That’s why I’m proud to say, with the great help of Dick Durbin, I’ve nominated more Black women judges to the federal appeal courts than all previous presidents combined. (Applause.) Combined.

And that’s why I’m proud that Kamala Harris is our Vice President of the United States. (Applause.) A brilliant lawyer. The Attorney General of the State of California. Former member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Kamala was invaluable during this entire process. (Applause.)

And, Chuck, our Majority Leader, I want to thank you, pal. You did a masterful job in keeping the caucus together, getting this vote across the finish line in a timely and historic manner. Just watching it on television yesterday, watching when the vote was taken — and the Democratic side, they’re brave people — there was such enthusiasm, genuine. You can tell when it’s real. You can tell when it’s real. You did an incredible job, Chuck. Thank you so much. (Applause.)

Folks, because you’re all able to sit down and don’t have to stand, I’m going to go on a little longer here and tell you — (laughter) — I want to say something about Dick Durbin again. Dick, I’m telling you, overseeing the hearing, how you executed the strategy by the hour, every day, to keep the committee together. And you have a very divided committee with some of the most conservative members of the Senate on that committee. It was especially difficult with an evenly divided Senate.

Dick, I served as chairman of that committee for a number of years before I had this job and the job of Vice President. As did all the Democrats, you did an outstanding — I think all the Democrats in the committee did and every Democrat in the Senate, all of whom voted for Judge Jackson.

And notwithstanding the harassment and attacks in the hearings, I always believed that a bipartisan vote was possible. And I hope I don’t get him in trouble — I mean it sincerely — but I want to thank three Republicans who voted for Judge Jackson. (Applause.) Senators Collins, who’s a woman of integrity. Senator Murkowski, the same way — in Alaska — and up for reelection. And Mitt Romney, whose dad stood up like he did. His dad stood up and made these decisions on civil rights.

They deserve enormous credit for setting aside partisanship and making a carefully considered judgment based on the Judge’s character, qualifications, and independence. And I truly admire the respect, diligence, and hard work they demonstrated in the course of the process.

As someone who has overseen, they tell me, more Supreme Court nominations than anyone who’s alive today, I believe that respect for the process is important. And that’s why it was so important to me to meet the constitutional requirement to seek the advice and the consent of the Senate. The advice beforehand and the consent.

Judge Jackson started the nominating process with an imper- — an impressive range of support: from the FOP to civil rights leaders; even Republican-appointed judges came forward.

In fact, Judge Jackson was introduced at the hearing by Judge Thomas Griffith, the distinguished retired judge appointed by George W. Bush.

She finished the hearing with among the highest levels of support of the American people of any nomination in recent memory. (Applause.)

So, soon, Judge Jackson will join the United States Supreme Court. And like every justice, the decisions she makes will impact on the lives of America for a lot longer, in many cases, than any laws we all make. But the truth is: She’s already impacting the lives of so many Americans.

During the hearing, Dick spoke about a custodial worker who works the night shift at the Capitol. Her name is Verona Clemmons. Verona, where are you? Stand up, Verona. I want to — (applause) — if you don’t mind.

She told him what this nomination meant to her. So he invited Ms. Clemmons to attend the hearing because she wanted to see, hear, and stand by Judge Jackson.

Thank you, Verona. (Applause.) Thank you, thank you, thank you.

At her meeting with Judge Jackson, Senator Duckworth introduced her to 11-year-old — is it Vivian?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Vivienne.

THE PRESIDENT: Vi-vinne?

AUDIENCE MEMBER: Vivienne.

THE PRESIDENT: Vivienne. I’m sorry, Vivienne. There — that’s her — that’s your sister. He’s point- — (laughter) — who was so inspired by the hearing that she wants to be a Supreme Court justice when she grows up. (Applause.) God love you. Stand up, honey. Am I going to embarrass you if I just ask you to stand up? Come on, stand. (Applause.)

There’s tens of thousands of Viviennes all through the entire United States. She met Judge Jackson and saw her future. Vivienne, you’re here today, and thank you for coming, honey. I know I embarrassed you by introducing you, but thank you.

People of every generation, of every race, of every background felt this moment, and they feel it now. They feel a sense of pride and hope, of belonging and believing, and knowing the promise of America includes everybody — all of us. And that’s the American experiment.

Justice Breyer talked about it when he came to the White House in January to announce his retirement from the Court. He used to technically work with me when I was on the Judiciary Committee, and that’s before he became a justice. He’s a man of great integrity. We’re going to miss Justice Breyer. He’s a patriot, an extraordinary public service [servant], and a great justice of the Supreme Court.

And, folks — (applause) — let me close with what I’ve long said: America is a nation that can be defined in a single word. I was in the foothi- — foot- — excuse me, in the foothills of the Himalayas with Xi Jinping, traveling with him. (Inaudible) traveled 17,000 miles when I was Vice President at the time. I don’t know that for a fact.

And we were sitting alone. I had an interpreter and he had an interpreter. And he looked at me. In all seriousness, he said, “Can you define America for me?” And I said what many of you heard me say for a long time. I said, “Yes, I can, in one word: possibilities.” (Applause.) “Possibilities.” That, in America, everyone should be able to go as far as their hard work and God-given talent will take them. And possibilities. We’re the only ones. That’s why we’re viewed as the “ugly Americans”: We think anything is possible. (Laughter.)

And the idea that a young girl who was dissuaded from even thinking you should apply to Harvard Law School — “Don’t raise your hopes so high.” Well, I don’t know who told you that, but I’d like to go back and invite her to the Supreme Court so she can see the interior. (Laughter.)

Look, even Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Now, folks, it’s my honor — and it truly is an honor; I’ve been looking forward to it for a while — to introduce to you the next Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, the Honorable Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Applause.)

JUDGE JACKSON: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you all. Thank you, all, very much. Thank you.

Thank you so much, Mr. President. It is the greatest honor of my life to be here with you at this moment, standing before my wonderful family, many of my close friends, your distinguished staff and guests, and the American people.

Over these past few weeks, you’ve heard a lot from me and about me, so I hope to use this time primarily to do something that I have not had sufficient time to do, which is to extend my heartfelt thanks to the many, many people who have helped me as part of this incredible journey.

I have quite a few people to thank. And — and as I’m sure you can imagine, in this moment, it is hard to find the words to express the depth of my gratitude.

First, as always, I have to give thanks to God for delivering me as promised — (applause) — and for sustaining me throughout this nomination and confirmation process. As I said at the outset, I have come this far by faith, and I know that I am truly blessed. To the many people who have lifted me up in prayer since the nomination, thank you. I am very grateful.

Thank you, as well, Mr. President, for believing in me and for honoring me with this extraordinary chance to serve our country.

Thank you also, Madam Vice President, for your wise counsel and steady guidance.

And thank you to the First Lady and the Second Gentleman for the care and warmth that you have shown me and my family.

I would also like to extend my thanks to each member of the Senate. You have fulfilled the important constitutional role of providing advice and consent under the leadership of Majority Leader Schumer. And I’m especially grateful for the work of the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, under Chairman Durbin’s skillful leadership. (Applause.)

As you may have heard, during the confirmation process, I had the distinct honor of having 95 personal meetings with 97 sitting senators. (Laughter.) And we had substantive and engaging conversations about my approach to judging and about the role of judges in the constitutional system we all love.

As a brief aside, I will note that these are subjects about which I care deeply. I have dedicated my career to public service because I love this country and our Constitution and the rights that make us free.

I also understand from my many years of practice as a legal advocate, as a trial judge, and as a judge on a court of appeals that part of the genius of the constitutional framework of the United States is its design, and that the framers entrusted the judicial branch with the crucial but limited role.

I’ve also spent the better part of the past decade hearing thousands of cases and writing hundreds of opinions. And in every instance, I have done my level best to stay in my lane and to reach a result that is consistent with my understanding of the law and with the obligation to rule independently without fear or favor.

I am humbled and honored to continue in this fashion as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, working with brilliant colleagues, supporting and defending the Constitution, and steadfastly upholding the rule of law. (Applause.)

But today, at this podium, my mission is far more modest. I’m simply here to give my heartfelt thanks to the categories of folks who are largely responsible for me being here at this moment.

First, of course, there is my family. Mom and Dad, thank you not only for traveling back here on what seems like a mos- — moment’s notice, but for everything you’ve done and continue to do for me.

My brother, Ketajh, is here as well. You’ve always been an inspiration to me as a model of public service and bravery, and I thank you for that.

I love you all very much. (Applause.)

To my in-laws, Pamela and Gardner Jackson, who are here today, and my sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law, William and Dana, Gardie and Natalie: Thank you for your love and support.

To my daughters, Talia and Leila: I bet you never thought you’d get to skip school by spending a day at the White House. (Laughter.) This is all pretty exciting for me as well. But nothing has brought me greater joy than being your mother. I love you very much. (Applause.)

Patrick, thank you for everything you’ve done for me over these past 25 years of our marriage. You’ve done everything to support and encourage me. And it is you who’ve made this moment possible. (Applause.)

Your — your steadfast love gave me the courage to move in this direction. I don’t know that I believed you when you said that I could do this, but now I do. (Laughter and applause.) And for that, I am forever grateful.

In the family category, let me also briefly mention the huge extended family, both Patrick’s and my own, who are watching this from all over the country and the world. Thank you for supporting me. I hope to be able to connect with you personally in the coming weeks and months.

Moving on briefly to the second category of people that warrant special recognition: those who provided invaluable support to me professionally in the decades prior to my nomination, and the many, many friends I have been privileged to make throughout my life and career.

Now, I know that everyone who finds professional success thinks they have the best mentors, but I truly do. (Laughter.) I have three inspiring jurists for whom I had the privilege of clerking: Judge Patti Saris, Judge Bruce Selya, and, of course, Justice Stephen Breyer. Each of them is an exceptional public servant, and I could not have had better role models for thoughtfulness, integrity, honor, and principle, both by word and deed.

My clerkship with Justice Breyer, in particular, was an extraordinary gift and one for which I’ve only become more grateful with each passing year. Justice Breyer’s commitment to an independent, impartial judiciary is unflagging. And, for him, the rule of law is not merely a duty, it is his passion. I am daunted by the prospect of having to follow in his footsteps. And I would count myself lucky, indeed, to be able to do so with even the smallest amount of his wisdom, grace, and joy.

The exceptional mentorship of the judges for whom I clerked has proven especially significant for me during this past decade of my service as a federal judge. And, of course, that service itself has been a unique opportunity. For that, I must also thank President Obama, who put his faith in me by nominating me to my first judicial role on the federal district court. (Applause.)

This brings me to my colleagues and staff of the federal district court in Washington, D.C., and the D.C. Circuit: Thank you for everything. I am deeply grateful for your wisdom and your battle-tested friendship through the years.

I also want to extend a special thanks to all of my law clerks, many of whom are here today, who have carved out time and space to accompany me on this professional journey.

I’m especially grateful to Jennifer Gruda, who has been by my side since nearly the outset of my time on the bench — (applause) — and has promised — has promised not to leave me as we take this last big step.

To the many other friends that I have had the great, good fortune to have made throughout the years — from my neighborhood growing up; from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, and especially the debate team; from my days at Harvard College, where I met my indefatigable and beloved roommates, Lisa Fairfax, Nina Coleman Simmons, and Antoinette Sequeira Coakley — they are truly my sisters. (Applause.)

To my time at Harvard Law School and the many professional experiences that I’ve been blessed to have since graduation: Thank you.

I have too many friends to name, but please know how much you’ve meant to me and how much I have appreciated the smiles, the hugs, and the many “atta girls” that have propelled me forward to this day.

Finally, I’d like to give special thanks to the White House staff and the special assistants who provided invaluable assistance in helping me to navigate the confirmation process.

My trusted sherpa, Senator Doug Jones, was an absolute godsend. (Applause.) He was an absolute godsend. He’s not only the best storyteller you’d ever want to meet, but also unbelievably popular on the Hill, which helped a lot. (Laughter.)

I’m also standing here today in no small part due to the hard work of the brilliant folks who interact with the legislature and other stakeholders on behalf of the White House, including Louisa Terrell, Reema Dodin, and Tona Boyd, Minyon Moore, Ben LaBolt, and Andrew Bates. (Applause.)

I am also particularly grateful for the awe-inspiring leadership of White House Counsel Dana Remus. (Applause.) Of Paige Herwig. Where is Paige? (Applause.) And Ron Klain. (Applause.)

They led an extraordinarily talented team of White House staffers in the Herculean effort that was required to ensure that I was well prepared for the rigors of this process and in record time. Thank you all. (Applause.)

Thank you, as well, to the many, many kind-hearted people from all over this country and around the world who’ve reached out to me directly in recent weeks with messages of support.

I have spent years toiling away in the relative solitude of my chambers, with just my law clerks, in isolation. So, it’s been somewhat overwhelming, in a good way, to recently be flooded with thousands of notes and cards and photos expressing just how much this moment means to so many people.

The notes that I’ve received from children are particularly cute and especially meaningful because, more than anything, they speak directly to the hope and promise of America.

It has taken 232 years and 115 prior appointments for a Black woman to be selected to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States. (Applause.)

But we’ve made it. (Applause.) We’ve made it, all of us. All of us.

And — and our children are telling me that they see now, more than ever, that, here in America, anything is possible. (Applause.)

They also tell me that I’m a role model, which I take both as an opportunity and as a huge responsibility. I am feeling up to the task, primarily because I know that I am not alone. I am standing on the shoulders of my own role models, generations of Americans who never had anything close to this kind of opportunity but who got up every day and went to work believing in the promise of America, showing others through their determination and, yes, their perseverance that good — good things can be done in this great country — from my grandparents on both sides who had only a grade-school education but instilled in my parents the importance of learning, to my parents who went to racially segregated schools growing up and were the first in their families to have the chance to go to college.

I am also ever buoyed by the leadership of generations past who helped to light the way: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Justice Thurgood Marshall, and my personal heroine, Judge Constance Baker Motley. (Applause.)

They, and so many others, did the heavy lifting that made this day possible. And for all of the talk of this historic nomination and now confirmation, I think of them as the true pathbreakers. I am just the very lucky first inheritor of the dream of liberty and justice for all. (Applause.)

To be sure, I have worked hard to get to this point in my career, and I have now achieved something far beyond anything my grandparents could’ve possibly ever imagined. But no one does this on their own. The path was cleared for me so that I might rise to this occasion.

And in the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now, while “bringing the gifts…my ancestors gave.” (Applause.) I –“I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” (Applause.)

So as I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride.

We have come a long way toward perfecting our union.

In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States. (Applause.)

And it is an honor — the honor of a lifetime — for me to have this chance to join the Court, to promote the rule of law at the highest level, and to do my part to carry our shared project of democracy and equal justice under law forward, into the future.

Thank you, again, Mr. President and members of the Senate for this incredible honor. (Applause.)

1:15 P.M. EDT

4 #Colorado Companies Awarded For Slashing Pollution — 303 Magazine

Leprino Foods headquarters in North Denver April 22, 2020.

Click the link to read the article on the 303 Magazine website (Ellie Sullum). Here’s an excerpt:

Every year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) honors companies nationwide for significant progress in pollution prevention This year, the EPA awarded four Colorado-based companies for their contributions to the state’s sustainability efforts…

Taco Star

A Thornton staple, family-owned Taco Star now has four locations in the Denver Metro Area. The Colorado fast-food chain updated its infrastructure to feature LED lighting, low-flow sink aerators and sustainable commercial refrigerators. Refrigeration is the leading source of energy misuse, making Taco Star’s transition a vital step towards energy conservation within Colorado’s sustainability work. Overall, Taco Star’s activities have contributed to an annual cost savings of $4,695, 32 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent avoided and 13,000 gallons of water conserved…

Leprino Foods Company

Based in [Denver], Leprino Foods Company is a leading dairy manufacturer. With over 5,000 employees in multiple locations, they specialize in producing mozzarella cheese and popular dairy products. Conventional dairy production is a leading polluter industry. To reduce the company’s footprint, Leprino Foods installed sustainable equipment to limit greenhouse gas and water use. They also implemented cleaning and production process improvements to lower waste brine…By overhauling its equipment and systems, the company modeled water conservation processes for others in the industry to follow…

Management and Engineering Services

Headquartered in Longmont, Management and Engineering Services LLC provides business consulting services. They specialize in consulting with government agencies and private companies that operate on public lands. Over a three-year span, the company installed water reduction equipment, stopped stocking disposable office products and implemented renewable energy throughout the building. They also promoted a bike-to-work program and provided bicycles for employees. Through their efforts to improve Colorado’s sustainability, Management and Engineering Services embodies the purpose of their own work in environmental business solutions.

Learn more about the 2021 EPA Region 8 Pollution Prevention (P2) Award Program here.

How the US stole thousands of Native American children: The long and brutal history of the US trying to “kill the Indian and save the man.” — Vox

Click the link to read the article on the Vox website (Ranjani Chakraborty). Here’s an excerpt:

For decades, the US took thousands of Native American children and enrolled them in off-reservation boarding schools. Students were systematically stripped of their languages, customs, and culture. And even though there were accounts of neglect, abuse, and death at these schools, they became a blueprint for how the US government could forcibly assimilate native people into white America.

At the peak of this era, there were more than 350 government-funded, and often church-run, Native American boarding schools across the US.

A rough map of 357 Native American boarding schools. Alvin Chang/Ranjani Chakraborty

The schools weren’t just a tool for cultural genocide. They were also a way to separate native children from their land. During the same era in which thousands of children were sent away, the US encroached on tribal lands through war, broken treaties, and new policies.

As years of indigenous activism led the US to begin phasing out the schools, the government found a new way to assimilate Native American children: adoption. Native children were funneled into the child welfare system. And programs, like the little-known government “Indian Adoption Project” intentionally placed them with white adoptive families.

In our latest episode of Missing Chapter, we explore this long legacy of the forced assimilation of Native American children. And how native families are still fighting back against the impacts today.

How to Live a More Zero Waste Lifestyle — The City of #Boulder #ActOnClimate

Bulk section of the grocery store. Photo credit: City of Boulder

Click the link to read the article from the City of Boulder website (Leah Kelleher):

Individual action matters

The most affordable and effective way to keep waste out of the landfill is to avoid creating it in the first place. To this end, the city aims to build a circular economy that focuses on the reuse and repair of an increasing number of items.

Individual action is the backbone for societal impact and systemic change. By reducing how much each of us buys new and reusing materials as much as possible, we collectively save energy, natural resources and money.

Together, we can achieve our goal of 85% waste diversion by 2025 and become a zero waste community.

Here are 12 ways to reduce and reuse on a daily basis.

  • Practice zero waste dining by using reusable takeout containers through the Repeater app.
  • Reduce your food waste by planning weekly meals, buying only what you need, and donating unused food to local food banks.
  • Borrow, share and rent items when possible. Borrow a book or movie from the library or swap clothes with a friend. Rent tools from the Tool Library at Resource Central.

Swap books in neighborhood library boxes around the city. Photo credit: City of Boulder

  • Repurpose worn out items by turning them into fun, creative projects. An old shirt could be transformed into a reusable bag, quilt or cleaning rags.
  • Repair items with life left. Check out Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic events for repair trainings.
  • Try to cut down on plastic purchases at the grocery store by shopping in the bulk section or buying products in certified compostable packaging. If your favorite grocery store does not have a bulk section, let them know that reducing packaging by buying in bulk is important to you.

Learn how to repair your bike by attending a local workshop. Photo credit: City of Boulder

  • Bring reusable containers to grocery stores for produce and bulk purchases, and to restaurants for leftovers. Glass jars, cloth bags and plastic containers are great vessels for bulk and produce purchases at your local grocery store, and they reduce the amount of material sent to the recycling center. Instead of reaching for single-use plastic and compostable produce bags, bring your own reusable cotton bags.

Replace plastic produce bags for reusable cloth and mesh bags. Photo credit: City of Boulder

  • Shop for used clothes, shoes, furniture and other items from thrift stores, garage sales, flea markets and consignment shops.
  • Donate gently-used items to secondhand stores.
  • Bring reusable bags whenever you shop. This helps keep disposable plastic bags out of the landfill, conserves water and energy required to produce paper bags, and saves you 10 cents per bag at local grocery stores.
  • Carry reusable water bottles and coffee mugs when you are on the go.
  • Look for products made with recycled materials. These products help create a market for our recyclables – allowing them to circulate in our economy.

Bring a reusable coffee container when visiting your local coffee shop. Photo credit: City of Boulder

Film: Craig, America — @AmericanRivers #YampaRiver #ActOnClimate

Learn more about the Yampa River at https://www.americanrivers.org/river/…
Read about one person’s first trip down the Yampa – https://www.americanrivers.org/2016/0…
Support American Rivers and our work across the country – https://act.americanrivers.org/page/2…

A story of transition and renewal in the rural west, Craig, America shares the many perspectives that encompass a community upheld by coal but looks towards a future without it. It brings to life the unique story of Craig, Colorado, and how its people, economy, and community are both resilient and adaptive.

Craig, Colorado is a small town in Northwest Colorado, about 40 miles west of Steamboat Springs. While Craig lies in the high mountain plains above the meandering Yampa River, it is a case study as a town, and region, that is in transition. Craig has traditionally been a town defined by the extraction of fossil fuels and ranching. There are multiple coal mines, and energy generating stations (power plants) in the area. Under pressure from environmental groups and government agencies state-wide and nationally, the owners of Craig Station voted unanimously to close all three units of Craig Station, one of Colorado’s largest coal-fired power plants, by 2030. The decision to close the plant will send waves of change across the city of Craig and surrounding Moffat Country for decades to come, costing the region hundreds of high-paying jobs, removing an estimated 60% of the town’s tax revenue, and forcing a reckoning with its future.

Fortunately, Craig sits in a region of abundant beauty, and accessible opportunities for outdoor recreation, hunting and fishing, rafting, hiking and mountain biking and other pursuits or plentiful. As the recreation economy grows, Craig is in an ideal position to make that transition as well. As Jennifer Holloway, the new Executive Director of the Craig Chamber of Commerce puts it, “Craig is a community with a lot of opportunities, and in a unique moment to seize them.” As the town reckons with the closure of the plant and surrounding mines, a growing coalition of leaders and community advocates are working to save their town and move from a extraction based economy to one focused in recreation, tourism, and that centers the health and well being of our planet and its inhabitants.

This situation in Craig is one in which we are currently seeing across the United States. As renewable sources of energy continue to grow in demand and the profitability of coal continues to plummet in tandem with its role in climate change, small towns and cities that depend on these industries are questioning their future. The story of Craig can be a moment of hope for many regions across the country, and potentially a guidepost for how they can embrace the natural beauty of their regions, rather than think of them only for extraction and consumption.

The power of place names: The #Colorado naming advisory board recommends new designations for 28 geological sites considered offensive to Native American populations — Metropolitan State University of #Denver

Sloans Lake with Mount Blue Sky in the background April 2, 2021.

Click the link to read the article on the Metropolitan State University of Denver website (Jill McGranahan):

U.S. Secretary of Interior Deb Haaland issued an order in November declaring “squaw” a derogatory term and established a task force to rename more than 600 geographical sites across the country that have the word in their names.

“Squaw” — a racist and sexist term for Native American women — is just the latest target for renaming as the United States continues to reconcile historical names and events to modern sensibilities. Haaland also called for the creation of a complementary Advisory Committee on Reconciliation in Place Names to solicit, review and recommend changes to other derogatory geographic and federal place names.

“Place names are very powerful,” said Sara Jackson Shumate, Ph.D., a human geographer and the director of Metropolitan State University of Denver’s Center for Individualized Learning. “It’s important to rethink our landscapes and what we are valuing through these geographical names.”

The federal Derogatory Geographic Names Task Force convened by Haaland, a member of Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico and the first Native American to lead a Cabinet agency, has recommended 28 sites in Colorado for renaming. All of those sites incorporate the word “squaw.”

The task force works closely with the U.S. Board of Geographic Names, which gives final determinations for standardizing the names of geographic and natural features. The board is a federal body created in 1890 that was established to maintain uniform geographic name usage throughout the federal government.

As you begin to descend towards Echo Lake on the Squaw Pass road, Mt Evans and its barely visible road come into focus. Photo credit: Colorado Bike Maps

“You can’t erase history,” said Adriana Nieto, Ph.D., associate professor chair of Chicana/o Studies at MSU Denver. “Changing geological names doesn’t change our history; it reframes it. Reframing history is important because it points out the holes. Naming important places should be a way to remember or learn about important people and events. It changes what we talk about.”

Nieto said she’s hopeful the conversation is now happening at the national level. “It means it won’t go away easily like it has at a local level,” Nieto said. “A lot of credit goes to Secretary Haaland, who has created an opening for a conversation and brought the significance of names to the public eye.”

Local efforts

Jared Polis established the Colorado Geographic Naming Advisory Board last year to evaluate proposals concerning name changes, new names and name controversies of geographic features and public places in Colorado.

In September, the board made its first recommendation: to change the name of Squaw Mountain in Clear Creek County to Mestaa’ėhehe Mountain. Pronounced mess-taw-HAY, the name honors an influential Cheyenne translator known as Owl Woman.

Other discussions at the state level include renaming Negro Creek and Negro Mesa in Delta County to Clay Creek and Clay Mesa, respectively; changing the name of Redskin Mountain in Jefferson County to Mount Jerome; and renaming Mount Evans as Mount Blue Sky, the name the Arapaho people call themselves.

Mount Evans was named for Territorial Gov. John Evans, who oversaw the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864, in which volunteer soldiers attacked a Cheyenne and Arapaho village, killing approximately 750 people.

Jackson Shumate is hopeful that renaming such a well-known site might spur conversations about past and current values.

“People vacation at these sites. If we start renaming places like Denali (from Mount McKinley) and Mount Evans, it creates an inflection point to begin a critical conversation about our past and what we value as Americans and Coloradans,” Jackson Shumate said. “Do we want the [a] peak in Colorado to be named for a territorial governor who was forced to resign because of his part in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre and its subsequent coverup or something we can all be proud of?”

Mount Evans from Summit Lake. By Boilerinbtown – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=11823192

Mount Evans’ name change may soon be a reality. On Tuesday, the Clear Creek County commissioners recommended changing its name to Mount Blue Sky. The recommendation will go to the state Geographic Naming Advisory Board and Polis before a final decision.

Last June, Colorado legislators passed Senate Bill 116, which prohibits the use of American Indian symbols and names by Colorado public schools beginning this June. Schools that do not come into compliance by June 1 face a $25,000 monthly fine.

“These efforts are steps, albeit baby ones, in the right direction,” Jackson Shumate said. “This is scratching the surface of what really needs to change, which is how we think about and relate to one another, but it gets us moving in the right direction.”

Stunning timelapse of the Earth rising over the Moon as captured by Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft Kaguya — JAXA/NHK-

“We’re water beings on a water planet” — Wallace J. Nichols

Oligarchs and #Pueblo’s steel mill — @BigPivots

Putin crony Roman Abramovich’s ownership of London’s Chelsea soccer club has been crimped by sanctions levied by the U.K. The Colorado steel mill of which he is a major owner is operating as usual—for now. Photo credit: Allen Best/Big Pivots

Click the link to read the article on the Big Pivots Website (Allen Best):

In the early 20th century Pueblo’s steel mill was owned by American oligarchs, John Rockefeller Jr., the descendants of Jay Gould, and others. Might ownership of that steel mill—and Colorado’s largest solar array—revert to American ownership as a result of the Russian war against Ukraine?

Now called Evraz, the steel mill is owned primarily by Russian oligarchs, with Roman Abramovich having the largest stake.

The United States has not yet imposed sanctions on Abramovich, unlike the United Kingdom and Canada. That leaves his ownership stake in the Pueblo steel mill intact as well as his ownership of two houses in Snowmass Village.

In Pueblo, there are doubts that the mill could end up being cut off from its Russian owners because the product is for the domestic consumption, not for export.

But then Chelsea, the soccer club in London that Abramovich owns, is no longer selling tickets, the result of sanctions applied last Thursday by the United Kingdom. As long as Russia’s war against Ukraine continues, ownership of the plant in Pueblo will remain an active question.

Evraz North America, which operates the steel mill, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Evraz, a company incorporated under laws of the United Kingdom, with shares traded on the London Stock Exchange—until last Thursday.

In sanctioning Evraz, the British government accused Roman Abramovich, the largest shareholder, of being a “pro-Kremlin oligarch” who has received preferential treatment and concessions from Putin and the Russian government and “is or has been involved in destabilizing Ukraine and undermining and threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”

The statement also accused Evraz of “potentially supplying steel to the Russian military, which may have been used in the production of tanks.” In response to a Financial Times inquiry, the company insisted it only made steel for the “infrastructure and construction” sectors, the Financial Times reported.

The Financial Times last Friday also reported that 10 members of Evraz had resigned after the United Kingdom’s action.

Canada last Friday also imposed sanctions on Abramovich, and on Tuesday so did the European Union.

Within hours of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the United States imposed actions against several Russian oligarchs and institutions, but not Abramovich nor Evraz.

Five Russians own two-thirds of Evraz’s shares. Second to Abramovich in holdings is Alexander Abramov, a former scientist who founded Evraz in 1992. The other three are also Russian oligarchs, reported the Pueblo Chieftain in a March 5 story.

An oligarch is defined as a very rich business leader with a great deal of political influence. An oligarchy is a country ruled by oligarchs. Forbes in 2021 ranked Abramovich as 12th wealthiest among Russia’s billionaires, with a net worth of $14.5 billion.

Evraz also has steel, mining, and vanadium operations in Russia, the Czech Republic, and Kazakhstan.

In the United States, Evraz has mills in Pueblo, which has 1,100 employees, and in Portland, Ore. It also has five mills in Canada, three in Alberta and one in Saskatchewan, according to its website.

This is from Big Pivots 54. Please consider subscribing to get issues of the e-journal.

Evraz also has scrap operations, including one along the South Platte River north of downtown Denver.

Nowhere has there been even a suggestion that the Pueblo steel mill or other operations in North America have directly supported the Russian war effort.

The Pueblo mill primarily uses recycled steel to make its products, which requires a lower temperature than is necessary when using iron ore and other raw resources. Foundry operations became electrified in the early 1970s, the result of construction of the nearby Comanche 1 and 2 coal-burning units.
Early last November, a 298-megawatt solar farm was completed on land owned by Evraz between the steel mill and beyond the Comanche units. This allowed the steel company to proclaim that it had become the first solar-powered steel mill in the world, as Big Pivots explained. Financial and other details of that claim have never been made public.

The investment in the solar farm hinged upon plans to go forward with construction of a $500 million mill that will make quarter-mile rail segments that Union Pacific, Burlington Northern-Santa Fe, and other railroads want. The construction project employs 400 to 500 people.

Jeffrey Shaw, chief executive of the Pueblo Economic Development Corporation, says the impact to Pueblo and the steel mill there appears to be nil.

“We have asked what the impact of the global geopolitical front will be to the facility, and the answer we have gotten back (from Evraz) is—consistent with what has been reported—that they are moving forward with the facility,” he says. He also points that the market for the products of the steel mill is domestic, not foreign.

Driving by the mill, construction work continues with no evidence of slowdown. “We’re very optimistic that it will carry on” as planned, he added.

The Pueblo Chieftain story by editor Karin Zeitvogel reported no changes evident at the steel mill in early March. “We haven’t seen anything yet, and everything is just like it was a week ago,” said Eric Ludwig, president of the United Steelworkers 2102 Union, a week after the invasion.

The Evraz annual report for 2021 noted the cloudy global horizon, referring to Ukraine five times and potential for sanctions nine times. The report mentions the “worsening situation relating to Ukraine and heightened risk of the economic sanctions.”

In modeling, the company also described a “severe downside scenario” that could cause it to reduce capital spending by $500 million a year.

Might that include the work on the new Pueblo mill? No mention there.

Abramovich was the focus of a lengthy New York Times article on Sunday that explored his ties with the United States and other western countries. An orphan who grew up in a town along the Volga River, he dropped out of college and then emerged from the Red Army in the late 1980s just as the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was opening new opportunities for private enterprise. Abramovich, says the Times, thrived as a trader—of almost anything and everything, it would seem.

The big break for Abramovich came in the mid-1990s, when he and a partner persuaded the Russian government to sell them a state-run oil company for $200 million. In 2005, he sold his stake back to that government for $11.9 billion.

His holdings include the Chelsea soccer team in London, which he bought in 2003 and which he was frantically trying to sell last week before the UK sanctions. The sanctions prohibit the club from selling tickets to matches.

The Times said leaders of cultural, educational and medical institutions, along with a chief rabbi, had sent a letter urging the United States not to impose sanctions on Abramovich, a major donor to Jewish and other causes.

A request to the American ambassador to Israel “reflects the extraordinary effort Mr. Abramovich, 55, has made over the last two decades to parlay his Russian fortune into elite standing in the West,” said the Times, going on to describe his houses, his art works, his yachts, his private 787 jet, and more.
That includes real estate in Colorado’s most elite resort community. The Aspen Times on March 1 explained that Abramovich has owned two houses in Snowmass Village since 2008. One 12,859-square-foot house has 11 bedrooms and 13 bathrooms and sits on 200 acres of land. The smaller 5,492-square-foot house sits on 1.8 acres of land.

Abramovich’s name is also prominent in Aspen, reported Rick Carroll of the Aspen Times. Lettering on the outside of a synagogue on Main Street in Aspen suggests Abramovich and his now ex-wife Dasha were major donors.

Russia’s oligarchs have “used their ill-gotten gains to try to launder their reputations in the West,” Thomas Graham, a Russian scholar from the Council on Foreign Relations, told the New York Times. “But the message of these sanctions is, that is not going to protect you.”

Michael McFaul, an American ambassador to Moscow during the Obama administration, described disingenuous behavior on several sides. He told the Times that while Putin’s government claimed to despise the United States and its allies, his foreign ministry was constantly trying to help the oligarchs around him, including Abramovich, obtain visas so they could ingratiate themselves with the Western elite.

“On our side, we have been playing right along,” he said, overlooking ties of the oligarchs to Putin and welcoming them and their money.

Sources also told the Times that the relationship that Abramovich and other oligarchs enjoyed with Putin cut both ways. After Putin was inaugurated president in 2000, he quickly moved to dominate the billionaires who had profited from privatization, sending a message by jailing the richest and most powerful oligarch. Abramovich is one of the few early elites who remained in Putin’s circle.

Putin’s display of force, however, also gave oligarchs freedom to establish ties in the West—as potential places to land.

As for Pueblo, it’s had ups and downs in the last 141 years it has been making steel. The mill was a consequence of Pueblo having rail connections, water, and proximity to coal, iron ore, and limestone. Coal mines at Crested Butte, Redstone, and elsewhere supplied the smoke-belching mill that was then called Colorado Fuel & Iron.

Much of the old CF&I plant at Pueblo remains standing even as a new long-rail mill goes up. Photos/Allen Best

CF&I was owned by American-born oligarchs of their day. A smaller figure was John Cleveland Osgood and the larger names were John Rockefeller Jr. and Jay Gould.

Ruins of the Ludlow Colony near Trinidad, Colorado, following an attack by the Colorado National Guard. Forms part of the George Grantham Bain Collection at the Library of Congress. By Bain News Service – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress’s Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID ggbain.15859.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10277066

There have been downsides for Pueblo, too, including a bloody strike in the coalfields south of Pueblo in 1913-1914. The strike culminated in the deaths of 21 miners and their families, including 2 women and 11 children in what is remembered as the Ludlow Massacre. In 1921, a flood killed at least 78 and likely many more while swamping the downtown district and other low-lying areas.

The steel mill at one time employed 12,000 people and, by the 1970s, paid handsomely and gave months-long vacations to employees with greater seniority. Going into 1990, CF&I teetered into bankruptcy. It was acquired by Oregon Steel in 1993 and the name was changed to Rocky Mountain Steel Mills. In 2007, it and other Oregon Steel holdings were acquired by Evraz for $2.3 billion.

Happy Pi Day

A Pi Day pie from Reilly’s Bakery in Biddeford at Biddeford High School in Biddeford, ME on Friday, March 13, 2015. (Photo by Whitney Hayward/Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)

SOUND UP for today’s moment of Zen. Hear the trumpet of Sandhill cranes arriving by the 1000s for stopover — @CPW_SE

@ColoradoStateU, biotech company partnering on RNA-based method for weed control

Wheat. Photo credit: Colorado State University

Click the link to read the release on the Colorado State University website (Anne Manning):

For generations, farmers have relied on the spraying of herbicides to prevent invasive plants and weeds from choking their soybean, corn and wheat crops. But over the last several years, this tried-and-true system has been faltering.

Weeds are quickly evolving resistance to even the most advanced herbicides, including glyphosate – better known as Roundup – which was first introduced to farmers in the 1970s by agrochemical giant Monsanto. Herbicide-resistant weeds have brought farmers to their knees, desperate for solutions for protecting their crops.

Todd Gaines, an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural Biology, is one of weeds’ worst enemies. His expertise is in the molecular and genetic underpinnings of the most highly evolved superweeds of the world, with the goal of helping farmers target these foes with new, genetically precise and sustainable methods.

Palmer Amaranth in the Field. Photo credit: United Soybean Board

Gaines is now leading a project aimed at changing the game of weed control by using an entirely new mode of action to combat the most out-of-control weed species, king among them, a noxious, highly herbicide-resistant weed called Palmer amaranth.

Biotech company partnership

Gaines is partnering with biotechnology company AUM LifeTech to research the application and methods of an emerging gene-silencing weed control technology. Their method uses molecular tools called antisense oligonucleotides, which are next-generation single-stranded nucleic acid molecules, to infiltrate the cells of weed plants and target single strands of RNA. The molecular targets would be so specific that the crops would remain untouched.

Their goal is to optimize a delivery system in the form of a nanoparticle-based, shelf-stable spray. If they’re successful, their technology would give farmers a non-genetically modified, environmentally conscious tool to control weeds that are rapidly gaining the upper hand against legacy herbicides.

“This is the most exciting thing I have ever worked on in terms of promise,” Gaines said. “If we can solve this problem, this will be something every single person out there managing weeds will be affected by.”

He added that among his larger goals is to help make farming systems more sustainable, both by helping farmers maintain their livelihoods, and by making products that are safe for the public and the environment. “We need to help ensure we are not harming other organisms, while also managing these weeds.”

DARPA funding

Gaines and collaborator Veenu Aishwarya, founder and Chief Executive Officer of AUM LifeTech, are funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency for their two-year project, in which they will prove out the fundamental technology and test a delivery system.

Their system will focus on Palmer amaranth as a test case, a hardy and aggressive pigweed that exhibits extensive herbicide resistance and is a growing problem for commodity farmers. Its genome has been sequenced thanks in part to an international weed genomics consortium that Gaines also leads.

Antisense oligonucleotide technology is better known in life science applications because of its promise as a targeted therapeutic device for a host of diseases, including neurological and autoimmune disorders. But Aishwarya has long seen the potential for these single-stranded DNA molecules to be useful in agricultural settings, and he wants to expand his company in that direction.

“Since our gene silencing products use a non-GMO and non-permanent approach, this makes this technology very attractive for such applications,” said Aishwarya in a press release announcing the partnership.

A chance encounter with Gaines at an agricultural biotechnology conference several years ago paved the way for the partnership; now, AUM LifeTech’s proprietary gene silencing technology will form the basis of the RNA-targeting system he and Gaines will develop and test together.

“Todd’s work in collaboration with AUM LifeTech in RNA targeting to develop next-generation herbicides is an exciting example of CSU’s leadership in life science breakthroughs for agricultural applications,” said Alan Rudolph, vice president for research and a former program manager at DARPA. “The awarding of DARPA funds to address the intractable problem of herbicide resistance speaks to the extraordinary work of Todd and his team in developing new, molecular strategies to combat the worst effects of invasive plant species on our food supply.”

Coyote Gulch’s preference is “Mount Blue Sky” as the new name for Mount Evans

Sloans Lake with Mount Blue Sky in the background April 2, 2021.

The place that #coal built and #wildfire burned: Extractive industry laid the infrastructure for the suburban sprawl that fueled #Colorado’s destructive #MarshallFire — @HighCountryNews

Photo of the Dhanoa family by Caleb Santiago Alvarado/High Country News

Click here to read the article on the High Country News website (Kate Schimel) [February 7, 2022]:

When she first saw the smoke, Gurjeet Dhanoa thought it was a dust storm. She watched it as she pumped gas at a Conoco off the highway between Boulder and Denver, Colorado. But when she got back in the car, a cop car pulled out in front of her. The officer told her to turn around and go back. “Something is very, very wrong here,” she thought.

She turned, drove to a ridge a few minutes away, and, for the first time, saw clearly what would soon be called the Marshall Fire. Pushed by winds so strong she could barely stand upright, the fire cut through the suburb of Superior toward the home where her mother, a recent cancer survivor on oxygen, lived. Dhanoa called her brother, who lived with their parents and cared for their mother, and told them to evacuate now; there was no time to grab anything. They jumped in the car and escaped to Dhanoa’s house, a couple of miles away. From Dhanoa’s perch on the ridge, she watched the smoke plume of the burning houses grow so large it hid the flames.

When Dhanoa got home, the fire had not yet made the TV news. The danger seemed to have faded. “It’s not real,” she remembers thinking. “Your mind keeps trying to joke about this.” Her brother said they should prepare, just in case, so she packed up some photo albums and a chest filled with childhood memorabilia. She called her son and husband, who were on a hunting trip, and asked what they’d save. Arjun, 14, asked for a jersey and his Wayne Gretzky card, and Dhanoa’s husband requested a trophy elk mount and his old stick-shift Bronco. “All those years you’ve had that Bronco, you’ve never taught me how to drive it,” she reminded him. They left it behind.

UNLIKE SO MANY of Colorado’s wildfires, the Marshall Fire began out on the plains. The flames tore through grasslands and shrubs and burned more than 1,000 homes, making it the most destructive in the state’s history. Boulder County, once a coal-mining hub, now faced a destructive fire regime, fueled in part by the carbon that was mined there a century ago.

Boulder and the suburbs surrounding it sit at the divide between the Great Plains and the Rockies. The Flatirons — the steep rock faces west of town — draw the eye, but the low roll of the plains rising up to their base is just as significant. This is the shortgrass prairie, stretching north into Canada, south into Texas and east into Kansas, the Dakotas and Oklahoma. It was once the home and hunting grounds of Arapahoe and Cheyenne communities, before the Sand Creek Massacre and treaty violations drove them into Oklahoma in the 1800s.

The Front Range plains are scruffy, typically sparser than the tall and mixed-grass prairies to the east. From the steep hogbacks of the foothills, they look like a smooth sea of green in the spring and gold in the winter. Before the towns were built, wildfires were infrequent but massive, spreading swiftly through the grass.

Housing developments now dominate the Front Range. In Boulder County, the suburbs were often built on the scaffolds of old coal-mining towns. A map from 1915 shows the Northern Coal Field of Colorado running beneath much of the Marshall Fire burn area: Louisville, once the heart of that coal field, now a quiet suburb where more than 500 homes burned; Old Town Superior, home to people who worked at the Industrial, Enterprise and Monarch mines; and Marshall Mesa, a swath of open space where trail signs remind hikers of the coal seam fires that burned underground and where the Marshall Fire may have started.

In the early decades of the 20th century, the miners repeatedly went on strike, sometimes for years, over pay and working conditions. In an oral history recorded in 1978, Thomas Kerr, a former miner, described how they used explosives underground in the 1930s: “Couldn’t breathe. Dust and smoke. That black powder — awful lot of smoke.” In 1936, an explosion killed eight men working the graveyard shift at the Monarch #2 coal mine. Nearly a century later, in Superior, even Dhanoa and her family knew of that tragedy.

A disaster recovery researcher told me that what we call catastrophes, whether fires, floods or collapsing coal mines, are essentially change, compressed in time. Monarch closed a decade later, and many of the nearby mines followed suit, clearing the way for entirely different settlers.

The prairie makes way for the coal mine. The coal mine becomes a suburb. Most people in Boulder today have jobs in tech or health care or service work. They are often drawn to the area by the promise of the Rockies, dreaming of exploring those high mountains, but they build their lives on the prairie.

Since the 1970s, new housing developments have transformed the shortgrass prairie. Driven by rising prices in Boulder and Denver and the desire to escape the city’s perceived woes, wanting more land or a larger home, people flocked to the suburbs. From an airplane, the houses form an irregular grid that stretches from horizon to horizon.

Firefighting aircraft dropping fire retardant on the Flagstaff fire (2012). By User:Runningonbrains, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60626243

In June 2012, during a hot, dry summer, lightning started a fire that quickly burned right up to the crest of the Flatirons that form Boulder’s back wall. From the windows of my childhood home, I saw the wind blow embers over the ridge, igniting the trees on our side. My father explained that fire was far less likely to burn downhill, but we still packed up to leave. Later, after the fire was under control, I watched the smoke plume from the plains. At least nine other notable fires started that month in Colorado, including two that set new state records for how many homes they destroyed.

Looking back, that fire seems like the start of a new era for my hometown, a time when the decisions of the past — the development of the prairie and our dependence on fossil fuels — finally find their consequences. Back then, I could imagine living with fires like that, finding ways to survive and prepare, to be resilient and tough as we faced the climate crisis. The woods surrounding Boulder continued to burn — in 2018 down Bear Creek and then again in 2020 through the north edge of town. Alongside the floods and waning snows, they came to feel like habitual crises.

In a video made after the Marshall Fire, Dhanoa’s brother Mandip tallied the family’s losses. “You see the trailer and mom’s car? That’s all that’s left. Those stairs going up to the right, that’s where my office was,” he quietly narrates. The view shifts to Dhanoa’s house, miles from the start of the burn. “That’s all that’s left, that little fence. That fence is all that’s left.”

Dhanoa’s home burned to the ground. She rescued that one carful of treasured things and no more. The house where her parents and brother lived was lost, along with all their belongings. Across the street from her parents, a house she once lived in and now rented out burned, too. Her tenants couldn’t get back in time, and they lost their pets and everything in the home.

When I spoke with Dhanoa two weeks after the fire, she was at her restaurant, the Tandoori Grill, as her staff deep-cleaned the kitchen. We talked for nearly two hours and, for the most part, she spoke enthusiastically and with great precision about her life. She told me affectionately of the close, warm community that grew out of the old mining town, between the strip malls and sprawl. “Some of them had no idea that this little small town existed in what they thought was a giant suburb,” she said.

But when she talked about her restaurant, she sounded tired. I ate there often when I was growing up; I remember the neat silver trays of the buffet and the crisp white tablecloths next to windows that looked out on a quiet south Boulder mall. When Dhanoa looks around now, though, she sees the evidence of what they survived: the booths they shoved together to sleep on, and the clothes strewn about from when they briefly lived there after evacuating.

“It’s a disaster in the restaurant. I have no ability to deal with it,” she told me. Everything that was stored at the house, from her checkbooks to her menu templates, burned. She can no longer find the answers to even the routine questions her staff has.

It had already been a hard year. Dhanoa, her husband, Paul, and the staff worked long hours to stay afloat during the pandemic. Then her mother was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease and with cancer, now in remission. The fire scattered her once tight-knit neighborhood to the winds, and she doesn’t know if the people will return.

“People keep reaching out and trying to help. They don’t know how to help, and they keep asking. I don’t know what to ask for,” she said. “They feel guilty they can’t help. Because I see they feel guilty, I feel guilty. ”

The day after the fire, the smoke blew away. Snow finally fell. It arrived too late to stop the flames from sweeping through town, but it laid a quiet blanket over the wreckage. A few weeks after that, investigators announced they had narrowed down the fire’s suspected causes. One possibility: an underground fire still burning away in one of the region’s abandoned coal mines.