Over the River has cleared one of its three
suits legal hurdles, Over the River Corp. announced today. It's one more step closer to getting back on track with building and construction, though a slow one at that. This means the other two proceedings can begin.
Christo is pleased that today the Interior Board of Land Appeals (IBLA) announced that it has upheld the Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) approval to use federal lands for Over The River. The significant public benefits of this temporary work of art proposed in 1996 by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude for a portion of the Arkansas River in Colorado have been well documented.
The IBLA decision stated that the BLM District Manager "approved the Project because significant, adverse short-term impacts would be minimized, significant long term impacts would be avoided by PDFs [project design features] and mitigation measures, and expected benefits to the local and regional economies would outweigh any such adverse impacts."
The panel of judges went on to say, "Having thoroughly reviewed the record and considered appellants' claims on appeal, we conclude they have not met their burden to show error in the ROD [Record of Decision] or the FEIS [Final Environmental Impact Statement] upon which it was based. ... The decision approving a land use permit is affirmed."
This decision now paves the way for the two remaining legal challenges to move forward. In federal court, the BLM's Record of Decision approving Over The River is being challenged. In state court, the permit that was granted by Colorado State Parks for Over The River is being challenged.
"This is one of three legal hurdles that needed to be overcome, and I am very happy with this decision," Christo said. "I am hopeful that the IBLA decision will enable the state and federal courts to move forward without delay so Over The River can be realized. I remain confident that the state and federal permitting processes were thorough and complete and that both the Record of Decision and the State Parks permit will be upheld."
Additional Over The River legal updates will be provided as new information becomes available. Christo and the OTR team greatly appreciate your continued support and enthusiasm for Over The River.
In the spirit of every-little-bit-helps, Pikes Peak Community College is in the process of adding solar powered charging stations in the form of innovative picnic tables called Solar Power-Doks.
Here's everything to know about them, via a school press release:
Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC) students will power up their electronic devices celebrating the installation of solar powered picnic table charging stations, called Solar Power-Doks, on July 2, 2 p.m., Centennial Campus Courtyard. The first college campus in Colorado to install these charging stations, PPCC invites the public and media to attend and try them out.
“These solar powered picnic tables provide ports for students to charge their electronic and mobile devices, while also providing a comfortable shady place to do homework and socialize,” said Mark Giles, PPCC Student Government president. “They also are a visible example of the value PPCC students and staff place on campus sustainability.”
Solar Power-Doks solve the ever-growing problem of finding electrical outlets to power mobile devices and laptops in public areas. The Doks have a battery bank for energy storage, two 110 volt outlets, two usb ports and a meter that shows how much power the sun is producing, how much is being consumed and how much battery capacity is available. The table is made from recycled materials and has a 150 mph wind load, a benefit for Colorado’s weather.
Student Government members came up with the idea for this project and worked with Campus Life and the Office of Sustainability to make it a reality. Student Government purchased two tables with its contingency fund, fees collected from students each semester. The additional picnic table is being installed on the Rampart Campus.
This is the fourth consecutive rafting expedition organized by Veterans Green Jobs, a nonprofit organization that aims to “connect military veterans with meaningful employment opportunities that serve our communities and environments,” according to their website.
If all goes according to plan, the 10 military veterans will emerge from the conservation expedition with a renewed sense of purpose.
Greg Snyder, associate director of conservation programs for Veterans Green Jobs, says in a press release that the mission of the trip is not only to protect the environment, but also to provide opportunities for veterans to be physically active and "reconnect with each other."
One adventurer is Paul Sharp, a student at Pikes Peak Community College. Sharp served in the army for six years as a company fire support sergeant, and completed two tours in Iraq. This fall, he will receive an associate’s degree in general science, and then intends to pursue a degree at Colorado State University in natural resources management, recreation and tourism.
Concerning his transition from military life to student life, the most difficult part for Sharp was deciding on a major.
“I originally wanted to study biology, but from what I’ve seen, there just aren’t a lot of jobs,” says Sharp. “I like skiing, I like mountain biking — the outdoor part of being in Colorado. So the natural resources management, recreation and tourism degree would really put me into that world.”
“Working with the National Park Service on this trip will give me some good insight into how it works and allow me to network a little bit,” he says. He also believes that it will be a valuable addition to his résumé because it is volunteer-based.
Ideally, after finishing school, Sharp would like to gain employment with a company that is centered in the outdoors: “Something where I can work outside with people that enjoy the same things that I do."
Sharp, an experienced whitewater kayaker since his youth, says he feels prepared for this rafting journey.
“I’m mostly looking forward to just being on the river.”
You can donate to Veterans Green Jobs here to help them reach their goal to find jobs for 300 veterans.
Colorado College grads Robin Walter and Sebastian Tsocanos have exceeded their $12,000 goal, with $15,775 contributed as of Saturday afternoon. As they mention in their thank-you post, additional donations will still go toward the project; if you're interested in joining the ranks of their donors, you have until the end of today, June 1, to donate.
——- ORIGINAL POST, MAY 23, 9:22 A.M. ——-
In 1806, Thomas Jefferson predicted that it would take 100 generations or more to inhabit the western U.S. He had sent Lewis and Clark to forge a path from the Missouri River to the sea and inspect the vast lands the country had just acquired via the Louisiana Purchase.
It didn't take 100 generations. It took five.
And in the process, all those settlers ripped up a millennia's worth of grassland topsoil (explained particularly poetically in O.E. Rølvaag's Giants in the Earth), which had disastrous consequences when the country dried out, making way for the Dust Bowl. Nowadays, development has taken up much of the land, along with agriculture, leaving only 1 percent of the original temperate grasslands, according to the Atlas of Global Conservation.
Pretty scary, right? And I only know this much because of Robin Walter and Sebastian Tsocanos, two 2012 Colorado College graduates who are now raising money for their project, Rediscovering the Great American Prairie.
The two plan to develop a documentary following their trek on horseback through the plains from northern Montana to western Missouri. Along the way they'll film, host community discussions, and post their progress on an interactive website. An exhibit of their experience will be hosted at Marmalade at Smokebrush.
Why horses? The duo says it not only honors the "cultural heritage of the landscape and historic importance of horses in the region," but allows them to really get the feel of the prairie. "This is a landscape that is often passed through at 75 mph, or looked down upon from 30,000 feet in the air; we want to slow down [their emphasis]." Plus, it's just awesome.
This, of course, costs money. They've already secured $22,000 through savings, secured donations and grants, but to bridge a $12,000 gap, they've launched an IndieGoGo campaign. As of this writing, it needs just under $5,000 with 10 days left.
You get some rad gifts in return, like a postcard from the road, a horseshoe from along the way and a copy of the film. And naturally, the knowledge that you helped make this happen. After all, the Dust Bowl only happened 70 years ago, and why wouldn't it happen again?
Now, how does McAleer define "a huge turn out" and "overwhelming and amazing" support inside a town of around 100,000 people?
"With only three days notice, they packed the house with 170 enthusiastic residents. Standing room only. People are clamoring for the truth," the release reads.
Never mind my earlier comment that it's a shame the filmmakers aren't actually debating in person or even sharing an audience for back-to-back screenings, but instead splitting audiences into camps who likely already have taken sides in the fracas.
It appears the McAleer camp is just happy to show up as the alternative voice in promotion of their film.
Here's more from the release:
A documentary battle is set to erupt this summer as rival fracking documentaries will screen in towns and cities across America on the same nights.
FrackNation, a controversial "pro-fracking" film, will face off against Gasland 2, Josh Fox's sequel to his anti-fracking documentary.
... Sparks are sure to fly as the rival documentaries screen close to each other and the filmmakers answer questions about their work.
There are two counter-screenings already scheduled: Santa Barbara, CA on May 31 and Binghamton, NY on June 5. More will be announced soon.
Gasland 2 is a sequel to Josh Fox's original HBO documentary that ignited much of the anti-fracking movement. FrackNation debunks many of the fracking myths in Gasland.
"I think FrackNation's journalism stands up against the scare stories of Gasland 2," said McAleer. "Now people across the country will be able to make up their own minds."
FrackNation was praised by the New York Times as "meticulously researched" and "provocative."
According to Variety—the showbusiness bible—FrackNation "makes a good case against [Gasland]" and "debunks the famous Gasland scene of a fracking 'victim' setting his tap water on fire."
FrackNation was funded through the crowdfunding website Kickstarter with 3,305 backers donating $212,265. Gasland 2 received corporate funding from HBO, the cable TV channel.
Though Gasland Part II premiered at Tribeca Film Festival on April 21, last night's showing, as part of the Grassroots Tour, was only the seventh for the film — a rare treat for Colorado Springs audiences.
Fox, who made himself quite available to chat with guests pre- and post-film (roaming about the front of the gymnasium casually), fired the crowd up a bit before showtime, also giving a brief call-out to his uncle Bob Rundo and other family who live in the area, all of whom sat in the front row.
The audience, a few hundred people by my estimation, were palpably responsive to the film: erupting into cheers and clapping when certain film subjects gave poignant commentary; audibly sighing when sad statistics or images of ruined nature appeared; and quickly rising to a standing ovation at film's end.
The story of Dimock, Pa., one of many towns featured for its extreme water contamination ostensibly due to nearby fracking activity — as verified by EPA studies shown in the film — offers a particularly heartbreaking portrait of big industry behavior and shocking injustice.
The EPA at times looks as if it'll step up and play the hero, but scenes that play out toward the film's end, with invisible forces suddenly crushing progress, are completely disheartening.
There are several great, laugh-out-loud one-liners in the film, both from subjects and the filmmakers.
"You know things are bad when the mayor moves," quips Fox in a voice-over segment related to Dish, Texas (literally named after the TV provider, who gave the residents free cable service for 10 years), where residents have had to flee and abandon their homes at significant personal cost because of air pollution that was purportedly causing health problems in the population.
Other moments of seemingly irrefutable, damnation-inspiring and depressing awe come from viewing the oil-streak Gulf Coast from the air after the BP spill; learning more about counter-insurgency efforts employed by the gas industry; hearing families in one Arkansas town describe localized earthquakes they believe have been triggered by fracking; and watching enraged people go into silence as they are forced to sign nondisclosure agreements in order to receive compensation by the oil and gas companies.
One of the only positive moments comes when the audience gets a reprieve from angst just long enough to learn of studies that show how wind power alone could power the world 10 times over, if only we'd move to renewable energies that also include solar, tidal and geothermal power.
But just as films like An Inconvenient Truth and Fuel have proposed hopeful alternatives, there's a certain heaviness that weighs down our collective belief that any significant action will be taken in an era where the energy industry largely funds our elected representatives.
Fox tried to still conclude the evening on a cheerier note with a banjo duet, following a brief Q&A session (punctuated by folks promoting community efforts while urging other audience members to take personal steps such as weatherizing their homes and conserving energy).
Filmed by Indy director of digital media, Becca Sickbert, here's the jam session:
Separate from last night's screening, I was contacted yesterday by Simon Lomax, research director at Energy In Depth, who wished to give his own review of the film (he'd seen it in Boulder Wednesday night) and provide some data that runs counter to Josh Fox's assertions.
What follows is in his words, unedited by me other than to remove greetings between us ("Thanks again for working an industry response into your Gasland Part II coverage," etc.).
Today's drippy skies serve as a reminder that people who live in a potential flood zone can pick up some sand bags today, compliments of the Colorado Springs Office of Emergency Management.
They're available today starting at 5 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless building, 2424 Garden of the Gods Road, the city says in a news release. Volunteers will be on hand to fill bags and help load them.
If you think a flood is unlikely, check out J. Adrian Stanley's report that documents why it's a good bet that we will see flooding this summer and beyond.
For information on potential flooding after the Waldo Canyon Fire, visit www.Springsgov.com/floodinfo. Residents are encouraged to get advice from a certified erosion and sediment control consultant or contractor to manage flood mitigation on their property. Also, sandbags shouldn't be placed in public right-of-way.
The U.S. Forest Service today announced that roughly 40 percent of the area burned by last summer's Waldo Canyon Fire — and no, there's still no word on what or who started it — will reopen to outdoor enthusiasts this Friday, May 24. Available areas will include Rampart Reservoir, related campgrounds and picnic areas, and Schubarth Road.
“Since the Waldo Canyon fire, we have accomplished a considerable about [sic] of work at the recreation sites and the trail around the Reservoir," says district ranger Alan Hahn in a press release. "Our goal is to provide a safe environment for forest visitors.”
The remainder of the Waldo Canyon Burn Area will be closed until further notice. The Waldo Canyon Trail #640 is not open because the steep valleys pose public danger during a major rain event which could trap visitors in low lying areas. Hazards exist such as falling rocks and dead trees, unstable ground and hidden stump holes. In several areas, it is almost impossible to climb to higher ground given the extremely steep terrain. The Closure also allows new vegetation to grow without being trampled. Addition re-vegetation projects will take place throughout the year.
Small water craft with electric motors can be launched from the shore at Rampart Reservoir. Visitors are cautioned that the water level at the Reservoir is expected to be low and the boat launch and ramp will be closed. No boats or motor vehicles will be allowed to cross the dam. Nichols Reservoir, south of the dam, is empty and is included in the new Closure Order. Stanley Canyon Reservoir is also empty.
“Please be patient and understand that this landscape has been dramatically altered. Our concern for your safety is paramount” said Hahn.
Public safety is a challenge because of the Burn Area’s proximity to the City of Colorado Springs and heavy visitor use in the past. According to Law Enforcement Officer Tom Healy, “The Closure Order is in place for personal safety and to protect the landscape by allowing it to heal.” Visitors are encouraged to enjoy the open areas. Violators are subject to a maximum fine of $5,000.
A parking lot at the southwest corner of North Nevada Avenue and East Cache la Poudre Street is a little more energetic with Colorado College's recent installation of a publicly accessible electric-vehicle charging station. The new hardware comes courtesy of CC graduate Jim Burness, says a press release, who is the CEO of National Car Charging, and arranged for a separate company to donate the station.
“In combination with electricity generated from renewable sources, electric vehicles will significantly reduce carbon emissions and play an important role in advancing smarter grid technology,” says CC’s sustainability coordinator, Emily Wright, in the release. “We hope our public charging station in downtown Colorado Springs will encourage these emerging technologies on a local scale.”
Charging fees will run 75 cents per hour, with one hour generating between 10 to 20 miles of driving distance. The station joins several others in the Colorado Springs area, including one installed at the First & Main Town Center.
Quick: Name the largest city abutting the Pike and San Isabel national forests and Cimarron and Comanche national grasslands (PSICC).
That's easy, right? It's the same city that lost 347 homes last summer when the Waldo Canyon Fire in the Pike National Forest raged out of control.
Yet none of the U.S. Forest Service's five meetings to solicit comments on an the environmental impact of oil and gas leasing in the forests and grasslands will be held in Colorado Springs.
Maybe they're counting on anyone from here with any interest to show up at the meeting in Monument.
The meetings concern the PSICC Oil and Gas Leasing Availability Analysis Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), according to a news release, which analyzes the effects of potential future oil and gas development. The EIS, however, focuses on surface-disturbing activities only.
More information is available here.
To view the map of the Forest Service's proposed action for the Pike and San Isabel forests, check this out:
The meeting schedule:
Elkhart, Kansas: 6:30-8:00 p.m.
Point Rock Room, 625 Colorado
Springfield, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Minnick Building - Baca County Fairgrounds
28500 County Road 24.6,
Walsenburg, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Community Center Meeting Room
928 S. Russell St.
Monument, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Bear Creek Elementary School,
1330 Creekside Drive
Fairplay, Colorado: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
North-West Fire Protection District
21455 U.S. Highway 285
For questions or comments, contact John Dow, Forest Planner, PSICC, 2840 Kachina Dr, Pueblo, CO 81004 or by phone at: 719-553-1476. Email inquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also from the releases:
Only individuals or entities who submit timely and specific written comments will have eligibility (36 CFR 218.5) to file an objection under 36 CFR 218.8. For objection eligibility, each individual or representative from each entity submitting timely and specific written comments must either sign the comment or verify identity upon request. Issues raised in an objection must be based on previously submitted timely, specific written comments regarding the proposed action unless based on new information arising after the designated comment opportunities.
Yesterday, Colorado Springs Citizens for Community Rights filed suit against the city in its ongoing effort to put a ban on fracking before local voters.
As explained in this week’s paper, the Initiative Title Setting Review Board last week rejected CSCCR’s proposed amendment to the city charter that would prevent “the extraction of natural gas or oil, including but not limited to, the processes commonly known as hydraulic fracturing and/or directional natural gas and oil well drilling, within the City of Colorado Springs.” The board contended the amendment violated the city’s rule against having multiple subjects addressed in a single ballot measure; CSCCR disagrees with that assessment, and even argues that the single-subject rule itself may not be legally valid.
The University of Denver Sturm College of Environmental Law Clinic will take up the cause, pro bono. That clinic is also representing a quartet of environmental groups aligned with the city of Longmont, which is being sued by the state for enacting a ban on fracking there.
“They’re very up to speed on the issue,” says CSCCR’s Dave Gardner. He adds that “the supervising attorney actually taught three classes about fracking at DU in the law school this last semester.”
With the suit filed in the 4th Judicial District, the city will be expected to file an answer. Gardner was unsure of the timeline for that; we have asked the city for more information, and will provide an update if and when we receive it.
Asked about a best-case scenario for his group’s effort, Gardner says that would involve the city simply backing down from its current stance.
“There’s still plenty of room for the city to do the right thing and not waste their resources in court and not waste everybody’s time fighting this in court.”
Here’s the group’s filed complaint:
Are we seeing proof of the hive mind? Or just two entrepreneur types who have the same idea about how best to approach growing produce during drought times?
And today I received info on a Fountain Valley area farmer, Charles Hendrix, from Abundant Harvest, who is hoping to generate $17,500 for a 30-by-100-foot aquaponic hoop-house to house two 1,000-gallon fish tanks.
Check out his touching pitch video, in which he lays out his desire to help feed more of El Paso County's food-insecure population:
A side note to Hendrix's crowdfunding campaign: He has opted to use Fort Collins-based Community Funded as his platform, where online benefactors actually purchase a product — called a "giftback" — as part of their donation.
Examples of what you can get include a bag of coffee blended especially for Abundant Harvest for $25; an Abundant Harvest logo t-shirt, also for $25; art prints in the $50 range and Broncos jerseys in the $150 range.
From Abundant Harvest's page, here's the details on the project, including the breakout costs for materials, etc.
Abundant Harvest is currently raising funds to build an Aquaponics system, a sustainable food production technique that combines aquaculture, the raising of fish, with hydroponics. The vegetables and fish work together in a sustainable cycle. The fish waste provides fertilizer to the plants and the plants keep the water clean. The system also uses only a fraction of the water, energy and labor of other farming practices. Because Aquaponics is a closed-loop system, it offers communities the independence to grow their own food.
The new Aquaponics facility will provide a sustainable revenue stream for Abundant Harvest by selling both the produce grown and the fish raised to local restaurants that desire a consistent source of local produce. The food grown beyond the needs of the restaurants will be donated to those in need of wholesome food.
This new source of income will help fund expanded social programs, such as a Scholarship Program and Temporary Housing for needy families that are experiencing “Situational Crisis”. The Aquaponics Grow Center will allow Abundant Harvest to make major strides in our growth and productivity and the new improved more efficient growing methods we are implementing will enable us, to produce 50,000 — 75,000 lbs. of produce, which will allow us to feed an additional 30% that cannot afford healthy nutritious food and add 3 — 4 more Food Pantries to our distribution.
The funds will be used to purchase the following equipment for the Aquaponics System:
2 — 8’ diameter x 50” tall 1,200 gallon poly tanks — $1350.00 ea. =$2,700.00
2 — 275 Gallon Totes with 24 cu.ft Bio-Filter Ribbon with air stones — $1,300.00 ea. = $2,600.00
1 - 275 Gallon Tote for pump sump — $500.00
3 - 275 Gallon Tote for Digesters — $250.00 ea. = $750.00
1 — Burdette Industries-rotating drum filter with 24” drum. 55 micron stainless steel screen. — $5,400.00
2 — 8” high pressure treated wood stands for tanks. Pre-cut wood with hangers -$550.00 ea. = $1,100.00
1000 - Tilapia — $0.21 ea. = $210.00
Gift Fulfillment/Campaign cost = $4,240.00
Michael Hannigan sounded an alarm earlier this month, as the Pikes Peak Community Foundation’s executive director warned everyone that the storied Venetucci Farm might not have water for its crops, livestock or pumpkins in 2013.
“We have to do whatever we can to save this farm,” Hannigan said in the Between the Lines column of the Indy’s April 10 issue.
Friday, Hannigan announced that the crisis has been averted, allowing Venetucci to continue its normal farming operations in 2013.
We have a call in to Hannigan, but here are the details from a Facebook posting as well as a release:
We are thrilled to announce that the water needed to maintain Venetucci Farm for 2013 has been secured!
- File photo
- And with pumpkins comes ...
The community responded with a wonderful outpouring of donations and connections, which resulted in finding augmentation water to lease.
JV Ranches, which is owned by Sheila Venezia and her family, came to the rescue. Longtime residents of the Pikes Peak region, Sheila and her children, Dean, Kathleen, Rosemarie and other family members toured the Farm to learn what was needed. Almost immediately after the visit, they agreed to transfer some of their water to be converted to augmentation water and credited to Venetucci Farm.
Now, in 2013, the Farm will be able to grow healthy food for the community and lots of pumpkins for kids.
In addition, two other entities have since stepped up to lease additional water to the Farm. Special thanks are also in order for Al Testa and the Colorado Centre Metropolitan District, along with Perry Thompson of Osage Capital.
In March, Venetucci Farm faced a serious crisis when farm managers learned that there would be no “augmentation water” designated for the property during 2013. Under Colorado law, farms that rely on using their ground water rights to pump water for irrigating crops must purchase “augmentation water” — water that is allowed to flow back into the aquifer or down Fountain Creek.
Venetucci Farm is already looking at multiple options to secure water for 2014 and beyond. Farm manager Patrick Hamilton said: “We have identified several alternatives for a permanent source of augmentation water for the Farm. We look forward to working with the community to secure the augmentation water needed for the Farm’s future water needs, and to ensure Venetucci Farm is around for generations to come.”
Spring planting is already underway. And, most importantly, we can now gear up for the Summer 2013 “Raise The Barn” initiative to raise money for a beautiful, functional, multi-use (and much-needed) barn for the Farm. Stay tuned for more news about that important project in the near future!
From the listings desk: We see a lot of events here, and many recycling events for old electronics, expired medications and chemicals. But this one, coming up on Earth Day weekend, takes the cake.
The Honeywell Earth Day Recycling Event happening Friday, April 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. will host four entities that will take everything from scrap wood to old mattresses to dead cell phones. All that stuff that's hard to get rid of. And then some:
Discover Goodwill will take second-hand clothing, household items, sporting goods, small furniture and any working electronics and computers.
Western Scrap Processing will collect all small and major appliances, mattresses, batteries, cell phones and "anything with a power cord!"
El Paso County Environmental Services Department will take paint (both liquid and aerosol), prescription medication, medical sharps and household hazardous waste.
Some fees will apply for certain items, but most of the items will be taken for free.
For more information, call 637-6700 or see the pdf.
According to the Colorado Reptile Society, water and land turtles are returning to their summer homes after hibernation. Thus, you may encounter one specimen on his or her journey.
Naturally, you should leave the turtles alone:
If you see a turtle on a road, the best thing is to help it to the other side (minding your own safety!) in the direction it was headed. Turtles do know where they are going — turning the turtle around will only delay its eventual and perhaps unsafe road crossing.
A wild turtle moving around is not homeless — so unless the turtle is truly in the midst of a city, please don’t remove it from the wild. Treat it just like an elk in Rocky Mountain National Park — wonderful to look at and enjoy, not something meant for a pet!
The distribution, populations and trends among turtles, snakes, lizards and toads are poorly known in our state, says Colorado Parks & Wildlife. But you can get a fairly good idea of who's native with its Herpetofaunal Atlas.
But, if it is a herp your hurtin' for (like this wily woman, Rita), the society, located in Longmont, has water turtles, box turtles and tortoises in need of adoption. They need outdoor habitats like ponds or a pen. Call 303/776-2070 or visit corhs.org for information.