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Climate a culprit

Climate change contributed to the Waldo Canyon Fire, concludes a report by Environment Colorado titled, "In the Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States from 2007 to 2012."

In a special section dedicated to the wildfires of 2012, the report notes that Waldo was the most destructive fire in Colorado history, but that it was hardly the only fire during an abnormally hot, dry Western summer.

"In 2012, wildfires burned about 9.3 million acres of land in the United States — an area larger than Connecticut and Massachusetts combined, and the third-largest area burned in a single wildfire season since record-keeping began in 1960," it states.

Actually, the environmental advocacy nonprofit points out, 2012 was the hottest year on record, and also contained the hottest month on record, in the contiguous United States. Last year also marked the most widespread U.S. drought in more than 50 years.

The report, which recommends a reduction in carbon emissions, also notes that heat waves, extreme downpours and extreme hurricanes have become more common in recent years. Since 2007, weather-related disasters have been declared in every state but South Carolina. — J. Adrian Stanley

State budget passes

Colorado's Republican legislators might not be pleased with it, but last Friday, the General Assembly passed a $20.5 billion budget.

This budget, if signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper, will increase the state's general fund spending by roughly $600 million over the current fiscal year.

So, where will that money be going? According to the Associated Press, K-12 education will be receiving $3.1 billion of the general fund's $8.2 billion of spending. This represents a slight increase over the $3 billion allocated to K-12 the current fiscal cycle.

The AP also reports that state employees will be receiving a 2 percent pay increase, and that $140 million will be spent on police and firefighter pensions. — Chet Hardin

Manitou shifts 911

Those who dial 9-1-1 in Manitou Springs will hear a new greeting — "El Paso County 911."

The county has taken over dispatch services for the mountain town, in the name of cost savings and greater efficiency. Manitou is paying the county $50,000 annually for the service.

Manitoids who want to make a non-emergency call to police should now call the El Paso County Sheriff's Office at 390-5555, although the Manitou Springs Police administrative number at 685-5407 will continue to work. — J. Adrian Stanley

GOP hires new ED

With the change of leadership in the El Paso County Republican Party has come a change in party staff.

Longtime activist Cherish Schaffer has been hired part-time to replace Bill Roy, who came onboard as the party's executive director in July 2011, during the fractious tenure of Chairman Eli Bremer. Jeff Hays was elected in February to replace Bremer, who opted not to run for re-election.

Jon Frazier has also been hired on a part-time basis as headquarters general manager.

Schaffer says she started on April 1. According to a press release, she will focus on "all aspects of outreach, fundraising, coordination with the State Party." — Chet Hardin

Water deficit foreseen

Demand for water in the Colorado River basin will outpace supply in the coming decades, according to "The 2013 Colorado College State of the Rockies Report Card."

The basin provides water to more than 30 million people and to major industries in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.

"There already exist imbalances between water supply and demand in the basin and this imbalance is projected to increase in both magnitude and spatial extent over the next 50 years," the report states.

Available in full at tinyurl.com/CC-State-ofthe-Rockies, the 118-page report gives an in-depth analysis of the basin and examines the effects of water use for electricity generation, municipal and industrial operations, and agricultural work. It also points the way toward solutions. Among the findings: "If the basin's entire generation portfolio were renewable, nearly 300,000 [acre-feet] could be saved each year, supplying a full 25% of the deficit the basin will be facing in a decade."

The State of the Rockies Project is in its 10th year, with students having done in-depth research on more than 45 challenges facing the region. — J. Adrian Stanley

Learn about flooding

Residents of two areas in danger of flooding due to their proximity to the Waldo Canyon Fire burn scar will have a chance to learn more about their risk at neighborhood meetings this week. The meetings are as follows:

• Pleasant Valley neighborhood: Thursday, April 11, 6 to 8 p.m., Glen Eyrie Castle Great Hall, 3820 N. 30th St.

• Manitou Springs: Monday, April 15, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Manitou Springs City Hall, 606 Manitou Ave. — J. Adrian Stanley

Immigration panel on tap

The official immigration policy in Washington often seems to be: Ignore the root of the problem, criticize the victims of the failed system, and frustrate citizens who want smart and safe border regulations. But that policy seems destined to change, and on Tuesday, April 16, Colorado College will be hosting an informal panel to discuss immigration reform legislation and how it will affect Coloradans.

According to the press release, "You'll learn: the latest on emerging national immigration legislation; which Colorado constituencies are most affected; why immigration reform is important now; [and] the impact on Colorado businesses."

The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Mining Exchange, a Wyndham Grand Hotel, 8 S. Nevada Ave. If you're interested in attending, register by Friday, April 12, by visiting coloradocollege.edu/immigrationlunch. The cost is $35 and includes lunch. — Chet Hardin

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