Mark Udall's Last Senate Campaign: Save Browns Canyon

Jeffry Mitton
Browns Canyon is one of Colorado's most popular whitewater destinations.
He lost a tough, key race to rising Republican media darling Cory Gardner, but Mark Udall still has some unfinished business before giving up his U.S. Senate seat in a few weeks. And at the top of the list is Udall's push for passage of S. 1794, his bill to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument -- or finagle some executive action in its stead.

A rugged mix of granite cliffs, forests and meadows flanking the Arkansas River between Buena Vista and Salida, Browns Canyon is rich in wildlife, including bighorn sheep, black bears and mountain lions -- and a place of solace, recreation and opportunity for hikers, anglers, outfitters, hunters and local tourism. Udall's bill would preserve historic uses while protecting the area from new roads and the incursion of mining interests.

See also: Video: Save Browns Canyon Campaign Launches With Civic Center Light Show

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Roan Plateau Compromise Hailed as "The Colorado Way"

Six years after the drill-baby-drill crusaders of the Bush administration targeted one of Colorado's most ecologically unique places for widespread energy leases, a surprisingly reasonable compromise has been hammered out over the fate of the Roan Plateau. The deal is being praised by state and federal officials as well as environmental and sportsmen groups -- and at least tolerated by oil-and-gas interests as a viable alternative to what had become a protracted and seemingly hopeless legal deadlock.

The lesson here? Fiats from Washington that fail to take into account community concerns about long-term economic and environmental impacts are bound to breed lawsuits and impasse. It takes some local buy-in to get to what Governor John Hickenlooper describes as "a productive path forward.... It really is the Colorado way."

See also: Roan Plateau Rethinking: Drilling Delay Prompts Pouting, Applause

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Pinon Canyon: Army Slates Public Comment on Ramp-Up at Not-So-Public Time and Place

The PiƱon Canyon region contains one of the richest deposits of prehistoric sites in the West. Coming soon: Explosions.
After years of battling the Pentagon's plans to expand the 367-square-mile Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site, ranchers and other residents of southeastern Colorado thought they'd finally achieved peace with honor last fall, when a top Army official formally announced that the military was abandoning any land acquisition plans for PCMS. But the latest proposal for increased use of the site in training Fort Carson troops -- an intense ramp-up of operations, heavy on the use of electronic warfare technologies, lasers, explosives, drones, restrictions on public air space, and more -- doesn't strike the expansion opponents as too neighborly.

See also: Leaked Documents Show Army's Bold Plan to Acquire 10,000 Square Miles of Colorado

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Video: Save Browns Canyon Campaign Launches With Civic Center Light Show

A gun-and-reel crowd turned out for a light show on the facade of the McNichols Building.
Between Buena Vista and Salida, the Arkansas River sweeps through Browns Canyon, an area of granite cliffs and rugged backcountry that's popular with elk, bighorn sheep, mountain lions and black bears -- not to mention hunters, anglers, rafters, hikers and campers. But this quintessential slice of Colorado wilderness is also attracting increasing interest from mining companies, and that's prompted a sportsmen's group to embark on an unusual campaign, featuring billboards and a recent flashy light show downtown, to get Browns Canyon designated as a national monument.

See also: Water Wars: Deal Reached on Upper Colorado Diversion Project

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Seidel's Suckhole Death Not Fault of Rafting Company, Judge Rules

Categories: Environment, News

A screen capture of a video showing rafters navigating Seidel's Suck Hole. Additional clips and more below.
No one denies that the vividly named Seidel's Suckhole offers challenges aplenty to rafters navigating the Arkansas River, as witnessed by the tragic death of Sue Ann Apolinar, who'd booked a journey with a company called Arkansas Valley Adventures.

Jesus Espinoza, Jr., Apolinar's son, subsequently sued AVA, maintaining that the firm had failed to properly divulge the risks at Seidel's. But a U.S. District Court judge has now rejected that claim. Videos, the ruling and more below.

See also: Photos: Woman's Drowning Death in Poudre River Third Since Memorial Day, published June 5

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Casey Nocket's Latest Alleged Graffiti Target: Colorado National Monument

Recent Facebook photos of Casey Nocket. More images below.
Our Adam Roy recently told you about Casey Nocket, who he described as "a graffiti artist...suspected of leaving her mark on one of the state's most-visited slices of wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park."

Now, Nocket is thought to have done likewise on another beautiful part of our state: Colorado National Monument.

See also: Photos: Casey Nocket, Accused Vandal, May Have Tagged Rocky Mountain National Park

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Photos: Casey Nocket, Accused Vandal, May Have Tagged Rocky Mountain National Park

Courtesy of Modern Hiker
Creepytings' graffiti at Crater Lake National Park.
Update: Rocky Mountain National Park may not have been the only site in Colorado tagged by accused vandal Casey Nocket. The National Park Service announced in a memo on October 29 that it was investigating Nocket for allegedly defacing Colorado National Monument, as well as RMNP and seven other national parks across the western United States. According to the agency, the graffiti in Rocky Mountain was reported and cleaned up in September.

Original post: New Yorker Casey Nocket allegedly defaced rock formations in as many as ten national parks around the U.S., painting faces and other designs using permanent acrylics and broadcasting the results on social media. Here in Colorado, the graffiti artist is suspected of leaving her mark on one of the state's most-visited slices of wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Now, thanks to some crowdsourced detective work from the National Park Service and Reddit, her days of using America's public lands as her canvas may be coming to an end.

See also: Rocky Mountain National Park Lightning Kills Gregory Cardwell, Becky Telheit in Two Days

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Chatfield Reservoir: Lawsuit Claims "Massive Environmental Damage" From Project

Chatfield State Park.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is bullish on the idea of increasing water storage at Chatfield Reservoir, plunging ahead with a reallocation project that its planners believe will help meet future water needs across the metro area without diverting more supplies from the Western Slope. But a lawsuit filed this week by the Audubon Society of Greater Denver claims that the project will not only have a devastating impact on wildlife and recreation at Chatfield State Park but will fail to reliably provide additional water -- and that many of the water providers who initially backed the scheme have since dropped out.

See also: Comment Period Extended For Controversial Chatfield Reservoir Project

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Fracking: Call For Ban Cites Quakes, Spills, Exploding Trains

Only days before the United Nations Climate Summit, the environmental group Food & Water Watch has released a wide-ranging critique of the oil and gas industry, linking the practice of fracking to a host of adverse economic, health and climate impacts -- from scarred landscapes, declining air quality and community disruption to potential aquifer contamination, earthquakes and, yes, global warming.

Call it a conflation of real dangers and hypothetical risks, genuine concerns and apocalyptic visions, worst-case scenarios and sobering statistics.

See also: John Hickenlooper's Fracking Panel Snubs the Fractivists

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John Hickenlooper's Fracking Panel Snubs the Fractivists
Colorado Springs No Fracking Zone Facebook Page
One of the sentiments that won't be discussed by the governor's new task force.
Earlier this week, when Governor John Hickenlooper announced the names of the nineteen people selected for a special oil and gas task force intended to address fracking-related land use and health issues across the state, he boasted of the group's "balanced and informed representation." It was as if he was introducing one of those ethnically diverse platoons from old War War II movies: the Italian from the Bronx, the Polish kid from Chicago, the hillbilly from Georgia, the farm boy from Ohio, the Navajo scout, the cigar-chomping noncom from Anytown, USA.

Depending on when they were made, those movies frequently left somebody out of the rainbow commandos -- the Latino, the Asian guy, almost certainly the African American (racial desegregation didn't become U.S. military policy until 1948). And Hickenlooper's group neatly excludes any of the folks who prompted its creation: Conspicuously absent from the task force is anyone who was actively involved in the recent slew of campaigns to promote more local control over fracking and impose bans on drilling in several Front Range cities.

See also: How Colorado became ground zero in America's energy wars

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