Lynx reintroduction loses ground

The annual search for new lynx kittens in the San Juan Mountains has come up empty. The Colorado Division of Wildlife said the result is disappointed but not unexpected.

DOW biologists and researchers believe that the lack of lynx reproduction this year is most likely due to a decline in snowshoe hare numbers, the lynx’s primary food. The decline in the number of snowshoe hares could be part of a natural cycle in hare populations.

In the spring of 2006, DOW researchers found only four lynx dens and a total of 11 kittens, a large decline from the three previous years. Researchers now suspect that this was an indication that the drop in the snowshoe hare population might have started in late 2005 or early 2006.

Most of the lynx are fitted with radio telemetry collars so researchers can continually track the animals. DOW biologists estimate that at least 125 cats are alive. Trapping operations in the winter of 2006-07 found that adult animals were in good physical condition. But few of the kittens born in 2005 and 2006 survived.

Studies from Canada show that snowshoe hare population cycles last from two to four years. DOW officials speculate that this could be the second year of a cycle. “With the number of lynx currently in Colorado, we believe they could go two or three years without reproduction and still have enough survivors to rebuild the population,” said Rick Kahn, lead biologist for the reintroduction effort. “We’ll continue our intensive monitoring efforts and data analysis and wait to see what happens next year.”

The DOW started reintroducing lynx in Colorado’s southern mountains in 1999 and 2000 and continued the effort from 2003-06. In that time, a total of 218 lynx from Alaska and Canada have been reintroduced, and 116 lynx kittens are known to have been born in Colorado.

Salazars urge Desert Rock extension

The comment period on a proposed massive coal-fired power plant in northern New Mexico may be extended is two Colorado lawmakers have their way.

In a letter sent to Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne earlier this week,  Sen. Ken Salazar, D-Colo., and his brother Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., urged the Department of the Interior to extend the comment period on the Desert Rock Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by 60 days.  The comment period on the 1,600-plus page document was scheduled to end Aug. 20.

Among the Salazars’ concerns was that many residents who requested a copy of the draft did not receive it until the comment period was half over. The Congressmen also expressed concern regarding the length and extreme technical complexity of the document.

“Residents from every community in the Four Corners area deserves more time to review the draft environmental impact statement for this controversial project,” said Sen. Salazar.  “A proposal of this magnitude must be examined, studied and scrutinized carefully.  Desert Rock will have a large impact on the Four Corners region, and it is our responsibility to ensure that the time needed to evaluate Desert Rock is made available.”      

“Many elected officials and community members have contacted me with concerns about the proposed Desert Rock Plant,” said Congressman Salazar. The plant’s impact to air and water quality needs to be thoroughly understood by the residents of Southwest Colorado. Extending the public comment period to allow the public to have the time to read and understand the lengthy and complex Draft Environmental Impact Statement is something that the federal government needs to do.”

They went on to note that many of their Southwest Colorado constituents and local elected officials have expressed concern over the proposed plant’s impact on air and water quality.

Sen. Salazar also has expressed personal concerns over the 1,500-megawatt plant, which would be built on the Navajo Nation, about 20 miles south of Kirtland, N.M. The $2 billion facility would become the third coal-fired power plant operating in the San Juan Basin, generating power for an 1.5 million homes. The plant would join longtime polluters, the San Juan Generating Station and the Four Corners Power Plant, both west of Farmington. The existing plants burn coal to generate electricity for nearly 500,000 households in New Mexico, Arizona, California and Texas but have been listed as among the dirtiest point sources of pollution in the nation.

“We agree that a thorough process is needed and feel that the 60-day public comment period is insufficient given the length and extreme technical complexity of the 1,600-plus page docu

ment,” the brothers wrote, concluding, “because of the profound impact such a project would have,” the comment period for the EIS be extended by at least another 60 days.


Hollywood begins to eye Colorado

Colorado could be going a little Hollywood in coming years. An Eddie Murphy blockbuster is set to begin filming in Denver, and Gov. Bill Ritter and Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper said they see stars on Colorado’s horizon.

Produced by Paramount Pictures, “Nowhereland” will begin filming later this year.

“We are pleased to be hosting this production from Paramount Pictures, and we are excited about the producer’s decision to make Denver a major part of this film,” Ritter said. “This will be the largest production in Colorado in several years, and we hope this is a sign of good things to come for our film industry.”

The film will begin production in Los Angeles in September before moving to the Denver metro area in early October for approximately two weeks of filming. “We are thrilled the Mile High City will be a backdrop for this high visibility production,” said Hickenlooper. “In 2006, filming in Denver increased by 27 percent and created more than 4,000 jobs. This Paramount production is a welcome boost for Denver’s growing film industry and a great opportunity to showcase our city.”

“Nowhereland” is the story of a failing financial executive (Murphy) who finds the solutions to his problems in his daughter’s imaginary world, Nowhereland.


DHS aerospace team wins contest

The Durango High Aerospace Design Team (DADT) took home top honors at the International Space Settlement Design Competition, held at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Only three of the eight teams competing were from the United States – Edgewater High School from Orlando; Richard Montgomery High School from Rockville, Md.; and Durango High. There also were two teams from India, one from Romania, one from Uruguay, and one from Australia.

To be considered for the competition, the Durango team submitted a proposal for a space colony for 10,000 inhabitants in the Asteroid Belt in the year 2067. The 40-page proposal included several design novelties, including a “quantum entanglement system” that would allow instantaneous communication between Earth and the colony. The system was based on current research at CalTech.

At the competition, the DHS students were partnered with other schools in creating a complete futuristic design. The DHS team, working with the Romanian, Australian and Uruguayan students, created a design for a city on Mars in the year 2077. The group delivered its presentation to a panel of NASA and Boeing engineers who said this year’s proposals were far more elaborate and professional than any in the previous 12 years.

“Their use of technology was an imaginative extension of existing technologies, whereas other teams stuck too closely to technologies that already exist,” said DHS Design Team Coach Damian Nash. “This was a clear validation of the Durango team who struggled repeatedly with their technologically conservative teammates … they took risks, and those risks were rewarded.”

– compiled by Will Sands & Missy Votel


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Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale