By Meg Soyars: Sky Hi News
The hundreds of thousands of visitors who visit the Kawuneeche Valley of Rocky Mountain National Park each year enjoy the valley’s picturesque meadows and forests beside the winding Colorado River, with elk and moose abundant. What many may not know is that the valley was once home to a thriving beaver population, whose efficiently built dams kept the area covered by water.
Beavers are more than furry animals that love to swim, said Koren Nydic, Chief of Resource Stewardship at RMNP. “Beavers are ecosystem engineers. They raise the water table and connect the river with the floodplain.”
Nydick is responsible for overseeing work on natural and cultural resources, fire management, and more. She is also a member of the Kawuneeche Valley Ecosystem Restoration Collaborative (KVERC), whose mission is to restore the valley to its natural, wetland state. One facet of this mission is bringing back beaver
Tom Koehler: Director of Climate Action
Friends of the Lower Blue River is pleased to announce Tom Koehler is now part of the FOLBR administrative staff, as Director of Climate Action. Friends of the Lower Blue River considers climate action a top priority and Tom has proven to be a tremendous asset in that effort.
FOLBR is currently in its first phase of a Safe Soils/Climate Resiliency Initiative in Summit and Grand Counties. The program is assessing the health of the soil in the Lower Blue River Valley. The research will establish baseline data and recommend improvements to increase our valley’s health and the ability to capture carbon in the environment.
When it comes to transforming their environment, beavers have a lot in common with humans. They clear-cut trees and build dams to block streams, in the process radically altering the world around them. Now, it appears that beavers play a complex role in climate change, too. A new study suggests that beaver dams and the sediments corralled behind them sequester carbon, temporarily keeping greenhouse gases containing the element out of the atmosphere. But when the animals abandon these sites, the carbon leaks back out, contributing to global warming.
Before Europeans settled North America, as many as 400 million beavers inhabited an area covering just over nine-million square miles (about 60% of the continent). The wetlands that form behind their dams, as well as the floodplains that they groom nearby, provide habitat for many creatures. And although many ecologists are familiar with the biodiversity-boosting aspects of beaver activity, fewer are aware of beavers' role in carbon sequestration, says Ellen Wohl, a geoscientist at Colorado State University, Fort Collins.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, there probably is no such thing as “safe” ice, but there are some guidelines anglers should consider. In Colorado, ice conditions can vary from lake to lake. Along the Front Range, it is especially important that anglers check ice conditions before heading out because of the region’s notoriously variable weather conditions. Many of the most popular lakes are within Colorado State Parks and anglers should check with the specific park staff about ice thickness before going out.
Before going onto a frozen lake, pond or river, it's important to take safety precautions to reduce the risk of falling through the ice. Remember you take a risk any time you go onto the ice. Anglers should always decide for themselves if it is safe to go out and walk on or drive a snowmobile on ice
Knowing how to judge ice conditions will help you make more informed decisions while enjoying your outing. Ice thickness depends on several factors with the first and most obvious factor being location. The type of lake also affects ice thickness; a shallow lake will freeze faster than a deep lake. Look for clear blue ice. New ice is stronger than old ice. Ice thickness is not consistent. Beware of ice around partially submerged objects such as trees, brush, embankments or structures. Ice will not form as quickly where water is shallow or where objects may absorb sunlight.
Photo by: Richard Strauss
Friends of the Lower Blue River has hired the eco-consulting firm Geosyntec to assist us in our Safe Soils/Climate Resiliency Initiative. Beginning right after the first of the year, Geosyntec will start gathering extensive data, targeting four private ranches in the valley, Pass Creek, Blue Tree, Otter Creek and Blue Valley.
The initial scope will involve identifying the key ecological characteristics of each of these private properties. Later in the first quarter of the year, research scientists will collect samples from these diverse properties. The goal is to assess the health of the soil throughout the forested lands, riparian zones and open pastures.
Have you ever considered designating your land, large or small, for a conservation easement? Here is some important information worth considering from our partners at Colorado Open Lands. FOLBR is always here to help if you need it.
What are Conservation Easements?
Colorado Open Lands serves our community and future generations by helping private landowners place a voluntary legal agreement called conservation easements on their property. Under the terms of these agreements, their ranch stays their ranch, their farm stays their farm. The process is driven by the wishes of the landowner, but with the goal of protecting open space, water, and wildlife habitat – forever.
We are making significant progress in our Safe Soils/Climate Action Initiative. In our first phase, we will utilize the experience and geo-engineering services of the consulting firm Geosyntec. The initial scope of the project is to assess the soil, obtain baseline results, then determine recommendations to improve the varying land profiles.
We are fortunate to have four ranchers who have agreed to partner with us in this initial phase. Collectively they have diverse land profiles and offer us a great opportunity to gather solid data. We want to thank Jim Donlon (Pass Creek Ranch); Charlie Kurtz and Ann Stailey (Blue Tree Ranch); Johnny LeCoq (Otter Creek Ranch); and Brien Rose (Blue Valley Ranch) for their support in our initiative. Ultimately, we hope to expand our focus throughout the Lower Blue River Valley. We want to work with ranchers and land stakeholders to offer good information and data for the future health of our wonderful valley.
Friends of the Lower Blue River is proud to announce the establishment of The Founders Award. This award will be given annually. It recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the quality of the Lower Blue River Valley. In its first award, FOLBR recognizes Pam Beardsley and her husband George, posthumously.
Pam and George Beardsley were not only instrumental in establishing a conservation easement on their own ranch property, they also shared the value of conservation with others in the Lower Blue River Valley. Thanks to their leadership, other ranch owners followed suit establishing easements. The Lower Blue has large land parcels protected from further development in the future.
By: Sawyer D'Argonne
Summit Daily News
Trainer Emily Jacobs works to familiarize Beau the horse with getting into a trailer at the Pebble Creek Ranch on Monday, June 7.
Wildfire season continues to creep closer, evidenced by the hazy skies that emerged over Summit County on Tuesday, June 8, as smoke from fires burning around Colorado and the Southwest drifted overhead.
By now, Summit County residents should be well prepared, hopefully having taken the past few months to create defensible space around homes and ready evacuation kits in order to leave the area at a moment’s notice. But for those responsible for pets and livestock, there’s more to think about than just getting themselves out of the house safely.
Come share an evening with Friends of the Lower Blue River on Wednesday, February 12th at the Silverthorne Pavilion between 5:30 and 8:00pm, for an inspiring evening showcasing the beauty of the Lower Blue River Valley. Renowned Colorado Photographer John Fielder will share his work and ideas for preserving our natural world. John's latest book will be available as well. We will present a short Water and Wildlife film festival on the unique character of our area along with a global perspective. We'll have a cash bar, silent auction and heavy hors d’oeuvres provided by Food Hedz Catering.
Tickets are $15/person in advance and $20/person at the door. You can purchase your advance tickets by going to the Eventbrite link below.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE TICKETS
Colorado should take prompt action after the lessons we learned from last year's California Wildfires. The Denver Post discusses the devastation that we see every year from Wildfires; lives lost, destruction of homes and wildlife habitat, billions of dollars spent suppressing and restoring. Fire suppression measures have been taken, but what measures need to be taken to prepare for and prevent fires? Read more to learn about "The Wake Up Call for Colorado" after the California wildfires.
Click here to read full article on denverpost.com
As the Denver Post shares, Chronic Wasting Disease, or (CWD) has infected up to 16 percent of male animals tested in parts of Colorado. CWD affects the health of the state's wildlife populations of deer, elk and moose. Additionally, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, hunters need to be cautious and follow the recommended process of getting the carcass tested. For additional information on CWD and Colorado Parks and Wildlife expert strategies for fighting the disease, click here to read the full article.
Read Denver Post Article
While wildlife over passes and under passes may be expensive, we need more in Colorado to assure safety of humans and wildlife. Read more from Mother Nature Network as they discuss the success of the passings, the costs of safety and the importance of strategy behind selecting additional passings.