Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Small Flower, One Big Issue

This month I reported a series of stories on new protections for a rare flower that only grows on the Roan Plateau in Northwestern Colorado. The US Fish and Wildlife Service designated the Parachute Penstemon as "threatened" on its Endangered Species List. The flower blooms in areas where oil and gas companies own leases, but so far, no development is happening. The Fish and Wildlife Service says the flower's greatest threat is from potential natural gas drilling. If a company wants to develop there, it may have to re-route pipelines, or move roads.

Well pads where drilling is taking place can be seen from a steep slope where the plant grows. The energy industry fears additional environmental regulations, like those that come with the Fish and Wildlife's designation, could slow job growth. But environmental groups say the flower is important to maintain a healthy natural ecosystem. The flower may be small, but it represents a big age-old debate about how to balance energy development with a healthy environment. (photos courtesy of Rocky Mountain Wild)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Recognizing 9/11 in Aspen

This morning's 9/11 ceremony in downtown Aspen included words from people who were in New York City at the time of the attacks. Aspen resident Dick Butera described a massive cloud of debris heading toward his hotel near the Twin Towers. He became emotional yesterday when he described calling his children from the hotel to say goodbye. Butera survived and his hotel became the feeding center for thousands of first-responders and others at the site. Another Aspen resident, Andrea Booher, took photos at Ground Zero for FEMA. She thanked first-responders yesterday, for their hard work in NYC and everywhere else. The ceremony focused on work done by police, firefighters and others who were on the scene to help. Audience members were asked to place roses in empty firefighters' boots. The boots signified those lost in the 9/11 attacks. For the full story, log onto

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cycling culture invades Aspen with delicious meals and unique lingo

Cycling chef serves up good eats

The winner of the queen stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge from Gunnison to Aspen says food played a role in his victory. During a post-win press conference in Aspen Wednesday, George Hincapie of the BMC racing team credited good eating:

“I thought I was in pretty good shape coming into this race and yesterday I pretty much fully bonked coming into the finish and didn’t eat enough and so, today, I ate as much as I would do for a world cup and it ended up helping out because I felt a lot better today,” Hincapie said.

Indeed, food does play and integral part of an athlete’s performance. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen visited with the chef for Team Radio Shack as he cooked for the team’s cyclists following yesterday’s stage of the race.

Who or what is a peloton?

A large scale bike race barreling through a town’s main street, like Colorado’s ProCycling Challenge, can be a headache for people who couldn’t care less about cycling. But for diehard bike fans this race is what the Super Bowl is for football fans or the World Series to baseball fans. As with any sport with a large enough following a certain culture forms around it complete with its own clothing, tools and lingo. Aspen Public Radio’s Luke Runyon met up with some of those fans and gives us a peek into the world of pro cycling.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Natural gas drilling expansion sparks debate in Garfield County

Part One

Drive west on Interstate 70 and a change in the landscape is evident almost as soon as you pull out of Glenwood Springs. Natural gas wells dot the highway. Their prevalence is not new, but the industry is growing and with that growth comes serious public policy debates. Aspen Public Radio's Luke Runyon looked into what’s at stake for the industry and for residents who fear for their health. In part one of his report he has one example of what happens when oil and gas operations attempt to coexist in a densely populated neighborhood.

Part Two

Fracking. The word is powerful enough in Western Colorado to elicit gut reactions. The spreading use of the drilling practice is touted as a way to wean the United States off foreign oil. Critics, who say their air is being polluted with noxious fumes, believe fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a health hazard. There still is no definitive science to back up the claim. One of the only studies to consider the issue was recently halted before completion. Now, residents of the small retirement community of Battlement Mesa in Garfield County have taken matters into their own hands; they are doing their own testing. In the second of our reports on the debate over natural gas drilling in Garfield County, Aspen Public Radio’s Luke Runyon explores whether this citizen sampling is political action or sound science.

Part Three

Colorado’s natural gas industry is Drilling companies are seeking permits to open more wells at a furious pace. And the requests are no longer limited to just the western part of the state, the region generally thought of as Colorado’s natural gas mecca. Now parts of northern and eastern Colorado could be on the brink of a drilling boom as companies are scooping up mineral rights to a massive shale formation. Nationally, demand for gas is growing and that has companies aggressively exploring in the state. In the final part of our report on natural gas drilling in Colorado, Aspen Public Radio’s Luke Runyon explains that changes in drilling technology will likely have the biggest impact on the future of energy development here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Grilled Cheese, Street Food and Celebrity Chefs: Food and Wine Classic in Aspen 2011

This year I spent an entire day, from 10am to 10pm, indulging in the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen. This is the third year I've covered the event, but I've never participated in an entire day of sessions and tastings.

The day began with Laura Werlin's workshop on pairing grilled cheese sandwiches with wine. According to the official Classic handbook, Werlin is one of the country's foremost authorities on cheese. Her latest book is called, "Grilled Cheese, Please." And, by the way, it's her second book on the subject. I don't claim or aim to be a food critic, but Werlin's grilled cheese sandwiches made me salivate. They were absolutely the most delicious grilled cheese sandwiches I've ever tasted. The first sandwich (there were four) was my favorite. The melted cheese oozed out between two slices of cinnamon raisin bread and a sort of chili chutney was spread on top of the cheese. Delicious!

After the cheese/wine session, I attended a Street Food from Singapore luncheon. A few of the food selections were Singapore curry, fried rice and an edible cup filled with noodles and topped with shrimp. Celebrity chef Susan Feniger even cut in front of me (after nicely asking) to get to the food first!

Next came a Borolo wine tasting with David Lynch. Some history on Lynch from the ultimate Classic handbook: "David Lynch served as the senior editor at Wine & Spirits. He was also the sommelier at New York's famed Babbo Ristorante." At this tasting, the looseness that develops after several glasses of wine was apparent in many of the participants. At least three times, those sitting in the tent yelled and howled at a nearby tent, where another wine tasting was happening. Those in the other tent proudly howled back.

All in all, my experience at this year's Classic was one to remember and my pallet is now a bit more educated. My Sunday night meal of macaroni and cheese may need to be spiced up a bit...Now, over to the kitchen!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Statements from NPR and Ron Schiller about Project Veritas' Video

March 8, 2011 Statements from Ron Schiller & Vivian Schiller

"While the meeting I participated in turned out to be a ruse, I made statements during the course of the meeting that are counter to NPR’s values and also not reflective of my own beliefs. I offer my sincere apology to those I offended. I resigned from NPR, previously effective May 6th, to accept another job. In an effort to put this unfortunate matter behind us, NPR and I have agreed that my resignation is effective today." Ron Schiller, Former SVP of Development and Former President of the NPR Foundation – March 8, 2011

“Ron Schiller’s remarks are contrary to what NPR stands for and deeply distressing to reporters, editors and others who bring fairness, civility and respect for a wide variety of viewpoints to their work every day.” Vivian Schiller, President & CEO, NPR – March 8, 2011

NPR Corporate Statement – provided to media March 8th

The comments contained in the video released today are contrary to everything we stand for and we completely disavow the views expressed. NPR is fair and open minded about the people we cover. Our reporting reflects those values every single day -- in the civility of our programming, the range of opinions we reflect and the diversity of stories we tell.

The assertion that NPR and public radio stations would be better off without federal funding does not reflect reality. The elimination of federal funding would significantly damage public broadcasting as a whole.

Ron Schiller tendered his resignation on January 24, well before the lunch meeting occurred. His resignation was announced last week. He was intending to stay with NPR through May 5. We have mutually agreed that Ron is leaving NPR effective today.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Colorado's resort region continues to get hit hard by foreclosure

This morning listen for a story on the latest foreclosure numbers in Colorado. The state's foreclosure rate is flattening out. But the numbers are not a pretty picture for the rural resort region. Tune in -- an economist and spokesperson for the Colorado Division of Housing will explain why.

In the meantime, if you want to read the report for yourself, head here.