2014 Pulitzer Prize Winner
  • Plant give-away for Mountain Shadows this Saturday

    Wed, July 31, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Colorado Springs Together has helped organize a give-away of native perennials for Mountain Shadows residents

    Southwest Farms, Inc. from Pueblo has donated 6,000 perennial plants and ornamental grasses. Residents can pick them up on Saturday at the Woodmen Valley Chapel at 290 East Woodmen Road. Plant pick up will be from 8:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.


  • El Paso County Long Range Recovery meeting tonight

    Wed, July 31, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The El Paso County Commissioners have their monthly Black Fores Fire Long Range Recovery meeting tonight, July 31. The county has divided the tasks of recovery into subcommittees, which will report their findings on Wednesday night.

    Residents are encouraged to attend the meeting to get the latest updates on fire recovery,  as well as ask questions. Read more about the meeting, as well as the latest updates on the FEMA grants.

    The meeting will be from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at The Tent at New Life Church, 11035 Voyager Parkway 80921.

    Also, on Thursday night, the insurance  non-profit United Policyholders will host another workshop on insurance. The workshop will be from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., at The Pinery, 12375 Black Forest Road.




  • All that rain must be helping, right?

    Tue, July 30, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The answer is: No, not really.

    The weekly U.S. Drought monitor report from the National Weather Service, released every Thursday, shows El Paso County still the red and the orange. That’s red for “extreme” and “exceptional” drought, and orange for “severe” drought. Southeastern and southwestern Colorado are still heavily impacted by drought, despite the monsoonal rains.

    drought monitor

    Take a closer look at El Paso County:

    drought monitor 2

  • Wildfire legislation: A wrap-up

    Tue, July 30, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Two Colorado senators, Mark Udall and Michael Bennet, have been pushing legislative action on wildfire prevention and recovery. Here’s a wrap-up:

    • Sen. Udall and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Oklahoma, proposed on Monday legislation that would allow the Federal Emergency Management Agency to work proactively with communities on wildfire mitigation projects. The bill would make Colorado, Oklahoma and other states eligible for an additional 15 percent of FEMA funds for wildfire mitigation–the funds would come from the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which currently only funds wildfire suppression. The bill also place wildfires on par with other natural disasters, such as tornadoes and hurricanes.
    • Sen. Bennet and Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, proposed an amendment on July 25 to a Congressional plan to test drone-technology in several states. The Federal Aviation Administration is already working with Congress on six test sites around the county, where unmanned aerial systems, or drones, can be used. Bennet and Flake asked that two more test sites be added specifically for Colorado, for testing drone technology on wildfire detection and firefighting. Read this article for more information about the ideas behind drones and wildfire.
    • Sen. Bennet and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, have introduced a measure into the Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Bill that requires FEMA to put together a report on its wildfire mitigation projects, as well as identify any obstacles to funding those programs. A 2007 study of FEMA’s Pre-Disaster Mitigation program sets very little funding aside for wildfires.
  • Sheriff Terry Maketa to speak at Faces of the Fire

    Tue, July 30, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa will speaking at a Faces of the Fire event on Friday, Aug. 2.

    Faces of the Fire was founded after the Waldo Canyon fire last year, as a group that tells the stories of people involved in and affected by the fire. Maketa will be speaking about lessons learned from the Waldo Canyon fire, and how they influenced the management of the Black Forest fire.

    The talk will begin at 5 p.m. and will end at 7 p.m. The event is free, but guests are encouraged to make donations, which will go towards the renovation of Mountain Shadows Park.

  • Sen. Mark Udall asks for USFS review of Black Forest fire

    Tue, July 23, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Sen. Mark Udall has asked the U.S. Forest Service to review its use of aircraft during the Black Forest fire to distill lessons learned for future fires along the Front Range.

    The air response to the fire, the most destructive in state history, has been touted as a great success by the Senator as well as El Paso County Sheriff Terry Maketa. In a letter to the forest service, Udall asked for details on how the forest service plans to integrate lessons learned from both the Waldo Canyon and Black Forest fires into future air response plans.

    Udall is particularly interested in the use of military aircraft to fight wildfire.

    “I was relieved to see that military aircraft from Fort Carson and the Colorado National Guard were activated early in the Black Forest Fire to drop water and fly spotter missions for ground personnel, and eventually dropped approximately 30,000 gallons of water on the fire. On the ground, the 40 personnel from the Colorado’s National Guard Reaction Force who manned security checkpoints in the Black Forest area demonstrated the type of swift cooperation required in rapidly evolving disaster scenarios.”

    Udall also requested information about a potential interagency wildfire plan for the Front Range, which could incorporate  military as well as forest service aircraft.

    Last summer, Udall participated in an after action review of the military aircraft response to the Waldo Canyon fire.  Listen to a briefing of that review here.

    Click here to read the letter from Udall to the forest service.

  • U.S. Forest Service seeking public comment of Waldo Canyon erosion control projects

    Fri, July 19, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The U.S. Forest has opened up a 30-day long public comment period on its Waldo Fire Area Sediment Control project, which will be constructing sediment basins, log erosion barriers and bolstering culverts throughout the Waldo Canyon fire burn scar.

    The project will span 2,000 acres, and aims to prevent mudslides and debris flow down the mountain–such as the community of Manitou Springs has seen over the past two weeks.

    All comments or questions about the project can be sent be letters, emails or messages. Please send comments to:

    Mike Picard, Project NEPA Coordinator

    San Isabel National Forest

    5575 Cleora Road, Salida, CO


    Phone: 719-530-3959

    Fax: 719-539-3593

    Email: mpicard@fs.fed.us, please reference “Waldo Fire Area Sediment Control Comments” in the subject line.

  • Free Care and Share market for Black Forest survivors, first responders

    Fri, July 19, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Care and Share Food Bank will host the first of two free Black Forest fire farmers markets on Saturday, July 20, at the Pikes Peak Community College.

    The market offers fresh produce, meat, dairy and non-perishable family food boxes exclusively to first responders or residents who were evacuated, lost their homes or who were unemployed for some period during the Black Forest fire.

    Residents are asked to bring proof of residence or employment; first responders should bring proof of employment. The market will open at 10 a.m. and will close at 2 p.m. It will be at the Rampart Range Campus, 11195 Highway 83. The second market will be held in the same location on July 27.

  • Colorado fires and Canadian flooding–connected?

    Fri, July 12, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    The short answer is: Yes, and no.

    This morning, I read in the “Rocky Mountain Outlook” an article that connected Colorado’s June wildfires to massive flooding in the Canadian province of Alberta. It seemed a bit far-fetched, but intriguing.

    Colorado fires themselves did not contribute to Alberta flooding, but both were (ironically) caused by the same weather system, said Dr. John Pomeroy, director of the University of Saskatchewan’s hydrology department.

    Here’s what happened:

    In early June, as the Black Forest fire was raging just outside of Colorado Springs, a high-pressure cell was over Colorado, making conditions hot and dry–prime weather for a firestorm.

    “When you get a high pressure cell, it’s very dry air and it tends to be sunny, then you have warm and dry conditions,” Pomeroy explained. “When you get in a long term drought it’s often high pressure for a long time.”

    This cell moved north, and right around the Montana/Alberta border it became trapped in the Rockies, where it rose, cooled, and eventually moved into Alberta, where it dumped the moisture it had collected from Colorado. This effect is called a “cold low.”

    While Colorado was desperate for rain, Alberta was desperate to get out of it.

    “It was raining an inch an hour for quite a while,” Pomeroy said. “The total rainfall was 10 inches over two days. Then we had snow-melt that contributed to another 10 inches of water.”

    It was also cold in Canada–towards the end of the rain-burst,  the storm turned into snow.

    “The moisture was actually getting suck out of Colorado,” Pomeroy added. “So it was the moisture that you would have liked to have had.”

    Cold lows are typically what cause flash-flooding in Colorado in the  summer, when the monsoonal flow becomes trapped in the mountains, and ultimately have all their moisture squeeze out of them. This storm set up was hovering over Colorado in June, but “it was probably pushed out by  the high pressure cell” that was adding heat and dryness to fires, Pomeroy said.

    “It was kind of strange that it moved this far more.,” Pomeroy said of the storm. “We were getting Colorado’s weather.”






  • How much of the forest is gone after the Black Forest fire?

    Fri, July 12, 2013 by Ryan Handy with no comments

    Technically, the Black Forest fire, which started on June 11, burned 14,280 acres.  It didn’t entirely consume the forest–there are large pockets of greenery that survived–but in other areas it was utterly devastating.

    This before-and-after NASA image of the fire gives  a glimpse of just how much of the forest is gone–and that’s quite a bit.

    Screen Shot 2013-07-12 at 10.35.09 AM