News

Lynn Bartles / Colorado Secretary of State

So far, seven initiatives have been approved for Colorado’s November ballot. That’s a perfect score for the various measures, including a minimum wage increase and one that allows “death with dignity” for the terminally ill. The Secretary of State is now sorting through the signatures for two more measures. They're the last two to be considered and, taken together, would greatly restrict oil and gas development in the state. Government workers are doing the tedious work  of sorting through boxes of petitions to determine if Initiatives 75 and 78 have the 98,482 signatures required to be placed on the ballot.

Courtesy Magnoilia Pictures

The documentaries of Werner Herzog are as singular as his remarkable voice when he narrates. The films are personal, eccentric, obsessive. The variety of life in total fascinates Herzog, whether its cave paintings in France, lurid tribal beauty contests for men, or now the dreaminess of the internet in the minds of scientists in the laboratories of American universities.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

It’s clear that residents and visitors love Colorado’s incredible outdoor spaces. Recreation is great for the state’s economy, but it can be a double-edged sword when too many people come to enjoy Colorado’s most cherished places.

 

KUNC News explored the challenges of keeping places open and encouraging visitation while at the same time protecting the fragile beauty of our favorite spots in the series Loved To Death.

Courtesy of the National Parks Service

The Alpine Visitors Center is the busiest visitor’s center in all of Rocky Mountain National Park, where roughly 7,000 people come every day to take in the views. But it’s also a symbol of a park changing with growing demand - more people means more litter, more noise and fewer parking spaces. Visitors looking for the solitude of the great outdoors need to work even harder to find it in the park, and officials have few solutions.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

  For the poorest amongst us, paying every bill can be a struggle, including the power bill. Solar power hasn’t really been a go-to option for those at the bottom, but that’s starting to change. Colorado’s largest utility - Xcel energy -  recently announced an expansion of a program to provide solar energy to low income residents. Its part of a proposed settlement agreement with the state’s public utility commission.

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Picture this: You're in a warm pool of water, elbow to elbow with dozens of other people. There's music, drinking, general mayhem. Oh, and maybe you’re naked. If you’re picturing a Spring Break party, you’re wrong.

Try Conundrum Hot Springs outside Aspen, Colorado.

The high alpine pool draws thousands of visitors from around the world every summer and fall. As visitation numbers spike, the U.S. Forest Service, the federal agency tasked with maintaining the area’s wild character, says the hot springs’ popularity threatens the very things that make it unique. 

Luke Runyon / KUNC

Nearly 78 million visitors hit popular spots in Colorado in 2015. They pumped more than $19 billion into the economy, according to the state’s tourism office, but that money comes with a dark side for wild places.

Once-hidden hot springs now overflow with people. Formerly pristine ecosystems are being damaged by people who don’t understand how fragile they are. And parking lots nearby are often packed before the sun comes up.

So how did we get to this point?

Courtesy Paramount Pictures

There must be something about Florence Foster Jenkins that matters to us now. Jenkins, a wealthy dowager, loved music, but in conventional terms was an unspeakably horrible singer. You can hear recordings of her, and her singing is beyond awful. Jenkins performed privately for friends, who apparently liked the soirees, but in 1944, when she put on the Carnegie Hall show, the public humiliation destroyed her, and Jenkins died just a few weeks later.

Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Rural towns need psychologists, social workers and substance abuse counselors, but there is a chronic shortage. The U.S. needs about 2,700 more clinicians to catch up to demand, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Outside of metropolitan areas there just aren’t enough providers to go around.

“It’s quite serious because, in Nebraska, 88 out of 93 counties are federally designated as underserved areas for mental health,” says Howard Liu, a psychologist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and director of the college’s Behavioral Health Education Center.

Bente Birkeland / KUNC

Access to something as simple as a doctor can be near impossible in the more rural parts of Colorado. The issue is especially pronounced along the Eastern Plains, leading state officials to embark on a new training program. The objective is to recruit and train more family practice physicians in places like Sterling, a city of about 15,000 people that’s 130 miles northeast of Denver.

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