Stories on our natural world, parks, resources, environmental issues, animals, water, fracking, mining, impacts and wilderness.

Inside Energy / Rocky Mountain PBS

Native American tribes continue to fight the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline -- even as the company that owns it says they expect oil to begin flowing within a few weeks.

Last year, thousands showed up to protest the pipeline, which would cross near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation in North Dakota. Many stayed in camps through the winter and hundreds were arrested.

A new documentary, Beyond Standing Rock, explores this story and other recent fights over land and energy development in the U.S.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

The conflict over oil and gas drilling -- as well as hydraulic fracturing -- has led to multiple protests, votes and court decisions in Colorado. Most recently, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman began proceedings to sue Boulder County over its lack of new drilling permits.

But the history of oil and gas development and regulation in Colorado is a long one. Here’s how we got to where we are today.

KUNC File Photo

Boulder County is being sued by the state of Colorado over its continued moratorium on new oil and gas development. In a letter sent to Boulder County Commissioners Jan. 26, Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman threatened legal action if the county didn’t begin permitting new oil and gas development including fracking, on unincorporated county land by Feb. 10. The deadline passed - without any permitting change from Boulder County - and a complaint, the initial legal document to begin a lawsuit, was received by county officials Feb. 14.

Bente Birkland / KUNC

Updated at 1:30 p.m. MT on Jan. 27

Boulder County could wind up in court over its continued moratorium on oil and gas development.

Colorado Attorney General Cynthia Coffman sent a letter to Boulder County Commissioners Jan. 26 threatening legal action if they don’t begin permitting new oil and gas development including fracking, on unincorporated areas within the county by Feb. 10.

S. Habbal, M. Druckmüller and P. Aniol / NASA

The last time a total solar eclipse was visible to most of the continental U.S., Richard Nixon was president and the Beatles had just released ‘Let It Be’ in the U.K. The 2017 total solar eclipse on Aug. 21 follows a long tradition of captivating people’s imaginations that’s been going on for thousands of years.

Oral and written histories tell us of fear and trepidation at the sight of a comet or meteor, while other cultures celebrated the same sight with dancing and feasts. But the disappearance of the sun or the moon -- an eclipse -- was an exceptional event.

SNOWTEL / Natural Resources Conservation Service

After a very dry fall, Colorado’s snowpack has bounced back. Statewide, the snowpack is at almost 160 percent of normal, with the state’s historically snowiest months still to come.

“To have our snowpack where it is right now for the state is a really good position to be in going forward for water supplies into the spring and summer,” said Brian Domonkos, Colorado snow survey supervisor and hydrologist.

The good news extends to cities and reservoirs downstream of Colorado, like Lake Mead in Nevada which has experienced record lows.

Photo by Jeremy Swanson, Colorado Ski Country USA

The avalanche danger in Colorado's mountains is very high as more snow falls, blown by gusty winds. Crews from the Colorado Department of Transportation are out in force, working to reduce the danger for motorists traveling in the high country.

Chris Ford / Flickr

On Wednesday, Jan. 4, the National Weather Service issued a winter storm warning for most of Northern Colorado. Going into Thursday, the alert has been canceled for some Front Range counties, but southern and mountain communities continue to see large accumulations. Temperatures are expected to stay in the single digits for most of Thursday, with a drop below zero after dark.

3 Things To Know About The Future Of Federal Lands

Dec 27, 2016
Barbara Witmore, BLM New Mexico. / Flicker.com

In the west, the debate about how to manage vast swaths of federal land is ongoing. In 2016, a standoff in an Oregon national park lasted for a month, and included the shooting death of one of the occupiers. Many of the same resistors were part of the Nevada-based Bundy ranch standoff in 2014, which still hasn’t been fully resolved.

With a new president entering the White House, the question has become whether or not these lands should return to state management. NPR’s Kirk Siegler has been on the road researching the topic.

Here are 3 things Siegler has uncovered so far.

_чaѕaмιnе.м / Flicker.com

Recycling options vary for North Colorado residents. Fort Collins and Windsor, for example, offer a combination of city and private options, depending on the recycled material. Greeley was forced to close its downtown recycling center in 2014 because of high operating costs and a lack of participation, but it may be coming back.


That’s what Brad Mueller and the city of Greeley hope to find out. The city has sent out postcards to about a quarter of households to gauge how much people would be willing to pay for better recycling.