Northern Colorado

Matt Bloom/KUNC

As Colorado’s population has grown, so has the oil and gas industry. Its presence is an unavoidable part of the landscape. That’s why volunteer Patricia Nelson said she has spent part of her summer collecting signatures for Initiative 97.

Colorado Department of Transportation

A major stretch of US highway 34 through Big Thompson Canyon is set to reopen just in time for the Memorial Day holiday.

The route will be accessible to the public starting May 24 at 4 p.m., said Johnny Olson, Colorado Department of Transportation regional director.  

“The Thursday before Memorial weekend we will be opening that up,” he said.

City of Fort Collins

Larimer county officials are hoping to take the sting out of encountering closed trails with a new online map. NoCoTrailReport.org covers trails managed by Larimer County Natural Resources, City of Fort Collins Parks, and City of Fort Collins Natural Areas. The stoplight colors indicate closed, caution and open trails across the county.

Andrew Cullen / Inside Energy

As Lea Anne Shellberg knows, spring can be a difficult time. It's when the winter power bills start piling up. A broken back and a recurring skin cancer battle ended her career as an interior designer. When I first tried arranging an interview, she was in trouble.

"This is gonna be fun," she said, "we're literally going to be sitting in the dark."

Despite Shellberg and her daughter taking extra care to keep lights off and appliances unplugged, the charges for the last two months at her modular home were unexpectedly high, $470. With a fixed and razor-thin budget, she couldn't pay the bill.

When it comes to covering utility costs, the poor are paying more than they can afford and energy assistance programs are struggling to keep pace.

Luke Runyon / KUNC, Harvest Public Media

It’s no secret Northern Colorado is growing. Weld, Larimer and Boulder counties are welcoming thousands of new residents each year. People are flocking to the area, and population numbers are on the rise.

The same thing is happening with dairy cows.

Weld and Larimer already sport high numbers of beef and dairy cattle, buttressed by the region’s substantive feeding operations. But an expansion of a Leprino Foods-owned cheese factory in Greeley will require even more cows to churn out the milk needed to produce bricks of mozzarella cheese and whey protein powder.

Cara Pallone / KOTO

Colorado residents have vastly different health outcomes, based in part on where they live in the state. Rocky Mountain PBS News analyzed health data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to rank each of the state's 64 counties based on a variety of health indicators from obesity, to amount of exercise, to smoking and premature deaths.

As technology advances, many industries are being disrupted by increased automation. But when it comes to managing and protecting the water supply, there are many tasks that still require a combination of people and technology.

That's where reservoir caretakers come in. Some cities and counties employ these workers to live in remote locations and watch over the water supply.

Jonathan Payne

Thousands of students in Northern Colorado are failing to meet academic standards. Colorado Department of Education released district and school specific PARCC test results for the 2014/2015 school year, show a huge disparity between participation rates and performance. Aligned to the Common Core learning standards, the test is considered harder than the old bubble tests it replaced.

PARCC is administered to students in grades 3-11, measuring math and English language arts. These are the first district specific scores of a test that is supposed to measure analytical thinking, rather than memorization, to better prepare students for college or the workforce.

Courtesy of Go NoCO

Four new Northern Colorado tourist attractions – including a film center dedicated to horror movies and a Whitewater Adventure Park - will receive $86.1 million from the Regional Tourism Authority. But the work isn't over yet.

Project organizer Go NoCO was approved for the full $86.1 million it asked for from the state's tourism incentive fund. The next few steps will include "guardrails" – conditions from the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade in the agreement, including when certain elements need to be implemented.

"It's been a long haul," said Stacy Johnson, director of economic development for the Town of Windsor and a member of Go NoCO. "We're thankful to the state and the staff for their support and cautiously optimistic as we move forward to create this whole new tourism industry in Northern Colorado."

David Fulmer / Flickr - Creative Commons

"Colorful Colorado" may one day need to be referred to as "Crowded Colorado," given the number of people expected to soon move here.

Weld County's population is expected to double to half-a-million – and El Paso County will still be the largest county. It's not just the Front Range; A Rocky Mountain PBS I-News analysis of data from the state demographer and the U.S. Census Bureau shows seven of the 10 fastest growing counties will be on the Western Slope, including Eagle, Garfield and Routt.

The numbers show an estimated 7.8 million people will call Colorado home by 2040. All that growth will take a toll on the state's infrastructure as well as water and other natural resources.

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