Grace Hood

Reporter

Ways to Connect

One year ago — on Aug. 5, 2015 — an EPA crew at the Gold King Mine in southwest Colorado accidentally unleashed 3 million gallons of orange water filled with mercury and arsenic.

The toxic spill flowed into the Animas River, eventually running into New Mexico's San Juan River and into Lake Powell. So far, disaster response and water quality monitoring have cost the EPA about $29 million — and the problem isn't over yet.

Mesa Verde National Park in southwest Colorado is known for its iconic cliff dwellings, but archaeological artifacts left by the Ancestral Pueblo are all over. Rocky remnants of homes and farming sites are scattered throughout the dense pinyon juniper forest.

The cost of getting into some national parks increases on Thursday.

The rates will go up despite the fact that visitation at parks is up, which means bigger crowds, congested traffic and busier visitor centers. But more people aren't translating into a big boost for park budgets. For example, visitation at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado is up 20 percent so far this year and Yosemite, Yellowstone and Zion are also seeing double-digit increases. The parks are also seeing the strain. About 100 parks are planning an entrance fee hike.

Grace Hood / KUNC

Etsy, the website where people can buy and sell handmade goods, is rumored to be planning an initial public offering. The company won’t comment. The Internet has made crafting a lucrative business — and it’s not just for selling goods. Lately, a growing number of crafters are willing to pay to learn new skills.

For help, they’re turning to companies like CreativeBug or the Denver-based company Craftsy.

Grace Hood / KUNC

Colorado State University’s Board of Governors gave the nod to two significant construction projects Feb. 5 for the Fort Collins campus. The largest and most contentious will be a $242 million on-campus stadium. CSU will also get a new four-story $59 million medical center.

Grace Hood / KUNC

From BBQ joints to ice cream parlors, more small businesses changed hands in 2014 compared to any time in recent memory. It’s a trend many business brokers were expecting.

According to bizbuysell.com, which tracks small business transaction data across the United States, 2014 saw small business sales increase 6 percent. The numbers are important because they can be viewed as an indicator of economic recovery across Colorado and the U.S.

Bo Insogna / Creative Commons

The year so far has been a veritable roller coaster of low oil prices, layoffs and production cutbacks across Colorado. Only recently has the price of crude begun to rebound with Feb. 3 marking the highest settlement rate in 2015.

Experts are quick to weigh in with predictions over what the future holds for the oil and gas industry. Many hope to divine answers from key indicators like rig counts and drilling permit applications. Another set of answers can be gleaned from Colorado's last oil bust in the 1980s.

Sam Beebe / Creative Commons

As use of wind energy grows in Colorado, industry and energy grid officials are looking for more sophisticated forecasts to tell them when exactly to use the ephemeral energy source. Current weather models are helpful, but researchers know that mountains and valleys can throw off predictions — requiring more complex weather forecasting.

Enter a team from the University of Colorado, which were recently granted $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to improve weather prediction for the wind energy industry.

Grace Hood / KUNC

As jury selection starts for the Aurora Theater Shooting, there's a quiet shift underway in Colorado's mental health crisis services. In 2013, Gov. John Hickenlooper and legislators approved $20 million for a statewide hotline, walk-in stabilization centers, mobile and respite services.

The most visible sign of the change are Colorado's 13 walk-in centers.

Grace Hood / KUNC

It's crunch time for the Governor's Oil and Gas Task Force to craft recommendations on how to best minimize conflict between local and state government when it comes to the state's energy development. The group held their fifth meeting in Greeley to discuss a path forward.

Front and center are conflicts over drilling in more urban areas made possible by technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

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