Stephanie Paige Ogburn

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

The Front Range's booming economy is good news for many. Yet fast growth has caused a housing crunch from Denver to Fort Collins.

Rising rents and home prices are squeezing a vulnerable population: seniors. Groups that work to help lower-income older adults say they are having a harder time placing seniors in subsidized housing and also starting to see more of this population lacking a place to call home.

U.S. Geological Survey

Colorado is one of several states at risk for earthquakes caused by human activity, according to a new map and analysis released by federal scientists.

The U.S. Geological Survey Seismic Hazard map released Monday is the first to include earthquake risk from human actions. The map projects risk of damage-causing earthquakes for the year 2016. 

H.A. Weaver et al / published in Science.

Standing in a hallway decorated with images of planets and other space objects, John Spencer is looking at a high resolution photo of Pluto hanging in front of him. It’s striking, a mostly gray sphere with dark maroon and golden hues. Spencer, a planetary scientist with the Southwest Research Institute’s who works out of their Boulder office, points out features.

"The North Pole is up here. This area up here is a vast plain of frozen nitrogen."

It’s hard to believe, but until July 2015, scientists like Spencer had almost no idea what Pluto looked like. That’s when the New Horizons spacecraft zoomed by the dwarf planet, capturing images and data that led to a vast reimagining of Pluto. Now, he and others are sharing what they’ve learned.

Jim Hill / KUNC

Despite efforts by Gov. John Hickenlooper to head off citizen ballot measures limiting hydraulic fracturing, a measure that would do just that is now collecting signatures to get on the ballot.

The petition format for the Colorado Community Rights Amendment, also called Initiative 40, was approved by the Colorado Secretary of State's title board Wednesday.

U.S. Department of Energy

For the first time ever, Denver will host an international solar home building competition run by the U.S. Department of Energy. The 2017 Solar Decathlon will bring teams from 16 universities to show off model homes and compete for $2 million in prize money.

“Denver and the Colorado community really has demonstrated a leadership role in advancing clean energy technology,” said Jennifer Garson who directs DOE's Solar Decathlon.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Inside a nondescript warehouse south of I-70 in Denver, Nick Hice opens a door into a large room holding a few hundred cannabis plants. One of the first things you notice about the room: It's bright. Glaring yellow high-pressure sodium light fixtures are strung from the ceiling. The whole place has a feverish glow. Even though it's indoors, Hice and his workers here at Denver Relief typically wear sunglasses when working here.

It's those lights that are the key to growing commercial marijuana successfully.

"It's very important. It's one of the things we talk about the most with these artificial environments," said Hice, an expert grower and operations manager at Denver Relief and a founding partner in its associated cannabis consulting business.

There's a cost that comes with using the same kind of lighting technology used to brighten stadiums and streets: high electric bills. That's why some enterprising businessmen are creating alternatives that might help cannabis growers cut down on their electricity load.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn/Jim Hill / KUNC

Colorado's economic fortunes are often told as a success story. Statewide unemployment was 3.5 percent in December 2015, and, according to the latest Economic Datebook report [pdf] from the Kansas City Federal Reserve, employment growth is 'broad based across industries.'

Yet the Fed's February report also shows that the state's recovery from the recession, and its economy in general, is uneven. The rising tide of Colorado's economy is leaving some boats stranded on the shore. 

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Gov. John Hickenlooper has formally requested that a set of abandoned mines above Silverton be listed as a Superfund site. The request comes nearly seven months after an Environmental Protection Agency cleanup crew triggered a massive spill of polluted water from the Gold King Mine, turning the Animas River orange.

A Superfund listing may seem like a solution to the area's long-standing problem of mine pollution, but getting a site on the National Priorities List, EPA's official compendium of Superfund sites, is just the first step in a lengthy process.

Colorado Department of Transportation / Flickr - Used With Permission

Nearly everyone agrees I-70 winter ski traffic is terrible. But can data help the savvy traveler avoid the worst days?

We collected five years of winter weekend travel times from the Colorado Department of Transportation. By analyzing data that is not readily available to the public, we were able to identify some trends. Will the findings shave minutes off your ski commute? Maybe. But we're not making any promises.

Colorado Department of Transportation

Hordes of skiers headed into Colorado's mountains over President's Day weekend. For most of them, it's a pretty good bet they experienced traffic congestion on I-70.

As Colorado's population grows, are these delays getting worse? It's a question worth asking. To learn the answer, KUNC analyzed five years of winter weekend travel time data from the Colorado Department of Transportation. The findings may surprise you.

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