Stephanie Paige Ogburn

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

National Parks are often known for sweeping vistas and distinctive natural beauty. One thing more of them are becoming known for? Traffic and congestion.

Rocky Mountain National Park has experienced sharp upticks in visitors in recent years. While more visitation is generally seen as a good thing, it also can cause problems. 

Paul Cryan / U.S. Geological Survey

How do bats die? Over time, the answer to that question has changed.

They used to die by accident. Or by getting eaten. Perhaps they got caught in a natural disaster like a fire or flood. Many were intentionally killed by humans, who feared them for a variety of reasons. Nowadays, the ways bats die has changed. 

Bradley Gordon / Flickr-Creative Commons

If you thought Colorado's housing market was crazy last year, then the outlook for 2016 probably won't calm your nerves.

Strong economic growth and continued low inventory will likely keep the market hopping, say experts. While interest rates have ticked up, they are not likely to do so significantly in an election year. That means money is still cheap, another factor pushing buyers into the market.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

About 15 years ago, Lori Ramos Lemasters got a phone call in the middle of the night. Her mother, who lived in California, had suffered a stroke.

At the time, her mother was her dad's primary caregiver - he had medical problems. So Lemasters made a choice. She left her job as a mortgage banker in Littleton and moved to California. She thought it would be a quick trip. 

spacebahr / Flickr - Creative Commons

In 2016, Colorado voters will have the opportunity to weigh in on a proposal for universal single payer health care. If the ballot measure, called Initiative 20, passes, it would set up a single payer-style health care system known as ColoradoCare that would serve all the state's residents — with some exceptions. Before the debate over the measure gets too pitched, here's a few key facts about the proposal.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn

Standing in his backyard on an unseasonably warm day in Fort Collins, Peter Workman is modeling a winter coat. It's nylon, forest green, and falls about mid-thigh on his slender frame.

Workman takes the coat off and shows off the label, sewn in by his grandmother: "Made from a Frostline Kit. Broomfield, Colo." This coat, handmade over 40 years ago, is a piece of Colorado outdoor history.

Dave Dennis / KUNC

Arizona's Yarnell Hill fire claimed the lives of 19 firefighters. Colorado's Waldo Canyon, Black Forest, and High Park fires were some of the costliest ever in terms of homes and property lost.

A better wildfire weather prediction system might have saved more lives and property. The state of Colorado thinks so, and has agreed to beta test a new system pioneered by the Boulder-based National Center for Atmospheric Research, starting late in the 2016 fire season.

Colorado Department of Local Affairs

The coming age shift in Colorado's population is often referred to as the "silver tsunami." Older adults certainly aren't fans of that term - and the metaphor doesn't even hold up, say policy experts.

Wade Buchanan is one of them. The 55-year-old head of the Bell Policy Center admits his hair is turning gray, but that's not why he dislikes the term.

"The metaphor implies, first of all, a terrible tragedy, which it is not," said Buchanan. Plus, a tsunami sounds like something that will overwhelm us, and then recede.

"And that's not what's happening here."

Jim Hill / KUNC

Three decades ago, a gas well exploded near Greeley, Colorado. That event spurred voters to ban oil and gas drilling in the city limits. The ban was overturned by the state Supreme Court in 1992, setting a precedent that local governments in Colorado could not ban energy development.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that case put the kibosh on local drilling prohibitions. Au contraire, Dear Reader: Bans, moratoriums and other controls have sprung up across the state almost as fast as drill rigs during the boom of the late 2000s. Many of these cases are testing the boundaries of the Greeley decision, and two such cases have been making their way through the court system.

On Dec. 9, 2015, the state Supreme Court will hear arguments from two cities: Longmont and Fort Collins. Here's why these cases are different enough from the Greeley case to warrant another hearing in front of the state's highest court.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Inside a small, plain-looking room at the Northglenn Heights memory care facility, volunteer Dale Jones walks slowly around a circle of older adults. Some have walkers or wheelchairs, some are just seated quietly. Jones is handing out small, colorful plush birds that fit neatly in their hands. As he gives out the toy birds, he shows each resident how to make them sing a birdsong.

"You can just hold on to it and if you want to listen to it sing, press right here in the middle," Jones instructs.

Giving singing bird toys to adults with dementia may seem kind of odd. But it's actually part of a regular biweekly educational therapy program. This program, called Bird Tales, uses toy birds to bring a little bit of nature into long term care facilities.