Stephanie Paige Ogburn

Jim Hill / KUNC

Boulder has a housing affordability problem. Ideas on how to fix that problem, though, vary widely across the community. At recent meetings touching on occupancy limits, linkage fees and other topics, city council members have heard from vastly disparate perspectives.

Jim Hill / KUNC

After KUNC reported on the growing phenomenon of rolling coal, where diesel truck owners tune their fuel mix so they emit large clouds of black smoke, our audience asked questions about a few topics that weren't covered in the story. Here are some answers:

Bob Wick / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The greater sage grouse, a bird whose range spans 11 western states, including Colorado, will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act. Sally Jewell, the U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced the decision in a video released on Twitter.

Jewell cited the efforts of land-owners and government in states like Colorado and Wyoming, who have invested proactively in plans to protect the sagebrush landscape, which she said was suffering from “death by a thousand cuts.”

Jim Hill / KUNC

On a Saturday night in a strip mall parking lot in south Fort Collins, crowds of young motorcyclists, truck drivers and their friends gather to hang out and ogle each others' vehicles. A number of these men, including Jake Rogakis, roll coal.

"What it means to roll coal is to pretty much just floor it and blow as much black smoke as you possibly can,' said Rogakis "It's just fun. Go drive my truck. You'll have a blast."

Go to YouTube and type in "rolling coal," and videos of large diesel trucks spewing black smoke -- on Priuses, police cars, bikes, even women -- fill the screen. The trend itself isn't new. What is new is its appearance in more urban parts of Colorado, like Fort Collins and in the downtowns of small cities around Denver.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Andrea Sedlmayr has lived in the mountains west of Boulder for four decades. She’s used to hearing hunters and the occasional gunshots around her house. But about five years ago, things started to change.

She and her husband would be eating dinner or sitting outside reading the paper Sunday mornings, and “suddenly it’s pow, pow-pow-pow,” Sedlmayr said.

The popping sounds were gunshots. Sedlmayr and thousands of other residents who live in the foothills outside towns like Boulder, Lyons, and even Fort Collins, say the rise and near omnipresence of recreational shooting in the area has completely changed the character -- and the safety -- of where they live.

Jim Hill / KUNC

In the ongoing saga of just how much control cities and other municipalities in Colorado can have over oil and gas development, the town of Erie hopes it has hit a Goldilocks position.

Municipalities that ban fracking or otherwise overstep the bounds of legality in a state where extracting riches from the ground is enshrined in law have been sued -- and lost. Local governments like Erie wishing to exert more control without facing costly legal battles have to strike a balance that protects their residents but is also within the bounds of state law.

That’s what town trustee Jennifer Carroll said she hoped the town achieved with the changes it made to rules governing drilling operations.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

The Arapaho Roosevelt National Forest's 1.4 million acres cover the Front Range foothills and climb into the mountains of north central Colorado. As more people use the forest and build homes in the private land checkered between its boundaries, conflicts between recreational shooters and other forest users are increasing.

That's why the Forest Service officials are proposing a forest-wide plan to manage where shooting enthusiasts can and cannot fire their guns. It would be the first such plan in the nation.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Fort Collins council members voted to oppose a project calling for the creation of two new reservoirs in Northern Colorado, at least for now. The Northern Integrated Supply Project would build two reservoirs to supply water to growing towns in Larimer, Weld, and Boulder counties.

The city is not opposed to the idea of the project, but Fort Collins natural areas director John Stokes, in a presentation Tuesday night to council members, said the June supplemental draft environmental impact statement released by the Army Corps of Engineers fails to adequately evaluate and address environmental impacts.

"A key component that is currently missing from the environmental impact statement analysis is a quantitative temperature and water quality model," said Stokes.

City of Greeley

With crude at about $40 a barrel and no oil price recovery in sight, one might expect that Greeley, the town at the center of Colorado’s oil boom, would be seeing a bit of an economic slowdown.

So far, that does not seem to be the case. At least where the housing market is concerned.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Carol and John Wagner’s ranch is surrounded by green pastures, with spectacular views of the northern San Juan mountains. The Wagners moved here from Pennsylvania in 1986, to raise cattle. When they first arrived, Carol said they wondered what was wrong with the creek that meandered through their property.

“Nothing could live in it,” she recalled. Grass didn’t grow along its banks, and there were no fish or bugs.

That creek, called Kerber Creek, is just a small piece of the legacy left by hard rock mining across the West. When Tang-colored water spilled from a mine into the Animas River, it caught the nation’s attention. Yet unknown to most, there are people who work day in and day out cleaning up the many hundreds of abandoned mine sites across Colorado. This sort of mine cleanup work is a never-ending process, fraught with logistical challenges, financing problems, even the looming threat of lawsuits.

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