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Colorado Edition: Forest Spice

Henry Zimmerman
Backpacker Erik Carlson serves up Thanksgiving dinner in a clearing near the north fork of the Poudre River.

Today on Colorado Edition: we'll learn about a reparations fund for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. Plus, a look at the rising rates of autism in children. We'll also look at how Colorado's READ Act is doing, and explore cooking a Thanksgiving dinner outdoors. 

News of the Day: 

  • Snowy Roads - Heavy snow has blanketed much of the Northern Front Range, causing widespread travel disruptions ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday. Airlines at Denver International Airport canceled hundreds of flights, and more than 1,000 travelers spent the night camped out there. The Colorado Department of Transportation warns that roads across the northern half of the state are still treacherous. Road travel should be safer Wednesday and Thursday, with more snow on the way Friday. 
  • Warming Centers - With frigid temperatures in the forecast overnight, Denver is opening warming centers in the area for those experiencing homelessness. The Denver Post reports nearly 2,000 shelter spaces will be available, with the ability to leverage the city's recreation centers to serve more in an emergency. 
  • Boulder School Immunizations - Students in Boulder Valley School District without immunizations or exemption paperwork will not be allowed to return to class after Thanksgiving break. The policy update comes after Littleton School District enforced a similar deadline earlier this month. According to a district spokesperson, there are fewer than 100 students in the district who are not immunized or exempt. Those who don't meet the state requirements Monday will be sent home. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Colorado has the lowest measles mumps and rubella vaccination rate in the country. 
  • Denver Minimum Wage - Denver employees' hourly wages will go up every year starting in January. The Denver City Council unanimously decided to boost the minimum wage at their meeting Monday night. The Denver Post reports the new law will raise the minimum wage to $12.85 starting next year, and up to $15.87 by 2022. After that, hourly wages will be adjusted each year for inflation. Denver is the first Colorado city to raise the local minimum wage since the state legislature gave more wage control to municipalities. 

Settlement Fund Deadline Approaches


In early October, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser announced a settlement fund for victims of sexual abuse by Colorado priests, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred. 

Registration to receive funds from the Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program are due on Saturday, Nov. 30. 

Jennifer Brown from The Colorado Sun joins us with more about the settlement fund and the application process. 

Autism Study

Herminia Garcia and Ken Winn
Credit Stephanie Daniel / KUNC
Herminia Garcia discusses her son, Joaquin’s developmental progress with Ken Winn, Chief Clinical Officer at Firefly Autism.

In 2018 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated about one in 59 children have autism spectrum disorder. That’s up from one in 68 from the previous estimate two years earlier.

The CDC says the increase could be due in part to improved diagnoses of black and Hispanic children. Their conclusion led a researcher at the University of Colorado Boulder to take a closer look at the data. KUNC’s Stephanie Daniel is here to discuss that research. 


Credit Poudre School District
Poudre School District

In 2012, state lawmakers passed the Colorado READ Act, the goal of which is to ensure that each student in Colorado is able to read by the time they finish third grade. 

But after years of less than stellar results, the state education department will be spending more than $4 million to determine why reading rates haven't risen according to plan. 

Ann Schimke has been following the story for Chalkbeat Colorado, and joins us to discuss. 

Thanksgiving Dinner, But Make It Outdoors



Credit Henry Zimmerman / KUNC
Equipment, ingredients and scraps for an outdoors take on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, prepared by backpacker Erik Carlson. And yes - we took our trash back out with us.


For many, Thanksgiving is a chance to relax and gather with family over a quality meal. For others, the long weekend offers a chance to get out and explore Colorado. A few weeks ago, Colorado Edition's Henry Zimmerman found a local guide with a ton of backpacking experience to take him into the wild and show him what a Thanksgiving dinner could look like if we took it out of the kitchen. 

Erik Carlson, a Colorado native who grew up backpacking with his parents, serves as our guide. 

Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music this week by Blue Dot Sessions:

  • “Even Dreams of Beaches” by Resolute

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman (@HWZimmerman), and produced by Lily Tyson. The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. Managing editor Brian Larson contributed to this episode.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC's air, Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

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Stories written by KUNC newsroom staff.