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Colorado Edition: A Threatened Oasis

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Luke Runyon
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KUNC
Sunset at the Cienega de Santa Clara in northern Mexico. The wetland is fed by salty runoff from American farms near Yuma, Arizona.

Today on Colorado Edition: we'll hear how Colorado beer drinkers are thinking about Fort Collins-based New Belgium brewery as the company faces a sale to a Japanese beer conglomerate. Plus, what qualifies as a mass shooting? We'll also hear about an investigation into school rating systems, and look back at some of our favorite pieces of reporting from 2019. 

News of the Day: 

  • Space Force - Congress is expected to approve the creation of a U.S. Space Force this week. The force’s top general would be based at the Pentagon. But it’s anticipated that Colorado will be at the heart of the force’s initial operations. The Gazette reports that many of the force’s 15,000 troops would come from local Air Force bases, including Buckley in Aurora, and Schriever and Peterson in Colorado Springs.
     
  • Wolf Ballot - There’s an initiative in Colorado to bring wolves back to the state. Now, those backing the initiative say they have the signatures they need to get the issue on the 2020 ballot. On Tuesday, the Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund announced it has collected over 200,000 signatures — well over the requirement of 125,000. Now it’s up to the secretary of state to review them.  
     
  • E-Bike Lawsuit - The National Park Service is facing a federal lawsuit over its electric bicycle policy. Under the policy, e-bikes are regulated the same way as human-powered bikes in national parks. The five conservation groups behind the suit say the agency violated the law when it adopted a new policy without preparing an environmental assessment or gathering public comment. 

New Belgium 

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Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC
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KUNC
A new belgium bike and sign hang from the ceiling of Wilbur's total beverage in Fort Collins

Fort Collins craft brewer New Belgium is expected to close on its sale to Japanese beer conglomerate Kirin this month. The deal is still awaiting approval from the company’s employee-owners. But, as KUNC’s Matt Bloom reports, some local beer drinkers are already questioning their loyalty to the brand. 

Mass Shootings

Columbine Memorial
Credit Leigh Paterson / KUNC
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KUNC
The Columbine Memorial opened in 2007, eight years after the shooting. The design includes remembrances by the victim’s families, quotes from community members, shrubs, flowers and a fountain.

How many mass shootings have we seen this year in the U.S.? Anywhere from a dozen to well over 300, depending on where you look. Guns and America's Hady Mawajdeh set out to understand the discrepancy. And he says it starts with what seems like a pretty simple question.

School Rankings

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Credit Grace Hood / KUNC

Last week, a team of Chalkbeat reporters published a new investigation that looked at a popular rating system used to help parents decide where to send their children for school.

GreatSchools, a national nonprofit, uses a 1-to-10 scale to show parents the best schools in each area. However, the investigation found that ratings are significantly lower for schools that serve largely low-income students and those serving largely black and Hispanic students. This is despite data from GreatSchools that shows many of those schools are doing well in helping students learn math and English. 

Erica Meltzer, bureau chief of Chalkbeat Colorado, joined us to talk about that investigation and about school ratings in general.

Our Reporters' Favorite Stories From 2019

Juan Butron-Mendez works for Pronatura Noroeste, a Mexican environmental group, and monitors birds at the Cienega de Santa Clara.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC

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Colorado Edition is only possible with the work of the KUNC newsroom. And what a great newsroom it is! That’s why starting today through the end of the year, we are going to be pulling back the curtain to talk about some of our reporters' favorite pieces of reporting from this past year. 

First up: Luke Runyon, KUNC's Colorado River Basin reporter joined us, to tell us about a series he produced about the Colorado River's endpoint. 

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs.

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.