Weld County | KUNC

Weld County

Maeve Conran / KGNU

An additional 2 ½ million people are expected to move to Colorado by 2040, the vast majority of them which are headed for the Front Range. As the population grows and cities expand, one thing will shrink: the acres devoted to agriculture and farming that surround the urban areas.

Weld County is the epicenter of urban growth and changing land use in Colorado. One of the fastest growing counties in the nation, its population grew by 40 percent since 2000 and it's projected to double in the next 25 years. At the same time, 75 percent of its 2.5 million acres is devoted to agriculture as Colorado's leading producer of sugar beet, grain, and beef cattle.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

Since June 2014, home prices in Northern Colorado rose more than they did in metro Denver, according to numbers released by the Colorado Association of Realtors.

Statewide, the median sales price for a home has increased 11.4 percent. In the region including Boulder, Broomfield, Larimer and Weld counties, prices have gone up 15.6 percent in that year-long span; in the metro Denver region, the increase was 13.7 percent.

Jim Hill / KUNC

Severance taxes are what energy companies pay to the state for the oil, gas, coal, or other minerals they take out of the ground. Each year that adds up to a lot of cash. In Colorado, half of that money is supposed to go back to cities and counties impacted by energy development.

That's why when Colorado lawmakers voted to take $20 million away from the state’s severance tax fund for the 2015/2016 state budget, Weld County Commissioner Barbara Kirkmeyer wasn't happy.

"Every year they try to take it. So we fight this every year," said Kirkmeyer.

Dan Boyce / Inside Energy

Eric Ewing once described his family's two acre plot on the rural Northern Colorado plains as heaven on earth. Now however, Ewing's household is surrounded by the unmistakable signs of oil and gas production - a large new processing facility, clusters of wells and tanks, even a recently drilled well 650 feet from his home.

"It feels like I live in a factory now," he said.

Ewing's concerns about noise, air pollution and quality of life impacts are exactly what Governor Hickenlooper's Oil and Gas Task Force is trying to appease. The group was created as part of a deal to avoid a handful of competing oil and gas ballot measures. But, time is running out for the group to submit policy recommendations.

Joe Mahoney / Rocky Mountain PBS I-News

Ward Boydstun misses his teeth. The 27-year-old left his dentures at the Bradley Petroleum gas station when he was escorted out in handcuffs. The company had paid for the new set of teeth for the former "manager of the month" when years of poor dental care left him with none.

Then, $4,534 and change was missing.

Grace Hood / KUNC

It's crunch time for the Governor's Oil and Gas Task Force to craft recommendations on how to best minimize conflict between local and state government when it comes to the state's energy development. The group held their fifth meeting in Greeley to discuss a path forward.

Front and center are conflicts over drilling in more urban areas made possible by technologies like horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.

Jim Hill / KUNC

Colorado is known worldwide for incredible skiing on its magnificent mountains… but the resort experience also comes with long lines and uber-expensive lift tickets. Back in the 1970s you could have simply headed to Greeley.

Instead of dodging moguls, you could have been dodging tumbleweeds at Sharktooth Ski Area – located on the plains east of the Rockies, perched atop a 150-foot bluff overlooking the Poudre River.

Jim Hill / KUNC

The recent global downturn in oil prices is impacting companies who drill in Colorado. In a BizWest report published Friday, reporter Steve Lynn found that Denver-based PDC Energy Inc. has seen some of the steepest declines. Other companies have seen stock prices decline by nearly half the value following highs seen during the summer of 2014.

"The downturn in oil prices comes as oil producers plan to announce their capital spending plans for 2015, and some analysts believe those budgets could see cuts," Lynn said.

Stephanie Paige Ogburn / KUNC

What comes to mind when you think about milk? Like it or loathe it, you probably associate it with cereal, Oreos and milk mustaches. One thing you probably don't think about? Energy.

It turns out, it takes a lot of energy to make a gallon of milk. Recently, a few Colorado dairymen have been working to lighten their milk's energy load.

Grace Hood / KUNC

With millions flooding into several tight Colorado races, many registered voters have already gotten the bitter taste that can come with living in a swing state: annoying visits from canvassers.

In addition to political groups pushing candidates, nonpartisan third-party entities are promoting voting on a wide range of issues. They show up at your door with surprisingly up-to-date information when it comes to who you are, your party affiliation, whether you've voted and by what method.

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