In Brief: Redstone meeting on methane leak; Black Hills seeks rate increase; SAW event in Carbondale
U.S. Forest Service taking comments, holding meeting on methane project
The White River National Forest has scheduled a public information meeting next week and is taking comments regarding a proposal to inventory and study the quality and quantity of waste methane gas venting near inactive coal mines in Coal Basin west of Redstone.
The proposal being considered by Delta Brick and Climate Co. LLC would employ aircraft, including drones or helicopters, to fly over a 5-square-mile area. In addition, ground-based monitoring units would gather data about the volume, concentration, and location of methane gas being emitted into the atmosphere from vents, mining adits, and other surface features, according to a USFS news release.
The information will help identify the type of methane gas mitigation projects to pursue in the future, the release states.
To discuss the proposal and aid in gathering public comments, USFS is hosting a public meeting at 6 p.m. on May 17 at the Church at Redstone.
“This current analysis is only looking at the proposal to gather data about methane venting,” Aspen-Sopris Deputy District Ranger Jennifer Schuller said in the release. “Any future mitigation projects in Coal Basin would be analyzed separately, which would include opportunities for public involvement.”
The proposal includes placing up to 10, 8-foot tall, tripod-mounted methane identification instruments in 50 separate locations from June through September. The instruments would be accessed and moved by foot and horse.
More information, including maps and how to comment, is available at fs.usda.gov/project/?project=64062. Comments are requested by June 7.
Black Hills Energy seeks rate increase
Black Hills Energy filed a rate review application with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission requesting an increase of $26.7 million in base rates to recover necessary capital infrastructure and operational costs required to enable safe, reliable natural gas service for customers in Colorado, the company said.
Black Hills Energy is also seeking to help protect customers from regional price spikes by introducing a Colorado state-wide natural gas cost adjustment to be implemented over a two-year period, company officials added.
Black Hills Energy officials said the company spends millions of dollars each year to safely operate, maintain, and update more than 10,000 miles of gas system infrastructure, which provides critical and reliable energy to more than 208,000 Colorado households and businesses in 105 communities from Delta to Dacono.
“These investments not only fulfill our obligation to meet our customers’ growing energy needs, but also allow us to do our part to meet the state of Colorado’s climate goals and meet state and federal regulations governing safety and reliability,” said Kellie Ashcraft, Black Hills Energy’s vice president of Colorado operations.
If approved as filed, residential customers would see an average increase in their monthly bill of about 6% or $6, while small commercial customers would see a monthly increase of about 10% or $21.
For more information about the filing, visit blackhillsenergy.com/reliableCO.
Open-studio event Thursday in Carbondale
Studio for Arts and Works artists and creative professionals invite the public to join them on Thursday, May 11, from 4-8 p.m. for the spring open-studio event.
Attendees can visit with local artists in their studios and find handmade gifts for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or other special occasions, organizers said. Live music will start after 5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and this event is free and open to all. For more information, visit the S.A.W. website at sawcarbondale.com, or find Studio for Arts and Works on Facebook.
Studio for Arts and Works is located at 525 Buggy Circle, Carbondale.
Brush Creek park and ride renovations begin next week
People who use the Brush Creek Park and Ride off of Colorado Highway 82 in the Upper Valley should expect reduced parking this summer, PItkin County officials said Monday.
Work to improve lighting and landscaping and increase the number of paved parking spaces from 200 to over 400 is scheduled to start May 15. The parking lot will be prepared for EV charging stations during construction with complete buildout of the charging stations in the future.
The number of available parking spaces will be reduced during construction, however, and parking will be relocated to the upvalley side of the park and ride in the gravel section of a temporary parking lot. A large portion of the area where paid parking exists during summer months at Buttermilk will be dedicated to Brush Creek overflow.
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) bus service will be unaffected and the county will work with the contractor to accommodate special events. Officials said they encouraged commuters and visitors to carpool or take transit into Aspen and/or to the Brush Creek park and ride.
Colorado-based Siete Inc. is the contractor on the project. It’s scheduled to be complete in the fall.
Less smoke means better air for Aspen, report shows
According to the recently released 2022 Aspen Air Quality Report, there were 17 more days of good air quality in 2022 compared to 2021.
“Most of Aspen’s moderate or unhealthy air quality days occur in the spring and summer months due to elevated levels of ozone and particulate matter, respectively,” said Natalie Tsevdos, the city’s environmental health administrator. “We saw more days of good air quality in 2022 due to fewer impacts from wildfire smoke.”
The city of Aspen and Pitkin County partner to provide wildfire smoke preparedness information and updates about air quality events in Pitkin County. You can sign up for Pitkin Alerts to be notified of an air quality event at PitkinEmergency.org.
In addition, the city’s air quality webpage, AspenAirQuality.com, is updated hourly with current air quality levels using the EPA’s health-based Air Quality Index. For more information, visit visit AspenAirQuality.com.
Bill aims to raise pay, benefits for wildland firefighters
U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, co-chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, introduced legislation to overhaul federal firefighter pay and benefits bolstering recruitment, retention, and well-being.
The legislation, Tim’s Act, is named in honor of Tim Hart, a smokejumper from Cody, Wyoming, who lost his life May 24, 2021, while battling the Eicks Fire in New Mexico. The bill is co-led by U.S. Rep. Katie Porter D-California, in the House.
Tim’s Act would increase base pay, improve deployment pay, support enhanced pay management oversight, and boost firefighter physical and mental well-being by ensuring firefighters receive paid rest and recuperation leave, Neguse said. Tim’s Act also aims to address many challenges that have plagued the wildland firefighter workforce for decades, he added.
“Wildland firefighters work long hours in harsh conditions to keep our communities safe,” said Porter. “But low pay, poor housing, and inadequate physical- and mental-health benefits, combined with worsening fire seasons, are pushing more and more talented wildland firefighters out of the workforce. Congress should have our firefighters’ backs, which is why I’m proud to reintroduce Tim’s Act with Rep. Neguse.”
Aspen girls golf ties for second at 3A championship; Persson, O’Sullivan in top 10
Playing in the final group of the Class 3A girls golf state championship on Wednesday, Lenna Persson finally discovered the nerves that had been absent two days earlier in her practice round at Aspen Golf Club.