Posts tagged Canada

Joey Hishon

Avs Addition of Hishon

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avalanche logoIt’s not a surprise that Joey Hishon will skate for Avalanche tonight in St. Paul.

A quick thumbnail sketch of the 5-foot-10, 170-pound forward paints a picture of a player who more than belongs on the Stanley Cup Playoffs stage, in Game 4 of the Avs’ Western Conference first-round matchup with the Wild (7:30 p.m. MT, Altitude, CNBC).

Hishon was the Avalanche’s first selection (17th overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft—taken a year after the club hit draft gold in Matt Duchene (1st, third), Ryan O’Reilly (2nd, 33rd) and Tyson Barrie (3rd, 64th)— after Hishon was voted the OHL’s “Best Stickhandler” and “Best Playmaker” in the 2008-09 season.

He wore Canada’s iconic maple leaf sweater during the 2009 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, too, and led the team in scoring with five goals and five assists in six games.

Some foot and knee injuries hampered his draft stock during the 2009 season, and some considered it a head scratcher when the Avalanche plucked him so early during the 2010 draft in Los Angeles.

Hishon made the pick look warranted, though, with 87 points in 50 games in the 2010-11 Ontario Hockey League regular season, helping his Owen Sound Attack into the 2011 Memorial Cup.

For some perspective, Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado’s current first-round pick, had 78 points last season in his final run through Canadian junior hockey, and everyone knows how that has played out.

It seemed in Hishon the Avs had added to their youthful future with back-to-back OHL home runs.

 

Source: Avs

ARCTIC SUNSET

Polar bears are already drowning in climate change

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With incredible simplicity this visually stunning ad will show people that polar bears are dying right now — but we can save them. It will direct viewers to a dedicated “take action” website that will make it very easy for them connect with other polar bear advocates and to call and write the White House and Congress. The Center for Biodiversity is seeking donations to put this ad on television. Contact them if you want to help. The new ad is even better than the 2008 version, which reached 90 million people and forced President Bush to protect polar bears under the Endangered Species Act. But we’re running out of time to make it happen. We need just $10,000 more this week to make the ad a go. Please donate $35, $50 or $100 today to save the polar bear.

Population Size Declines   In southern portions of their range, like Hudson Bay, Canada, there is no sea ice during the summer, and the polar bears must live on land until the Bay freezes in the fall, whereupon they can again hunt on the ice. While on land during the summer, these bears eat little or nothing. In just 20 years the ice-free period in Hudson Bay has increased by an average of 20 days, cutting short polar bears’ seal hunting season by nearly three weeks. The ice is freezing later in the fall, but it is the earlier spring ice melt that is especially difficult for the bears. They have a narrower timeframe in which to hunt during the critical season when seal pups are born.

As a result, average bear weight has dropped by 15 percent, causing reproduction rates to decline. The Hudson Bay population is down more than 20 percent.  Retreating Sea Ice Platforms The retreat of ice has implications beyond the obvious habitat loss. Remaining ice is farther from shore, making it less accessible. The larger gap of open water between the ice and land also contributes to rougher wave conditions, making the bears’ swim from shore to sea ice more hazardous. In 2004, biologists discovered four drowned polar bears in the Beaufort Sea, and suspect the actual number of drowned bears may have been considerably greater. Never before observed, biologists attributed the drowning to a combination of retreating ice and rougher seas.

Scarcity of Food Exacerbating the problems of the loss of hunting areas, it is expected that the shrinking polar ice cap will also cause a decline in polar bears’ prey — seals. The reduction in ice platforms near productive areas for the fish that the seals eat affects their nutritional status and reproduction rates.   Polar bears are going hungry for longer periods of time, resulting in cannibalistic behavior. Although it has long been known polar bears will kill for dominance or kill cubs so they can breed with the female, outright predation for food was previously unobserved by biologists. Polar Bear Status In 2008, the polar bear was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act primarily because of the decline of its primary habitat: sea ice. The Secretary of Interior listed the polar bear as threatened but restricted the Endangered Species Act’s protections and thus the polar bear’s future is still very much in jeopardy. The polar bear is the proverbial “canary in the coal mine” of the serious threat global warming poses to wildlife species around the world, unless we take immediate and significant action to reduce global warming pollution.

University of Colorado

Ma Nature’s sky light show on the way

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Jan. 9, 2014

University of Colorado Boulder space weather experts say a powerful solar storm may cause the aurora borealis to light up as far south as Colorado and New Mexico in the coming nights.

 

Aurora borealis may dip into state
tonight, say CU-Boulder experts

 

Daniel Baker, director of CU-Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, said space weather forecasts indicate there is a good chance a coronal mass ejection tied to a large solar flare from the sun Tuesday may impact Earth today, hitting the planet’s outer magnetic shield and causing spectacular light displays tonight and perhaps tomorrow night. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration experts have estimated there is a 90 percent chance a coronal mass ejection will hit Earth today.

The aurora borealis could reach as far as New Mexico, last 4-5 nihjts

The aurora borealis could reach as far as New Mexico, last 4-5 nihjts

“The aurora borealis, or ‘false dawn of the north,’ are brilliant dancing lights in the night sky caused by intense interactions of energetic electrons with the thin gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere,” said Baker. “The aurora are most commonly seen in Alaska, northern Canada and Scandinavia when the sun sends out powerful bursts of energy that can strike Earth’s protective outer magnetic shield called the magnetosphere,” he said.

“The strong solar winds associated with the storm events generate strong electric currents when they blow by the Earth’s magnetosphere,” said LASP Research Associate Bill Peterson. “These currents become unstable and drive processes in the magnetosphere that accelerate electrons down magnetic field lines where they hit the atmosphere over the poles.”

“One can think of aurora in some ways as if the Earth’s atmosphere is a giant TV screen and the magnetosphere generates intense beams of electrons that blast down along magnetic field lines to produce the red and green light picture show,” said Baker. “If the sun produces extremely powerful energy outbursts, the aurora can move to much lower latitudes than normal and then one can see the fantastic light displays in the lower 48 states, even as low in latitude as Colorado and New Mexico.”

According to Peterson, geophysicists have been measuring magnetic activity – essentially “wiggles” on instruments measuring Earth’s magnetic field – for over a century.  The scientists have come up with a planetary magnetic index known as KP, ranging from 0 (quiet) to 9 (very active).

“The aurora is typically seen in Canada for KP less than 4,” Peterson said. “When the KP is 9, auroras can sometimes be seen as far south as Mexico City. Auroras are seen in Colorado when the KP is about 7.”

Peterson suggested those interested in seeing the northern lights or want to report sightings visithttp://www.aurorasaurus.org, a website called “Aurorasaurus” and led by the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. The site is designed as a real-time map of confirmed aurora sightings and includes a place for citizen-scientists who want to participate to report aurora sightings in their own neighborhoods.

For additional information visit NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov. For more information on LASP visit http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/.

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bumblebee

CU: Rare western bumblebees netted on Colorado’s Front Range

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A white-rumped bumblebee that has been in steep decline across its native range in the western United States and Canada appears to be making a comeback on the Colorado Front Range.

A survey of bumblebee populations carried out largely by University of Colorado Boulder undergraduates in undisturbed patches of prairieland and in mountain meadows above campus has turned up more than 20 rare western bumblebees, known scientifically as Bombus occidentalis.

bumblebee

This is the fourth summer of a planned five-year survey in Boulder County, led by biologists Carol Kearns and Diana Oliveras, both of whom teach in CU-Boulder’s Baker Residential Academic Program. The survey team, which this summer included five undergraduates along with Oliveras and Kearns, has been hunting bumblebees at nine different locations spanning low, middle and high elevations.

Volunteer Zoe Paggastis checks out a rare whire rump bumblebee found along the Front Tange

Volunteer Zoe Paggastis checks out a rare whire rump bumblebee found along the Front Range

The first western bumblebee was netted last year at one of the low-elevation plots, located at around 5,000 feet. The same plot also was visited frequently by Kearns and Oliveras during a more general survey of all pollinators between 2001 and 2005.

“For five years we sampled fairly intensely at this one site and never found anything,” Oliveras said. “Then all of a sudden, last year, we found several bees at that one site.”

The surveyors also found western bumblebees last year at a mid-elevation site of around 8,000 feet. In all, the team found nine western bumblebees in 2012: three queens and six workers.

Because insect populations are notoriously variable from year to year, Kearns and Oliveras wanted to find the bumblebees for a second year before announcing that the western bumblebee appeared to be returning to the Front Range. This year, the team has netted more than a dozen western bumblebees at four different locations, including the same low-elevation prairie plot and all three mid-elevation meadows. The distance between the sites means that the bumblebees are likely from separate colonies.

“These are sites that are fairly far away from each other, even as the crow flies,” Oliveras said. “Within a plot, if you’re going to be conservative, you can say that all the Bombus occidentalis arose from a single colony. But between plots, that’s quite a distance for them. They wouldn’t normally be traveling that far.”

The western bumblebee was once ubiquitous across the western portion of the United States and Canada, Oliveras and Kearns said. Its northern range encompassed all of Alaska, the Yukon Territory, British Columbia and western Alberta. Its southern boundaries extended as far south as Arizona and New Mexico. The bumblebee’s range also stretched from the Pacific Ocean eastward through North and South Dakota, Nebraska and Colorado. But beginning in the late 1990s, the western bumblebee became harder and harder to find.

“They have been disappearing rapidly across the West Coast, and there have been only occasional sightings in the Rocky Mountains,” Kearns said. “People have found a few bumblebees on the Western Slope of Colorado, but we were looking for them here and we weren’t finding any.”

 

Several factors have been implicated in the decline of the western bumblebee, according to Kearns and Oliveras. The biggest suspect is a non-native gut parasite that may have been transmitted from commercially raised bumblebee colonies. While parasites and other diseases can kill bees outright, anything that affects the bumblebees’ food supply or nesting sites also will affect their ability to survive. That means that habitat loss, pesticides, climate change and invasive plants and animals may be contributing to the losses in western bumblebee populations.

Earlier this summer, reports that the western bumblebee had been spotted in the Seattle area were confirmed by local biologists, indicating that the bumblebees could be making a broader comeback.

The wider goal of the ongoing bumblebee survey in Boulder County is to catalog all the types of bumblebees buzzing around the area and their population size. The team has catalogued a number of different species during the last four summers, including the mountain bumblebee, the Nevada bumblebee, the two-form bumblebee and the central bumblebee, among others.

“Our whole interest in bumblebees relates to the fact that pollinators are declining, but there is no abundance data for bumblebees in this area from the past,” Kearns said. “How do you tell if something is declining if there are no abundance data? So we decided we’d get out there and we’d find out what bumblebees are here and how many.”

Each year, Kearns and Oliveras have recruited undergraduate students to help them. This summer, the undergraduate researchers were Benjamin Bruffey, Sam Canter, Sarah Niemeyer, Zoe Praggastis and Cole Steinmetz.

To see a video about CU-Boulder’s bumblebee survey visit http://youtu.be/sKryBKX-nbU. For more information on the Baker Residential Academic Program visit http://bakerrap.colorado.edu/.

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-CU-

lacrosse logo

Buff Asst. La Crosse Coach Nielsen Claims Bronze Medal At World Cup

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OSHAWA, Ontario – For the ninth consecutive time since the Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s Lacrosse World Cup began in 1982, Australia is taking home a medal –  its first bronze since the 1993 games.

After ending pool play with a 2-2 record, Australia entered the Championship Bracket a No. 3 seed. In the quarterfinals, Australia easily took down Scotland 26-2. In a rematch with the host team in the semifinals, Australia suffered only its second ever loss to Canada at the World Cup. With the loss behind them, Australia was determined to keep its medal-winning streak alive and was victorious in the bronze medal game, defeating England 12-6.

lacrosse

University of Colorado assistant lacrosse coach Hannah Nielsen has now won one of each medal in her three World Cup appearances with the Australian National Team. The Adelaide, Australia native has also earned a spot on the All-World Team at back-to-back Cups. In 2005, Nielsen scored a key goal to push Australia over the United States in the Gold Medal game. In 2009, she led the team with 12 goals and 13 assists as the Aussies fell by a single goal to the U.S. in the title game. In the 2013 games, she led the team with 24 total points, including 10 goals and 12 assists.

“I am so proud of Hannah and all she has accomplished not only in this last World Cup, but her entire lacrosse career,” CU head lacrosse coach Ann Elliott said. “To be able to play in the World Cup and represent your home country is such an incredible honor and one I know Hannah cherishes and works extremely hard for. This particular World Cup was a difficult one for Hannah as their team had to overcome the loss of one of their leaders, Jen Adams, to an ACL tear right before the tournament started. However, to watch Hannah battle through that and step up to help lead her team to the bronze medal and making the All-World Team was extremely special and I could not be more proud of all she has worked for and achieved.”

Quarterfinals (Thursday, July 18): Australia allowed just two goals against Scotland to advance to the semifinals. The No. 3 seeded Aussies stomped No. 11 seed Scotland 26-2 in the highest scoring game of the first two rounds of the Championship Bracket. Australia came out on a 9-0 run, not allowing a Scottish goal until nearly the halfway point in the first half. Scotland would not score again until the final 15 seconds of the match. Australia outshot Scotland 38-6 and forced 24 Scottish turnovers. Nielsen scored two goals and contributed a game-high four assists in the win.

Semifinals (Friday, July 19): Host team Canada marked several firsts during the 2013 World Cup. They earned their first ever win against Australia in World Cup play with a 13-12 pool play victory. In the teams’ rematch in the semifinals, Canada picked up its second, downing Australia 11-7 to advance to its first final. Just as she did in their first match-up, Nielsen tied for a team-high in scoring, netting two goals and contributing an assist. Canada dominated the offense, outshooting Australia 21-9 in the first-half alone on their way to 34 total shots, compared to the Aussies’ 28. Australia never had the lead, but Nielsen helped them get back within two late in the first half, and kept the match competitive by scoring Australia’s final two goals.

Bronze Medal Game (Saturday, July 20): Though they fell behind early against England as Sarah Taylor gave the Brits two quick goals, Australia was not content in going home empty handed. The Aussies claimed the bronze medal with a definitive 12-6 win over England. Australia led England 13-7 in both draw controls and ground balls. Nielsen tied for game-high scoring with four goals and one assist. Her first goal of the game helped the Aussies to a 4-3 lead. Her next came off a free position shot in the final minutes of the first half to help Australia take an 8-4 lead into halftime. She got the Aussies on the board again in the first 40 seconds of the second half and again with 11:19 remaining.

CU lacrosse coach Elliott was in attendance for the final three days of the tournament to support Nielsen and three other former Northwestern teammates that represented the USA.

“The World Cup is an amazing event that this year brought together 19 countries,” Elliott said. “The growth of our sport continues to amaze me.”

Australia continues to be a dominant force in women’s lacrosse, having won gold medals in 1986 and 2005 and earning four silver (1982, 1997, 2001 and 2009) and three bronze (1989, 1993 and 2013) medals. With a 19-5 championship victory this year, rival United States won its second straight and seventh overall World Cup title. In its first ever title game, Canada capped its most successful World Cup tournament with a silver medal.

About the FIL
The Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) is the international governing body for men’s and women’s lacrosse. The FIL currently has 45 member nations and sanctions five World Championships (women’s and men’s field, women’s and men’s U19 field and men’s indoor.) The FIL is responsible for the governance and integrity of all forms of lacrosse and provides responsive and effective leadership to support the sports’ development throughout the world.

All-World Team

Attack
Katrina Dowd – United States
Lindsey Munday – United States
Katie Rowan – United States
Dana Dobbie – Canada

Midfield
Laura Merrifield – England
Hannah Nielsen – Australia
Sarah Albrecht – United States
Stacey Morlang Sullivan – Australia

Defense
Amber Falcone – United States
Katie Guy – Canada
Alicia Wickens – Australia

Goalkeeper
Devon Wills – United States

Marlee Horn
Graduate Assistant SID
University of Colorado
O: 303.492.7525 C: 719.821.0689
marlee.horn@colorado.edu
CUBuffs.com

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osmp

City of Boulder begins seasonal grassland raptor closures

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The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) is temporarily closing areas in order to protect nesting and roosting burrowing owls and osprey. Properties where burrowing owls nest will be closed from March 15 through Oct 31.  Properties closed for the protection of nesting osprey will be closed from March 15 through Sept. 10.  Closures may be lifted early if monitoring indicates it is appropriate.

The following property will be closed for the protection of osprey:

 

Axelson (northwest of Boulder Reservoir; portions closed).

osprey3

 

 

 

The following properties will be closed for the protection of burrowing owls:

burrowing owl

 

 

 

  • Damyanovich/Yunker (north of Marshall Drive, between Cherryvale Road and US 36);
  • Jafay/Lynch (north of Lookout Road and east of 75th Street);
  • Cosslett/Knaus (South of Lookout Road and east of 75th Street);
  • Kelsall (north of High-Plains Trail, trail remains open);
  • Mesa Sand and Gravel (east of 66th Street, south of Marshall Drive); and
  • Superior Associates (north of High-Plains Trail, trail remains open).

 

 

These closures were established to protect sensitive species.  Burrowing owls nest in prairie dog burrows and their populations are declining in Colorado.  This bird is listed as threatened by the Colorado Division of Wildlife has been listed as endangered or as a species of “special concern” in 12 US states and in Canada.  Staff will be monitoring these sites and others during the spring and summer to understand more about the distribution and breeding biology of this owl on city property.

 

 

 

City of Boulder relies heavily on the public to respect the closures, and the cooperation of visitors to avoid these areas is greatly appreciated. Trespass violations can result in a summons with penalties up to 90 days in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

 

 

 

More detailed information and maps can be found on the Open Space and Mountain Parks’ website: www.osmp.org. or call 303-441-3440.

 

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lumineers

The Lumineers from Denver appear on Saturday Night Live

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The Lumineers are an American folk rock band, based in DenverColorado. The core band consists of singer Wesley Schultz on guitar,Jeremiah Fraites on drums, and Neyla Pekarek on cello and vocals. Two fulltime touring members are with added musicians for tours.[1][2]Their self-titled debut album was released on Dualtone Records on April 3, 2012, peaking at number 8 on the Billboard 200 chart. As of December 2012, their debut album has been certified gold in the US, Canada and Ireland.
bvsdicon1

Boulder Valley School District makes AP honor roll

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BVSD Placed on College Board’s 3rd Annual AP® District Honor Roll for Significant Gains in Advanced Placement® Access and Student Performance

[Boulder, CO] – Boulder Valley School District is one of 539 school districts across 44 of the 50 states in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 3rd Annual AP® District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to Advance Placement® course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program because it indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP course work. Since 2010, BVSD has increased the number of students participating in AP by 7 percent while improving the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher by 1 percent.

“It’s an honor for our district to be recognized for the important work that our educators are doing and a testament to how hard many of our students are willing to work to achieve academic success,” said Dr. Bruce Messinger, BVSD Superintendent.

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community. More than 90 percent of colleges and universities across the U.S. offer college credit, advanced placement or both for a score of 3 or above on an AP Exam – which can potentially save students and their families thousands of dollars in college tuition.

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven-not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.

BVSD Placed on College Board’s 3rd Annual AP®
District Honor Roll for Significant Gains in Advanced Placement® Access and
Student Performance

[Boulder, CO] – Boulder Valley School District is one of 539 school districts across 44 of the 50 states in the U.S. and Canada being honored by the College Board with placement on the 3rd Annual AP® District Honor Roll for simultaneously increasing access to Advance Placement® course work while increasing the percentage of students earning scores of 3 or higher on AP Exams. Achieving both of these goals is the ideal scenario for a district’s AP program because it indicates that the district is successfully identifying motivated, academically prepared students who are likely to benefit most from rigorous AP course work. Since 2010, BVSD has increased the number of students participating in AP by 7 percent while improving the percentage of students earning AP Exam scores of 3 or higher by 1 percent.

“It’s an honor for our district to be recognized for the important work that our educators are doing and a testament to how hard many of our students are willing to work to achieve academic success,” said Dr. Bruce Messinger, BVSD Superintendent.

Helping more students learn at a higher level and earn higher AP scores is an objective of all members of the AP community. More than 90 percent of colleges and universities across the U.S. offer college credit, advanced placement or both for a score of 3 or above on an AP Exam – which can potentially save students and their families thousands of dollars in college tuition.

About the College Board

The College Board is a mission-driven-not-for-profit organization that connects students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board was created to expand access to higher education. Today, the membership association is made up of over 6,000 of the world’s leading educational institutions and is dedicated to promoting excellence and equity in education. For further information, visit www.collegeboard.org.

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sunrefine

Occupy Denver to occupy Suncor pollution site Sunday

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When: Sunday, May 27th
Where: 11:30am at Lincoln Park for bike ride + trash cleanup on way to action
2:00pm at 64th Avenue and York Street

On Sunday, May 27th, Occupy Denver will be teaming up again with groups such as Deep Green Resistance, 350.org, and families from local communities that are directly affected by the Commerce City Suncor refinery for a demonstration against Suncor and the oil seep contaminating the Sand Creek and South Platte River. You can visit us on Facebook for information about the benzene spill here. We are asking everyone concerned about our water, air, land and future to stand with us.

Over the last year, many people and various organizations have united to oppose the Alberta tar sands and the Keystone XL Pipeline, correctly recognizing these industrial projects as ecocidal insanity. Here in Colorado, oil from the tar sands is refined by Suncor Energy. By participating in the process of facilitating genocide against the aboriginal people of Alberta, Suncor Energy has toxified our air, land and water without end. By bringing together active members of the Colorado community in coalition, we will align to force Suncor to stop destroying and poisoning our world, both here in Colorado and in Canada.

On Sunday, May 27th, we will occupy the ‘hot zone’ on the shore of Sand Creek, where carcinogenic benzene from Suncor’s refinery has been seeping into the water. By occupying the hot zone, we hope to bring public attention to the fact that Suncor is killing Colorado communities, water and wildlife, and to force this industrial polluter to confront the effects of its actions. It is also our hope to form strong alliances with one another and begin to work in partnership so we can effectively move forward against Suncor’s unethical and irresponsible practices.

For this action, members of Occupy Denver will be hosting a bike ride and trash cleanup along the Platte River bike path to the Suncor Refinery (weather permitting). Anyone is welcome and everyone is encouraged to take part in this. We will meet between 11:30 AM and noon at Lincoln Park, in front of the State Capitol, to leave from there. Those who do not wish to take part in the bike ride can carpool to 64th Avenue and York Street, where we will all meet up at about 2:00 PM to eat and walk to the site of the action at the confluence of Sand Creek and South Platte River. Food will be provided by Denver Food Rescue (?), and representatives from various groups will be speaking. Be aware that fumes from the oil and the refinery can sometimes make the area uncomfortable for people with compromised respiratory systems. We encourage everyone to bring their theatrical ideas to dramatize this event (haz-mat suits, EPA inspector costumes, gas masks, “fracking fluid,” etc. would be quite appropriate here).

It is our hope to see as many of you as possible at this demonstration. Suncor is actively destroying our planet, and should be stopped. Suncor’s role in the tar sands is contributing to a devastated climate and is harming indigenous communities in Canada as well as people living in local communities in Colorado. Please join us on May 27th to stand against these injustices and degradation of our Earth.


Mountain Pine Beetle

#CU study: Beetle hyper sex drive killing the forest

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Discovery of pine beetles breeding twice in a year
helps explain increasing damage, CU researchers say

Long thought to produce only one generation of tree-killing offspring annually, some populations of mountain pine beetles now produce two generations per year, dramatically increasing the potential for the bugs to kill lodgepole and ponderosa pine trees, University of Colorado Boulder researchers have found.

Because of the extra annual generation of beetles, there could be up to 60 times as many beetles attacking trees in any given year, their study found. And in response to warmer temperatures at high elevations, pine beetles also are better able to survive and attack trees that haven’t previously developed defenses.

These are among the key findings of Jeffry Mitton, a CU-Boulder professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, and Scott Ferrenberg, a graduate student in that department. The study is being published this month in The American Naturalist.

This exponential increase in the beetle population might help to explain the scope of the current beetle epidemic, which is the largest in history and extends from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in New Mexico to the Yukon Territory near Alaska.

“This thing is immense,” Mitton said. The duo’s research, conducted in 2009 and 2010 at CU’s Mountain Research Station, located about 25 miles west of Boulder, helps explain why.

“We followed them through the summer, and we saw something that had never been seen before,” Mitton said. “Adults that were newly laid eggs two months before were going out and attacking trees” — in the same year. Normally, mountain pine beetles spend a winter as larvae in trees before emerging as adults the following summer.

These effects may be particularly pronounced at higher elevations, where warmer temperatures have facilitated beetle attacks. In the last two decades at the Mountain Research Station, mean annual temperatures were 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they were in the previous two decades.

Warmer temperatures gave the beetle larvae more spring days to grow to adulthood. The number of spring days above freezing temperatures increased by 15.1 in the last two decades, Mitton and Ferrenberg report. Also, the number of days that were warm enough for the beetles to grow increased by 44 percent since 1970.

The Mountain Research Station site is about 10,000 feet in elevation, 1,000 feet higher than the beetles have historically thrived. In their study, Mitton and Ferrenberg emphasize this anomaly.

“While our study is limited in area, it was completed in a site that was characterized as climatically unsuitable for (mountain pine beetle) development by the U.S. Forest Service only three decades ago,” they write.

But in 25 years, the beetles have expanded their range 2,000 feet higher in elevation and 240 miles north in latitude in Canada, Mitton said.

Ferrenberg had the idea to monitor the beetles at higher elevations partly because trees at lower elevations have been attacked by beetles for centuries and have developed some defenses.

Lodgepole pines at higher elevations tended to have a lower density of resin ducts, which transport resin, the sole defense against beetles. The number of resin ducts in a tree can be a “marker” for whether a tree has a higher or lower resistance to a beetle attack, Ferrenberg said.

The trees at higher elevations had not faced the same intensity of beetle attacks as those at lower elevations until temperatures warmed, and they have not faced pressures of natural selection exerted by attacking beetles. “The trees in that area are somewhat naïve in their response,” Ferrenberg said.

These data help explain why westbound motorists emerging from the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70 can look up, from 11,000 feet in elevation, and see beetle-killed trees. “We think we see some of the reason for the fact that this epidemic is so widespread,” Mitton said.

The research was funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

More on this story will appear in the next edition of Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine at http://artsandsciences.colorado.edu/magazine/

Source:  Colorado Arts and Sciences Magazine

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