Friday, April 26, 2013

New Website Provides Colorado with Wildfire Risk Data

Colorado National Guard fights High Park, CO fire in 2012.
Photo Courtesy of the U.S. Air Force
Wildfires in Colorado are a natural part of the ecosystems and are crucial to restore and maintain healthy forests. However, they pose a real danger to the lives and property of a growing percent of the population. Population growth has created a new resource/management conflict which has been termed the wildland-urban interface, "where man-made improvements are built close to, or within, natural terrain and flammable vegetation, and where high potential for wildland fire exists."

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has struggled to find the best management practices to utilize in response to wildfires. A USFS research publication states, ". . . climate change, extended drought, increased insect and disease outbreaks, and invasions of exotic plant species have added complications to fire management on public and private lands."

The increased interest, debate and study of wildfire management has led the Colorado State Forest Service to create a new website, the Colorado Wildfire Risk Assessment Portal (CO-WRAP). "The goal of the project is to provide a consistent, comparable set of scientific results to be used as a foundation for wildfire mitigation and prevention planning in Colorado."

The website provides community leaders, planning and forestry professionals and citizens access to maps, data and reports which describe project areas, neighborhoods or watersheds. CO-WRAP uses geographic information system data which allows users to view themes such as historic fire occurrence, values at risk to fire, potential fire intensity, and the likelihood of an acre burning. 

Paul Cooke, director of the Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control said, "Whether to increase public awareness about wildfire risk, or to put much-needed information at the fingertips of fire managers, CO-WRAP will be a tremendous asset for Colorado.”
 Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Students Tour National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Lucy Daberkow and students pose for a picture in front of
reclaimed beetle killed pine walls at the NREL.
Students in the Environmental and Natural Resources Law and Policy and J. D. Programs attended a tour of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on Tuesday, April 23rd. The tour was organized by Professor K.K. DuVivier and overseen by Assistant Director, Lucy Daberkow.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy's premier laboratory for renewable and efficient energy research and development. The lab is government-owned and receives Congressional funding. Energy innovators have access to the lab through specific contracts and are able to develop and test their materials with the lab's state of the art technology.

The students toured the 327 acre main campus in Golden, CO which houses four LEED-rated buildings. NREL is committed to operating sustainably and hopes to provide a model for other buildings. The students were impressed by the many aspects that were taken into consideration, from rain drainage to chemical free adhesives in the flooring. In addition, many design features of NREL were inspired by ancient buildings.

Many of the students who attended are currently enrolled in an energy law related course(s) and were able to supplement their academic understanding of the energy field through the tour. Brendan Browne, MRLS '13 shared "Touring the NREL facility got me excited at the prospect of working in the renewable energy field."

The Denver Post recently named NREL as one of 2013's top places to work and was profiled in a special insert of the Denver Post on Sunday, April 21. For more information on what it is like to work at NREL, visit their employment website.
Angelica Oman
Graduate Program Assistant