New fire training center opens
The Boulder Regional Fire Training Center, located on the Diagonal Highway south of 63rd Street, opened this week with a ceremonial ribboncutting.
The center is expected to give crews throughout Boulder County hands-on, realistic opportunities to train for emergencies close to the communities they serve.
The center was constructed over the past year on 10 acres of city-owned land. The site includes a 15,800-square-foot classroom/administration building, a training tower and a burn building. Specific locations are designated for extrication training, propane fire scenarios, attic and garage fire simulations, rappelling practice, and a burn building that allows firefighters to experience actual fires that burn more cleanly and with less pollution than in older facilities.
The $5.8 million project is the result of collaboration among the Boulder Regional Fire Training Center Board of Directors, the City of Boulder and Boulder County. The project was funded with $4.1 million in county sales taxes collected from 2002 through 2004 and a temporary city sales tax approved by voters in November 2006 and in effect from January through December 2007, which amounted to approximately $3.6 million.
Goats control weeds at Boulder Res
For the 10th consecutive year, the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department is employing an integrated pest management (IPM) approach to control invasive weeds by letting between 300 and 400 goats graze in non-irrigated park areas. The goats are on the east side of the Boulder Reservoir (along the dam) and are expected to remain there until later this week.
Park users should not be affected by the goats, but dog owners are asked to keep their pets leashed along the dam to prevent dog-goat encounters. Goats have been used effectively as a control for many weeds, as they eat even prickly weeds. The state’s Noxious Weed Act requires monitoring and control of certain plant species, and the Parks and Recreation Department complies with this mandate by applying the four IPM techniques for weed management: mechanical, biological, cultural and chemical. The use of biological controls, such as goat grazing, is increasingly important as the department seeks to minimize the use of herbicides in natural and sensitive areas.
When done at the proper times, grazing prevents the current year’s plants from going to seed and depletes the root system’s reserves. Grazing also recycles organic material back into the soil and cultivates the ground, allowing for better water infiltration, aeration and sunlight exposure.
For more information, call Paul Bousquet at 303-413-7239.
NCAR hurricane study to tackle mystery
Scientists at Boulder’s National Center for Atmospheric Research are launching a major field project next month in the tropical Atlantic Ocean to solve a central mystery of hurricanes: why do certain clusters of tropical thunderstorms grow into the often-deadly storms while many others dissipate? The results should eventually help forecasters provide more advance warning to those in harm’s way.
PREDICT, the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics, will run from Aug. 15 to Sept. 30, the height of hurricane season. The project is funded primarily by the National Science Foundation, NCAR’s sponsor.
Based on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, PREDICT will use an NSF/NCAR Gulfstream V research aircraft. The G-V jet, also known as HIAPER, has a range of up to 7,000 miles and will reach an altitude of about 43,000 feet, enabling scientists to take observations near the tops of storms that form thousands of miles from the coast.
By better understanding the formation of tropical storms that may become hurricanes, scientists can help the National Hurricane Center attain the goal of seven-day hurricane forecasts, rather than the current limit of five days. Long-term predictions are needed by shippers, offshore oil operators, emergency managers and others involved in public safety to better prepare for incoming storms.
ACLU Of Colorado seeks FBI records
Invoking the Freedom of Information Act, on July 27 the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado asked the FBI to turn over records related to the agency’s little-known authority to collect information about race and ethnicity and map socalled “ethnic-oriented” businesses, behaviors, lifestyle characteristics and cultural traditions in communities with concentrated ethnic populations.
The ACLU says the FBI granted itself this new authority in its 2008 Domestic Intelligence and Operations Guide, which it released in heavily redacted form in September 2009. A less-censored version was made public in January in response to a lawsuit filed by Muslim Advocates.
While some racial and ethnic data collection by some agencies might be helpful in lessening discrimination, the FBI’s attempt to collect and map demographic data using race-based criteria for targeting purposes invites unconstitutional racial profiling by law enforcement, says the ACLU.
Free admission to state parks on Aug. 2
Colorado State Parks will celebrate Colorado Day on Monday, Aug. 2, by offering free entrance at all 42 state parks. Colorado Day was created by the state legislature to mark the anniversary of statehood, granted in 1876 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Free entrance at the state parks is an annual Colorado Day tradition.
All other fees, including camping and reservations, will remain in effect on Aug. 2.
The state parks, scattered throughout Colorado, showcase the state’s diverse landscapes, including the prairies of the eastern plains at John Martin Reservoir State Park, the alpine beauty of the mountains at Sylvan Lake State Park near Eagle and the unique geological landscapes at Roxborough State Park.
Attracting nearly 12 million visitors per year, Colorado’s state parks encompass 225,099 land and water acres. Colorado State Parks also manage more than 4,100 campsites and 57 cabins and yurts.
For more information on Colorado State Parks or to purchase an annual pass online, visit www. colorado.gov/parks.
Summer meal program draws thousands more
Gov. Bill Ritter and Lt. Gov. Barbara O’Brien have announced that thousands more children across the state are receiving free meals at schools and community sites this summer compared to a year ago as a result of increased outreach through the Colorado Campaign to End Childhood Hunger.
They are encouraging more children and families to participate in the Summer Food Service Program, which serves meals and snacks at more than 300 sites statewide until next month.
The Summer Food Service Program is a federally funded nutrition program designed to replace school meals during the summer. Free meals are open to all children ages 18 and under. This year, more than 300 sites are participating in the program, compared to 200 last year. Adults can pay a small fee for meals at participating sites, which can be found at www.summerfoodcolorado.org or by calling 1-877-934-8643.
Firefighters launch MDA campaign
Teams of local firefighters will fan out across the state next month with boots in hand, as they kick off their annual Fill-the-Boot fundraising campaign for children and adults with musclewasting diseases.
The International Association of Fire Fighters is a longtime friend and supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Fill-the-Boot drives are the primary means by which the IAFF has raised almost $300 million for the MDA since 1954.
This is the 56th year IAFF members in Colorado will hit the streets to bring help and hope to “Jerry’s kids.”
Fill-The-Boot funds support MDA’s services locally and nationally, including medical clinics staffed with specialists in neuromuscular disease and special summer camps for kids. Funds from Fill-the-Boot drives benefit clinics at Children’s Hospital and University Hospital and summer camp at Rocky Mountain Village.
The funds also help finance MDA’s worldwide research program seeking treatments for diseases such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease).
Up-to-date information about MDA services and research can be found at www.mda.org.