Many of the major river basins are at or above average, but surveyors are worried that drought conditions won’t improve

Pedestrians cross a bridge over the Poudre River in Fort Collins after a massive snowstorm in March. Climate researchers say the heavy snow isn’t enough to ease chronic drought in Colorado. (Valerie Mosley, Special to The Colorado Sun)

Snowstorms last month replenished snowpack in the Colorado mountains and improved drought conditions on the Front Range, as did rain that quenched the parched Eastern Plains. But smaller amounts of precipitation farther south and west have done less to dampen drought conditions.

Ultimately, researchers say that one big storm is not enough to break Colorado out of its long-term drought.

“What we’ll need are probably multiple years of above average snowfall to really get us out of this,” said Russ Schumacher, Director of the Colorado Climate Center.

Snowpack, the snow that accumulates in the mountains, provides Colorado with 50% to 80% of its usable water. As temperatures rise in April and through the spring, melting snow renews the rivers and fills reservoirs throughout the state. Last month’s snowstorm was a boon.

Data from the Natural Resources Conservation Service of Colorado shows some promising snowpack conditions. The snow-water-equivalent — the amount of liquid water held in snow — is at or above 90% of normal in the Yampa, White, Laramie and North Platte and South Platte river basins. In the Arkansas and Upper Rio Grande basins, it is 110% of normal. Conditions are not as good in the Upper Colorado Headwaters, Gunnison, and San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan basins, all under 90% of normal.

This map shows snow-water-equivalents in the major river basins of Colorado as of April 1. (Provided by Natural Resources Conservation Service of Colorado)

“We’re definitely in a better position now at the beginning of April than we were at the beginning of March,” said Russ Schumacher, director of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University.

Brian Domonkos, snow survey supervisor at the Natural Resources Conservation Service of Colorado, measures snowpack to gather data on the important snow-to-water equivalent. In the past couple weeks, the statewide snow-water-equivalent jumped up to almost 15 inches, just under the median.

Two methods are used to determine the amount of water present in the snowpack. The more traditional way uses a federal sampler — a set of tubes stuck into the snow to produce a core that is measured and weighed. Snow telemetry, or SNOTEL, sites are an automated method for measuring the water in the snow, while also collecting data including depth, quality of snow, precipitation and air temperature. 

This graph shows the statewide snow-water-equivalent with the black line indicating current levels. (Provided by Natural Resources Conservation Service of Colorado)

However, heavy snowfall does not always mean snowpack will provide enough water for the state or reliant neighboring states. There are a number of other elements at play.

Warm, windy conditions can erode snowpack fairly quickly. In some instances, dust can blow in from the Southwest, blanket the snow and reduce its reflective abilities. If covered with dust, the snow absorbs more sunlight, making it melt faster than usual.

Soil moisture is crucial, but it is a factor Schumacher said researchers are still working to fully understand. Going into the winter with dry soils means it takes more water to rehydrate them first before water can flow into rivers. A warmer spring means snow might melt faster than expected. 

“The dry conditions that we’ve seen over this past summer, and even the summer before that are one of the bigger drivers of the below-normal stream flows,” Domonkos said.

These map compare drought conditions for the week of March 31, 2020, left and March 30, 2021. (Provided by U.S. Drought Monitor)

Climate change exacerbates this moisture challenge. Schumacher said it can bring about extreme heat and a rapid onset of drought in the summertime, reducing soil moisture.

“If that trend continues, and we continue going into each winter with very dry soils and drought-stressed vegetation, then it just raises the bar on the amount of extra snow that you have to get to make up those deficits,” Schumacher said.

Signs point to more drought conditions, but Domonkos said time will tell.

“For me I think the real proof is going to be in the actual runoff this spring and summer,” Domonkos said. “Unfortunately, that’s just the way that it goes.”


A new study from the University of Colorado indicates the future of Western water systems will likely include earlier runoff periods and drier dry seasons.

Lucy Haggard

Apr 6, 2021

The Poudre River in Forth Collins, CO, blanketed in snow after a spring storm. March 15, 2021. (Valerie Mosley, Special to The Colorado Sun)

When researchers analyzed decades of snowpack monitoring data across western North America, including many in Colorado, they found that snow at more than a third of the stations melted significantly earlier in the year than it did in the mid- to late-20th century.

The new study from the University of Colorado is the first of its kind to look at historical snowmelt data to understand the long-term impacts of a warming world on alpine snowpack, the water storage of the West.

Colorado’s snowpack acts like a drip irrigation system, with the snowpack — and thus water stored as snow — peaking around April 1 each year. As spring brings warming temperatures, snow slowly and steadily melts, first saturating the dry ground, then flowing through rivers and streams to both human and ecological uses.

If the snowmelt begins to drip earlier in the season, there is less runoff to flow on and through the ground during the summer months. Unless precipitation increases — either adding to the snowpack in the winter, or supplementing runoff in the spring and summer — there are fewer water resources during the growing season.

Snowpack declined about 11% during the study period, but earlier winter runoff was roughly three times as widespread, based on data from 1,065 snow telemetry sites. Measures like snowpack can inform resource managers of the current water year’s conditions, Musselman said, while runoff timing is likely more indicative of long-term climatic trends.

“This is one of the first times we’ve been able to put these data together and see that we’re seeing real-time changes in winter snowmelt,” said Keith Musselman, the study’s lead author and a research associate at CU’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.

Snow sits high on the San Juan Mountains off Colorado Highway 145 Sunday June 23, 2019. (William Woody, Special to the Colorado Sun)

The study didn’t look at the why of earlier snowmelt, but Musselman said there are some likely culprits. Climate change and warming temperatures can lead to faster melting as well as increase the likelihood of snow to sublimate, or go from solid snow straight to water vapor. Other possible causes for the early runoff, according to Musselman, could include dust settling on top of snow and decreasing its albedo, or reflectivity, which leads to faster melting.

If this all sounds like a bad scenario, it’s because it is. Soils that saturate too early in the year due to winter runoff will act like a sponge full of water, according to Musselman, so they won’t be able to work as a buffer against flash floods as more snow melts or rain falls in spring and summer. 

Microbes in dirt also reactivate when runoff returns. As those organisms do the dirty work of breaking down organic matter, they release carbon dioxide, which contributes to climate change. The earlier they get back to work, the more carbon dioxide they emit into the atmosphere. 

This winter’s lackluster snowfall means the megadrought across Colorado and much of the West will continue until significant precipitation returns. Musselman said more data is needed to determine the exact impacts of earlier runoff, but there will be implications for how societies manage the liquid of life.

“Our water resource infrastructure in the West is built around snowpack. It’s built around the accumulation in the winter and the melt in spring and summer of the mountain snowpack, and water allocations are based on that infrastructure as well,” Musselman said. “That system is changing.” 


April 5, 20214


Canopies of pink and white flowers are blanketing Washington, D.C., after the city’s cherry trees hit full bloom last week.

‘A Reminder That Nature Is Strong’: In Japan, A 1,000-Year-Old Cherry Tree Blooms

D.C.’s first cherry trees were a gift to the United States from Japan in 1912. In Kyoto, Japan, the cherry trees’ peak bloom this year was the earliest on record in 1,200 years. This follows a pattern of earlier and earlier blooms since the 1800s. This year’s blossoms in D.C. peaked several days ahead of the 30-year average, according to The Washington Post.

Scientists warn that the blooms are just one sign of the greater looming climate crisis; earlier blooms can mean warmer springtime temperatures.

Cherry trees need a full month of chilly weather below 41 degrees to properly blossom when it gets warmer, according to Naoko Abe, author of The Sakura Obsession. If they don’t get that chilly weather, they blossom later because “they can’t wake up properly,” Abe says.

“The impact from climate change is indisputable, I think,” Abe tells NPR’s All Things Considered. “However, the decisive factors for the cherry blossoms is the winter temperature.”

And while early blooms are caused by warm springs, delayed blooms could also be the result of warming winters — which is also troubling. Southern Japan has already seen some of these delayed blooms.

Abe tells NPR that if winter temperatures continue to rise, the delays may grow to the point where trees don’t blossom at all.

The trees planted in D.C. are Yoshino cherry trees, a variety that makes up about 70% of all cherry trees in Japan. They’re easy to propagate and can start to blossom after only five years.

However, Yoshinos are very susceptible to temperature change and disease. Abe warns that if we do not start to diversify cherry tree varieties, in a century we might not have cherry blossoms at any time of year.

Ever since Yoshinos garnered popularity in Japan in the 19th century, other cherry species were forgotten and went extinct.

“We have to prevent that, and we can prevent that,” she says. “We have to start thinking differently and start thinking that the Yoshino cherries are not the only cherries.”



Terry Tempest Williams, an author and environmental activist, on bird song, Keith Jarrett and slowing down.

By Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim

March 31, 2021

For a series of conversations about music with nonmusicians, I am swapping songs: exchanging pieces with my interlocutors to spark ideas about how their areas of expertise might relate to organized sound.

Terry Tempest Williams is an author and environmental activist whose work celebrates the red-rock deserts of Utah, where she calls home. Her most recent book, “Erosion: Essays of Undoing,”describes the personal and political repercussions of the depredation of public lands.

For our chat, I chose the “Abyss of the Birds” section from Olivier Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time.” She picked “First (Solo Voice)” from Keith Jarrett’s “Invocations.” These are edited excerpts from the interview.

In your book “When Women Were Birds,” you describe childhood memories of your grandmother creating candlelit listening parties, where she would play records for you and your brother. They included classical music, but also field recordings of bird song.

That’s why I picked the clarinet solo from Messiaen’s “Quartet for the End of Time,” first performed in a German prisoner-of-war camp in 1941; it has stretches of desolate, sustained long notes alongside transcriptions of bird song.

I hear it as breath. I knew the story before I knew the music, and I was struck by how, in the presence of war, you could have two minds: one watching out for the enemy and one listening for the call of a blackbird or a mockingbird. And when I first heard it, I was just devastated by the beauty.

That first note appears to come out of nowhere and then builds through the power of one breath. Especially now, in the time of coronavirus, as a country we can’t breathe. We can’t breathe because of the virus. We can’t breathe because of politics, because of the Black and brown bodies that are being killed on the streets. And here, there is that one opening breath, and at the beginning, it feels like melancholy, it feels like a lament. But then as it progresses, there is that building of the silence to voice that becomes a lighter voice, the voice of birds, a fluttering and flourishing.

The clarinet sets vibrations in motion so subtly that by the time we notice them as sound, they’ve already wormed their way into us.

It also felt like light. I had heard that the piece was created at dawn, so this morning, I took my music outside and sat in the desert. As light spread, against that building of voice, it felt like the music mirrored the dawn itself. And I was absolutely stunned by the birds that were drawn in. The robins were the first ones. At moments, I couldn’t tell: Was that a fluttering from Messiaen or a fluttering from the robins? Then starlings came in, and it was almost like they were trying to copy the music, and then the desert mourning doves came in. And then the larks took over.

Sitting in this grove of junipers, I thought about Messiaen and his musicians creating this music in a time of such confinement — and that is the power of community.

Messiaen was a Catholic who believed in eternity as something both comforting and terrifying. As someone who fights for the preservation of wilderness, to what extent do you also have to think of time outside of how it is measured by humans?

I was a child in 1962, when my grandmother read Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” We were in her garden putting seeds in bird feeders. And she said, “Terry, can you imagine a world without bird song?” It was a terrifying thought. Birds allow us to be present in the moment, but they also link me to a time before the human record and to what will be as we live our own apocalypse in terms of climate collapse. So they’re an arrow pointing in both directions.

Messiaen said, “It is in a spirit of no confidence in myself, or I mean in the human race, that I have taken bird songs as a model.” And he goes on to talk about the “sovereign freedom” of birds.

That is a beautiful paradox I hear in his music. Birds are the ultimate symbol of freedom. They are also the symbol of presence. They hold their past, and we pray that they will carry the earth into the future. Here he was a devout Catholic, and yet he sought his spiritual source not from God but from God’s creation.

The classic instrument to represent a bird would be the flute, but here it’s brought down a few octaves. It’s mediated, or translated.

He slows their song down so we can really hear. And birds feel like they are the mediators between us and heaven. I also think that since birds travel within the realm of air, to choose a clarinet, a single reed instrument that requires breath, is such a beautiful manifestation.

I was really touched by the piece you chose. While the Messiaen exists in this pure darkness with no echo coming back, Keith Jarrett’s saxophone solo plays with the acoustics of the German abbey where it was recorded, a man-made space designed for transcendence.

The two pieces feel interlinked. They’re both single-reed, solo voices. One is highly composed, the other born of improvisation. And both of them felt like invocations. With Keith Jarrett’s solo, it was the echo that moved me most. This energetic vibration that I feel especially attuned to now as we are a year into a pandemic that we first thought was a pause and we now know is a place. The echoes we feel in our isolation, our own solo voices.

Jarrett invites us to ask how well can we live with uncertainty. He offers us a path of improvisation, and the echo turns it into a call and response.

At the heart of improvisation is listening. Jarrett is listening to the echoes, to the spaces in between his notes. You can almost hear him wondering: What happens if I push this note through the resonance trail of the last one, like concentric smoke rings? Can I smudge the difference between the note I play in this moment and the residue that’s still lingering from the previous one?

It’s in the listening that you open up creative space. I was astonished by a passage about two minutes and 50 seconds in, where the music builds to this fullness. For a while, I lost all track of time.

That’s where he stays on one note and bends the pitch. It develops these microtonal inflections that no longer belong to Western music. He allows the note to wilt and revive. He seems to be exploring the spaces in between notes.

If someone were to say, “Tell me where you live, what do you experience,” I would point to this piece. It is this spaciousness. It is the echo of wall against wall in the narrow confines of these red-rock canyons.

Both of these pieces are filled with memory. How do we access that? For me the bridge is silence and stillness.

As harrowing and as grief-filled as this pandemic has been, it has brought us to this place of slowing down and listening. And that has been part of the blessing. If we are going to survive, that is what is required.


After a surge in backcountry camping last summer, community groups join the Forest Service in designating as many as 211 formal campsites in six drainages that spill into the East River Valley.

Jason Blevins

Apr 2, 2021

Dave Ochs spent some long days last summer working on a new bike trail up the Slate River above Crested Butte. 

The executive director of the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association was driving down to town one July evening when he counted a train of 20 cars a minute heading up the drainage. 

“All the campsites up there were already taken,” he said. “I was like, ‘Where could all these people be going?’”

Wherever they wanted. The river drainages that spill into the East River Valley above Crested Butte offer some of the most popular dispersed camping escapes in Colorado.

Maybe too popular. 

After a deluge of trailer-hauling, tent-tossing campers last summer, a coalition of locals and forest officials plan to end the free-for-all, camp-anywhere bacchanal. Beginning this spring, the six drainages surrounding Crested Butte will have designated campsites. By as soon as next year, reservations will be required.

“I chalk this up to Colorado’s growing pains,” said Joe Lavorini, the Gunnison County Stewardship Coordinator for the National Forest Foundation. “None of us would really want to go down this route if we didn’t have to, but this is best for the resources and ultimately it’s what’s best for the users as well.”

Forest Service officials and the Crested Butte Conservation Corps saw record-setting numbers of campers last summer in the drainages above Crested Butte. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

The new management approach is part of a collaboration between the Forest Service and the Gunnison Valley Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation Committee. That committee, created by Gunnison County’s commissioners, includes 19 members from the community. 

The STOR Corps, as they call themselves, works to promote sustainable tourism and recreation in the valley and approached the Forest Service with the designated-campsite plan after last summer, when Crested Butte was busy with campers and visitors eager to get outdoors during the pandemic. 

“We decided as a community and as a committee, that it was time to say you just can’t camp anywhere,” said John Norton, the executive director of the valley’s Tourism and Prosperity Partnership. “It’s not an anti-camping sentiment. Everybody here loves to camp and everybody here does camp. It’s just that you can only take so much without hurting the resource. We need to protect the natural resources that make this valley so special and this one one way to do it.”

Forest Service officials are joining the Crested Butte community in designating 211 official campsites in the drainages above Crested Butte as a way to protect natural resources. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

Camping exploded in Colorado last summer with record numbers of residents and visitors popping tents and parking trailers in remote corners as a way to get outdoors and distance themselves during the pandemic. In some areas, the deluge overwhelmed both land managers and facilities. 

The South Platte Ranger District in the Pike National Forest last fall converted 340 dispersed campsites into reserved, fee sites after the close-to-Denver forest swarmed with record crowds. The district’s $15-a-night sites have assigned parking spots, pit toilets and fire rings. And they are a sign of the future. 

Reservations are increasingly common in Colorado’s busy high country. Hikers need to book access to Hanging Lake. Camping permits are mandatory around Conundrum Hot Springs. Access to the Maroon Bells outside Aspen starts with a shuttle ticket. Even Vail Resorts required reservations to ride chairlifts this winter. 

This summer the backcountry-protecting Crested Butte Conservation Corps will help the Forest Service install campsites, with posts and numbers to designate each site. They will start up Slate River Road with 43 sites and 48 campsites up Washington Gulch Road and then expand into Kebler Pass, Irwin Lake, Brush Creek, Cement Creek and Gothic Road. By next spring there should be 211 designated camping sites across the valley.  

Norton said if everything works well this summer, campers will be able to book the sites on by next spring. But that would require the campsites to meet a host of infrastructure criteria, like fire rings and toilets, outlined under the Federal Land Recreation Enhancement Act’s rules for establishing fees.

The Crested Butte Conservation Corps is working with the Forest Service to build 211 designated campsites in the six drainages that spill into Crested Butte, ending a long history of dispersed camping in the region that has damaged natural resources. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

The Crested Butte Conservation Corps is already building campsites. A crew of 10 STOR Corps workers — paid by a Great Outdoors Colorado grant — will spend the summer helping campers learn the new rules. Tourism officials in the valley will warn visitors to have a back-up plan for camping. And maybe a back-up back-up plan on busy weekends. 

“This is our community being proactive and doing something before the recreation gets out of control,” Lavorini said. “It’s time because we are seeing these areas lose their wild and wilderness characteristics due to overuse.”

The STOR Committee studied camping landscapes around other popular destinations, including Sedona, Prescott and Maricopa County in Arizona.

“We saw that if you don’t have reserved camping, it’s just chaos,” said Ochs, whose mountain bike association formed the Crested Butte Conservation Corps in 2017 as a professional trail and stewardship team focused on protecting the valley’s backcountry. 

By 2022 there will be 211 official campsites in the six drainages that spill into Crested Butte, ending a long history of dispersed camping in the region that has damaged natural resources. (Courtesy Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association / Crested Butte Conservation Corps)

The camping crowds last summer were gasoline on the Crested Butte community’s simmering plan to designate campsites around the valley. Ochs and his corps spent many days talking with campers about proper etiquette, including how to bury poop (deeply!) and where to discard trash (not piled at makeshift campsites and trailheads!).

“Some of them truly just did not know,” Ochs said.  

Ochs and his corps have some concerns about the coming camping season. More people have their toys — rooftop tents, trailers and vans — and are eager for another summer in the woods. He’s joining the Crested Butte community in a chorus of messaging urging visitors to make a plan and have an alternative in mind when that perfect campsite they’ve visited for years is not available. 

He’s urging town leaders to set up a temporary one-night spot in a local parking lot for campers who get denied when they arrive late. 

“People are coming here to camp and ride and … they are going to do it,” Ochs said. “We need to be ready for them and help them.”

Permadrought ~ The Land Desk



Climate change, yukigata, and another dry year in the Southwest

Jonathan P. Thompson
April 2, 2021

For four decades, my grandparents ran a farm in the Animas Valley north of Durango, Colorado. They knew when it was time to put out the tomatoes they had started indoors not by looking at the calendar, but by keeping an eye each spring on a particular northerly facing slope on Missionary Ridge. When the snow was all melted from the slope, the threat of a killing freeze had passed, meaning the tomatoes would be safe outdoors. 

Their snow-pattern planting calendar—known in Japan as yukigata—isn’t unique. No matter where you go, so long as there’s a hill or mountain in sight, farmers follow a similar ritual. Over in the Montezuma Valley gardeners wait until Ute Mountain is free of snow to plant. Folks along Utah’s Wasatch Front keep an eye on the Sleigh Runner crevasse on Box Elder Peak. In the Grand Valley of Colorado, it would be foolish to plant before the Swan’s Neck has melted. And in the North Fork Valley of Western Colorado, gardeners wait for the Devil’s Neck on Mt. Lamborn to “break.” 

And, pretty much no matter where you go, diminishing precipitation and a warming climate are disappearing the yukigata ever earlier in the year, throwing the planting schedule out of whack. My grandparents’ Missionary Ridge snow-spot reliably held snow until late May or early June. Over the last couple of decades, however, it has been known to vanish as early as March. In early June of 2002, my grandparents’ yukigata, by then long gone for the season, was charred in the 73,000-acre Missionary Ridge Fire. 

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Time series from the last two decades showing the percentage of area in drought and the severity of drought conditions (yellow=abnormally dry; dark red=exceptional drought). Source: U.S. Drought Monitor. 

That was near the beginning of what has turned out to be a virtually unrelenting, 20-year-long dry spell that is rendering the word “drought” somewhat meaningless. It makes more sense to call it aridification or, as some prefer, the “new normal.” 

But the trouble with normal, as singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn noted, is it always gets worse: for the farmers who rely on the snowmelt to fill the reservoirs that keep their ditches flowing through the summer; for the millions of people who draw water from the Colorado River system; for the rafters who flock to the region’s rivers each spring and summer; for all those affected by wildfires and their smoke; and for the wildlife that relies on a decent amount of moisture in the soil and streams. Snow Studies @snowstudiesAnother dust event in Colorado mountains last night. This picture was taken just before evening near Moab by Jeff Deems. The USGS dust cams towards the 4 corners were not as bad. It may be that central/northern mountains were hit harder, we’ll see the next CODOS tour. March 30th 20215 Retweets14 Likes

As the 2021 water year reached its April 1 midpoint, most of the yukigata in the Four Corners Country were still in place. The peak of Ute Mountain still wears a blanket of white and a smidgeon of snow still caps the north face of Smelter Mountain, Durango’s planting calendar. That’s reassuring, an indication that we’re a lot better off than the ultra-dry years of 2002, 2013, or 2018, when there was virtually no snow on Smelter Mountain in December, let alone April. 

Yet the figurative yukigata pattern revealed in the climatic data paints a different picture, one in which year after year of dryness have piled up to grim effect. Not only that, but despite a series of strong storms in late winter, the snowpack in most of the San Juan Mountains is below normal, with virtually no chance now of catching up. Add up the series of dry years, the below-normal snowpack, and warmer temperatures, and you end up with extreme drought conditions covering a good portion of the Southwest, which will inevitably lead to meagre streamflows, wildfires, and water restrictions this summer. 

Snow water equivalent graphs for Columbus Basin (in the La Plata range west of Durango) and Red Mountain Pass, showing this year’s snowpack compared to the average for the period of record and recent dry and wet years. The period of record is 1995-2021 (Columbus Basin) and 1981-2021 (RMP). Data source: USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service. 

The good news is that if you’re one of the hordes of folks who didn’t win the river-running-permit lottery, you may not be missing out on much. The San Juan River in Utah is running at just above 500 cubic feet per second, which is almost a guarantee of some serious bottom-dragging in the silt of Lake Powell’s backwash. The Salt River in Arizona, which is usually crammed with boaters this time of year, is a virtual trickle, not even navigable by kayak. McPhee Reservoir is so low that you might as well forget about risking your life on Snaggletooth. The only bright spot is the headwaters of the Rio Grande, where the snowpack levels were right at normal as of April 1, but with warmer-than-normal temperatures forecast for the rest of the spring that may not hold. 

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sounds a little dodgie to me


Each season resorts around the United States race to open with the help of snowmaking.Snowmaking has become an essential part of the industry – some ski areas couldn’t even operate without it. Until now, snowmaking has only been used in resorts. As part of solving the low snowpack, water, and drought issues, the state of Colorado will begin to make snow in the backcountry to boost its snowpack and water runoff.

This year, the snowpack is below-average to average. In future drought years, the system will help supply water around North America and keep water shortages to a minimum. The system allows the backcountry to act as a man-made frozen reservoir. This will allow snowmelt into river basins and other reservoirs to occur later into the summer.


The state is taking on a massive endeavor to install snowmaking systems on north-facing aspects in areas that hold significant portions of the state’s water. This spring, the state will begin installing snowmaking systems off of Berthoud Pass, a popular backcountry skiing area (and abandoned ski area) near Winter Park, Colorado. By making snow on both sides of the Continental Divide on Berthoud Pass, both the Pacific Ocean Watershed and the Atlantic Ocean Watershed will reap the benefits. This will be the initial area, although the undertaking is estimated to take 8-10 summers to complete.

Snowmaking will take place on both sides of the Continental Divide. Credit: Uncover Colorado

The project will be paid for under several different taxes. A percentage of Colorado’s marijuana tax will contribute to the project. Although, the project will be paid for primarily under Colorado’s new (as of 2019) sports betting law, HB19-1327. The law states:

“Concerning sports betting, and, in connection therewith, submitting to the registered electors of the state of Colorado a ballot measure authorizing the collection of a tax on the net proceeds of sports betting through licensed casinos, directing the revenues generated through collection of the sports betting tax to specified public purposes, including the state water plan through creation of the water plan implementation cash fund, and making an appropriation.”

Each snowmaking installment is estimated to cost between 2 and 3 million USD. The state hopes to install approximately 200 systems in essential water basins throughout the state. The total cost of the project is estimated to be between 400 and 600 million USD.

Colorado Rapid Watershed Assessments. Credit: USDA NRCS

The state will strategically place snowmaking systems in the headwaters regions of the state.Different basins will have a variety of snowmaking systems. A combination of fan guns and air guns will be added to north-facing basins that run into major river basins. Water will be drawn from the ground and dependable water sources. Each system installed will help boost snowpack and runoff within each river basin.

Experts predict installing snowmaking in the backcountry will boost spring runoff by as much as 30% by 2030. That also means more areas to keep skiing late into the summer! The state and the National Park Service are considering if snowmaking should be installed in Rocky Mountain National Park to help restore and protect its glaciers.

Adding snowmaking to Andrew’s Glacier in RMNP would help keep this gem alive. Credit: Colorado Encyclopedia 

Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein and Neuroscience All Agree: Your Daily Routine Needs More ‘Non-time’ ~ Apple News

“I am inspired to do less and call it a contribution.” Robert Fulton III



Your busy daily routine is healthy and productive. It might also be killing your creativity. 

Both science and history tell us that getting your daily routine right is essential for success. No wonder the internet is full of admiring articles about the morning routines of famous people and lists of suggested habits to add to your daily schedule. Spend enough time with this kind of advice and it’s likely your day will end up crammed with worthy and beneficial activities, from gratitude practices to journaling exercises to nature walks

Research shows all of these activities are good for you, but there is a catch to shoving ever more of them into your schedule — science is just as clear that you also need plenty of ‘non-time’ in your routine. If you crowd your days with every healthy habit out there, you’re unlikely to get enough of it. 

You don’t have enough ‘non-time’ in your schedule. 

First off, what is ‘non-time’? As The Art of the Impossible author and TED speaker Steven Kotler explained recently on the TED Ideas blog, non-time is basically a fancy word for quiet alone time when you are insulated from the world’s noise and demands. 

“‘Non-time’ is my term for that vast stretch of emptiness between 4AM (when I start my morning writing session) and 7:30AM (when the rest of the world wakes up). This non-time is a pitch blackness that belongs to no one but me,” he writes. “The day’s pressing concerns have yet to press, so there’s time for that ultimate luxury: Patience. If a sentence takes two hours to get right, who cares?”

Kotler’s mornings sound both luxurious and eye-wateringly early. But non-time isn’t just one man’s quirky way to get his writing done. Kotler notes that neuroscience shows blocks of disconnected quiet time have profound effects on our thinking and creativity. 

“Pressure forces the brain to focus on the details, activating the left hemisphere and blocking out that bigger picture. Worse, when pressed, we’re often stressed. We’re unhappy about the hurry, which sours our mood and further tightens our focus. Being time-strapped, then, can be kryptonite for creativity,” he explains. 

Non-time, in other words, helps us relax enough to see the big picture and allow innovative ideas to bubble to the surface. The hustle and bustle of daily life — or even your well-intentioned morning yoga class — can scare shy, gawky newborn ideas away. 

Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein agree. 

Kotler might be an expert on the neuroscience of creativity, but plenty of incredibly successful people have understood the same truth intuitively. Albert Einstein was a lifelong sailor who insisted that many of his best ideas came to him while he was floating around doing nothing and enjoying his own non-time. 

Steve Jobs too was a famous loafer. “The time Steve Jobs was putting things off and noodling on possibilities was time well spent in letting more divergent ideas come to the table,” Wharton professor Adam Grant told Business Insider about Jobs’ long stretches of aimless non-time. 

Of course, both of these geniuses then put in incredible hard work to bring their ideas to fruition. Non-time isn’t all you need to change the world. Not by a long shot. It is, however, an essential ingredient. 

And when you’re designing the perfect morning routine it’s easy to overlook. There are so many useful things you could be doing with every minute of your day that it can be hard to justify setting aside time to do nothing and get a little bored. But if you want to be the most creative, successful version of yourself possible, it’s essential you do just that.