Category: Environment

Big Bear Bald Eagles Live Nest Cam

We have our share of bald eagles visiting the Grand Valley this time of year and they’re always majestic and beautiful to watch, but no one here has done anything like this.

My cousin in San Diego turned me on to this Bald Eagle Cam, a 24/7 live feed from a high-resolution, solar-powered color video camera pointed at the nest of two bald eagles nicknamed Shadow (male) and Jackie (female) on U.S. Forest Service land adjacent to Big Bear Lake, California. The camera was put up by the Friends of Big Bear Valley (FOBBV), a nonprofit group.  The exact location of the nest is undisclosed to protect the eagles.

There are three eggs in the nest. The first was laid on 1/25, the second on 1/28 and the third on 1/31. The eggs should start hatching in about two weeks.

The cameras recently caught some dramatic moments including the eagles keeping the eggs warm through days and nights of driving snowfall and high winds, and the appearance of a persistent unwelcome intruder.

Former Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese elected state House Minority Leader

Rose Pugliese supported disastrous former Mesa County Clerk Tina Peters in the 2018 election despite the fact that Tina was completely unqualified to be a County Clerk. Tina was running  against Bobbie Gross, who was already certified to run state and local elections, was managing the DMV and had more than a decade of experience in the Clerk’s office.

Former two-term Mesa County Commissioner Rose Pugliese, who moved to Colorado Springs in 2020 to run for the state House District 14 seat (and won the seat), has been elected Republican House Minority Leader in the Colorado Legislature. She replaces Rep. Mike Lynch (R), who resigned as Minority Leader on Wednesday, 1/24/24 after it was revealed that he had been arrested in September, 2022 on suspicion of driving under the influence (DUI) and possessing a firearm while intoxicated. Lynch pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months probation and 150 hours of community service.

Redlands residents oppose City building new sewer lift station and piping on unstable land

In this memorable example of a very bad local development decision in the 1990s, the Mesa County Commissioners approved construction of this home on a geologically unstable cliff above the Colorado River just west of the Redlands Parkway. The decision led to the home eventually sliding down the bluff towards the river. Redlands residents now believe the City is making a similar mistake by planning to build a new sewer line and lift station on  similarly unstable land in the Redlands.

Redlands area residents are concerned that the City of Grand Junction and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) have give preliminary approval to build a huge sewage lift station on private land in a geographically unstable area, and they are warning of its potential for failure and environmental catastrophe.

The proposed lift station will replace a 6-foot diameter lift station said to be “reaching the end of its useful life” at the Ridges Subdivision, and consolidate a 4-foot diameter lift station that “is in adequate condition” on Power Road. The proposed budget for this new lift station is currently $7.1 million.

But homeowners in the area contend the new lift station and sewer lines will be built on unstable land, will destroy huge swaths of riparian habitat above Connected Lakes State Park and, in the event of a failure, could lead to huge amounts of raw sewage being dumped into the river.

Schwenke is helping realtors and developers oppose City plan for more pedestrian & bike-friendly development

Many Grand Junction streets lack curb, gutters, sidewalks and other pedestrian and bike-friendly amenities. City Council is trying to fix this by making transportation corridors safer and more user-friendly for pedestrians, bicyclists and people using public transportation. Realtors and developers oppose the effort, assisted by former Chamber president Diane Schwenke.

Former Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke, who has a consulting business now called “Schwenke Solutions,” is working as a consultant for the Grand Junction Area Realtors and Homebuilders Associations, helping them oppose the City’s new proposed Transportation Engineering Design Standards (TEDS) that are designed to make streets safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and people taking public transportation.

Diane Schwenke lobbies against higher wages

Former Grand Junction Chamber of Commerce President Diane Schwenke appears in a 2016 TV ad opposing an increase in Colorado’s minimum wage

To that end, Schwenke authored a strange letter to the editor to the Daily Sentinel November 26 that praised a new housing development on former farmland in Nebraska that lack curbs, gutters and walkable sidewalks. She praises the beautiful agricultural setting of the development, saying it has “a layout that maximizes the view of fields of corn and soybeans on the adjourning hillsides,” but doesn’t seem to understand that such developments destroy the lovely fields and farms she likes to look at, and will cost taxpayers in the long run as cities have to add curb, gutter, drainage, adequate sidewalks and other amenities to make them safer and more attractive.

CU Anschutz environmental toxicologist: Ascent Classical Academy’s lead remediation will have to meet tighter EPA standard of 3 micrograms/sq. ft. for floors, instead of the current standard of 10 mcg/sq. ft.

The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school eventually, after missing its initially-proposed September 5 date for occupancy. The gun club signs were still on the building as of early August.

Michael Kosnett, M.D., M.P.H., at CU Anschutz School of Public Health in Aurora, CO, an expert in medical toxicology, occupational and environmental health who specializes in occupational and environmental toxicology of heavy metals, including lead, weighed in about the type of post-remediation lead testing that should be used at the Ascent Classical Academy building (swipe or bulk testing), and what the residual lead levels are allowed to be in this situation.

Lead is a highly poisonous element that, according to UNICEF, is responsible for 1.5% of global deaths. Children are particularly susceptible to its effects.

Valley foxes turning up dead

Emaciated, dead fox found near the Grand Valley Canal at 26 Road, seen August 1. (Photo: Anne Landman)

Three dead foxes have been reported in the Grand Valley within the last 6 weeks, all looking like they just dropped dead in their tracks, without overt injuries or bleeding. Two have been reported to the Colorado Department of Wildlife.

The first one was spotted August 1 on the south side of the Grand Valley Canal just east of 26 Road.

A second dead fox was spotted August 28 in the vacant lots behind Crossroads Blvd., also near the Grand Valley Canal:

Residential trash services vary widely in cost

City of Grand Junction garbage truck

Thinking of shopping for a new residential trash service? There may be good reason.

Republic Services recently bought Monument Waste and Rocky Mountain Sanitation, but the consolidation of the companies reduced competition and did NOT result in lower prices for customers.

The following prices are for one 96 gallon can, picked up once a week in the 81505 zip code, in 2023:

Waste Management ….. $40.74/month

Republic Services ….. $43.56/month for the first year, plus a $50.00 deposit, plus $15 to deliver the can, and after the first year the rate increases to $48.00/month

City of Grand Junction trash service ….. $19.75/month, and they supply the can.

There is a privately owned service called 970 Trash Wizard, but their routes are full and they aren’t currently accepting new customers.

The City of Grand Junction only services residences inside City limits, but they are by far the most efficient, with one operator driving an automated truck that hoists, empties and replaces each can automatically, without any wear and tear on a human being. The City is also implementing a new residential recycling service as well, phasing it in area by area, which will allow customers to recycle plastics #1, #2 and #5, as well as fibers like newspaper, clean cardboard, magazines and egg cartons, all for no extra cost for trash customers.

Lead contamination a concern for new Ascent Classical Academy charter school, which plans to open in August at the former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building

 The former Rocky Mountain Gun Club building at 545 31 Road, where Ascent Classical Academy plans to open a new charter school this August. The sale of the building closed recently. It was listed for $7 million.
Ascent Classical Academy, a new charter school, plans to open in Grand Junction in August, 2023, in the building at 545 31 Road, that was formerly the Rocky Mountain Gun Club.
Parents contemplating sending their kids to this school should be concerned.
The building was used as an indoor shooting range for seven years, closing in 2021.
Lead contamination is a well-established problem at shooting ranges.


Derec Shuler, CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, in 2018 (Photo: YouTube)
Every time a bullet is fired, a puff of fine lead dust is emitted that gets onto floors, walls, countertops, door handles, the shooter’s clothing and, at indoor shooting ranges, into the ventilation system. Lead particles can be inhaled and ingested with food and drink. Elevated blood lead levels have repeatedly been found in recreational shooters who visit shooting ranges regularly, as well as employees of these ranges. Being exposed to lead contamination on an ongoing basis can have dire health effects. Professional remediation of these sites is an absolute necessity before they can be safely used for other activities.
The adverse effects of lead contamination on human health, especially on children, are well-documented.
According to the World Health Organization’s fact sheet on lead poisoning, “there is no level of exposure to lead that is known to be without harmful effects.”
WHO writes:
Young children are particularly vulnerable to the toxic effects of lead and can suffer profound and permanent adverse health impacts, particularly on the development of the brain and nervous system. Lead also causes long-term harm in adults, including increased risk of high blood pressure and kidney damage.
This situation should be of concern to parents contemplating sending their kids to this school, especially since the District 51 School Board’s conservative majority voted recently to cede control of the charter school to the Charter School Institute, an out of town, state-level organization, as a way to bypass local input and forego control over it.
No one is taking responsibility or answering questions about possible lead contamination at the site.
I contacted ReMax realtor Amy Rogers, whose name appeared in an online ad for the old Rocky MountainGun Club building. Rogers said she was not the listing agent for the property, and said “It is always the buyer’s responsibility to do the due diligence. Perhaps reach out to the buyer?” She gave me the number of the selling agent, Ray Ricard, but Mr. Ricard did not return a voicemail left on March 21 asking for contact information for the buyer. I also left a voicemail on 3/21 for the CEO of Ascent Classical Academies, Derec Shuler, at (720) 728-6300, ext. 1, the number posted online, since he would likely have to have approved the purchase of the building for the school, but Shuler did not answer the voicemail as of the writing of this article.
The community deserves to know if the Ascent Classical Academy’s organizers are aware of the lead contamination problem at sites used as indoor shooting ranges, and that this problem is highly likely to exist at the property they just purchased for the school. Parents and the public should know if Ascent has a plan in place to remediate the building prior to it opening as a school this August, and if they plan to verify that the remediation was effective enough to assure the building is safe enough for children and adults to inhabit for hours every day for years on end.

Open burning still a scourge in Mesa County in 2022


It’s a beautiful spring day in Mesa County, and once again the time of year when palls of thick smoke from open burning envelope entire neighborhoods, turning beautiful, fragrant, warm spring days into days of physical illness, suffering and despair for Grand Valley residents.

With the biggest medical center between Denver and Salt Lake and a wide variety of retirement housing, Grand Junction has long been an attractive area for retirees. But many people who settle here are unaware of the archaic open burning tradition here that exacerbates health problems and can pose an extraordinary health threat to sensitive people with illnesses like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), asthma, bronchitis and those who use supplemental oxygen for lung and heart disease.

Rep. Boebert promotes herself while I-70 shutdown causes national emergency

Boebert promotes herself at the Rifle County Fair Demolition Derby August 2 while the nearby shutdown of I-70 chokes off the flow of supplies, gas, mail, groceries and other commerce to and from her district.

CD-3 House Representative Lauren Boebert was busy making a video of herself at the Rifle Demolition Derby August 2 while at the same time Colorado Governor Jared Polis was declaring a state of emergency and requesting a federal disaster designation in her district due to the shut down of I-70, the major east-west artery that supplies groceries, gas, tourism, mail and other key commerce to Boebert’s district on Colorado’s western slope. The shutdown of I-70 is also hampering national commerce, hence Gov. Polis’ request for a federal disaster declaration.

Boebert didn’t even mention in her video the major highway disaster unfolding nearby.

Once-pristine Hanging Lake defiled by mudslides and debris

Photo of Hanging Lake taken yesterday by a Denver-based CBS News helicopter that was covering the I-70 mud/debris flows. (Photo credit: CBS)

A CBS News helicopter flying over I-70 through Glenwood Canyon to film the mud and debris slides yesterday posted a devastating photo of Hanging Lake on Twitter that shows the once amazingly pristine, crystal-clear lake now full of muddy water.

The the amazement of many, Hanging Lake survived the massive Grizzly Creek fire unscathed last year, but it has taken a serious hit this summer from the thunderstorms that are now washing massive amounts of debris and mud down the mountainsides.

In Facebook video update, CDOT says Glenwood Canyon has 10 different debris slides between No Name and Dostero

CDOT photo of Glenwood Canyon today

Upwards of ten separate debris slides occurred last night in I-70 in Glenwood Canyon between No Name and Dostero as a result of thunderstorms, the Colorado Department of Transportation reported in a live video update on Facebook at 3:30 p.m. this afternoon.

Bear seen this morning near 27 and G Roads

Photo provided by neighbor in the area of 27 and G Roads (via Nextdoor Network)

Neighbors on the Nextdoor Network report seeing a young bear wandering around the neighborhoods near 27 and G Roads and on Horizon Glen, off Horizon Drive between 7th and 12th Streets, this morning, Monday, August 17, around 11:00 a.m.

If you live in the area, beware! Bring in trash cans if possible.

Ray Scott trounced in Republican Assembly

Ray Scott

Republican State Senator Ray Scott got only 107 out of 349 total delegate votes cast for County Commissioner in yesterday’s Mesa County Republican Assembly. Scott, who is running for the District 1 commissioner seat, is seeking to abandon his state senate seat halfway through his term and seize the job of County Commissioner instead, which would pay him three times as much ($30k vs. $90k/ year).

Scott got crushed at the assembly by Cody Davis, former chair of the Grand Valley Drainage District, who won 231 votes. Even with that miserable result, though, Scott will still be able to appear on the primary ballot in June.

Modern-day Republicans oppose progress

Results of a news quiz printed in today’s Daily Sentinel demonstrates the backwards thinking that is the hallmark of conservative, right-wing Republicans.

A short blurb in the Sunday, Feb. 8, 2020 Daily Sentinel offers a lesson on why Republicans are such harmful elected officials.

The Sentinel has a regular weekly news quiz on Fridays, and gives the results in the following Sunday paper. An item today stood out for what it demonstrates about the ramifications of conservative Republican views not just for the western slope, but for society.

History shows that if Republicans had their way in the last century, most of America wouldn’t have electricity.

Citizens protest Pendley at new BLM office in G.J.

Protest Jan. 2 at BLM’s new offices on Horizon Drive.

About 35 people turned out in 27 degree weather to protest a visit from Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) William Perry Pendley, a right wing anti-government zealot who was appointed to head the BLM without Senate approval.

Pendley was scheduled to visit the new Grand Junction BLM office on the morning of its first opening day.

The protest was at the BLM’s new offices at 760 Horizon Drive, which is also the same building that houses the corporate offices of oil and gas purveyor Chevron.

Why I voted “no” on Proposition DD

Proposition DD on the November 5 ballot would legalize gambling on amateur and professional sports and tax the proceeds at a rate of 10% to pay for “water projects,” purportedly projects proposed in the Colorado Water Plan.  I wasn’t sure how to vote on Prop DD until I did some research on it and put some thought into. What I found convinced me to vote “no.”

Here’s what I found out: