7/31/2017

Japanese Beetles

While gardening last weekend I discovered that my trees are being eaten by Japanese beetles; since then, I've spotted them in other parts of town, as well.  Biologists say that 2017 is the worst year yet in Colorado for the invasive pests, which up until a few years ago were only found east of the Mississippi.  According to the Denver Post, Japanese beetles have been munching their way up and down the Front Range from Boulder to Pueblo.  The Colorado Department of Agriculture issued a quarantine against the Japanese beetle in 2010, but the spread has continued

Experts say that Japanese beetles, which are most active in July and August, feed on the leaves of over 300 species of plants, but their favorites are beans, linden trees, and rosebushes.  So what can you do to prevent and control Japanese beetles?  Colorado State University entomologist Whitney Cranshaw wrote a helpful fact sheet that describes identification of the beetle as well as techniques and recommended products for control.  Also see the Colorado Department of Agriculture's Japanese Beetle Best Management Strategies and their powerpoint presentation about Japanese beetle.


Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons

7/28/2017

1997 Fort Collins Flood

Twenty years ago today a major flood hit Fort Collins.  Heavy rainfall of 3 inches per hour began late in the evening of July 27 and continued throughout the day on the 28th.  Homes were flooded, a train derailed, a gas leak caused an explosion near Prospect Road, and in the end, the flood left five people dead.  The flood also caused major damage to more than a dozen buildings on the Colorado State University Campus, including the Lory Student Center, the Morgan Library, and the Administration Annex.  CSU is recalling the event with a series of articles that include a timeline of the flood, meteorological analysis, videos and slideshows, and personal recollections.

The State Publications Library also has several interesting resources on the 1997 Fort Collins flood, including
The 1997 flood was certainly not the first flood to hit the Fort Collins area, and interestingly, just one year before the flood, the University of Colorado-Boulder's Natural Hazards Center convened a meeting in Fort Collins to address "What We Have Learned Since the Big Thompson Flood," Northern Colorado's worst flood disaster which had hit twenty years before.  The official proceedings from the meeting can be checked out from our library.  Also, following another, smaller flood in June 1992, the City of Fort Collins and the state's Emergency Management Office issued a Flood Hazard Mitigation Plan for Fort Collins, which can also be checked out from our library.


Flood damage at Colorado State University's Morgan Library, July 1997.  Photo courtesy Morgan Library.

7/26/2017

Human-Bear Conflicts

If you've been following local news lately, you've heard that human-bear conflicts are on the rise; according to the Denver Post, at least 34 bears have already been killed in Colorado this summer.  Bear-human conflicts are on the rise as more and more of the bears' native habitat comes under development.  With bears and people living closer together, and with bears' natural food sources disappearing as well, they have learned to forage at homes, dumpsters, even bird feeders.  What can you do to help protect your property from bears, while also helping reduce bear deaths?  Several reports and brochures from Colorado Parks & Wildlife, available from our library, offer helpful information:
Colorado Parks & Wildlife also has produced four helpful "Bear Aware Videos" which you can view on their website.

7/24/2017

Disaster Preparedness for Pets

'Tis the season for fires and floods, and if a disaster threatens your home and family, your furry pals will be affected, too.  According to the Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM), "one of the biggest reasons people return to danger/evacuation zones is to save their pets."  DHSEM and the state's emergency preparedness website, ReadyColorado.com, recently offered some recommendations on helping prepare your pets for an evacuation: 

  • Build a Kit. Just like we should do for ourselves, create a 72-hour preparedness kit for your pet. Make sure they have extra food, water, medications and toys in case you are unable to get to a store or are forced to evacuate on short notice. 

  • Have a Plan. Your plan needs to include how you will transport your animals in an evacuation, possible routes you will take and your destination or sheltering options. Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities or animal shelters can care for your animals in an emergency. Have a list of phone numbers readily available.

  • Know Your Neighbors. Meet your neighbors before a disaster strikes and develop a neighborhood plan for pet assistance. If a disaster occurs while you are at work or away from home you may need assistance from a neighbor in reaching your pets.

  • Pets Feel Stress Too. When you are stressed, your pet will feel that stress too and they can act out because of this. Having a plan in place for your pet before an emergency will help lessen the stress for both of you.

For further information, see the publications Providing for Pets During Disasters and Animal Issues in Emergency Management, available from our library.





7/20/2017

Colorado's Budget in Brief

If you're confused or overwhelmed by the enormous state budget, or just need a quick, simple answer to a budget question, Colorado's Joint Budget Committee (JBC) publishes a Budget in Brief booklet each year that is a fast, easy-to-understand summary of the state budget.  The Budget in Brief accompanies the annual Appropriations Report, the much lengthier document issued by the JBC each July.  These two companion publications examine the monies appropriated to Colorado state agencies.  Here in our library we have the Appropriations Report online back to the 1976/77 budget; all issues, from the brand-new 2017/18 edition all the way back to 1962/63, can be checked out in print.  The Budget in Brief is available online and in print back to 1993/94.

7/18/2017

Time Machine Tuesday: Uranium Mining

Uranium was discovered in southwestern Colorado in the late nineteenth century.  It comes from carnotite ore, which also produces vanadium.  When these elements were first mined, vanadium was considered to be the more valuable of the two; it was used as an alloy to strengthen steel.  In 1921 the Colorado Geological Survey issued Radium, Uranium, and Vanadium Deposits of Southwestern Colorado, an excellent resource for understanding the early development of the industry prior to the nuclear age.

By the mid-twentieth century, during WWII and especially during the Cold War, uranium was highly sought after by the military for its use in the development of nuclear weapons.  Most of Colorado's uranium extraction took place in what is known as the Uravan Mineral Belt, located primarily in Montrose and San Miguel counties.  Uranium extraction produced a yellowish substance resembling a cake mix, so the mill towns that developed were nicknamed "yellowcake towns."  (Check out from our library the book Yellowcake Towns:  Uranium Mining Communities in the American West, published by University Press of Colorado, for more information).  Examples of yellowcake towns in Colorado included Naturita, Nucla, Paradox, Slick Rock, and Uravan.  Uranium has also been mined in other parts of the state as well. 

Uranium mining became one of Colorado's major industries in the Cold War era; according to the Colorado Encyclopedia, 63 million pounds of uranium were produced in the Uravan Mineral Belt between 1948 and 1978.

Eventually, the decades of radium, uranium, and vanadium extraction began taking a toll on the environment.  In 1971 the State published Uranium Wastes and Colorado's Environment, which exposed many of the problems caused by uranium mining.  Colorado's Involvement with Uranium Mill Tailings, published in 1976, also explored this issue.  Both reports are available online via our library.

The impact on public health was also a growing concern.  A linkage between uranium mining and the development of cancer in mine workers became apparent, and in 1990 Congress passed the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act.  These health concerns, alongside new environmental regulations and the availability of cheaper uranium from other countries, caused Colorado's uranium industry to bust.  By the early 2000s, however, development of new radioactive waste disposal facilities caused a resurgence in interest in uranium.  (See Uranium, It's Hot!! And Back by Popular Demand, part of the Colorado Geological Survey's Rock Talk series.) 

Further resources on uranium available from our library include:




7/17/2017

Museums and Galleries at Colorado's Universities

Did you know that several Colorado universities have museums and art galleries open to the public?  Whether presenting student and faculty artworks, traveling shows, or natural history collections, Colorado's university museums are worth visiting:

Adams State University, Alamosa:
 Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction:
Colorado School of Mines, Golden:
Colorado State University, Fort Collins:
Colorado State University-Pueblo, Pueblo:
Fort Lewis College, Durango:
Metropolitan State University of Denver, Denver:
University of Colorado, Boulder:
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs:
University of Colorado, Denver:
University of Northern Colorado, Greeley:
Western State Colorado University, Gunnison:



7/13/2017

The Architecture of Jacques Benedict

In the first decades of the twentieth century, Victorian architectural styles gave way to newer styles including Beaux Arts and Mediterranean-influenced architecture.  One of the most significant architects in Colorado to embrace these architectural styles was Jules Jacques Benoit Benedict.  Although today he is most remembered for his Denver residential designs (many examples can be found in the Denver Country Club and around Cheesman Park), Benedict's influence extends well beyond his Denver estates.

Jacques Benedict grew up in Chicago and, undoubtedly influenced by the great architects of that city, began practicing there in 1899 before embarking on additional study in Paris, where he attended the famed Ecole de Beaux Arts -- considered to be the finest architectural school in the world.  After returning to the US he practiced in New York for a time, but saw more opportunity in the West so relocated to Denver in 1909.  This was during the height of the City Beautiful Movement in Denver, and among some of Benedict's first projects in this city were libraries (such as the Woodbury Branch Library in North Denver), schools (such as Park Hill Elementary), and park amenities (such as the Washington Park boating pavilion).   He also designed buildings in Boulder, Evergreen, Genesee, Golden, Idaho Springs, Littleton, and Sedalia.  One of his only commercial structures was the elegant Central Bank Building at 15th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver, which was torn down in 1990 amidst much controversy; even Denver's Mayor Peña fought to save it from demolition.

Yet some of Benedict's most intriguing buildings are the ones that were never built.  Can you imagine Denver's City and County Building as a highrise?  Benedict did.  In 1926, when the City announced plans for a new municipal building in Civic Center, Benedict submitted a design for a 35-story Gothic Revival skyscraper clearly influenced by Chicago's famous Tribune Tower.  Although the Denver Post rooted for Benedict's design, Mayor Stapleton and city officials preferred the Neoclassical-style building envisioned by Civic Center Park designer Edward Bennett in 1917.  Stapleton hired a team of forty leading architects to carry out the design, and the new City and County Building was completed in 1932.

Another of Benedict's unbuilt buildings is perhaps better known, because hikers pass its cornerstone every day on their way up Mount Falcon in Jefferson County.  Benedict was hired by visionary John Brisben Walker as architect for a proposed Summer White House for the President.  For a time, Coloradans rallied behind the idea of a Presidential mansion on Mount Falcon; schoolchildren even collected pennies toward funding the construction.  Benedict and Walker fought for the idea for ten years, but it was eventually abandoned, and today only Benedict's cornerstone remains as a reminder.  You can find out more about Benedict's architectural visions in "Architect J. J. B. Benedict And His Magnificent Unbuilt Buildings," by Dan W. Corson, in the Summer 1997 issue of Colorado Heritage.  This issue is available for checkout from our library.  Additionally, History Colorado has a list of Benedict's buildings in their Architects of Colorado database. 




The Denver Post was an enthusiastic supporter of both Benedict's Summer White House (left) and proposed City and County Building (right).


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