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West’s fire-risk funds go to the woods

Only a fraction of the $2.7 billion spent by the federal government to reduce forest fire risk in the West went to the areas near homes, according to a new study. The study by University of Colorado researchers found that 11 percent of "fuel-reduction activities" took place in the so-called wildland-urban interface, a prime area for home development. "It looks like fire-mitigation treatments were not targeted to the wildland-urban interface," said Tania Schoennagel, a CU geographer and lead author on the study.

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Study faults federal wildfire effort

While more than 1,000 homes across the West burn each year in forest and brush fires, only a fraction of federal efforts to reduce fire danger in the region has been concentrated in the communities at greatest risk, a group of scientists found. The scientists analyzed a database containing the locations of all 44,613 fuel-reduction projects undertaken in Western states by various federal agencies under the National Fire Plan from 2004 through 2008.

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Forest projects aimed at wildfire protection misdirected, study says

With the federal government spending nearly $3 billion trying to reduce the impact of fire in national forests, a new academic study suggests the bulk of the work is being done in precisely the wrong places. Researchers at the University of Colorado found that only 11% of so-called fuel-reduction projects in the last five years are undertaken where increasing numbers of Westerners are living: in that alluring landscape on the edge of suburbia that fire officials call the urban-wild land interface.

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Fire mitigation work in U.S. West is misplaced, according to new study led by CU-Boulder

An analysis of the U.S. National Fire Plan shows that as more Americans live in or near fire-prone forests and more wildfires burn, most federally funded activities to reduce fuels and wildfire hazard have occurred far from the "wildland-urban interface," the area prioritized by federal wildfire policies. The result suggests that federal wildfire treatments are minimally effective at mitigating the threat of wildfire to homes and people in the western United States.

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CU study of Boulder Creek shows link between water flow, nuisance algae

In 2002, Colorado's Front Range was suffering through a historic drought, the worst it had seen in a century. A large snowpack the following year, however, filled the reservoirs and returned life-giving water to streams like Boulder Creek, along with something else local fisherman and environmentalists weren't expecting--"rock snot." Rock snot, a form of algae called Didymosphenia geminata or "didymo" for short, is native to the area, according to University of Colorado at Boulder Professor Diane McKnight of the civil, environmental and architectural engineering department. But something has caused the didymo to bloom out of control in parts of the local stream system, prompting researchers like McKnight to label it a "nuisance growth."

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Ancient Greenland ice study of methane may be good news for planet, says study

An analysis of ancient Greenland ice suggests a spike in the greenhouse gas methane about 11,600 years ago originated from wetlands rather than the ocean floor or from permafrost, a finding that is good news according to the University of Colorado at Boulder scientist who led the study. Using carbon 14 as a "tracer" to date and distinguish wetland methane from methane clathrates, an international team determined the methane jump 11,600 years ago likely emanated primarily from Earth's wetlands. "From a global warming standpoint, this appears to be good news," said Petrenko of CU-Boulder's Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, lead author on a paper that was published in Science on April 24.

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