Monday already? 😮 We’re not quite sure how that happened — but here’s your latest edition of BRL Today.

You’ll sense a climate theme in this morning’s newsletter. First up, a conversation with CU professor and researcher Noah Molotch, who talks Winter Olympics in a warming world. The expert weighs in on faux snow, climate change and Denver’s chances at hosting the games in the future.

Elsewhere, you’ll find an opportunity to share your own vision of a more climate resilient Boulder, plus readings on what’s next for the Boulder-Xcel Advisory Panel, a Q&A on solar power in Colorado with the CEO of one of the country’s first community solar companies, and a look at the effects of recent snowfall on the state’s ongoing drought.

On that note: We’re hiring a full-time climate and environment reporter to join our team. Spread the word!

– Jezy, managing editor

More than 100 images by photojournalist Ernest C. Withers are on display through Feb. 27 at the Dairy Arts Center as part of NAACP Boulder County’s Walk With Me series. Credit: David Harwi

Top Story

CU expert talks Winter Olympics in a warming world

CU geography professor and research group co-director Noah Molotch talks about the science of human-made snow, its use at the Olympics and how climate change may impact the future of snow sports in Colorado and beyond. “It is inevitable that at some point in the future, the ski resorts that we currently ski on will not be viable,” he says. Read the full Q&A

Quickly

⏱️ Much warmer today, with highs reaching into the 50s. “Good day for snow melt.”
⏱️ Boulder Fire-Rescue closed its portion of the city’s investigation into the Oct. 19 Whittier Place apartment fire, declaring the cause “undetermined.
⏱️ FEMA and the Boulder County Bar Association have launched a hotline for legal services in the wake of the Marshall Fire: 877-370-1216.
⏱️ Handouts from the Jan. 19 community meeting on rebuilding in unincorporated Boulder County after the fire are now available online.
⏱️ The free store for Marshall Fire victims is moving from the Lionsgate Event Center to Christopher Plaza at 1075 E. South Boulder Rd. in Louisville. Wednesday is last day at Lionsgate. Opening date TBA.
⏱️ Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery will re-open its flagship Pearl Street location on Thursday, Feb. 10, after being closed for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
⏱️ The American Red Cross is encouraging blood donations during what the organization is calling “the worst blood shortage in a decade.”
⏱️ Interested in applying to serve on the city’s Human Relations Commission? Tune into a virtual information session on Friday, Feb. 11.
⏱️ Use of force and complaints against officers will be the subject of a Police Chief Town Hall at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 10. Register here.
⏱️ The Marshall Fire Direct Aid Fund from Out Boulder County has distributed $18,430 to victims. They’re still accepting donations.
⏱️ With yesterday’s closure of Picture Rock Trail due to muddy conditions, all trails at Heil Valley Ranch are now closed. Expect more closures with warmer temperatures over the coming days.

Covid-19 in Boulder County: Feb. 7, 2022

  • 276 daily new cases (7-day avg.)  Down 63% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 83 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) 🔺Up from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 71% percent of ICU is occupied. About the same as avg. of 72% since July 2020.
  • Data: Here’s how and where we’re tracking all of the above.

Latest Covid news

  • “Endemic response” as early as this summer? The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is asking private companies for help as the agency eyes a shift toward an “endemic response” to managing Covid-19 in the long term. The shift, which could mean big changes in the state government’s role in limiting the spread of the virus, might happen as early as this summer.

BRL Picks

❤️‍🩹 Helping hearts. Disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have been hard on everyone — but young people have had an especially tough go of things. That’s why iMatters Colorado is offering three free mental health sessions with licensed professionals. Learn more here.
🧑‍🌾 Growing community. Looking to get involved locally with new volunteer opportunities? The Boulder County Farmers Market is a good place to start. They’re looking for people to help pack produce bags for residents experiencing food insecurity. They also need drivers to help deliver fresh, local food to families and childcare centers in need.
🗣️ Sound off for climate. How do you imagine a more climate resilient Boulder? Make your voice heard by recording a brief audio message as part of a new initiative by the city’s Climate Initiatives Department. Submit your recording by Feb. 16 to be featured as part of an audio collage that will be shared during the City Council Study Session on Feb. 22.
🍩 Sweets for your sweetie. Looking for the perfect Valentine’s Day treat for that special someone? You can’t go wrong with apple cider donuts from Ya Ya Farm and Orchard in Longmont. They’re placing orders through Saturday, Feb. 12. Submit your orders via email: info@yayafarmandorchard.com.
🚲 Free month of Boulder BCycle. Sign up with the local bike-share organization on Winter Bike to Work Day (Feb. 11) for a free monthly pass valued at $30. Download the app and select Monthly Pass using the WBTWD promo code to get no-cost access to their pedal-assist, three-speed e-bikes. Regular rules and 60-minute time limit apply.
🎨 Exhibition closing. Friday, Feb. 11, is the last day to experience RETURNING: Contemporary Works by Arapaho Artists at the Museum of Boulder. A closing reception from 5:30–7:30 p.m. is included with the price of admission — free for museum members.

What We’re Reading

  • What’s next for the Bouder-Xcel Advisory Panel? The City of Boulder gave an update on the work of the Community Advisory Panel, created to “formalize community input” in its franchise agreement and partnership with Xcel Energy. “In 2022, they’re digging deeper into key energy issues,” the city wrote. Working groups will examine (1) getting to 100% renewable electricity and (2) electrifying Boulder’s building stock. The groups will present recommendations in May. The panel, meanwhile, has faced criticism by some climate advocates: “Basically nothing has happened,” Empower Our Future wrote in January. [City of Boulder]
  • Where’s all that solar power promised to sunny Colorado? The CEO of SunShare, one of the country’s first community solar companies, answers that question in a conversation with reporter Michael Booth. “We can’t build as many projects as we like, because the legislature in Colorado requires the PUC to set an annual minimum and maximum of community solar gardens that can be installed. Xcel argues for a lower cap, the industry argues for higher, so it’s not a free market for us,” CEO David Amster-Olszewski said. “The second thing is utilities still control the power lines … And the utility can say, and has said, you need a lot of upgrades to your connections before we’ll approve it — very expensive upgrades that limit the installation of solar.” [Colorado Sun]
  • “How can we say that we’re in drought?” Becky Bolinger, the assistant state climatologist with the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University, breaks down the effects of recent snowfall on the state’s ongoing drought. “Where we have snow and frozen soils, underneath that soil, moisture might not be going as deep as it would if we had these snow events building on a normal ground that wasn’t suffering from extreme drought. There are things we can’t see that are still there, and I would say that is part of the long-term drought situation.” [9NEWS]

ICYMI from BRL

🚌 What proposed bus route changes would mean for Boulder County. The Regional Transportation District (RTD) is seeking public comment on its plan that would reduce service hours to 85% of pre-Covid levels. How, exactly, would it affect bus routes locally? And how does it square with Colorado’s climate goals?
🚵 Boulder outdoor influencer battles burnout and takes a breather. High-energy YouTube channel host and Boulder native Ryan Van Duzer, who built a huge online following with cycling adventure content in Colorado and beyond, offers advice on dealing with anxiety in the wake of community trauma.
🔥 UPDATED: Marshall Fire reignites grief among victims of last fall’s Pearl Street blaze. One couple lost everything they owned at the Whittier Place apartment complex in downtown Boulder, where 81 units were destroyed in October. Two months later, they were displaced again by one of the most devastating wildfires in Colorado history. 

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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

Jezy Gray was the former managing editor of Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, he was the final editor-in-chief of the Tulsa Voice, a local bi-weekly newspaper where I led a small but mighty team of journalists to regional and national honors in feature writing, diversity reporting, LGBTQ+ coverage and more.