Wednesday is here, Boulder, and so are you, and so am I. Here’s the news.

For today, John Herrick has a story about RTD bringing back its speediest bus on the road to Denver. The FF2, pulled from circulation along with many other routes during the Covid pandemic, might soon be making its return as soon as May 28. Unlike the original Flatiron Flyer, which makes what feels like a thousand stops on its way to the big city, the FF2 makes only two between downtown Boulder and Union Station.

Also, Jessica Mordacq covers BookCliff Vinyards, a Western Slope vineyard with a tasting room and roots in Boulder. Despite helpful winds and historically grape-friendly temperatures, wine growing in Colorado is getting harder thanks to climate change. As precipitation patterns change and the Colorado River shrinks, it pays to be a smaller vineyard that can “turn on a dime.”

Finally, if you see smoke rising as snow falls today, don’t panic. They’re burning slash piles above Nederland. So take a deep breath, though not of smoke-stained air.

Stay warm tonight.

— Tim, reporter

What to know today

  • Snow coming with cold to follow: A winter storm warning is in effect until 8 p.m. tonight, as up to six inches of snow falls on our lovely town. Tonight at midnight, a wind chill advisory takes over, with gusts possibly dropping temps down to minus 20. So if you’re looking to get outside, it seems there’s a four-hour window between warnings and advisories you can theoretically take advantage of.
  • Slash piles burning today: Taking advantage of the snow, Boulder County is burning slash piles up near Caribou Ranch and Mud Lake. The remnants of forest-thinning projects, piles of slash are collected to rid the forest of potential wildfire fuel, and are only burned when conditions cooperate. Active snow is a darn good time to burn, as it drastically decreases the likelihood of piles meant to reduce fire risk starting one themselves.
    • The biggest takeaway: Don’t fret if you see smoke above Nederland. But if you’re out trying to frolic in the snow, some trails will be closed, including “all of Caribou Ranch and the Caribou Ranch Link, Chickadee, and Sherwood Forest trails at Mud Lake.”
  • Food rebate applications open soon: Starting March 1, qualifying residents of the City of Boulder can apply for a food tax rebate that will give back $99 for individuals and $302 for families from the city sales tax. Residents who qualify must meet financial eligibility guidelines and include those with a disability, those over 62 for all of 2022, a family with kids under 18 for all of 2022, and those who are unhoused and receiving services from a city-recognized homelessness services agency.
  • Where ARPA funds are going: The City of Boulder has received $20.15 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to support Covid-19 pandemic recovery efforts. So far, the city has allocated $8.78 million of the total awarded funds with staff requesting final approval from city council to allocate and spend the remaining $11.37 million in early March. Under federal guidelines, the city must ensure all ARPA funds are spent by Dec. 31, 2026.
    • The city has launched an ARPA dashboard to provide an outline of spending, broken down into three areas: human services, economic recovery and city operations. Some of the initiatives the city has funded with ARPA funds include: financial assistance for families, grants for small businesses, and support for community artists and arts organizations.
    • The ARPA funds have also enabled the restoration of city Parks and Recreation Department services that were closed or canceled due to Covid. It’s also to be thanked for the introduction of a five-year outdoor dining pilot.
  • Buy your rez pass: It’s the last week to buy your reservoir only annual pass, giving you access to the Boulder Rez now through Dec. 31, 2023. The window of opportunity closes on Feb. 28.
  • Tuition hike proposed: The University of Colorado’s Board of Regents is weighing a 4% increase in new student tuition at CU Boulder to address a projected decline in enrollment rates and other budgetary challenges. The proposal was put forward on Feb. 9, and is expected to raise approximately $461 for the base tuition rate.
    • CU Boulder saw increased enrollment after the pandemic, but officials expect the number of students to decline by 0.7% this coming semester. The decline in enrollment is primarily due to the graduation of a larger-than-normal cohort of graduate students, as well as fewer incoming international and in-state students. The regents will vote on the budget proposals during their next meeting in April, after the state determines funding levels. Read the story by Henry Larson.
  • Car crash on Arapahoe: Boulder Police are seeking information about a car crash that happened on Saturday morning at Arapahoe Avenue and Conestoga Street. The crash involved a Tesla Model 3 and a Subaru Crosstrek. The Subaru driver, a 31-year-old male, was seriously injured and transported to the hospital.
    • Police are investigating the cause of the crash and are asking for any witnesses or video surveillance footage of the incident. Anyone with information is asked to contact Officer Kaufman at 720-291-2768 or email KaufmanD@bouldercolorado.gov.
  • Shots fired at the Millennium: A 45-year-old man was arrested on Monday after firing numerous gunshots at the Millennium Hotel on 28th Street. No injuries were reported, but at least one unoccupied vehicle was hit in the parking lot. Boulder PD responded to the gunfire after multiple reports of an active shooter.
    • The shooter, a registered guest of the hotel, has been charged with several felony and misdemeanor charges, including possession of a weapon by a previous offender and possession with intent to distribute narcotics. Detectives are asking for any witnesses to contact Detective Burke at 303-441-4483 reference case 23-01694.

Go deeper

RTD proposes bringing back popular FF2 express bus from Boulder to Denver

By John Herrick

February 22, 2023

RTD suspended the FF2 in April 2020, in response to ridership declines during the pandemic. The agency hopes to restore transit services across the region to about 85% pre-pandemic levels by 2027, a goal likely to be complicated by a driver shortage. RTD’s cuts to bus routes during the pandemic rekindled longstanding frustrations over transit services in the area. Voters in 2004 approved a sales tax to pay for a commuter rail from Denver to Longmont, known as FasTracks, that RTD never built.

Continue reading…

From Boulder basement to 40 acres: BookCliff, the city’s only winery with its own vineyard, endures amid challenges

By Jessica Mordacq

February 22, 2023

Colorado’s Grand Valley on the Western Slope is one of the state’s two federally designated grape growing regions, where wine grapes thrive at high elevation for many of the state’s 150-plus wineries. Boulder’s four wineries and tasting rooms — BookCliff Vineyards, Settembre Cellars, Silver Vines Winery and Vinnie Fera Wine — all source grapes from this region. But only BookCliff has its own vineyard there. 

Continue reading…

Regents call for 4% tuition hike at CU Boulder to combat declining enrollment, other projected budget challenges

By Henry Larson

February 22, 2023

CU Boulder has seen slightly increased enrollment since the pandemic, but officials expect a decline of .7% next semester.

Continue reading…

For over 25 years, the Ted Scripps Fellowships in Environmental Journalism has brought five journalists to CU Boulder where they deepen their knowledge of the scientific, economic, political, cultural and social aspects of environmental issues through courses, field trips and seminars. They leave the Center for Environmental Journalism (CEJ) better prepared to cover issues on a local, regional, and global scale. See here for more information, and click here to support the CEJ’s efforts in educating both professional and student journalists.

BRL picks

🍕 Get a slice at Pizzeria Alberico: Formerly Pizzeria Locale, the new name is still sporting great slices. And it has now reopened. Read BRL’s coverage of why the Boulder staple changed its branding.

📕 Small-town mystery at Boulder Bookstore: Dale Bridges will speak about and sign copies of his new book, “The Mean Reds,” at Boulder Bookstore tonight at 6:30 p.m. The satirical small-town mystery follows the story of Sam Drift, a college dropout, as he tries to solve the mystery of a dead dancer while tangled in a web of local politics and criminal enterprise. Tickets are $5.

🎵 Yeti at Boulder Theater: This Friday at 9 p.m., electronic music artist Yheti will perform with help from Ternion Sound, Toadface and Honeybee. Describing his live performances as an “ever-morphing detailed sound sculpture,” Yheti aims to create an immersive dance environment with innovative bass lines, rhythms and soulful melodies. Tickets are $25.

For more ideas on what to do this week, check out BRL’s Local Events page.

ICYMI


Tim Drugan

Tim Drugan is the climate and environment reporter for Boulder Reporting Lab, covering wildfires, water and other climate-related issues for Boulder with a focus on explanatory and solutions journalism. He also is the lead writer of BRL Today, our morning newsletter. Tim grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from UNH with a degree in English/Journalism. Email: tim@boulderreportinglab.org.