Monday already? ⏰ Get a jump start on the week ahead with your morning edition of BRL Today.

In this morning’s newsletter, you’ll find a transportation Q&A by our spring intern Harry Fuller. After we published a primer on the city’s transportation master plan, a flood of questions poured into our inbox.  The answers offer insight into the priorities, opportunities and challenges facing city officials on thorny road issues, ranging from “chicanes” to the seemingly never-ending North Broadway construction project.

Plus, a look at how the La Niña weather pattern could continue Colorado’s two-year drought cycle through the summer and into the fall, leading the state into its third year of below-average snowpack and streamflows — and high wildfire danger. And, service cuts in store for Parks and Rec this summer, new state legislation to help Marshall Fire victims, Covid-19 updates and more.

See you back here bright and early on Wednesday!

– Jezy, managing editor

3rd Law Dance/Theater, a Boulder-based contemporary dance company, performs at the Dairy Arts Center on April 22, 2022. The final act of For Example, a selection of work created during the pandemic, was titled “A Plastic Love Story.” Credit: John Herrick/Boulder Reporting Lab

Quickly

🌤️ Mostly sunny and mild: Expect highs in the mid-50s today under mostly sunny skies. A warming trend should continue through the week, with highs in the mid-70s expected on Tuesday.

🏊 Parks and Rec cutting services: Boulder’s Parks and Recreation Department is planning to cut services this summer due to a staffing shortage, city officials announced Friday. Finding lifeguards has been particularly challenging. The department is considering keeping the Spruce Pool closed, cutting hours for lap lanes and scaling back swimming lessons. In addition to not having enough staff, the department needs more funding, according to a recent city staff memo. Officials said the department either needs to cut services or come up with additional money by increasing fees or city taxes. The department is scheduled to present a draft of its 2022 Master Plan during the Boulder City Council meeting on Tuesday, April 26.

🏘️ New state legislation for fire victims: Senate President Steve Fenberg, a Democrat from Boulder, announced new legislation last week to create a $15 million loan and grant program for homeowners and businesses seeking to rebuild after wildfires. Fenberg said the money will help those affected by the Marshall Fire and East Troublesome Fire. The allocation of the funds will be decided by the state Department of Local Affairs, which will oversee the new disaster assistance program. The bill is scheduled for its first committee hearing on Tuesday, April 26.

💔 ‘Driven to despair’: Wynn Alan Bruce, 50, of Boulder died Saturday after setting himself on fire in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, in an Earth Day protest against climate change. Bruce was a photographer who lived in Boulder since 2000. A friend, climate scientist and Zen Buddhist priest, Kritee Kanko, said in a tweet “he had been planning it for at least one year.” Kanko later told the New York Times that “people are being driven to extreme amounts of climate grief and despair,” and that “what I do not want to happen is that young people start thinking about self-immolation.”

🤒 1 in 375 Coloradans Covid-infected. That’s according to a new statewide modeling report by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment (CDPHE). “While that number is low compared to previous times in the pandemic, the state is experiencing a slight increase in COVID-19 cases due to the increasing prevalence of BA.2 subvariants.”

🚲 Bikeway extension: Construction is underway on the federally funded US 36 Bikeway Extension project, which will extend the US 36 Bikeway along the south side of US 36 in Superior. The total project length will be 7,000 feet, and will include construction of a 10 foot-wide multi-use concrete trail.

📸 Say ‘trees’: Want to check out current trail conditions and parking lot capacity before your next hike? Boulder County has launched a new online resource featuring live photos of all trailhead cameras. Images are updated every 10 minutes between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

🧗 Climb on up: After temporary closure for golden eagle nesting, the following climbing areas are open once again: Blob Rock, East Blob Rock, Bitty Buttress and Security Risk. Eagle Rock remains closed through July 31.

Top Stories

You have questions about the City of Boulder’s transportation decisions and challenges. We have answers.

There’s a lot going on at any given time on Boulder’s 300-mile street system. Arterial roadways, local streets, bikes, buses, pedestrians, cars – naturally, conflicts and questions are bound to come up. Whether it’s an issue with a specific street corner or confusion around project timelines, Boulder Reporting Lab has gotten lots of questions from readers about some of the current traffic projects going on around Boulder, or issues they’ve seen in the city’s transportation system. 

Here’s what we’ve found out about the questions you’ve asked us.

‘La Niña is not letting go’: Colorado drought cycle could continue through summer and into fall

As warm spring winds whip the Eastern Plains, sapping soils of moisture, and the state’s reservoirs sit at below-average levels, water managers got more bad news Tuesday: This two-year drought cycle could continue through the summer and into the fall leading the state into its third year of below-average snowpack and streamflows and high wildfire danger.

Looking ahead the weather pattern known as La Niña, which has created the intense drought of the past two years, is likely to continue, according to Peter Goble, a climate specialist with Colorado State University’s Colorado Climate Center.

“La Niña is not letting go,” Goble said Tuesday at a meeting of the state’s Water Availability Task Force, a group charged with monitoring the state’s water supplies. “It may stick around for a third year and this will reduce our chances of any meaningful drought recovery this spring and summer.”

BRL Picks

🌷 Tiptoe through the tulips (rescheduled from April 24): The Tulip Fairy and Elf Festival returns to downtown Boulder on Sunday, May 1. The beloved springtime tradition features a visit from the Tulip Fairy and her pint-sized elves as they parade around the Pearl Street Mall, “waking up the tulips.” Expect live music, kids’ activities and more.

🙏 Help with Marshall Fire center break-down: The Marshall Fire Donation Center is closing on April 30. “During the first week of May, strong volunteers are needed to help with packing, moving and out-loading all remaining donations, as well as shelving and other supplies.” To sign up to volunteer, visit Colorado Responds here.

🎞 Women’s Adventure Film Tour: Do you like your cinema with a dash of adrenaline? The Boulder Environmental Nature and Outdoor Film Festival presents an off-festival screening of the 2021-22 Women’s Adventure Film Tour, featuring a diverse slate of films about “awesome women achieving their personally adventurous goals.” The screening kicks off this Saturday, April 30, at the Dairy Arts Center. Tickets here.

🍎 Teaching moment: Know a Colorado high school student interested in becoming a teacher? The Teacher Recruitment Education and Preparation Program (TREP) gives teens the opportunity to fast-track their teaching license and bachelor’s degree by taking college courses while still in high school. Learn more here.

🎣 Go fish: Boulder County Parks & Open Space hosts its annual Senior Fish-off event this Friday, April 29. Head to Wally Toevs Pond at Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat (3893 N. 75th St.) from 6:30–10 a.m. for a morning of fishing and prizes, followed by a fish fry. No advanced registration necessary.

Covid-19 Updates: April 25, 2022

  • 128 daily new cases (7-day avg.) 🔺Up 113% over preceding 7-day avg.
  • 0 patients hospitalized with Covid (7-day avg.) Down from avg. of 40 since July 2020.
  • 47% percent of ICU is occupied. Down from avg. of 71% since July 2020.

What We’re Reading

📖 Bracing for the 2022 wildfire season: “Colorado didn’t get enough snow to fully recover from the decades-long megadrought plaguing the American West, [Becky] Bollinger and other meteorologists have said. Not only does that mean there won’t be enough water to recharge parched rivers and reservoirs but it also means plant life that fuels wildfires could be drier than normal.” [Denver Post]

📖 Ballot initiative could return Xcel Energy profits to ratepayers: “The proposed ballot measure, called Initiative 93, would require Colorado’s investor-owned utilities — Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy — to pay at least five percent of their revenues back to customers. The money would come out of each company’s profits. If it wins approval, state utility regulators will determine how customers are refunded.” [CPR News]

ICYMI from BRL

🏗️ For those in the fight over Boulder’s CU South, Redtail Ridge referendum victory offers lessons. Voters in the City of Louisville last week blocked a proposed commercial development plan. Organizers in Boulder are taking notes ahead of a referendum over CU South in November 2022.

🧑‍🚒 ‘I don’t know what normal is anymore’: Boulder fire chief on wildfire trends, prescribed burns and a firefighting capacity at its limit. Boulder’s years-long mitigation efforts kept the NCAR fire in March 2022 from becoming another disaster, Brian Oliver of Boulder Fire Rescue explains. But fire-proofing “really needs to be done at a community scale.”

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– The BRL Team

Jezy J. Gray

I’m the managing editor of the Boulder Reporting Lab. In addition to years of writing on the culture, politics and history of my home state of Oklahoma, I 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. I look forward to listening to and learning from the Boulder community as we work together on telling the stories that matter here.