Media Tipsheet – Drought and Fire

Note to Editors: This tip sheet is intended to provide reporters with sources, experts and story angles. It is not a press release and is not intended to be printed in publications as a resource for the public.

The economic impacts of the drought are starting to be tallied as dismal crops are harvested from fields and ranchers scramble to keep their herds fed. Jeff Tranel is a Colorado State Cooperative Extension agricultural economist who is also a member of Governor Owens’ Drought Task Force, a group of experts who keep the governor apprised of the drought conditions and its effects. Tranel can discuss the economic significance of the drought in Colorado and the west, how the impact will be assessed, the role of government in dealing with drought, and challenges agriculture and other industries are facing. To speak with Tranel, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Managing and predicting forest fire behavior
Philip Omi, professor of forest fire sciences and director of the Western Forest Fire Research Center at Colorado State University, is a nationally recognized expert in forest fire management, fire behavior prediction and fuel modeling. He teaches wild land fire measurements, forest fire management, forest fire behavior, technical fire management, forest fire meteorology and behavior and fire science. The Western Forest Fire Research Center at Colorado State ( provides information and research concerning fire behavior, fuel treatments, ecological restoration, fire economics, fire regimes in Colorado and historic large fires in the nation. To speak with Omi, contact Jennifer Dimas, 970-491-1543 or

History of fire regimes
Colorado State Associate Professor Mark Fiege is an ecological historian who can discuss the history of fire regimes across North America. He can discuss how Native Americans used fire as a tool and how modern fire suppression has shaped today’s forests. Fiege can discuss the ecological and cultural complexities of fire. To talk with Fiege, contact June Greist at (970) 491-1194 or

Researchers developing green grass that only needs watering once a month
It’s no secret that landscapes require gallons of water to keep them green, and lawns are among the thirsty culprits. That’s why Tony Koski, Colorado State Cooperative Extension turfgrass specialist, is researching salt grass, a common grass that grows along the road ditches in Colorado that can stay green without much water – as little as one watering or rainfall a month – and even performs well when the water it does get is of poor quality. Some of Koski’s test plots have only been watered once this year and are still green. Colorado State researchers are patenting the seed and will send seed to a sod farm this month to begin testing the grass for sod potential. To talk with Koski, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Grasshoppers may demolish what little the hot sun hasn’t
Drought often causes extreme ripple-effect conditions. For example, several areas of the state are faced with a booming population of grasshoppers that are mowing down the only green plants left in their path. Frank Peairs can discuss why these pesky insects tend to thrive during dry periods, what to expect from them for the rest of the summer, and the challenges of controlling their populations. To speak with Peairs, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Greywater and stormwater issues
Larry Roesner, professor of civil engineering and renowned water quality expert, can address greywater issues, such as piping homes to allow recycled bath, sink and laundry water to be used for outdoor irrigation. Roesner can also discuss methods to use urban runoff and drainage that normally runs into sewers by developing systems that collect and use this water. Roesner has more than 30 years of experience in water resources and water quality engineering and management. He is a nationally recognized expert in the development and application of hydrologic, hydraulic and water quality simulation models. His areas of expertise include urban water infrastructure systems, sustainable urban water resource systems and improved urban stormwater management. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or to speak with Roesner.

Agricultural support
Colorado State University’s Colorado Agricultural Meteorological Network, or COAGMET, is a cooperative partnership dedicated to collecting and sharing up-to-date weather data to help ensure a profitable and sustainable Colorado agricultural economy. Accurate weather information provided by COAGMET helps farmers make decisions about efficient use of water as well as pesticides and other related resources, and can be utilized by growers to plan irrigation scheduling that reduces water use by up to 10 percent a year. Operated by Colorado State’s Colorado Climate Center, COAGMET is a network of more than 40 automated weather stations located in rural farm areas throughout Colorado. All data is available to farmers and the general public through a daily updated Web site at Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

Colorado State University houses state climatologist experts
Roger A. Pielke Sr., professor of atmospheric science and climatologist for the state of Colorado, is available to discuss drought and its cyclical effects on snowpack, mountain runoff, streamflow, reservoir storage and water supply. Pielke can address how seasonal weather patterns can create dry conditions, the affect of atmospheric conditions on precipitation, and how climate change can lead to or mitigate drought. Pielke also is available to discuss hurricanes, mesoscale weather and climate processes, meteorological modeling, atmospheric dynamics, climate change and air pollution meteorology. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or to speak with Pielke.

Nolan J. Doesken, Colorado State University climatologist, is available to discuss drought, weather observation, weather instruments, historical climate data, descriptive climatology, precipitation and seasonal weather patterns. He can also address agricultural, recreational, hydrologic and industrial applications of climate information related to drought conditions. Doesken’s 25 years of professional experience in weather research monitoring, data acquisition, analysis and archiving provides him the expertise to address a wide variety of drought and other climate-related questions. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

The Colorado Climate Center
Housed in Colorado State University’s world-renowned Department of Atmospheric Science, the Colorado Climate Center provides information and expertise on weather and climate patterns for the state of Colorado. The Climate Center provides outreach and service to the public as well as complete analyses of Colorado’s weather. Through its threefold program of climate monitoring, climate research and climate services, the center provides Colorado climate information on the Web at and in Colorado Climate magazine. The Center’s Web site includes a special drought section with links to monthly Colorado Drought Watch newsletters, Colorado Drought Task Force reports and meeting minutes, water conservation and drought planning information, daily updated snowpack data, water supply and precipitation reports, and streamflow forecasts. Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or

Water Center
Robert C. Ward is director of the Water Center at Colorado State University, director of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and a professor of civil engineering at Colorado State. Ward’s areas of specialization include water quality management, water quality monitoring, on-site wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, systems engineering and engineering design. Ward serves on The National Water Quality Monitoring Council and consults around the world on water quality monitoring topics. The Water Center brings together a variety of water-related expertise with expertise from 25 different departments at Colorado State University to form a group of educators and researchers focused on water resources. This center’s multidisciplinary approach allows water resources researchers to collaborate and develop solutions to problems related to the environment, critical water supply and hazard reduction issues. Additional information about the Water Center can be found on the Web at Contact Brad Bohlander at (970) 491-1545 or