Media Tipsheet: Drought and Wildfire

Economic impacts of drought still being assessed
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

Colorado State responds with DroughtLab
DroughtLab is a joint initiative of Colorado State’s Water Center and its Climate Center, bringing together the knowledge of more than 100 researchers from 22 academic departments. The collaborative drought analysis and management laboratory redirects current resources and establishes new studies to provide information to government leaders, businesses and individuals as they plan for and manage drought events. DroughtLab serves as a framework for researchers to develop encompassing information that helps water managers reduce Colorado’s vulnerability to drought. Co-directors Roger Pielke Sr., professor of atmospheric science and director of

The Colorado Climate Center, and Jose Salas, professor of civil engineering, are available to discuss the new research center and its projects. To speak with DroughtLab experts, contact Brad Bohlander at 970-491-1545 or

Is cloud seeding an answer?
William Cotton, professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, is an expert in the areas of cloud and storm systems. As part of his research, Cotton authored a groundbreaking research paper on the use and effectiveness of cloud seeding. He also co-authored a book with Colorado State colleague Roger Pielke Sr., titled "Human Impacts on Weather and Climate," which describes cloud seeding principles. According to Cotton, "We have seen that with few exceptions, the scientific evidence is not conclusive that cloud seeding is causing the desired results. Cloud seeding may increase precipitation, but it is very modest. It’s not going to be a drought breaker." Cotton can address all areas related to cloud dynamics. His work is aimed at furthering the understanding of clouds and cloud systems, such as boundary layer clouds, middle and high clouds, severe convective storms, especially heavy rain, hail, and tornado-producing storms, and the dynamics and physics of mesoscale convective systems. To speak with Cotton, contact Brad Bohlander at 970-491-1545 or

Spirits drying up, too: drought causes stress and depression
Drought and fire not only causes physical damage, it also takes it toll on the emotions of people who are impacted directly. Whether it’s recovering from losing possessions to wildfires or the stress of making tough business decisions because of drought, landowners, farmers, ranchers and other Coloradoans may be feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Bob Fetsch, a Colorado State University Cooperative Extension family development specialist, can discuss the emotional impact of this summer’s weather on populations within Colorado. To speak with Fetsch, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Winter watering to keep landscapes alive
With this year’s dry weather, landscapes and gardens are thirsty. Jim Klett, Colorado State University horticulture and landscape architecture Cooperative Extension specialist and professor, can talk about how to prepare trees, shrubs, lawns and gardens for winter after this year’s drought-ridden summer. Klett can offer information about special care for trees, for example, that may be heading into snowy weather in a weakened condition. To speak with Klett, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at 970-491-6009 or

Drought impacts bears and other wildlife
Bill Andelt, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension wildlife specialist, can discuss how wildlife and their habitat are affected by drought and forest fires and how they’ll continue to adjust to these conditions this winter and into the next year. He also can discuss how those impacts translate to wildlife behavior and provide wildlife encounter tips for people. Andelt can discuss both predator and prey animals. To speak with Andelt, contact Dell Rae Moellenberg at (970) 491-6009 or at

Irrigation practices in a drought
Timothy Gates is co-director of the Colorado Institute for Irrigation Management and professor of civil engineering at Colorado State University. Gates’ water expertise includes the areas of irrigation and drainage, optimization of water resource systems, shallow groundwater systems and improving water quality in irrigated agriculture. Gates also serves as associate director for the International School for Water Resources and has worked in Egypt, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia on irrigation projects and consultations. The Colorado Institute for Irrigation

Management, or CIIM, coordinates resources of Colorado State and its professional faculty in the area of irrigation management. The CIIM provides interdisciplinary training, technical assistance and project management services worldwide to organizations involved in all phases of irrigation management. To speak with CIIM experts, contact Brad Bohlander at 970-491-1545 or

Grey water and water recycling may conserve resources
Professor Larry Roesner has more than 30 years of professional 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 storm water management. Roesner can address grey water 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 utilize urban runoff and drainage by developing systems that collect and use this water rather than draining it directly into the sewer system. To speak with Roesner, contact Brad Bohlander at 970-491-1545 or

Water research experts collaborate to solve issues
Robert C. Ward is director of the Water Center at Colorado State University, director of the Colorado Water Resources Research Institute and a civil engineering professor. Ward specializes in water quality management, water quality monitoring, on-site wastewater treatment, non-point source pollution control, systems engineering and engineering design. The Water Center brings together water-related expertise from 25 departments at Colorado State University to focus on water resources. This center’s multidisciplinary approach allows water resources researchers to collaboratively develop solutions to environmental, critical water supply and hazard reduction issue problems. Additional information about the Water Center can be found at The Colorado Water Resources Research Institute is an affiliate of Colorado State University that focuses higher education’s water expertise on water concerns and problems. The CWRRI develops partnerships between university water experts and Colorado water managers to develop implement and coordinate water-related research programs. Additional information about CWRRI can be found at To speak with Ward or other Water Center or CWRRI experts, contact Brad Bohlander at 970-491-1545 or