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David Frey

In ‘Boys of Bonneville,’ the Story of an Unknown Racing Legend

In the '30s and '40s, a Salt Lake City construction worker turned racecar driver transformed the notion of what a car was capable of, and he transformed the Bonneville Salt Flats from a plain of death into a landscape of possibility. For most Americans, Ab Jenkins isn’t exactly a household name, but many of the speed records he set in his handcrafted car, the Mormon Meteor, still hold 70 years after he set them racing across the Utah wasteland. Salt Lake City director Curt Wallin presents Ab Jenkins’ story in The Boys of Bonneville: Racing on a Ribbon of Salt. Trained as a biologist, Wallin devoted many of his early films to the natural world. A film about fast cars, he says, it's a bit of a departure. But when the car’s current owner approached him about making the film, he says, “I couldn’t resist doing this.” The Boys of Bonneville has it Colorado premier Saturday, June 11 at 10 a.m. at the Breckenridge Festival of Film. The Festival runs June 9-12.

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In ‘Fall Line,’ a Disabled Vet Finds New Life on Skis

Health Calhoun was an Airborne Ranger serving in Iraq when a rocket blast destroyed both his legs. After training with the group Challenge Aspen, Calhoun found new life as an adaptive ski racer. In just four years, he went from a never-ever ski racer to one of the fastest disabled ski racers in the world. He shares his story with Carbondale, Colo., photographer Tyler Stableford, who directed a short film about Calhoun’s experience called "The Fall Line." Stableford joined Calhoun as he trained for the Vancouver Paralympics, but through interviews, Calhoun narrates the film himself and brings viewers along on a journey of discovery as a terrible tragedy unfolds into what he calls a blessing. For Stableford, a magazine and commercial photographer named by Men’s Journal as one of the world’s top adventure photographers, the project had him branching out from still photography to video. The film shows at Telluride MountainFilm on Memorial Day weekend, part of a weekend of films that celebrate the environment and social change.

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Judge Awards $2 Million in Utah Bear Attack

On Father’s Day 2007, 11-year-old Samuel Ives was camping with his mother, stepfather and brother in Utah’s American Fork Canyon. In the middle of the night, the parents heard Samuel screaming “Help me!” from his room in their tent. They awoke to find the tent slashed, the boy missing. At first, they believed someone had kidnapped him. Later, they discovered a black bear had ripped open the tent and dragged him to his death – the first known killing of a human by a black bear in Utah history. The same bear, it turned out, had raided the same campsite just 12 hours earlier. The Forest Service should have warned them, his natural parents Kevan Francis and Rebecca Ives argued. Last week, a federal judge agreed, and ordered the federal government to pay them nearly $2 million.

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Wildlife Agency Agrees to Timetable for Endangered Species Backlog

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced on Tuesday a plan to handle a backlog of 251 threatened plants and animals that might merit Endangered Species Act protections, including some species that have languished in conservation limbo for more than three decades. The schedule is part of a proposed settlement with the environmental group WildEarth Guardians to dismiss a dozen cases in which the group claimed the federal government failed to move fast enough to protect disappearing species. The agency agreed to make a decision on all those cases within six years, and to set up a timetable to weigh other species that have been petitioned for the list by WildEarth Guardians and other conservation groups. The agreement is awaiting approval by a federal judge.

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In Oil Shale Hearings, Opinions Sharply Split

To boosters, it’s almost a magical elixir for the world’s energy woes. To opponents, it’s more akin to snake oil. Even more than most other fossil fuels, oil shale meets with a sharply divided reaction, and after two weeks of public hearings across Utah, Wyoming and Colorado, federal officials have received an earful from both sides. But beyond the bluster, those in the middle feel left in a vacuum of straight talk. “I would like to see some sort of document that includes the facts, from a source that doesn’t have an agenda,” Jim Yellico told Bureau of Land Management officials at a meeting in Rifle. Colo., on Tuesday. Getting straight facts, though, is a challenge.

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‘Chasing Water’ Captures Colorado River’s Tragic Tale

From the rim of the Grand Canyon, the Colorado River below seemed both meek and mighty. It looks like a tiny band of water barely visible below millions of years of rock, but it was this river, blasting through fierce rapids with dirt and debris, that carved through a mile of rock like a diamond saw. This is the Colorado River in its finest moments. River runners know it as a death-defying series of rapids, but even this whitewater is only a fraction of the hydraulics that once raged through the canyon, in the days before Lake Powell tamed it. In its grim less spectacular moments the Colorado is not a river at all. It is an unremarkable trickle through concrete canals, and then, not even that. Just a dry riverbed that delivers not even a drop to the sea. “It looks like the end of the line,” says photographer Pete McBride, as he and his companion, author Jonathan Waterman, find their canoes lodged in a foamy brown muck. “It looks like the garbage disposal at the end of the river.”

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Colorado Fossils Paint Mammoth Picture of Changing Climate

Scientists digging into the peat below Ziegler Reservoir at Snowmass Village, Colo., found a something like an Ice Age zoo last fall. Now, as they prepare to start digging again next month, they also have a puzzle. Researchers are hunched over in labs piecing together fragments of mastodon skulls and ancient deer antlers. But scientists are also piecing together bigger questions. When did these animals die? Why there? And more importantly, what can they tell us about climate change – then and now? “Who amongst us would survive if we didn’t understand our personal history, where we came from?” asks Kirk Johnson, chief curator at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, who is overseeing the project. “The same applies to our climate’s history.”

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Is Wood A Green Building Material?

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack chose an unusual way to celebrate the International Year of the Forest – unusual, at least, if you’re a tree. Vilsack announced plans by the Agriculture Department and the Forest Service to use more wood in its buildings – part of a three-year plan to step up the department’s green building practices. “Wood has a vital role to play in meeting the growing demand for green building materials,” Vilsack said. Just how green is wood, though?

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Colorado Governor Hits the Road With ‘Bottom-Up’ Business Plan

When Fiberforge Corp. moved into Glenwood Springs, Colo., earlier this year, it was the sort of economic development small towns across Colorado and the West dream about. The company, which makes lightweight thermoplastic parts for everything from backpacks to military helicopters, offers high-wage jobs, from assemblers to engineers, and isn’t a big polluter. For Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen, the question for Gov. John Hickenlooper was, why can’t those things happen more often? “We need some way that the state can bring capital into small towns to offer new jobs,” Christensen told the governor on Thursday as he stopped in the Western Slope town, part of his Bottom-Up Economic Development Plan tour scheduled to take him to all 64 counties to listen to locals about what the state can do to help their economies.

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Ground Zero Law Firm Sues Over Colorado Drilling

A New York law firm that won a major settlement for World Trade Center rescue workers is representing residents of Colorado’s Western Slope who say their health has been impacted by the boom in oil and gas operations in the region. The law firm Napoli Bern Ripka & Associates, along with the Aspen firm Thomas Genshaft, filed its first Western Slope lawsuit on Thursday, and attorneys say more will likely be forthcoming, including a possible class-action lawsuit.

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