GeoWorld July 2012

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An Especially Important Year to Talk about Conservation POSITION T BY TODD DANIELSON his issue of GeoWorld annually focuses on "Conservation/ Sustainability," and it's always one of my favorites, as this topic is especially important to me. I live in the mountains of Colorado, situated in one of the most naturally beautiful places in the world, and I've always been a bit of a "tree hugger" at heart. Although I make sure this magazine covers all aspects of geotechnology, from business geographics to infra- structure to visualization, this issue always draws my interest a little more. I'm sure all of our readers have a topic or two that's especially relevant or important to them. Hitting Home Unfortunately, conservation issues have moved from an altruistic side of my life this year to immediate, urgent and dangerous forms. In case you haven't seen the news, Colorado and many of the western/mountain states are under severe drought conditions, and new for- est fires are breaking out seemingly daily. The first fire I recall hearing about was the Whitewater Baldy Complex wildfire in New Mexico, the largest ever in that state. That blaze has been raging on for more than a month, having already torched more than 240,000 acres. Then there was the High Park fire Todd Danielson is editor of GeoWorld magazine, PO Box 773498, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477; e-mail: 4 GEO W ORLD / JU L Y 2O12 near Fort Collins, Colo., a place I once lived, which destroyed hundreds of homes in the surrounding foothills and forced the evacuation of thousands, including a few friends (who are fine). Areas I visit often will be unrecogniz- able the next time I see them. Then there was a fire near Boulder, Colo., another former home, which wasn't far from a major city. And shortly after that came the Waldo Canyon Fire near Colorado Springs. This one seems to have been the most traumatic to human populations, due to the city's size and the ferocity of that blaze. The incredible pictures I've seen from that fire are permanently etched into my brain. And there are many more fires in many more states. I'm sure a lot of GeoWorld readers can relate and have their own stories to tell from this year's fire season. Water of Life Naturally, the difficult fire season was created by a lack of water. The last win- ter was severely low on snowfall in many areas that rely on it. It only got worse when spring brought very little rainfall. As the droughts persist, wells and reservoirs already are running low, and there's a long way to go until next winter. If weather patterns don't change soon (and I hope I'm creating a reverse-jinx by writing this), these problems will get much worse. Where I live, and in many other places, severe water restrictions are in effect. Lawns must be "let go," and many recreational areas are looking for ways to conserve what little water is left. Conservation has become much more than a magazine theme for me this year. What to Do? Of course, there isn't much we can do to control the weather (I'll save my thoughts on global warming for another day), but one of the best ways to conserve our resources is through geotechnology. Maps are a great way to track water reservoirs and forest fires, and many such examples have been created and used. In addition, remote sensing is an excellent way to monitor snow and ice packs, and it also can be used to find and track wildfires and the dry forests that fuel them. In fact, because there are so many great uses of geotechnology for conser- vation and sustainability, our magazine's archives are filled with articles on this topic. In addition to the four excel- lent features in this issue, check out, where you can search for and find dozens of articles (and hundreds of news stories and press releases) that show how valuable geotechnology of all types can be in trying to save and best use Earth's resources.

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