Moving forward, the real problem comes in connecting all the dots: It's nearly impossible to tell definitively which bones came from which mastodon, and most attempts result in a prehistoric Frankenstein. "We still might reassemble a skeleton for the display, but right now we're still learning every day," says Bryan Small, who oversees the technicians in the lab. He laughs, looks around the open, dinosaur-themed workspace and points out at least five samples resembling the one on display.

"In the meantime, we've certainly got plenty of mastodon pelvises. It must be pelvis day in here." Kelsey Whipple

Rocky Mountain Arsenal,

Commerce City

Just ten miles northeast of downtown, on the border of Denver and Commerce City, is one of the largest urban wildlife refuges in the country.

A stopover for fifty pairs of roosting bald eagles last winter, the refuge is littered with prairie dog holes and home to deer, coyotes and even a muskrat or two. On this warm summer day, its nine miles of trails are covered in colorful crickets. But Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge only exists because it was once a chemical-weapons plant and one of the most contaminated sites in history.

The short-grass prairie where the refuge is now was once home to Plains Indians and herds of bison, and later to western settlers and grazing cattle. But at the height of WW II, the U.S. Army purchased 17,000 acres of this land and manufactured mustard gas, napalm and other chemical weapons on it. Over the next forty years, the site's facilities were leased to private companies — like Shell Chemical Co., which produced agricultural pesticides — and reactivated for use during subsequent wars.

During one of the largest single demilitarization operations in the nation's history, Project Eagle, the Army destroyed mustard-gas stockpiles and 930,000 gallons of Sarin nerve agent at the arsenal.

In 1984, the Army began investigating the contamination issues there, and in 1987, it was added to the Superfund list. Because of a lack of human presence, however, the area had become an involuntary refuge for a diverse population of wildlife, including deer, coyotes, ferruginous hawks, owls and a roost of bald eagles (then an endangered species).

Now, 25 years and 31 cleanup projects later, 16,000 acres (94 percent) of the arsenal have been removed from the Superfund list and restored to short-grass prairie that is home to more than 330 species of wildlife. The refuge also boasts a beautiful visitor center and exhibit hall, and provides free public programs such as bird-watching and wildlife bus tours.

But there are still those other 1,000 acres, and later this summer we'll get a reminder about what is still there when the refuge closes for one month to support the expansion of an environmental monitoring project on what's left of the site's U.S. Army-owned land.

During the temporary closure, which begins on August 20, the Army will drill eight more groundwater wells around a former cleanup project, which will provide additional monitoring and aid long-term care of the area.

Closing the refuge — a rare occurrence — will also allow for visitor-center maintenance and other projects on the grounds to take place, says visitor-services manager Sherry James. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be installing cattle guards for the bison enclosure and working on trails; the temporary closure will also give staff an opportunity to plan new programs and activities for the public to look forward to when the refuge reopens in late September.

Melody Parker

Town Center at Aurora

In some ways, the Town Center at Aurora could be any mall in Anywhere, USA. The outside is sturdy and beige, and inside the air is cool and smells of sickeningly sweet Cinnabons. In between big-name department stores selling the latest celebrity perfume — on a recent afternoon, it was Justin Bieber's Girlfriend — smaller shops peddle vanilla body lotion, basketball jerseys, cell phones and enough short party dresses to clothe an army of suburban Kardashians.

But to Aurora, a sprawling city of 335,105 people, the mall is more than a place to buy earbuds and eyeglasses. To many, it's the heart of an ever-changing city that's struggled to find its center.

"It is the town center because it is a gathering place," says state representative Rhonda Fields, who represents the city. "Also right there, you have the central library, you have city hall. That is the center; that is one of the heartbeats of the town."

The Aurora Mall opened in 1975 near East Alameda Avenue and South Potomac Street, a shining example of a brand-new kind of commerce. A plaque at the Aurora History Museum explains that the new mall dwarfed the city's four-year-old Buckingham Square Mall "and anything in the area" — including the mom-and-pop shops on East Colfax Avenue. By the 1980s, the plaque explains, it was clear the malls had "dealt a death-blow to Colfax businesses" and become Aurora's most popular destinations.

State historian Bill Convery grew up in Aurora and remembers hanging out at the mall as a teenager in the mid-'80s. "I went there to play video games and see movies," he recalls. "I did all those things you do in a mall: go to Orange Julius, go to Spencer's."

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My Voice Nation Help
6 comments
Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

Come to beautiful Colorado to vacation.

Return home w/ a record and on probation.....

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

It's too bad our police forces,

and individuals such as Carole Chambers,

ruin what once was one of the best best

places to live in the nation......

mozela910
mozela910

from dave eberhardt, baltimore, md-to the sunshine state

 

@

Rain fell in Aurora, Colorado today,

 It fell for the Victims and Executioner as well

. It smiled at the dawn references That news reporters made re the name,

 Although none of them made any;

 It smiled at the Lack of reporting On Colorado gun laws... 

It forgave and forgave.

 If you listened closely you Might have heard how it said: 

Forgive and forgive.

 Seek no vengeance, work for peace. It said,

I washed the blood off Forever battlefields and I can wash this off

. Press on,

it said but it said it like this: 

Ssssh, ssssh...

 Peace...peace. 

 

 

   From:     Hogan, Steve <shogan@auroragov.org>To:     'mozela9@comcast.net' <mozela9@comcast.net>  Odd, but that's the same message an opponent of stronger laws sent me.  Someday maybe your side and their side will grow up, and get past calling each other names. Colorado law does not allow cities to overrule the state legislature, even if they want to.  Since I couldn't do anything one way or the other without a vote of another elected body, where does that put me, other than in the same place as you, and the person on the other side of the issue? Next time, and there will be a next time unless all types of weapons are outlawed, you might really think first about those actually killed or wounded, instead of your political agenda. Steve HoganMayorCity of Aurora

 

 
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