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Colorado: Senators Udall and Bennet ask President Obama to use Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon as a national monument

Gridlock in Congress prompts request for designation

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There’s a new push to create a national monument along the Arkansas River.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Citing gridlock in Congress, Colorado’s U.S. Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet have asked President Obama to consider designating Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument under the Antiquities Act.

The request comes as Congress has all but ignored a huge backlog of public lands bills primarily based on ideological opposition to land protection measures by House Republican committee chairs.

According to Udall and Bennet’s Nov. 25 letter to President Obama, community leaders in the Browns Canyon area suggested the Antiquities Act path, recognizing the significant economic benefits of the designation for regional tourism-based businesses. Continue reading

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Breckenridge to vote on Main Street pot sales

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Buds in Breckenridge?

Drug stigma lingers for some residents of Colorado mountain town

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Breckenridge voters will have a chance to micro-manage their town’s regulation of legal marijuana sales next month, with a special election set to determine whether the herb and its derivatives will be sold on Main Street.

If you’re not from Colorado, you may scratching your head at this point, wondering why, if pot is already legal, is there yet another election. After all, Breckenridge helped set the stage for legalization in 2009. when voters decriminalized the possession of small amounts of cannabis. In 2012, 70 percent of the ski town’s voters gave Amendment 64 a thumbs up. Continue reading

Feds ease banking restrictions on bud biz

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A growing business …

Gov. Hickenlooper says new guidelines don’t go far enough

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal officials took a small step toward giving state-authorized marijuana businesses some much-needed financial legitimacy, but the new guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice doesn’t go far enough, according to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.

“Based on initial reactions in the banking community to the guidance that was issued today, it appears that the language does not provide the clarity that Colorado banks are seeking to provide basic banking services to the emerging marijuana industry,” Hickenlooper said in a statement. Continue reading

Wildlife: Colorado Birding Trail expands to northwestern part of state with 13 new segments

New designations could help boost local economies

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Osprey have built nests in the top of beetle-killed lodgepole pines along the shore of Dillon Reservoir. bberwyn photo.

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Migrating grebes visit Dillon Reservoir in late fall and early winter. bberwyn photo.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —It’s not too late to do a little bird-watching in Colorado; in fact, it’s one of the best times of the year to catch a glimpse of some migratory wanderers making a last stop before heading to sunnier climes for the next few months.

It’s also a good time to get dialed in for the annual Christmas bird count, a nationwide event that helps wildlife biologists get an overall picture of bird populations across the country.

And just in time, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has unveiled the recently completed northwest section of the Colorado Birding Trail, covering popular recreation areas like Summit County. The latest addition includes a series of 13 trails-or driving loops-and 155 wildlife viewing sites to the previously established trails across the southeast and southwest areas of the state. Continue reading

Forests: Does salvage logging in beetle-killed forests make economic sense for the Forest Service?

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Dead lodgepoles have became a common sight in Colorado during the past few years, and a new study confirms that the Forest Service loses money on many salvage logging projects.

Study shows that strong timber markets make all the difference

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A new Forest Service study confirms the conventional wisdom that, under current market conditions, salvage of beetle-killed timber in Colorado is not good for the agency’s bottom line.

The researchers evaluated potential potential revenues from harvesting standing timber killed by mountain pine beetle across the western United States. Positive net revenues are possible in regions with strong timber markets, including along the West Coast and in the northern Rockies.

The central Rocky Mountain states of Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming — which have the largest volume of standing dead timber — would not generate positive net revenues by salvaging beetle-killed timber, the study concluded. In Colorado, there have been efforts to create more markets for beetle-killed wood, but there doesn’t yet seem to be a critical mass of demand.

The study did not examine other factors that might influence land management decisions, such as fire risk reduction, improvement in stand conditions, or jobs. Continue reading

Colorado resorts report modest growth in skier visits

A strong spring season helped boost skier visits to Colorado ski areas.

A strong spring season helped boost skier visits to Colorado ski areas. Bob Berwyn photo.

Strong spring fuels rebound

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Visits to all Colorado ski areas recovered from another slow start, reversed last season’s downhill slide and rebounded 3.95 percent to pass last winter’s totals, according to figures released this week by Colorado Ski Country USA. Visits to all Colorado resorts totaled 11.44 million during the winter of 2012-2013.

For the 21 areas that are members of CSCUSA, visits totaled 6.4 million, up about 3.8 percent (about 235,000 skier visits) from the previous season.

Colorado resorts outperformed the rest of the Rocky Mountain region, which tallied a 1.9 percent increase, but fell short of the national overall increase of 11 percent. The biggest growth nationally was in the Pacific Southwest and Northeast regions, which showed increases of more than 20 percent as they rebounded from a horrible snow year the previous season. Continue reading

Colorado Gov. Hickenlooper seeks statewide water plan

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Water pours down the Blue River in the high runoff of July 2011. Bob Berwyn photo.

Governor says state must figure out a way to address impending shortages

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Colorado water experts will try to figure out how to manage the state’s most precious resource in an era when all signs points to increasing shortages and the potential for growing conflicts within the state and the region over its allocation.

Under an executive order issued this week by Gov. John Hickenlooper, the Colorado Water Conservation Board will lead the effort to address the growing gap between supply and demand. Especially worrisome is the gap in the South Platte Basin, the state’s most populous and at the same time, the most productive agricultural basin.

Hickenlooper acknowledged that the recurring drought could hasten the impacts of the gap between supply and demand, noting that the past two decades have been Colorado’s warmest on record, dating back to the 1890s. Read the order here. Continue reading

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