Colorado launches new outdoor recreation industry office

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Luis Benitez will head Colorado’s new Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

‘I want to hear what people in small communities are doing and carry those stories to the highest level …’

FRISCO — Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry — from skiing and snowmobiling, to birdwatching and hunting — has become a powerful economic force in the last few decades.

By some accounts, the industry generates as much as $13 billion per year in consumer spending and drives the economy of many communities outside the urban Front Range corridor. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the industry contributes $4.2 billion in wages and salaries in Colorado.

Now, Gov. John Hickenlooper says he wants to boost the industry’s role to an even higher profile by establishing a new Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, housed in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Last week, Hickenlooper announced that Eagle County resident Luis Guillermo Benitez will head the new office’s efforts build the state’s outdoor recreation brand. Continue reading

Letter shows widespread business support for public land protection under the Antiquities Act

Groups urge Obama to designate more monuments

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Colorado National Monument was one of the earliest tracts of public land to be designated under the Antiquities Act. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Public lands are vital to the growing economies of the American West, a coalition of business groups said in a recent letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to protect special areas through his authority under the Antiquities Act.

The letter was sent on the 109th anniversary of the Act, a law that enables presidents to designate national monuments and other landmarks for protection. That authority has come under on-and-off attack by the GOP in Congress, as some lawmakers have sought to roll back presidential powers. Continue reading

Polis tackles federal-state marijuana nexus

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A proposed bill in Congress would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to conduct testing on the impact of marijuana use on driving.

Colorado Congressman Jared Polis eyes federal guidelines for marijuana-impaired drivers

Staff Report

FRISCO — Teaming up with California Republican Tom McClintock, Colorado Congressman Jared Polis is continuing his efforts keep the federal government from interfering in state marijuana laws.

The McClintock-Polis Marijuana Amendment, which failed on a narrow House vote, would have prevented the federal Drug Enforcement Agency from prosecuting individuals who use, sell, or possess marijuana in compliance with state laws. Continue reading

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

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

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