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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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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 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

Colorado: Trade mission heads for Scandinavia

Colorado businesses are looking for trade prospects in Scandinavia.

Colorado businesses are looking for trade prospects in Scandinavia. Photo courtesy NASA.

Bioscience and IT companies look for prospects in an economically strong part of Europe

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado business leaders are looking to strengthen ties with Scandinavia with some help from the state Office of Economic Development and International Trade, which will will lead a delegation of Colorado bioscience and IT companies to Denmark and Sweden from May 13-17, 2013.

Participating companies will meet with foreign partners who will help the companies sell their products and services to the region. Biomedical products are already a huge part of Colorado’s exports.

The trade mission will help the companies to increase their international sales, leading to job retention and creation in Colorado. Companies participating in the trade mission are AD RescueWear, Couragent Inc, DH2i Company and Swan Valley Medical. Continue reading

Outdoors: Skier visits rebound nationally

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U.S. resorts tallied 56.6 million skiers visits — and counting — in he 2012-2013 ski season.

All regions post increases from last year

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After a big dip last season, skier visits rebounded strongly in the 2012-2013 season, climbing up to 56. million with the season still going strong at areas like Mammoth Mountain and Arapahoe Basin.

For the country as a whole, skier visits climbed 11 percent from last season. Skier visits in the Pacific Southwest and Northeast regions climbed more than 20 percent from last winter, not surprising, since they were the areas hit hardest by sparse snowfall and an early meltdown last year.

Resorts in all regions started slow but skier visits gained momentum through the holidays and spring break. Overall, 78 percent of reporting ski areas posted increases in visits. The median resort experienced a 10.6 percent gain in visits, according to a release from the National Ski Areas Association. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service revamps fees for bikepath events

Policy change enables agency to charge per-person fees

The 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties, and based in Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. Photo Steve Peterson

Cyclists cruise the Summit County recpath on Forest Service land during the 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties based at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Photo courtesy Steve Peterson/Copper Triangle.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The White River National Forest has revamped its fee structure for special events using local bike paths that cross national forest lands. Under the changes, organizers of cycling events like the Copper Triangle will pay a graduated per-person fee ranging from $1 per person, up to $2 per person for larger events.

The new fees, authorized under a local special use amendment, will affect special events using three specific bike paths: Vail Pass, Glenwood Canyon and the recpath system around Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, according to WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. Continue reading

Colorado: Dems launch push for more renewable energy

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More wind power in Colorado’s future? Photo courtesy UCAR.

New bill would expand renewable energy standards to rural electricity co-ops

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — New legislation proposed by Colorado lawmakers could help refocus the energy debate by shifting more demand to renewable sources.

Under the Ritter administration, Colorado took significant steps to move toward renewable sources, but that momentum has faltered under Gov. Hickenlooper, widely seen as tilting toward the fossil fuel industry.

Senate Bill 252 would expand Colorado’s renewable energy standard by raising the percentage of retail electricity sales that must be achieved from renewable energy resources by cooperative electric associations that provide service to 100,000 meters or more from 10 percent to 25 percent starting in 2020. Continue reading

Colorado skier visits stabilize during the heart of the season

Good late-season snow conditions should help Colorado ski areas bounce back partially from a so-so start to the season.

Good late-season snow conditions should help Colorado ski areas bounce back partially from a so-so start to the season.

Ski trade group reports slight increase from last season for the January-February period

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After dropping steeply last season and the first part of this winter, Colorado skier visits stabilized during the past few months, according to Colorado Ski Country USA.

The state’s ski industry trade group said skier visits at its 21 member resorts climbed 1.3 percent during January and February, compared to the same two months last season.

For the season to-date, visitation at CSCUSA resorts was down 4.2 percent compared to the same time last season, defined as opening day through February 28. Continue reading

Colorado: Vail Resorts says mid-winter business rebounded

Major capital investments announced for upcoming seasons

Vail Resorts is talking up the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge as part of its capital investment plan for the coming season.

Vail Resorts is talking up the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge as part of its capital investment plan for the coming season.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts said business bounced back after a slow start to the season, with some of the company’s resorts posting record business during the Christmas holiday period. VR’s net income climbed 30.5 percent, to $60.5 million in the second fiscal quarter compared to last season, with skier visits up 2.9 percent and mountain net revenue up by 9.5 percent.

“We are very pleased with our performance in the second quarter of fiscal 2013, which was notable for two distinct dynamics we experienced in the quarter,” VR CEO Rob Katz said this week during a call announcing the company’s second quarter earnings. “The first was our results through the middle of December, which were marked by unusually warm and dry weather in Colorado that limited the terrain we could open, leading to lower than expected results for our four Colorado resorts.  Continue reading

National parks would take serious hit from sequester

Top officials warn of negative impacts to gateway communities

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Colorado National Monument could be hit by federal budget cuts under the sequester.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Visits to national parks in the U.S. climbed to 282 million in 2012, up 3.8 million from the previous year, top federal officials said this week, highlighting the role of parks tourism as an economic engine as they released the results of an annual analysis that details the financial contribution of parks to local communities.

According to the report, most visitor spending supports jobs in lodging, food, and beverage service (63 percent) followed by recreation and entertainment (17 percent), other retail (11 percent), transportation and fuel (7 percent), and wholesale and manufacturing (2 percent).

But Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and NPS director Jon Jarvis said that role is threatened by looming budget cuts that would delay openings at some parks and possible even curtail access based on concerns about public safety. Continue reading

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