Breckenridge, Vail Resorts compromise on proposed lift ticket tax

Morning alpenglow paints the summit of Breckenridge Ski Area.

Morning alpenglow paints the summit of Breckenridge Ski Area.

New ballot measure will exclude season passes

Staff Report

FRISCO — The ski town showdown over a proposed lift-ticket tax in Breckenridge ended with a whimper rather than a bang, as the town and Vail Resorts reached a compromise on the issue.

According to a press release from the town, the language of the ballot measure seeking voter approval of the new tax will be tweaked to exclude season passes and summer lift tickets from what town officials have called an admissions tax. Continue reading

Funding finalized, CDOT will four-lane more of Hwy. 9

Busy highway to be moved away from Dillon Reservoir

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The new Highway 9 alignment will run where the recpath is now, while the recpath will be moved closer to the shore of Dillon Reservoir.

Some community discussion on this project at this Facebook post.

Staff Report

FRISCO — With Vail Resorts, Breckenridge and Summit County pledging more than $1 million combined toward Highway 9 upgrades, the Colorado Department of Transportation will be able to move ahead with widening the busy highway in the Iron Springs section, between Farmers Korner and Frisco.

CDOT had tabbed the four-laning of the highway as a high priority project that qualifies for accelerated construction and funding as long as there is a 20 percent match from local public and private partners. With that money now on the table, CDOT will be able to put the project up for bid this fall, with construction slated for 2016 and and 2017. Continue reading

Rally in Breckenridge to support climate action

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Rally for climate action in Breckenridge on Aug. 20.

‘Beat the Heat’ event aimed at showing public support for Clean Power Plan

Staff Report

FRISCO — Summit County residents have a chance to show their support for meaningful action to reduce heat-trapping greenhouse gas pollution at an Aug. 20 rally in Breckenridge organized by Environment Colorado. The rally will start 11 a.m. near Riverwalk Center, with Environment Colorado organizers doing one-on-one outreach to passers-by.

The Beat the Heat event is aimed at showing support for President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, the single biggest step the U.S. has taken to address global warming. Activists want to make it clear that Coloradans want state leaders like Senator Michael Bennet and Senator Cory Gardner, as well as Governor Hickenlooper to lead on climate action. Continue reading

Breck, Vail Resorts squabble over parking

Spring season extended at Breckenridge Ski Area. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS/JACK AFFLECK.

 Breckenridge Ski Area. PHOTO COURTESY VAIL RESORTS/JACK AFFLECK.

Lift-ticket tax proposal stirs up bad blood

Staff Report

FRISCO — The long-running love-hate soap opera between Breckenridge and Vail Resorts took a nasty turn this week, as town officials vowed to forge ahead with putting an admissions (lift-ticket) tax on the November ballot, while the resort company questioned the town’s legal authority to do so.

At issue, according to Breckenridge, is an urgent need to address parking and transit issues — something the town should have started addressing 15 years ago. Based on community input, town officials say, the best path forward is to build a parking structure on F-Lot and to boost transit options.

To do that, the town wants to establish a new revenue stream by taxing lift tickets and other for-profit attractions. But Breckenridge and Vail Resorts have apparently failed to find common ground. In a press release, Mayor John Warner said ongoing negotiations have failed, leaving the town no option but to pursue voter approval for a new tax in the fall. Continue reading

Poll: Breckenridge residents want a parking structure

BMX biking Breckenridge Colorado

A crowd of tourists watches a BMX bike demo in Breckenridge. Colorado.

Voters support new tax to address parking and congestion

Staff Report

FRISCO — Polling early this summer in Breckenridge appears to confirm what many residents and visitors already know — parking and congestion are serious issues for the Colorado resort town, which in some ways is choking on its own success.

According to the survey, voters want their town leaders to make parking and congestion a top priority, and they think a tax on lift tickets and special events is the way to pay for it. Continue reading

Skiing: Weber Gulch Hut gets Forest Service OK

Approval includes summer closure to protect wildlife

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The new Weber Gulch Hut on Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, Colorado, will provide access to some outstanding ski terrain.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After more than five years of study, the nonprofit Summit Huts Association has a green light to build a new 16-person backcountry shelter on the northern flanks of Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, to be called the Weber Gulch Hut.

To protect wildlife habitat, the new hut will only be open in the winter, which represents a change from SHA’s initial proposal to include summer use.

White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams signed the formal decision notice on June 17, explaining that he weighed all the public comments and relied on a team of scientists and ski experts, who found in their environmental analysis that the hut wouldn’t have a significant impact on the environment. All documents related to the Weber Gulch Hut are posted on this Forest Service web page. Continue reading

Letters: Support for new Colorado wilderness

Will Congress act?

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A view of the Gore Range from the flanks of the Williams Fork Range, at the edge of a new wilderness area proposed by Congressman Jared Polis. @bberwyn photo.

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A map of the areas covered by the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act.

FRISCO — In May, Congressman Jared Polis reintroduced a bill to create about 39,000 acres of new wilderness in Summit and Eagle counties.

According to Polis, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act will help sustain recreational resources, protect watersheds, preserve important wildfire corridors, and strengthen Colorado’s tourism economy.

Along with new wilderness, the bill would also designate 16,000 acres as special management areas for recreation, and where some other activities, including wildfire mitigation and forest health treatments would be permitted.

Trace the history of Polis’ push for new wilderness in the central Colorado mountains in these Summit Voice stories going back to 2010.

Letters:

Dear Editor,

Congressman Jared Polis’ introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act should be applauded. This bill, the result of 5 years of local community engagement and consensus, is important not just to the central Rocky Mountains but to Colorado as a whole. Many Coloradans know this area for the endless recreational opportunities, whether it’s hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, or just relaxing. As the owner of Seymour Lodging Corp, Colorado wilderness is of particular importance to me.

Owning a small business is never easy, particularly when your business is dependent on external factors such as weather and consumer discretionary income. Fortunately for myself and many other small business owners across the state, the designation of wilderness, in addition to enhancing quality of life, makes local tourism a little more secure.

The Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act protects many areas in the White River National Forest, which draws more than 9 million visitors annually; these visitors then support local tourism and outdoor recreation businesses.

The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado is a critical part of the state’s economy which generates $13.2 billion annually in consumer spending, and supports 125,000 jobs which pay over $4 billion in wages to Coloradans. Many small mountain towns count on tourism and outdoor recreation to stay afloat. I know personally how difficult this can be, and I would like to thank Congressman Polis for investing in the state of Colorado.

Richard Seymour

***

Dear Editor,

After reading about the recent introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act, I wanted to publicly thank Representative Jared Polis for his work protecting Colorado. As an avid hiker, I deeply enjoy spending free time in the Central Mountains.

Over the past 5 years Rep. Polis has worked with a plethora of local stakeholders to ensure that this legislation truly helps to support the local community- this hard work has paid off, garnering the support of everyone from mountain bikers and conservationists to hunters and small businessmen.

If passed, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act would provide important protections for key watersheds in the Central Mountains and safeguard our ever-valuable Colorado water for local communities and the greater Front Range. As well, the Act would protect some of Colorado’s best fishing streams and preserve valuable wildlife habitat; thank you, Representative Polis!

Eddie Welsh

Eddie Welsh is history and political science major at Colorado State University.  He has a special interest in environmental issues here in Colorado, particularly in the Central Mountains where he spend a great deal of  time.

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