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.

wilderness-map

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.

Summit Spring: Volunteers wanted for greenhouse work, tree-planting

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It’s time to get gardening in Summit County.

Get your green thumb on!

Staff Report

FRISCO — Springtime in Summit County means it’s time to start thinking about growing everything from backyard cabbage to new trees, and even with a late season snowstorm taking aim at the high country, there’s work to be done.

The High Country Conservation Center is looking for volunteers to help cover the greenhouse at Nancy’s community garden with new plastic. The work party is scheduled for Saturday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to  2 p.m. This job involves some lifting and holding, so please be prepared for some physical work. Continue reading

Old Dillon Reservoir completion delayed again

Crews working to replace mile-long pipeline after testing reveals wrong type of pipe was used in construction last summer

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The Old Dillon Reservoir in mid-construction, summer, 2012. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Local water officials say there’s still enough runoff coming down from the mountains to fill the newly enlarged Old Dillon Reservoir by Aug. 1 — even after an unexpected setback delayed the start of fill.

As engineers started to pressure-test the diversion pipeline late last summer, they discovered that the contractor used the wrong kind of pipe for the job, preventing completion of the project.

“Some of the gaskets would not seal,” said Dillon utilities superintendent Trevor Giles, explaining that crews are currently in the process of replacing the 24-inch-diameter pipe, which runs about 5,000 from the lower Salt Lick Gulch area in Wildernest, beneath I-70  and into the reservoir. Continue reading

Outdoors: Forest Service adds ‘new’ trails in Summit County

Some of the "new" trails on national forest lands in Summit County lead to hidden coves along the shore of Dillon Reservoir.

Some of the “new” trails on national forest lands in Summit County lead to hidden coves along the shore of Dillon Reservoir.

Travel management plan update results in some user-created trails becoming an official part of the trail network

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — If you’ve never heard of the Hippo Trail or the Bodhi Trail, don’t feel too bad. Both are newly named trail segments in Summit County that have just recently been formally added to the national forest trail system managed by the U.S. Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District.

Many of the user-created have been popular with locals for years, but now they’re officially on the map, said Ken Waugh, recreation staff officer for the district.

“Many of these have never been maintained and have not been on District maps,” Waugh said, adding that the Forest Service is making an outreach effort to let hikers and cyclists know about the new trails.

As part of that effort, the Dillon District is preparing Recreation Opportunity Guides for these new trails. The one-page sheets  have a map on one side and information about the trails on the other. When they’re done, they’ll be posted online at this White River National Forest website. Some of the guides are already posted at www.dillonrangerdistrict.com. The guides include directions to the trailhead, mileage, range in elevation, difficulty, and trail highlights. They’re also avaiable at the USFS visitor center in Silverthorne. Continue reading

Summit snow well below average in January

Drought continues in the Colorado River Basin

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Strings of goose eggs on the weather scorecard for Dillon.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — January 2012 will go down as one of the driest Januaries on record at the official National Weather Service site in town, where long-time observer Rick Bly measured just 6.55 inches of snow for the month.

Bly said that total was one of the five lowest January readings in the books. Going back more than 100 years, the average January snowfall in town is nearly two feet. The little bit of snow that did fall during the month was also excruciatingly dry. Bly said the snow-water equivalent was just 0.11 inches, compared to the historic average of 1.53 inches.

That means precipitation for the water year to-date (starting Oct. 1) is just 60 percent of average. Snowfall for the year to-date is also lagging well behind last year, at 43.85 inches. Normal for this time of year is 78 inches. Last winter, Bly had tallied 62 inches by this time of year. Continue reading

Morning photo: Marvelous moon

Last full moon of 2012

December's full moon sets over the Gore Range in Summit County, Colorado.

December’s full moon sets over the Gore Range in Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO —Even though I got skunked on the full moon rise this month, I did make it out early Saturday to watch it set over the Gore Range. With temps well below zero, it wasn’t easy to work the camera controls and I had a hard time changing exposure settings while trying to keep up with the changing light, because the Earth and moon never stop their graceful dance. When you see a picture of the orb hanging in the sky, it looks static, but things certainly seem to speed up when you’re trying to capture it with a camera. And there are only a few minutes when the background and foreground light, and the moonlight, are balanced enough to get details in the entire exposure. I’m also amazed at how much the light changes in a short time. The images in this set were all taken in a half-hour span.

Many of the images in Summit Voice photo essays are available in our Fine Art America online gallery, and there’s also Summit County gallery at our ImageKind website. You can also order images by contacting me directly at bberwyn@comcast.net. It’s a great way to support independent online journalism! Continue reading

Summit County: Forest Service says, ‘Give us a chance’ on proposed Tenderfoot Mountain motorized trail system

County officials feel slighted by federal bureaucrats

Motorized riders enjoy cruising a road near the Summit County landfill on lower Tenderfoot Mountain. Bob Berwyn photo.

Related stories

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A plan by the U.S. Forest Service to build 13 miles of new trails for motorized use on Tenderfoot Mountain has put the agency on a collision course with local residents who have fought the plan from its earliest stages. Despite some changes from the original proposal, most residents of the affected area remain adamantly opposed.

Meanwhile, Forest Service rangers are asking the community to give the project a chance, claiming that motorized users will police themselves to make sure that impacts don’t spread beyond the trail system that would span about 1,800 acres on the hillsides above Highway 6 between Dillon and Summit Cove.

The Forest Service released an environmental assessment for the project in mid-November, triggering a 30-day public comment period. Based on the final round of feedback, agency officials will release a final decision on the trail system sometime this winter. All the Forest Service documents relating to the proposal, including comment information, are at this WRNF web page. Continue reading

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