Morning photo: First wildflowers!

Wet spring promises great blooms

FRISCO — Wow! Colorado wildflowers are awesome most years. Even when things are on the drier side, the shady, cool nooks and crannies in the mountains yield abundant blossoms, but in a year like this, with prolonged spring rains, the plants have really responded. In some places where there may only be a few clumps in average or dry years, the entire ground is covered with a brilliant carpet of blooms. Get out there and enjoy!

Summit County: Dillon Reservoir outflows boosted again

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The Blue River near flood stage near Silverthorne.

Blue River running high through Silverthorne

Staff Report

FRISCO — Flows in the Lower Blue River, below Dillon Dam, are going up again.

With snowmelt speeding up under warm and sunny skies, Denver is boosting the outflow to 1,800 cfs to avoid a scenario where Dillon Reservoir spills at a level that causes outflows to go over that level.

That’s exactly what could happen without upping controlled releases now, Denver Water spokesman Matt Wittern said via email.

“Our experts predict that, if we maintained 1,700 cfs outflow and inflows remain around 2,400, Dillon Reservoir would be full and spilling within a week,” Wittern said. That could bring excessive flows and the potential for flooding below Dillon Reservoir.

Wittern said Denver Water is estimating the remaining snowpack in the Blue River as equivalent to between five and seven inches of water near Hoosier and Fremont passes.

That snow is melting fast, with no letup in sight. Inflows from runoff into Dillon Reservoir averaged 2,467 cfs Tuesday, which was well above current and planned outflows. And those inflows aren’t expected to drop below 1,700 cfs in the next seven days, which means Dillon Reservoir will continue to fill quickly, at the rate of about six inches per day. As of Wednesday, the reservoir was 3.25 feet below capacity.

Wittern also explained that Denver Water can’t legally divert water through the Roberts Tunnel if it’s not needed.

“Right now water levels are very high on the South PIatte River, eliminating this action as an option,” he said.

Troy Wineland, state water commissioner for the Blue River, said property owners in the Lower Blue who face flooding risks can prepare by perusing Summit County’s High Water Preparedness” manual which includes instructions on sandbag preparation and placement, as well as free sand / bag supply locations.

Wineland also said water users in the Lower Blue should be aware that higher flows will push more water through diversions, possibly over-topping in irrigation ditches.

Morning photo: Summer light

A June photo jam …

FRISCO —I take most of my photos within a couple of miles of home here in Frisco partly because it seems kind of wasteful to drive around solely for the purpose of photography. But during the onset of the wildflower season, I sometimes venture just a little farther, visiting some of my favorite spots in the Lower Blue Valley, north of Silverthorne. During these longest days of the year, sunlight streams into the valley from the north, adding a new dimension to the Gore Range in the evenings. And this year, thanks to all the spring rain and snow, the wildflowers are going crazy, even in some of the dry, lower elevation sagebrush meadows, which are currently carpeted with colorful blooms. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for daily photo updates and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for some of the best Colorado landscape photography around!

Morning Photo: Sunday Set

Summer light

FRISCO — Seems like just a few days ago I was still taking pictures of snow, but we’ve quickly slipped into summer mode. Wildflowers are popping, and when (or if) we get a spell of warm and sunny days, the blooms will really get going. The aspens have leafed out, and kayakers, rowers and rafters are frolicking on local reservoirs and streams. Summer is short and sweet in the high country, so now’s the time to get out and get after it, whatever your pleasure may be! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for daily photo updates and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for some of the best Colorado landscape photography around!

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

Morning photo: Glorious!

Summit sunsets


FRISCO — A few quick sunset snapshots from the past few days in Summit County. Stormy weather makes for fantastic skies!

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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