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Morning photo: Saturday set

Spring scenes …

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Shoreline visions.

FRISCO — At this rate I’m starting to wonder if there will still be snow on the ground going into June. It seems feasible that, even at valley elevations, a few thick drifts could persist in shady forests around town. With so little green yet to be seen, I had to delve back into the archives to find some seasonal spring love. Please visit our online gallery for more Summit County nature and landscape scenes.

Chlorophyll rising!

Chlorophyll rising!

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Spring green.

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Nothing says spring like a bright wildflower, right?

Spring runoff.

Spring runoff.

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Forests: Spruce beetles spreading fast in southern Rockies

State report details status of insect activities

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Spruce beetles are widely active across the mountains of southern Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Windstorms, mild winters and drought are the key factors in the continued spread of spruce beetles, which have become the dominant change agent in Colorado forests the past few years.

According to the latest annual forest health report compiled by state forest experts, spruce beetles were active across 398,000 acres in 2013, affected more than triple the amount of acreage than mountain pine beetles. Continue reading

Environment: Ambitious Swan River restoration project near Breckenridge could benefit cutthroat trout

Forest Service wants to reconnect an aquatic ecosystem that was sliced apart by dredges in the mining era

Restoration plans are afoot for a degraded section of the Swan River, in Summit County, Colorado.

Restoration plans are afoot for a degraded section of the Swan River, in Summit County, Colorado.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — For all the gold Summit County’s old-timers managed to pull from local mountains and rivers, they left behind quite a mess. Along with toxic pollution oozing into rivers from some abandoned mines, other streams were turned completely inside-out, buried under tons of gravel.

That includes the Swan River, near Breckenridge, where the U.S. Forest Service now hopes to reverse some of the damage with an ambitious five- to 10-year restoration project.

The Forest Service aims to recreate of two miles of stream, riparian, and restore uplands that were all destroyed by the dredge boats. The agency also wants to decommission some roads in the area, build a new road and trail, all within a mix ownership of private, county, town, and national forest lands. Another element of the project would create fish barriers to protect populations of cutthroat trout. Continue reading

Colorado eyes spending plan for pot revenues

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Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has proposed a spending plan for tax revenues generated by marijuana sales.

Youth prevention a key focus

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper wants the biggest slice of the marijuana revenue pie to go toward youth marijuana use prevention and deterrence, with $45 million (including $7 million matching federal funds) earmarked for those programs in Fiscal Year 2014-2015.

Hickenlooper this week released a proposed spending plan for revenues collected as a result of Proposition AA, which voters approved last fall to establish excise and sales taxes on adult-use marijuana. Continue reading

Colorado: East Vail snow slide kills one skier

Forecasters warn of persistent avalanche danger

FRISCO — Skiing the East Vail chutes when the avalanche danger is rated as considerable is a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. After numerous close calls in the area the past few weeks, a backcountry skier died in a snowslide on Monday, January 7. It is the second avalanche death in Colorado this season. The first occurred Dec. 31 on Parkview Mountain, west of Willow Creek Pass.

Outsideonline.com is reporting that the victim was 24-year-old Tony Seibert, the grandson of Vail co-founder Pete Seibert. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center confirmed the East Vail Chutes death, but the CAIC website offered few details on the deadly incident. The center’s avalanche experts will visit the site Jan. 8 to investigate the accident. Continue reading

Climate: Colorado snowpack tracking near average

Above-average precipitation in October and November give state a headstart to the runoff season

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Colorado snowpack is tracking very near average for the winter so far.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The snowpack in nearly every river basin in Colorado is at or above normal, federal watchers said this week.

This year’s January 1 snowpack readings are at 103 percent of median statewide, according to Phyllis Ann Philipps, State Conservationist with the NRCS.

“This is a great start to the 2014 water year. As we saw in 2012 and 2013, early seasons deficits are difficult to make up later in the season … so being right where we should be this time of year gives us a head start compared to the past couple of years,” Philipps said. Continue reading

Arapahoe Basin moving ahead with Beavers expansion

Open house set for Dec. 3

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Arapahoe Basin is moving ahead with an expansion plan that would add more than 400 acres of terrain in the Beavers area.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Arapahoe Basin and the U.S. Forest Service are moving ahead with the first formal step in the review process for a significant expansion at Summit County’s oldest ski area.

Adding a lift the Beavers area, west of existing lift-served terrain at the area, would mitigate public safety issues and enhance A-Basin’s reputation as a destination for advanced skiers, the Forest Service said in its scoping notice for the plan. Altogether, the Beavers expansion would add about 430 acres, including 125 acres of tree skiing.

The ski area also wants to expand its reservoir for snowmaking water, add a short surface lift to ease access to Montezuma Bowl and replace the Molly Hogan lift in the beginner area, as well as remove the seldom-used Norway chair and plan for potential zip line installations to enhance summer recreation. Continue reading

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