How do changing forests affect bees?

Changes in southeastern forests may be contributing to the decline of bee populations, @bberwyn photo.

Changes in southeastern forests may be contributing to the decline of bee populations, @bberwyn photo.

Forest Service study helps unravel pollinator decline mystery Staff Report FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service scientists say they’ve solved another part of the biological puzzle surrounding the alarming decline of bee populations. Changes in forest structure from open to closed canopies are likely contributing to the decline, especially of native bees, at least in some regions. “Bees prefer open forests,” said Jim Hanula, a research entomologist at the U.S. Forest Service Southern Research Station. “We found that total tree basal area was the best predictor for how many bees would be present.” Continue reading

New push for Colorado wilderness expansion

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New wilderness is in the works for Eagle and Summit counties, in the mountains of Colorado.

Congress Jared Polis introduces land protection measure

Staff Report

FRISCO — A proposal for new Colorado wilderness areas is back on the political table in Washington, where Congressman Jared Polis introduced a new bill that ‚ if passed, would add more than 39,000 acres of land to the wilderness roster.

“The areas that stretch along the Continental Divide in Summit and Eagle counties are the iconic playground of our state,”  Polis said. “They are where Coloradans and out-of-state tourists alike go to ski, hike, mountain bike, hunt, and fish … and this bill will ensure they are preserved for future generations to enjoy,” he added. Continue reading

Colorado camping season begins!

Spring snow delays campground openings in a few areas

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Camping at Green Mountain Reservoir is a great way to kick off the summer outdoor season. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The wet and chilly spring weather may not exactly be perfect for camping, but Coloradans are hearty, and a few showers, or even snowflakes, won’t deter outdoor enthusiasts from taking their first trip of the season.

On the White River National Forest, most campgrounds are open, including the key concessionaire-operated sites in Summit County, mostly clustered around Dillon Reservoir. You’ll find the full scoop on WRNF campgrounds below, right after these outdoor safety tips from the U.S. Forest Service. You can also reserve a campsite in online at Recreation.gov.

  • Motorized travel is permitted on roads only, off road travel is always prohibited (do not drive around snow drift/muddy spots through meadow/forest – turn around!)
  • Please do not cause resource damage- if you get to an area that is muddy and would create ruts or road damage, turn around.
  • Snow patches occur at higher elevations.  While they may not look deep there is thick ice crust- which does break and on which it is easy to get stuck
  • Use caution: some areas on the Forest are experiencing high water crossings and muddy conditions that make travel unsafe and hazardous.

Aspen-Sopris Ranger District

All campgrounds for Aspen – Sopris managed by White River Recreation are open for except for Lost Man and Chapman-South loop Camp Ground. All three of Maroon Bells Scenic Area campgrounds will be open by Ma. 22.

Blanco Ranger District

Snow at higher elevations will keep some roads closed for a couple of weeks ago. Some of the Buford Newcastle Road is open and the road to Trappers Lake is open but not the Campground.

  • Main Marvine  Campground is open and has water
  • East Marvine Campground is open
  • Hines Peak Campground is open
  • North Fork Campground is open and has water
  • South Fork Campground is open

Dillon Ranger District

All 6 concession-managed campgrounds on and around Dillon Reservoir will be open for the Memorial Day weekend: Heaton Bay, Peak One, Pine Cove, Prospector, Lowry, and the Windy Point Group CG.

At Green Mountain Reservoir, four of the six campgrounds will be open: Cow Creek South, Prairie Point, Elliot Creek, and McDonald Flats. The Willows and Cow Creek North Camp Ground will remain closed due to wet “native surface” roads.

Cataract Lake campground and Blue River campground will also be open by Thursday, May 21,

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District

We aspire to have the following campgrounds open. Fees are listed. All are first come first serve:

  • Sweetwater Campground $8/night
  • Fulford Cave $8/night
  • Loop B Yeoman Park $8/night
  • Loop A will remain closed due to wet/snowy conditions

Concession Managed:

Rifle Ranger District

  • Spruce Picnic Area will be open
  • Meadow Creek Lake Campground will not be open. You cannot drive to Meadow Lake as there is too much snow. A sign will be installed on Buford New Castle Road indicating snow drift ahead.  If recent weather continues, it will take another week or two for the road to cleared to Meadow Lake.

Coal mining in a roadless area? Forest Service says, ‘Why not?’

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Wetlands in the Sunset Roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

State, feds to spend a ton of money for a new study and to fight subsequent lawsuits just to pump more Co2 and methane into the air

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — State and federal officials appear determined to let bulldozers punch into the rolling aspen forests of the Sunset Roadless Area southeast of Paonia.

The Colorado Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Forest Service this week announced they’ll try to reinstate a contested Colorado exemption to a 2001 national roadless rule that virtually ended all logging, roadbuilding, and coal, gas, oil, and other mineral leasing about 50 million acres across the country, including 4 million acres in Colorado.

Under unique Colorado provisions in a state version of the rule, a patch of the Sunset Roadless area was designated as a mining zone, authorizing temporary construction of roads to support future coal mining in the area, mainly by enabling construction of methane vents. Conservation advocates have been challenging those exemptions ever since. Continue reading

Public lands: Watchdog groups slow proposed expansion of uranium mines in Utah

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A U.S. Geological Survey map shows concentrations of uranium deposits in the U.S.

Objection process finds flaws in environmental review

Staff Report

FRISCO — An environmental study for the proposed expansion of uranium mines in Utah was flawed and needs to be redone, a regional U.S. Forest Service officer said last week, rejecting Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor Brian Pentecost’s earlier decision to permit the project.

Responding to formal objections by environmental groups, the regional reviewing officer said Pentecost erred in deciding the project would not have a significant impact.

“There are statements that lack rational and conclusions formed without supporting data. A decision made from this record would not be well informed,” George Iversion, the objection reviewing officer, wrote in his March 20 letter to the Western Action Mining Project. Continue reading

Court showdown likely in Wolf Creek land swap battle

A map included in the feasibilty analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade.

A map included in the feasibilty analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade.

Under pressure from billionaire developer, Forest Service keeps digging itself into a deeper hole

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Conservation advocates in Colorado are bracing for a legal battle with the U.S. Forest Service after the agency last week stayed on course to approve a controversial land exchange that would enable a massive real estate development in the relatively untouched forests around Wolf Creek Pass.

A regional Forest Service officials rejected a series of objections to the swap, finding that the approval didn’t violate any federal laws or agency regulations, but conservation groups say they have obtained documents showing that Maribeth Gustafson, the regional forester who reviewed the objections, may have a conflict of interest because she participated in the process leading to the approval. Continue reading

Forest Service finalizes national snowmobile rules

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Snowmobiles at Vail Pass, Colorado.

New policy requires designation of motorized winter use

Staff Report

FRISCO — With the recent huge growth in motorized winter sports, the Forest Service has been behind the curve in managing public lands, but last month, the agency released its final policy for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use.

As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service mangers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use. Continue reading

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