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Wildlife: Bear encounters already reported in Aspen area

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The U.S. Forest Service is trying to get a jump on unwanted bear encounters in the Aspen area. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Forest Service orders campers to keep food in sealed storage bins at campgrounds

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A spate of bear encounters in the Aspen area has prompted the U.S. Forest Service to require campers to store their food, cooking equipment, cooking utensils, and coolers in bear-resistant containers, such as a closed, locked vehicle or a food locker.

The order affects all developed recreation sites on the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District in the upper Roaring Fork Valley of Pitkin County including the designated campsites along Lincoln Creek and Castle Creek. Nineteen sites on the Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District in Eagle County are also included.

The Forest Service is trying to get an early handle on unwanted encounters after a series of incidents in late May, when a large bear approached campers at one or more camp sites and was undeterred by human presence, shouting, car horns, and other noise and commotion.

One camper reported that the bear tried to open a car door with people and a dog inside. Other campers that improperly stored food and garbage probably played a major role in these incidents. When bears associate food and garbage with humans and their belongings, they will become habituated to the human environment.

The food storage order helps break the bear’s link between human presence and a possible reward of food or garbage. If bears don’t get rewarded, their natural behavior is to avoid humans and their belongings. Compared to natural foods that bears eat in the wilds, human foods and garbage have a tremendous amount of calories, fat, and nutrients.

Any odorous substance can attract bears, including garbage and refuse, cooking oil, dirty dishes, and toiletries.  It is important to prevent bears from associating any such odors with people.

Violators could be fined up to $5,000 or up to six months in prison. Visit the White River National Forest online to get more information on national forest lands camping and addresses and telephone numbers for local ranger stations.

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Outdoors: Forest Service touts June 8 fee-free day

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Get out on and play on public lands this coming Saturday, June 8, because it’s fee-free day.

Public land agencies promote outdoor activities

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Four times a year, the U.S. Forest Service “gives” you something that’s already yours — free access to public lands that you own.

The next fee-free day is coming up in just a week (June 8), when you won’t have to pay to park and hike in areas that were funded by taxpayers in the first place. The other days are Sept. 28 for National Public Lands Day and Nov. 9-11 for Veterans Day Weekend.

“The country’s forests and grasslands beckon people from coast to coast to come hike, bike, fish and camp this weekend,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “A tank of gas can give you memories with family and friends that will last a lifetime. It’s worth the trip.” Continue reading

Colorado: USFS permits ‘Mad Max’ camp site at Officer’s Gulch

Logging company leaves numerous spills, damaged vegetation

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Fuel containers used by a logging crew at Officers Gulch have been leaking. So far, the cleanup has consisted of dumping sawdust on top of the spill. Bob Berwyn photo.

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Fuel leakage from a generator at Officers Gulch.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Forest Service officials with the Dillon Ranger District said they will investigate several small oil spills at a long-term logging camp at the abandoned campground at Officers Gulch.

The agency authorized the logging crew’s stay at the site, where several people lived in campers most of the winter and stored equipment and fuel. In one area, diesel fuel leakage from an old generator spilled off the pavement and into the forest and other spills of unknown materials are visible in the camping area.

In other places, numerous limbs were slashed off young lodgepole pines, presumably to give large trucks room to maneuver in and out. In other spots, snowplows used to clear access to the site in the winter uprooted willow bushes and broke down other trees. 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

Colorado: Skier donations build forest conservation legacy

National Forest Foundation awards $650,000 for stewardship work

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Ski area visitors leave behind a year-round stewardship legacy when they contribute to the Ski Conservation Fund. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Thanks to voluntary contributions from ski resort visitors, the the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will partner to invest about $650,000 in forest restoration and recreation projects. The donations are collected in a voluntary add-on to ticket and lodging sales, a dollar or two at a time.

The grants were awarded recently to organizations like the Blue River Watershed Group, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program for projects like trail improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement, tree planting and stream restoration. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service revamps fees for bikepath events

Policy change enables agency to charge per-person fees

The 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties, and based in Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. Photo Steve Peterson

Cyclists cruise the Summit County recpath on Forest Service land during the 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties based at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Photo courtesy Steve Peterson/Copper Triangle.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The White River National Forest has revamped its fee structure for special events using local bike paths that cross national forest lands. Under the changes, organizers of cycling events like the Copper Triangle will pay a graduated per-person fee ranging from $1 per person, up to $2 per person for larger events.

The new fees, authorized under a local special use amendment, will affect special events using three specific bike paths: Vail Pass, Glenwood Canyon and the recpath system around Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, according to WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. Continue reading

Summit County: Stakeholder group to take another close look at proposal for motorized trails on Tenderfoot Mountain

Consensus sought on divisive plan to build new trails

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Local dirt bike riders hope to create a new system of challenging single-track trails.

Click here to read full Summit Voice coverage of the Tenderfoot issue.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The White River National Forest has hit the pause button on its proposal to develop a new motorized trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain. Before issuing a final decision on the plan, forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams will consider the input of a stakeholder group that’s meeting in a process facilitated by the Keystone Center.

The stakeholder group includes Forest Service representatives, local government officials and planners, conservation advocates, motorized users and local homeowner groups. The hope is to find some sort of consensus on the contentious plan, said Peech Keller, who coordinates environmental reviews for the Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District. The group will meet about every two weeks through mid-June, she added. All the Forest Service documents related to the proposal are online here. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Forest Service adopting a regional policy to address bat-killing fungal disease

Wildlife conservation advocates call for more stringent measures

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The Forest Service hopes that a tiered, adaptive-management approach will help prevent the spread of White-Nose Syndrome in the Rocky Mountain region.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is adopting a regional policy aimed at managing caves in the face of White-Nose Syndrome, a bat-killing disease that is sweeping across the country.

The fungal infection has wiped out millions of bats in the Northeast, spreading southward, and west as far as Oklahoma, but hasn’t yet reached the Rocky Mountains, but the Forest Service recognizes the threat:

“If (the disease) is introduced to cave or (abondoned mine) habitats anywhere in the five states in Region 2, it will likely spread rapidly via bat-to-bat transmission and could quickly contaminate cave and (abandoned mine) habitats,” the agency concluded in the study. Continue reading

Summit County: Forest Service requests $96,000 state trails grant for OHV management

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The grant proposal includes examples of how the funding would be used.

Local stakeholders support idea of summer motorized trail crew

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District is applying for a $96,000 state trails grant partly to patrol and maintain a trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain that hasn’t been approved or built yet.

An off-highway vehicle subcommittee heard the grant request earlier this month in the first step of a three-stage approval process.

The grant request has support from the Summit County Commissioners, the town of Breckenridge and several nonprofit stewardship groups in the area. Continue reading

Copper Mountain eyes new lifts, trail upgrades, wind turbines

Forest Service launches review with 30-day public comment period

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The U.S. Forest Service is starting to review a proposal to upgrade lifts and trails at Colorado’s Copper Mountain Resort.

*Corrected to clarify replacement of H Lift with a high-speed quad in 2011 as the most recent major lift upgrade.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Copper Mountain has proposed a slate of on-mountain lift and trail projects to improve the overall skier experience, enhance teaching opportunities and modernize the resort’s lift infrastructure.

Specifically, Copper wants to replace the Kokomo and Storm King lifts, add a new Union Meadows surface lift and a new terrain park surface lift that will also help enhance Woodward at Copper’s camp operations.

To improve skier and snowboarder flow across the mountain, the resort is also proposing improvements to the T-Rex Connector trail and the Spaulding Bowl runout trail, improved access to the Enchanted Forest area and grading around one of the towers of the Sierra Lift.

The proposal also includes adding two 24-foot vertical wind turbines on Union Peak to generate about  2,000 kilowatt hours per year. The proposed wind turbines will add renewable energy capacity generated by existing turbines installed in 2011. Click here to learn more about kilowatt hours.

This proposal only includes a few elements from an earlier on-mountain MDP, said Shelly Grail, winter sports ranger on the Dillon Ranger District. This plan focuses on improving skier and snowboarder flow on the mountain, and especially on improving service in the beginner area. Grail said. Continue reading

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