Forest Service OKs Breck summer expansion plan


Summer is about to get busier on the slopes of the Tenmile Range.

Summer attractions expected to draw 150,000 new tourists

Staff Report

The U.S. Forest Service is giving Vail Resorts a green light for more development on the slopes of the Tenmile Range, at Breckenridge Ski Area.

In a final decision released this week, White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams approved a significant expansion of recreation infrastructure, including zip lines and canopy tours, as well as more off-highway vehicle tours and an expansion of the Peak 7 hut. Continue reading

President Obama highlights ‘moral obligation’ to future generations in sustainability memorandum

This was one of the Snake River shots that never made into a daily post.

A presidential memorandum could mean more institutional love for America’s natural resources. @berwyn photo.

Federal agencies must target ‘no net loss’ in new projects

By Bob Berwyn

Federal agencies will be expected to make natural resource sustainability a key focus under a new presidential memorandum released this week.

Outlining a moral obligation to future generations, President Barack Obama said Americans have the ingenuity and tools needed to “avoid damage to the most special places in our nation and to find new ways to restore areas that have been degraded. ” Continue reading

Native Americans back national monument designation for 1.7 million acres of public lands around the Grand Canyon

A legal road on the Kaibab National Forest leads to this lookout spot on the rim of the Grand Canyon near the Saddle Mountain wilderness area. PHOTO COURTESY LEIGH WADDEN.

Grand Canyon view from the Saddle Mountain Wilderness. Summit Voice file photo.

Monument designation sought to prevent mining, preserve Native American heritage

Staff Report

Native Americans in northern Arizona are supporting far-reaching protection for culturally and environmentally important lands around the Grand Canyon.

The Navajo Nation and the Hopi, Havasupai, and Hualapai tribes have joined forces to back a bill by Congressman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) that would protect more than a million acres near the canyon. Continue reading

Epic Death Valley floods leave wake of destruction


Flash floods in October scoured roads and bridges from the landscape in Death Valley National Park. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Autumn tourism affected by road damage, but many attractions still open

Staff Report

A series of El Niño-fueled storms in October ravaged parts of Death Valley with floods and mudslides, leading to serious road damage and impacting other park resources, including Devils Hole, a spring that’s home to endangered fish.

According to the National Park Service, flash floods heavily damaged historic structures at Scottys Castle. In a press release, the park service floods pushed over a wall and buried some buildings with about five feet of mud.

The park often sees weather extremes, including flash flooding, but geologists said October’s events were near the edge of the historic envelope. Continue reading

National Park Service to update oil and gas drilling rules


A fracking boom near national parks has already degraded air quality and fragmented wildlife habitat around some of the country’s most cherished public lands. @bberwyn photo.

Agency acknowledges potential for adverse impacts to park values

Staff Report

The recent surge in fossil fuel exploitation on public lands near national parks has raised serious concerns about air quality, wildlife and scenic values — to the point that the National Parks Conservation Association outlined threats in a report a few years ago.

Now, the National Park Service wants to tackle some of the concerns by updating drilling regulations.  The proposal would revise current rules that are 36 years old, predating the modern fracking area. The agency hopes the update will give the fossil fuel industry more certainty, improve the agency’s ability to protect park resources and the values for which the parks were set aside, and protect visitors from potentially adverse impacts associated with fossil fuel development. Continue reading

Judge says Forest Service violated FOIA in controversial Wolf Creek land exchange


A federal court has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to release more documents related to a controversial land trade and development proposal at Wolf Creek Pass in Colorado.

Sloppy search for records related to proposed Colorado resort development put agency in the hot seat

By Bob Berwyn

Conservation advocates battling against plans for a massive resort development at Wolf Creek Pass, in southwestern Colorado, won a partial victory in federal court this week, as a judge ruled that the U.S. Forest Service violated the Freedom of Information Act and must release more documents related to the approval of a controversial land trade.

The land trade was approved earlier this year by Rio Grande Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas. It would give the developer, Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture, a way to access a parcel of private land that’s nearly surrounded by public national forest lands by swapping 205 federal acres for 177 acres of private land. If it stands, the trade would enable construction of a resort village for up to 8,000 people. Continue reading

Study shows national park visitors value dark skies

Light pollution is a growing challenge


Night skies over Arches National Park. Photo courtesy NPS.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The National Park Service says that recent surveys show that efforts to protect nighttime skyscapes from light pollution are valued by park visitors.

A new study, published Sept. 4 in Park Science, suggests that almost 90 percent of visitors to Maine’s Acadia National Park interviewed for the study agreed or strongly agreed with the statements, “Viewing the night sky is important to me” and “The National Park Service should work to protect the ability of visitors to see the night sky.” Continue reading


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