Petition seeks new mining regulations to prevent future disasters like the Animas River spill

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Drainage from the abandoned Pennsylvannia Mine in Summit County, Colorado, has been poisoning Peru Creek and the Snake River for decades, @bberwyn photo.

Common sense tweaks would require more monitoring as well as reclamation

Staff Report

FRISCO — Congress, under fierce lobbying pressure from the mining industry, may not have the political wherewithal to make meaningful changes to mining laws.

But public land agencies could tweak their regulations to reduce the chances of another event like the spill from the Gold King Mine that tainted the Animas and San Juan rivers earlier this month.

A coalition of community and environmental groups hopes to spur those changes at the Department of the Interior and Department of Agriculture with a formal petition under the Administrative Procedures Act. The petition seeks four key changes to mining rules that would go a long way toward averting future toxic spills.

The rules changes would:

  • Limit the lifetime of a mine permit,
  • Impose enforceable reclamation deadlines and groundwater monitoring requirements on mines
  • Require regular monitoring and inspections,
  • And limit the number of years that a mine can remain inactive.

Continue reading

U.S. wildfires surge to 10-year high

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Towering flames at the Fork Complex wildfire in California, Photo via Inciweb.

Feds spending $150 million per day and seek firefighting help from Canada, Australia and New Zealand

Staff Report

FRISCO — This year’s wildfire activity in the U.S. has surged to the highest level in 10 years, with the National Interagency Fire Center reporting that about 7.2 million acres have burned so far, and officials said they expect the wildfire season to intensify in the coming weeks.

The drought-stricken far West is hardest hit, with 16 large fires currently burning in Washington, 14 in California and 12 in Oregon. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell said federal agencies are currently spending about $150 million per day on fighting fires across the West. Continue reading

Morning photo: Got ‘shrooms?

Yes, it’s mushroom season in Colorado

FRISCO — I haven’t been posting about mushrooms as often as in past years, but that’s not because I’ve lost my fascination with the curious, ephemeral forest fruits that only appear for a few weeks in summer and early fall. I’ve noticed a general uptick in interest in fungi during the past few years and am hoping that it goes beyond simply harvesting for the table to an appreciation of the incredible role that mushrooms play in forest ecosystems. To advance that appreciation, I suggest checking in with the Colorado Mycological Society, which holds mushroom forays on many summer weekends, when you can learn from experts. Of note, the group will hold its annual mushroom fair this year on Sept. 6 at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Another great chance to learn about mountain mushrooms is at the 19th annual King Bolete Festival in Buena Vista.

U.S. Forest Service approves massive expansion of summer recreational facilities at Breckenridge ski area

Zip lines, canopy tours and other attractions planned

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A slice of the Tenmile Range that already feels the full brunt of industrial level recreation will see even more summer traffic after the U. S. Forest Service approved a huge expansion of new summer activities and facilities.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is on track to approve a huge expansion of summer activities at Breckenridge Ski Area that will accommodate up to 150,000 additional visitors during the summer season.

The agency this week released a final environmental study for the new installations and programs, along with a draft decision letter from White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, who said he thinks the new facilities — including zip lines, canopy tours and challenge courses — will enhance public appreciation of national forest lands and the outdoors.

The proposal was controversial in Breckenridge, as some residents expressed concerns about drawing more visitors to the already crowded town. Other locals support the plan as a way of increasing tourism revenues and drumming up more business for local restaurants and shops. Continue reading

National Park Service releases name of man killed by grizzly bear in Yellowstone

Grizzlies are roaming farther north and encroaching on Polar bear habitat, PHOTO COURTESY U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY.

National Park Service officials have trapped a grizzly bear that may have been involved in a fatal attack in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy USGS.

Lance Crosby was a 5-year seasonal resident of Yellowstone; park rangers say they will euthanize the bears responsible for the death

Staff Report

FRISCO — Yellowstone National Park officials have identified the 63-year-old man who was killed Aug. 7 by a grizzly bear. The victim was Lance Crosby, a long-time employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park.

According to a park service press release, Crosby had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker. Park officials continue to investigate the death, with preliminary results showing that Crosby was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, and partial tracks at the scene indicate that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack. Continue reading

Outdoor industry not amused by latest GOP efforts to privatize public lands

Summit County hiking Colorado

Selling off public lands is a bad idea, according to the outdoor recreation industry.

Various land-transfer proposals seen as threat to recreation-dependent economies

Staff Report

FRISCO — Transferring federally managed public lands to state or local ownership would be a bad deal for outdoor recreation, and could lead to a loss of public access, business leaders warned during the outdoor industry’s recent trade show in Salt Lake City.

Outdoor industry leaders held a panel discussing during the trade shindig, focusing on what some perceive as a direct threat to the industry. The panel brought together political experts with conservationists, the sportsmen community, outdoor enthusiasts and business leaders from across the outdoor industry, all joining in opposition to state takeover of federal lands. Panelists and attendees also explored what the outdoor community can do to fight back. Continue reading

Native Americans feel left out of planning process for Bear’s Ear region in southeastern Utah

Aug. 5 letter outlines tribal concerns

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Native Americans are seeking meaningful protection for the culturally and environmentally important Bear’s Ear area in southeastern Utah.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A coalition of Native Americans say they’re “concerned at the lack of involvement of Tribes” in the current efforts to create a protective designation for the Bear’s Ear area in southeastern Utah’s San Juan County. The Native Americans say that, despite two years of dialogue with local stakeholders, San Juan County officials have failed to “reach out to, consult, and respond to feedback from Tribes within or outside of Utah.”

The concerns were expressed in an Aug. 5 letter from Diné Bikéyah — the Bears Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition — to Utah congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz, and highlights the complex tangle of issues surrounding several different land-protection proposals for the area, with some Native American tribes seeking a federal designation, while the strong local-control movement in Utah explores different alternatives. Continue reading

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