New Forest Service rule requires bear–proof food storage in Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area near Aspen

A peaceful campsite along Officers Gulch Pond, formed when crews were building Interstate 70 through a narrow mountain canyon.

Campers in Colorado run the risk of encountering rummaging bears if they don’t store their food in bear-proof containers. @bberwyn photo.

Growing number of incidents prompts crackdown to protect bears and people

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will try to protect both people and bears in the mountains around Aspen by requiring backcountry campers to store their food in hard-sided bear-proof containers.

The new regulation for the heavily visited 162,333 acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area on the White River National Forest comes after Forest Service rangers reported an increasing number of incidents involving humans and bears.

“Based on recent human/bear incidents in the heavily used Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, we are implementing this emergency special order requiring hard-sided bear-resistant food canisters for all overnight visitors,” Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Karen Schroyer said in a press release. Continue reading

Skiing: Weber Gulch Hut gets Forest Service OK

Approval includes summer closure to protect wildlife

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The new Weber Gulch Hut on Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, Colorado, will provide access to some outstanding ski terrain.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — After more than five years of study, the nonprofit Summit Huts Association has a green light to build a new 16-person backcountry shelter on the northern flanks of Baldy Mountain, near Breckenridge, to be called the Weber Gulch Hut.

To protect wildlife habitat, the new hut will only be open in the winter, which represents a change from SHA’s initial proposal to include summer use.

White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams signed the formal decision notice on June 17, explaining that he weighed all the public comments and relied on a team of scientists and ski experts, who found in their environmental analysis that the hut wouldn’t have a significant impact on the environment. All documents related to the Weber Gulch Hut are posted on this Forest Service web page. Continue reading

Colorado launches new outdoor recreation industry office

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Luis Benitez will head Colorado’s new Outdoor Recreation Industry Office.

‘I want to hear what people in small communities are doing and carry those stories to the highest level …’

FRISCO — Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry — from skiing and snowmobiling, to birdwatching and hunting — has become a powerful economic force in the last few decades.

By some accounts, the industry generates as much as $13 billion per year in consumer spending and drives the economy of many communities outside the urban Front Range corridor. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, the industry contributes $4.2 billion in wages and salaries in Colorado.

Now, Gov. John Hickenlooper says he wants to boost the industry’s role to an even higher profile by establishing a new Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, housed in the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Last week, Hickenlooper announced that Eagle County resident Luis Guillermo Benitez will head the new office’s efforts build the state’s outdoor recreation brand. Continue reading

Letter shows widespread business support for public land protection under the Antiquities Act

Groups urge Obama to designate more monuments

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Colorado National Monument was one of the earliest tracts of public land to be designated under the Antiquities Act. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Public lands are vital to the growing economies of the American West, a coalition of business groups said in a recent letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to protect special areas through his authority under the Antiquities Act.

The letter was sent on the 109th anniversary of the Act, a law that enables presidents to designate national monuments and other landmarks for protection. That authority has come under on-and-off attack by the GOP in Congress, as some lawmakers have sought to roll back presidential powers. Continue reading

Time to hike — tomorrow is National Trails Day

Hiking in to a backcountry wilderness camp in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, Gore Range, Colorado.

Frisco resident Leigh Wadden hikes along a trail in the Eagles Nest Wilderness in the Gore Range, part of the White River National Forest in Colorado.

Around the country, more than 200,000 miles of trail are waiting

By Mike Matz

FRISCO — June 6 is National Trails Day, an ideal time to grab your pack and head to your favorite spot in nature. It is fitting that this day falls toward the beginning of Great Outdoors Month, which is observed every June, and celebrates America’s wide-open spaces from coast to coast.  The proclamation aptly states:

“During Great Outdoors Month, Governors, communities, business leaders, and organizations will host thousands of events across the country to celebrate our unparalleled outdoors… As we enjoy these magnificent places, let us rededicate ourselves to doing our part to preserve them for all our future explorers, adventurers, and environmental stewards.”

Helping Americans get into those areas are roughly 200,000 miles of trails. They can be accessed in the forests of Tennessee, the wild coasts of California, and the mountains of Idaho, and in thousands of other places across the nation.  And they are enjoyed by people of all ages and walks of life. Continue reading

Anglers invited to join citizen science effort

TroutBlitz helps conservation and restoration efforts

Fishing for cutthroat trout at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Fishing for cutthroat trout at Clinton Gulch Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado.

Staff Report

FRISCO — It’s not always easy to gather good scientific data, especially in an era when political ideology drives policy, resulting in budget cuts that hamper government agencies.

That’s where citizen science can help, and Trout Unlimited wants anglers around the country to help record evidence of their trout catches both photographically and via mapping coordinates with the relaunch of TroutBlitz.

TU’s science team uses the data collected from anglers to learn more about native trout water, non-native trout proliferation and the health of entire watersheds. Continue reading

Hey, mountaineers — Think before you blog!

‘A quality artist, it would seem, should have the capacity to express the beauty of their experience without spelling out its name on a map’

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Ssshhhhhhhhhh!

By David LaGreca

I have the greatest respect for all who venture to experience the appeal and the raw essence that comes with the mountains. The freedom that is held amongst the hills is summoned upon each mission we take, each peak we summit, each line we ski, each meadow we pass through en route to that remote liberty. Our passions are aligned, I assure you, but I fear that many of those places we all cherish are at risk.

What’s at risk is not immediately from development in many of these places, such as in the precious Gore Range and other Summit County spectacles. Instead, what is at risk is serenity itself. That peace we are guaranteed when we strive beyond the limits of the masses to serve out a deeper purpose in the mountains is, I fear, being threatened. That the slow erosion of this peace and silence is marketed wholesale online by its most frequent patrons, the outdoor enthusiasts themselves, is a dangerous irony we cannot ignore. Continue reading

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