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

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper joins call for Browns Canyon monument designation

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Map of proposed Browns Canyon National Monument.

Letter to President Obama cites strong local support

Staff Report

FRISCO — Just a few weeks after Colorado residents resoundingly sounded off in favor of protection the Arkansas River’s Browns Canyon at a public meeting in Salida, Senator Michael Bennet and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper asked President Barack Obama to designate the canyon as a national monument. Continue reading

Congress sets hearing on public lands ‘pay-to-play’ fees

Summit County hiking Colorado

Congress will take input on the controversial federal pay-to-play program this week.

Critics say loopholes enable federal agencies to charge illegal fees

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The federal pay-to-play program will get a once-over in Congress this week, as a House subcommittee hears from agency officials and citizens before the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act expires next year.

At issue are how the fee program for access to public lands is being implemented by federal agencies. The hearing is set to start at 10 a.m. EDT and should be available as webcast via the House Committee on Natural Resources website.

The access fees started in the late 1990s as the so-called fee demo program, enabling federal land agencies to charge fees as long the money was used to improve the area where it was collected. Continue reading

Travel: BLM improving campgrounds in western Colorado

Popular Rabbit Valley campground enlarged

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The BLM is improving some facilities in the popular McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, west of Grand Junction, Colorado. Photo courtesy BLM.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Campers in western Colorado will have more options this summer, as the Bureau of Land Management quadruples the size of the Rabbit Valley Campground, from four spots to 16.

The campground, in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction, will be closed for several weeks while the work — including two new group campsites — is under way. The campground road will be improved, and each campsite will now have a tent pad, fire ring and picnic table.

“Rabbit Valley is a great place to car camp, and these improvements are designed to enhance the camping experience for visitors,” said Ben Blom, acting National Conservation Area manager for the BLM Grand Junction Field Office. Continue reading

BLM ups fees along Upper Colorado River

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A small increase in day use fees will help maintain busy facilities along the Upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero. Photo courtesy BLM.

Fees go toward facility improvements and seasonal rangers along the river

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Boaters, hikers and anglers will pay just a bit more to use Bureau of Land Management day use areas along the upper Colorado River between Pumphouse and Dotsero.

The daily fee is jumping from $3 to $5 and season passes are climbing from $15 to $20 in the first fee increase since 1998 for the popular area, used by about 60,000 people annually.

“All the fees collected in these areas stay here to provide services and improvements for the people using the area,” said Susan Cassel, acting Kremmling Field Manager. “In addition to helping fund our seasonal rangers, we’ve also made significant improvements to the launch sites, campgrounds and other facilities.” Continue reading

Morning photo: Summer!

Summertime, and the livin’ is easy …

Summer starts with the solstice, the longest day of the year, photographed at Loveland Pass, Colorado, 11,999 feet above the sea.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Mid-July is definitely the height of the summer season pretty much anywhere in the northern hemisphere, so when #FriFotos host and founder @EpsteinTravels announced this week’s theme for the popular Twitter chat, I zipped through the archives to find a few shots from this summer, as well as year’s past. And as much as I love cold powder snow and skiing, there’s something to be said for being able to go outside without putting on multiple layers, hats, gloves … you know what I mean, right? Join in the fun by uploading pics to Twitter and tagging them with #FriFotos.

The Tiki Bar at the Dillon Marina is definitely a good place to celebrate the summer season.

Continue reading

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