Colorado biologists tackle Lake Granby kokanee salmon decline

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Kokanee salmon caught at Green Mountain Reservoir, Summit County, Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Public meetings on Lake Granby fishery set for early spring

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists say they’re considering changes to fishing regulations in Lake Granby to try and recover the population of kokanee salmon in the popular lake.

The number of salmon eggs collected by biologists in Lake Granby has dropped from 4 million in 2006 down to just 350,000 this year, not enough to maintain the existing population, let alone stock any other Colorado lakes with kokanee.

Kokanee are land-locked Pacific sockeye salmon found in several high-elevation reservoirs in Colorado. The fish feed primarily on zooplankton. But a booming population of mysis shrimp and predation by lake trout are probably the main factors in the Lake Granby kokanee decline. Continue reading

Travel: Hiking Colorado’s Notch Mountain

Exlporing the Colorado high country with Kim Fenske

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Whitney Peak and the Fall Creek Pass south of Notch Mountain.

Editor’s note: I’m glad to announce the return of Kim Fenske’s series on hiking Colorado’s high country. Kim also has some new e-books for sale at Amazon: Greatest Hikes in Central Colorado: Summit and Eagle Counties, and Hiking Colorado: Holy Cross Wilderness.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Hiking Notch Mountain Colorado

Author Kim Fenske along the Notch Mountain trail.

Notch Mountain, 13,237 feet, is the traditional pilgrimage site for those who want a close-up view of the snow-gilded cross on the eastern face Mount of the Holy Cross,14,005 feet. The summit of Notch Mountain is not found at the end of the trail. Notch Mountain Trail is a gentle switchback ascent of the east ridge of Notch Mountain that ends at a rock shelter built on a saddle south of the summit, a mile east of Holy Cross Ridge.

In winter, the Notch Mountain hike is 24 miles from the gate closure at the base of Tigiwon Road. However, in summer, the hike from Fall Creek Trailhead at Halfmoon Campground, 10,300 feet, is only 10 miles. From the end of Tigiwon Road, the Halfmoon Pass Trail to the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross begins west of the parking area. At the south end of the area, Fall Creek Trail crosses a small wooden bridge and proceeds on the west edge of the Fall Creek Valley toward a junction with the Notch Mountain Trail.

Looking back on the five-mile trail from Halfmoon Campground to the shelter on the ridge at Notch Mountain.

Looking back on the five-mile trail from Halfmoon Campground to the shelter on the ridge at Notch Mountain.

 Fall Creek Trail ascends gradually for 600 feet to a stream crossing 1.3 miles from the trailhead where Mountain Bluebells, Mertensia ciliate, cover the slope in mid-summer. During spring snowmelt, a bit of rock-hopping is required to pass the tumbling water. The Notch Mountain Trail junction is 2.1 miles from the Fall Creek Trailhead at 11,230 feet, among several large boulders perched on a steep drop-off into Fall Creek Valley.

 Turning away from Fall Creek Trail on switchbacks that cross fir-lined meadows filled with paintbrush, bistort, monkshood, and other wildflowers, Notch Mountain Trail continues to a small basin in the krumholz. The trail swings south across the tundra turf until Whitney Peak, 13,271 feet, is visible across Fall Creek Valley, then ascends through a boulder field to the rock shelter 3 miles above the junction with the Fall Creek Trail at 13,070 feet. The rock shelter rests in a tundra field on the saddle facing Mount of the Holy Cross, approximately a 4-hour hike from Halfmoon Campground.

Notch Mountain Colorado

The Notch in Notch Mountain.

Kim Fenske is a former wilderness ranger, firefighter who has hiked thousands of miles in the Colorado mountains. He has served on the board of directors of Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area.

More travel and hiking stories:

Alaska:

Spring excursions:

Kim’s winter 14er series:

Autumn hikes:

Morning photo: Take a hike!

Foot power!

Hiking in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, Summit County, Colorado.

Hiking in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, Summit County, Colorado.

FRISCO — It’s summer time, so what are you waiting for? Turn off your computer, get outside and take a hike, wherever you are! Here are some of our favorite hiking trails both far and near, compiled for the #FriFotos Twitter chat.

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Two hikers etched against a brilliant high latitude sky on Deception Island.

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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

National Recreation Trail systems grows by 650 miles

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Get out and hike!

Feds designate new trail segments in 28 states

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with looking forward to summer, hikers have another reason to rejoice. Top federal officials this week announced the designation of 28 new national recreation trails, adding almost 650 miles of trails to the National Trails System.

“From coast to coast, the National Trails System helps connect American families with the wonders of the great outdoors,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. “These 28 new national recreation trails, established through partnerships with local communities and stakeholders, connect federal, state and local lands and waters to provide access to inexpensive, enjoyable outdoor activities for all Americans,” Jewell said.

The announcement was timed to coincide with June 1, National Trails Day, which was marked by hundreds of organized activities including hikes, educational programs, bike rides, trail rehabilitation projects, festivals, paddle trips, and trail dedications all around the country. Continue reading

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

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

Travel: Popular Grand Canyon trailhead gets a makeover

National Park Service touts expanded parking, better visitor service

The Bright Angel trailhead at the Grand Canyon has had a big makeover, with more parking and an expanded view area

The Bright Angel trailhead at the Grand Canyon has had a big makeover, with more parking and an expanded seating area.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — One of the most storied trails in the country has seen a partial makeover, and the National Park Service will celebrate the new look of Grand Canyon National Park’s Bright Angel Trail with a May 18 ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The renovation encompasses a 3.5 acre area at and surrounding the Bright Angel Trailhead. The work focused on creating an accessible and comfortable area for visitors that complements existing historic buildings including the Bright Angel Lodge and Rim Cabins designed by Grand Canyon architect Mary E. J. Colter.

With little work on the trailhead in the past 100 years, the National Park Service said visitors were having a hard time finding the trailhead, and there was no convenient or comfortable place for people to sit to either enjoy the view or prepare for hikes.  The renovation will greatly improve conditions at and around the trailhead, providing a much better experience for park visitors. 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

Travel: Exploring Denali

Summer sojourn in the Alaska high country

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The Alaska Range from Denali State Park.

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Kim Fenske at Wonder Lake campground.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Denali National Park is the home of Mount McKinley, North America’s highest peak at 20,320 feet, named Denali or “The Great One” by the native Athabaskans. A thousand people each year attempt to reach the summit of this dominant promontory of southcentral Alaska. Most climbers fly by ski plane to a base camp at 7,200 feet on the face of the peak.  Roughly half of the climbers who spend two to three weeks attempting to reach the summit are able to achieve the goal. Since 1932, Denali has killed 120 climbers, primarily due to falls and avalanches. The annual search and rescue costs for the mountain are nearly $500,000.

During five days of backpacking around Denali National Park, I was exploring terrain beside the road that penetrates 92 miles of the park from the eastern entrance. On the first evening, I enjoyed all of the developed comforts of Riley Creek Campground. The Riley Creek Mercantile offers showers, laundry, electronic re-charging outlets, and wireless internet. After paying for a walk-in campsite, I enjoyed the evening in camp by dining on angel food pancakes, blueberry pie filling, and a pound of fresh cherries with a glass of wine. Then, the daily rain began to fall as I retreated into my tent for the evening.

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Riley Creek campground.

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