Forest Service releases draft study for A-Basin expansion

Public comment sought on draft EIS

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Staff Report

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is one step closer to gaining final approval for a 492-acre expansion that would include a new lift in the Beavers area. The ski area plan also calls for replacing Pallavicini chairlift, removing the Norway chairlift and adding a surface lift to ferry skiers and snowboarders to the popular backside Montezuma Bowl terrain.

Last week, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft environmental study for the planned projects. The agency will take public comments on the draft EIS through March 21. More information is online at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41664. A public meeting on the draft Eis will be held at The Keystone Center (1628 St John Rd., Dillon, CO 80435) on March 2, 2016 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

In a cover letter released with the draft study, White River National Forest Supervisor said he is currently evaluating the recreational benefits of these projects against the identified resource impacts these project may create. Continue reading

Snowriders rally for climate action in Paris

Pure A-Basin powder.

Powder snow could be in short supply as global temperatures soar. @bberwyn photo.

“A lot to lose …’

Staff Report

The economic woes of ski and mountain resort towns may pale against the existential concerns flood-prone coastal communities and low-lying island nations, but global warming is still a big issue for the snow sports industry.

This weekend, a special panel will meet in Paris to outline how climate change has begun to impact the snowsports and mountain world. The group includes Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, Rossignol CEO Bruno Cercley, Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune and Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott, as well as  Climate researcher Elizabeth Burakowski, who helped track climate change impacts to the snowsports industry in a 2012 study. 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

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

Italian sets new world speed-skiing record — 156 mph

Go. Fast!

FRISCO — Speed skiing has long been described as the fastest non-motorized sport on Earth, and the tiny elite of athletes practicing the discipline once again proved it during the recent contest at Vars, France, where Italian skier Simone Origone, broke his own world record. Continue reading

Copper Mountain set to build new Tucker Mountain lift

Copper wants to build the Tucker Mountain lift this summer.

Copper wants to build the Tucker Mountain lift this summer.

Forest Service taking comments on ski area proposals at Copper, Breckenridge

Staff Report

FRISCO — At long last, Copper Mountain Resort is set to move ahead with installation of a new lift on the north side of Tucker Mountain. The lift was originally approved in 2006, but according to the January 5 scoping notice from the U.S. Forest Service, the exact path of the lift has changed slightly.

The agency will take comments on the proposal through Jan. 30 via email at wrnf_scoping_comments@fs.fed.us. Continue reading

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