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Colorado: Forest Service challenged anew over approval of a coal mine expansion in roadless area

Beaver ponds in the Sunset roadless area. Photo courtesy Earthjustice.

Showdown over West Elk coal mine could be a test for Colorado roadless rule

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — A long-running battle over a coal mine expansion in a national forest roadless area continues, as conservation groups this week challenged U.S. Forest Service approval of a coal mine expansion 10 miles east of Paonia.

According to Earthjustice, the mine project could ultimately result in construction more than six miles of roads, along with 48 natural gas drilling pads within the Sunset roadless area, one of the areas exempted from a road-building ban under a newly adopted roadless rule for national forest lands in Colorado.

“The Sunset Roadless Area is real gem, a beautiful forest of aspen and giant spruce, beaver lodges and meadows, a home for elk and bear,” said Ted Zukoski, staff attorney for Earthjustice, the public interest environmental law firm representing the groups.  “This is a place the Forest Service should be protecting for all Coloradoans, not sacrificing to appease special interests.” Continue reading

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Colorado roadless rule details revealed

Some lands with high conservation values get strong protection, other areas remain vulnerable

Click on the image to view all the maps of Colorado roadless areas.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — After months of negotiation, state and federal leaders this week said they’ve reached agreement on a plan that “addresses the needs of Colorado’s unique and precious roadless areas.”

“We are committed to the protection of roadless areas on our national forests, areas vital for conservation of water resources, wildlife and for outdoor recreation,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said in a release. “These areas also provide an important driver of economic opportunity and jobs in rural Colorado communities.”

“The Forest Service cares deeply about protecting Colorado’s roadless areas,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “Through collaboration, I believe we have developed a proposal that will afford better, lasting protection to these treasured areas, and we welcome additional comments in order to develop a successful approach for conservation of this special resource.” Continue reading

Mountain News Roundup

The great crested newt holds up Europe’s largest indoor ski facility, Race Across the Sky, and a rare find in remote Utah mountains

A great crested newt. PHOTO COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS.

By Summit Voice

Great crested newts face off against SnOasis in Suffolk, England

The SnOasis indoor sports facility, which is planned to have a ski slope and bobsled track among its attractions, is already seven years behind schedule. The company building the facility has yet to secure a license to re-locate the great crested newt colony that makes its home in the quarry where the facility is to be built. There has been lots of local opposition to the planned development, but if it goes forward, it will be Europe’s largest indoor snow facility.

Read more of this story at PlanetSKI.

Leadville 100 qualifying races to culminate with Alpine Odyssey in Crested Butte

“This is an incredible match to have Mt. Crested Butte host the final qualifier for the Leadville 100, one of the iconic events in mountain biking,” said Ken Stone, chief operating officer, Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

The three qualifying races will each provide 100 spots to the Leadville 100, the best known and most prestigious mountain bike race in North America. The spots will be allocated partially on the basis of age-group performance and partly by lottery among finishers. The first qualifier is the Wilmington/Whiteface 100K in Wilmington, New York on June 19. The second qualifier, the Lake Tahoe Trail 100K, happens on July 10, and the final qualifier will be the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey on July 31.

Get the full scoop at the Leadville Qualifying Series website. Registration is still open for interested participants.

Continue reading

Colorado petitions feds for roadless plan

A state-based roadless plan would protect about 4.2 million acres from development. Click on the map for a larger version.

Future management of 4.2 million acres of roadless national forest land at stake in proposal

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter today petitioned the federal government to adopt a state-based plan for the future management of 4.2 million acres of roadless national forest lands in the state.

Management of the inventoried roadless areas, including about 60,000 acres in Summit County, has been in question since the U.S. Forest Service introduced a national rule in 2001 that was later rescinded, revised and challenged in two different federal court jurisdictions.

For a list and maps of the roadless areas in Summit County, click here. Visit the U.S. Forest Service national roadless rule web site here. Continue reading

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