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Skiing: Forest Service taking input on proposed Snowmass Ski Area improvements

Glading, lift upgrades eyed in draft environmental study

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Snowmass to upgrade the High Alpine lift, add new snowmaking and expand gladed terrain.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is looking for public input on a slate of proposed improvements at Snowmass Ski Area, including replacement/realignment of the High Alpine Chairlift, additional snowmaking coverage, and trail and glade projects. Continue reading

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Morning photo: Holiday lights

Brightening the season …

FRISCO — What better way to brighten up the long, dark nights of the solstice season than with a string of colored lights, or some glittery stars on a snow-covered tree? Residents of our Colorado mountain community know how to show the glow during Christmas, with festive scenes ranging from the whimsical to the sacred. And through it all, the theme of light shines brightly. Check out all the other shots of holiday lights (and all different sorts of light, for that matter) on the popular #FriFotos Twitter chat, which is featuring lights as the weekly theme.

Colorado: Wildlife biologists still grappling with Kokanee salmon decline in Lake Granby

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

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

New tool helps fisheries managers gather more eggs from other reservoirs

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists say they’ve wrapped up their annual kokanee salmon egg collection activities for the year, with good results at Wolford Mountain Reservoir, where they were able to gather 1.78 million eggs.

But predatory lake trout and other factors combined to suppress egg production in Lake Granby, historically the biggest source of eggs for the desirable sport fish. Continue reading

Morning photo: Sunday set

Flashback …

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A slice of skyline along the shore of Dillon Reservoir in Frisco, Colorado.

FRISCO — I figured that, before winter really gets rolling would be a good time to clean up the photo archives, which meant going back through the autumn months and trying to keep the number of images to a somewhat manageable size. Plus, looking back at the images of the most recent season is a good reality check for the weather. Our day-to-day memory can play tricks, but photos don’t lie. We enjoyed a spectacular autumn in the Colorado high country, with just a bit of early snow, but generally mild weather through September and especially in late October, when a few weeks with temps running 10 to 15 degrees above normal made many people wonder if winter would ever show up. Continue reading

Morning photo: December …

Dawn to dusk …

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Last week I traveled to Rifle, Colorado to cover a public meeting of a Colorado fracking task force. During a short afternoon break, I found this pond at rest area along I-70 at the Rifle exit.

FRISCO — Pond reflections are always awesome, and when the pond is surrounded by bony, bare-leaved cottonwoods, so much the better. Considering that it was near 50 degrees when I took the top shot in this set, it didn’t really feel like winter too much, but the trees tell the story. Then Saturday dawned with a fairly thick deck of clouds across Summit County. I could see a hint of color from our Frisco location, but it didn’t look like it was going to go big. But I was up, dressed, the dogs were ready to go, so we headed out, and I’m glad we did! Continue reading

Morning photo: The edge

Freezing up …

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Hazy morning light on an early December morning.

FRISCO —A quick gallery on the cusp of seasons as we head toward the solstice and the official start of winter in Summit County and the final freeze-up of Dillon Reservoir. The slow start to snowfall in December may not be the best for skiers and local resorts, but it’s been interesting to watch the slow weather transitions from a photography standpoint. This year, the first big snow came BEFORE the ice; now, the snow is starting to melt again (at least in the valleys), which kind of makes it feel like the seasons went into reverse a little bit! Continue reading

White River National Forest updates oil and gas plan

74,000 acres in roadless areas still open to fossil fuel development with a no surface occupation stipulation

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Most oil and gas development on the White River National Forest is limited to the far western zones in areas where drilling is already common.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The White River National Forest wants to open up nearly 200,000 acres for oil and gas drilling leases, including 74,000 acres in designated roadless areas where there would be restrictions on surface activities.

The long-awaited update to the forest’s oil and gas leasing map were released this week by the agency in a final environmental impact study and a draft record of decision, subject to a 60-day objection period. The final EIS is online here.

WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams said he chose a “conservation-minded” option that prioritizes recreational and natural resources values over energy development across most of the forest. Most of the lands open for leasing follow the pattern of recent energy development in areas with high potential for fossil fuel development.

“Over one million acres of the White River National Forest are not geologically conducive for natural gas production, and another 800,000 acres are legally withdrawn. In addition, I have decided to close 213,000 acres of the White River National Forest to leasing in order to protect and maintain the natural character of these areas and protect important wildlife habitat,” Fitzwilliams said. Continue reading

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