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Gov. Hickenlooper to visit Frisco for forest health session

Two meetings next week to focus on forest and wildfire issues

Summit County residents are invited to a forest health powwow with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Grappling with the aftermath of Colorado’s most destructive wildfire season on record, state, federal and local officials will meet Oct. 12 for a half-day forest health summit at the Colorado History Center in Denver.

And in what could be a condensed preview of the Denver powwow, Gov. Hickenlooper will visit Summit County Oct. 10 to participate in a one-hour forest health and wildfire forum at the Summit County Community and Senior Center (10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.).

“Obviously Gov. Hickenlooper is the headliner … it’s an opportunity for Summit County to share with the Governor concerns, successes and opportunities on forest health,” said county commissioner Dan Gibbs, explaining that the session is partly aimed at sharing information about potential options to protect Colorado communities from a repeat of this past summer’s fires. Continue reading

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Breckenridge: Planners huddle on outdoor strategies for kids

Access to outdoor play has huge health benefits for youth

A Colorado youngster enjoys some wide open spaces around Dillon Reservoir.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Educators and health experts agree that the rapid increase in the use of electronic media among youth creates potential health risks as kids spend less time in active outdoor play.

On average, youngsters spend an astounding 7.5 hours per day with electronics and computer games, Kaiser Permanente’s Sandra Hoyt Stenmark said Monday in Breckenridge at a national conference of recreation  resource planners.

“If they’re engaged with their media, they’re probably not outside in unstructured play,” Hoyt Stenmark said, adding that we’re potentially raising a generation that’s “disconnected from the land, doesn’t know where their food comes from … and doesn’t know why environmental preservation is important.”

Her remarks came at one of the opening sessions of the conference, where the planners and land managers will focus in part on how to re-weave an outdoor culture into the fabric of American life. Early remarks outlined some of the negative health impacts of sedentary indoor lifestyles, including an alarming increase in child obesity that leads to a host of associated health problems. Continue reading

Scanlan: Education, transportation high on the agenda

Christine Scanlan is leaving her Colorado House District 56 seat to take a high level position with the incoming Hickenlooper administration.

New post involves helping gain legislative support for Governor-elect John Hickenlooper’s agenda

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Education and transportation will be high on Christine Scanlan’s agenda as she starts working for Governor-elect John Hickenlooper.

Scanlan, who won re-election as the representative for House District 56 (covering Summit, Eagle and Lake counties), announced Tuesday that she’s taking a post as the director of legislative affairs and strategic initiatives in the new state administration.

Her seat will be filled by a vacancy committee made up of Democratic Party leaders from the three counties. Josh Lautenberg, co-owner of a Vail real estate company, has already announced his interest in the seat, according to a report from Real Vail. He is the son of U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey.

Scanlan said she could understand how some voters might be frustrated with her early departure from the legislature. She said she also had questions about leaving the seat that she worked hard to win, but said she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work in the executive branch at the statewide level. The post involves helping to usher Hickenlooper’s agenda through the legislature, she said. Continue reading

Summit County: Forest health pow-wow at Keystone

Forest health, fire risks and wood utilization will be on the agenda at the Keystone Conference Center Nov. 15 as top state and federal officials hold a forest health summit meeting. This image by Derek Weidensee shows an area in Montana where a fire burned through stands of mature lodgepole pines, while an area cut previously for regeneration apparently withstood the blaze relatively unscathed.

Gov. Ritter, Governor-elect Hickenlooper, Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell all scheduled to attendNov. 15 ‘ summit meeting’ at Keystone Conference Center

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Top state and national officials, including Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Gov. Bill Ritter and Senator Mark Udall, will gather at the Keystone Conference Center Nov. 15 for the Governor’s Bark Beetle Summit in a public meeting that hasn’t received much publicity.

Governor-elect John Hickenlooper has also been invited.

Following introductory remarks by Ritter and Colorado Department of Natural Resources Director Mike King, Col. Rep. Christine Scanlan will moderate a panel discussion including Tidwell and Udall. Sen. Mike Bennet has also been invited.

A little later in the morning, Forest Service experts will present an overview of on-the-ground conditions, including an update of the volume of wood that’s available from designated high-hazard areas, and the private sector’s capacity to access and use the wood. Continue reading

I-70 reversible lane bill gets State Senate hearing today

Could reversible lanes help ease I-70 congestion? The Colorado Senate Tranportation Committee is reviewing a bill that would require CDOT to at least study the issue.

Common-sense measure could provide temporary relief  for congestion along Colorado’s busy mountain interstate

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — With any significant I-70 upgrades still years away, and mass transit in the corridor still a distant dream, a couple of state lawmakers want to at least ease the traffic crunch by adding an extra eastbound lane for travelers returning to the Denver after a weekend in Vail or Breckenridge.

Senate Bill 184, co-sponsored by Democrats Chris Romer of Denver and Dan Gibbs of Silverthorne, would require CDOT to study the feasibility of a reversible lane system for sections of I-70. The measure has 50 bipartisan co-sponsors, showing widespread support for the study, according to Gibbs. The bill is set for its first hearing in front the transportation committee today (April 22).

Track the  bill here and read the text of the measure here or in a Scribd.com window at the end of this story. Continue reading

Forest bill could boost biofuel efforts in Colorado

A forest insect emergency bill pending in the U.S. Senate could give companies more incentives to turn dead trees into biofuel.

State Sen. Dan Gibbs is in Washington, D.C. this week to testify in support of a measure that could speed up the pipeline for some local forest projects

By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — State Sen. Dan Gibbs is in Washington, D.C. this week to testify in support of a forest health bill that could speed Forest Service efforts to clear beetle-killed trees on national forest lands around Frisco, Breckenridge and Silverthorne.

The hearing is set for Tuesday afternoon before a U.S. Senate Public Lands and Forests Subcommittee.

The National Forest Insect and Emergency Disease Act is co-sponsored by Democratic Sen. Mark Udall and Republican Sen. James Risch of Idaho. It would enable the Forest Service to designate critical areas to clarify where the agency can streamline approvals for logging projects.

The measure could also help the Forest Service use provisions of the federal farm bill to offer incentives to companies seeking to convert dead trees into biofuel.

One of the most important provisions of the proposed law would help the Forest Service establish long-term stewardship contracts with logging companies to ensure a steady supply of wood in trade for the work they’re doing, a critical part of enticing loggers to tackle low-value beetle-killed lodgepole forests. Continue reading

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