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Opinion: Vail’s legacy includes wilderness

Udall’s wilderness plan good for wildlife, good for people

Wilderness helps protect water quality in the high country.

By Dr. Tom Steinberg

This year as we celebrate Vail’s 50th anniversary, I reflect on the people and attitudes that made this place blossom from a sheep pasture into a world class resort. Vail pioneers came here for the place – the beautiful mountains and great skiing. We came for a lifestyle of being in nature and appreciating it for all its challenges and wildness. Like anyone who succeeds in life, we had grit, determination, creativity and resilience.

Within a decade of Vail’s birth we began working hard to ensure our future by seeking wilderness protection for the stunningly beautiful lands around us. We held “wilderness walks” through town, wrote thousands of letters to decision makers, hiked the Gore and Holy Cross areas with community leaders and talked with anyone who cared to hear about protecting the resources that we saw as integral to the long-term future of the resort and the community.

We understood that the natural capital of this region is finite. We knew that in order to maintain the goose that was laying our golden eggs and create a sustainable tourism economy for our future, we needed to make regular deposits into the natural capital fund, by protecting streams, wildlife habitat, migration corridors, and forests from the biggest threat they faced, which was us – the growing human population. Continue reading

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Explore Whitney Peak in the Holy Cross Wilderness

Climbing high in the Colorado Rockies

The base of Whitney Peak at the Seven Sisters.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Whitney Peak is a prominent mountain lying east of Holy Cross Ridge in the Holy Cross Wilderness Area.  At 13,271 feet, Whitney Peak dominates the northern skyline of the old mining community of Holy Cross City. A hike to the summit of Whitney Peak and a return to the trailhead is seventeen miles.

Fifty miles from Copper Mountain, Fancy Creek Trailhead is a point of access to many features east of Holy Cross Ridge. Ascending in a long series of switchbacks from approximately 10,000 feet to 11,540 feet, Fancy Creek Trail follows the Fancy Creek watershed to Fancy Lake. From Fancy Lake the trail passes northeast through a dense fir and spruce forest to an open meadow below Mudhall Lakes. Then, the trail continues through Holy Cross City to the Hunky Dory Trailhead. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service reporting flood-damaged roads

This Forest Service road in Eagle County has turned into a river. PHOTO BY KIM FENSKE.

Heavy runoff, rains are hampering access to backcountry areas in Colorado

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Recent heavy rains have caused already swollen streams to do considerable damage to popular roads on the Eagle/Holy Cross District of the White River National Forest.

A culvert on Forest Service Road 704, which accesses the Missouri-Fancy Trailhead, overflowed July 7. A Forest Service road crew is currently clearing the debris but the roadbed remains soft.  Road 727 in the adjacent area also flooded. Travel is not recommended on either road.

“We understand that these road conditions further limit public access to the Holy Cross Wilderness Area. We regret any inconvenience this situation may cause the public,” said District Ranger Dave Neely.  “I hope folks will understand that we take concerns for public safety and resource protection very seriously and did not make this decision lightly. Forest Service road maintenance crews are working on both roads and hope to have them in usable condition as soon as possible.” Continue reading

Morning photo: High country

Wild and scenic …

A pika enjoys a sunny ledge near Castle Peak. PHOTO BY KIM FENSKE.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Today’s photoblog features guest contributions from Rick Warren, who enjoys photographing the Gore Range every chance he gets, and from Kim Fenske, who recently spent a little time hiking in the Cross Creek area of the Holy Cross Wilderness and around Castle Peak area, near Aspen, while working on his latest hiking guid, Greatest Hikes in Central Colorado; Summit and Eagle Counties. Check out Fenske’s e-book online at Amazon. We’d love to see more of your shots and feature them in one of our upcoming Summit Voice photoblogs. Send your images to bberwyn@comcast.net. Continue reading

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