Posted on October 3, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
The Eagle Creek Fire in Montana burns late in the 2012 wildfire season. Photo courtesy Inciweb/Air Attack.
Report outlines surge in fires since 1970s, as spring and summer temps increase and the snow melts earlier
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Nearly all western states have seen a huge surge in wildfires during the past 10 years, as warmer temperatures and earlier snowmelt make old forests more susceptible to large-scale blazes, according to a report issued by Climate Central.
The report also cites changed land-use practices and insect infestations as additional factors, and decades-long intensive fire suppression has also resulted in more widespread areas of fire-prone forests.
But the preponderance of evidence suggests that global warming will increase the likelihood of large fires into the future, with fire seasons up to 75 days longer than just 40 years ago — about the time the greenhouse-gas heating cycle kicked into high gear. (more…)
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, forests, global warming, wildfires | Tagged: Climate Central, climate change, global warming, national forests, United States, West, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 22, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
From forest to tundra
Alpine forget-me-not blooming at 11,900 feet near Loveland Pass, Colorado.
SUMMIT COUNTY — On our way up to Loveland Pass to watch the solar eclipse we stopped at Pass Lake (still frozen) for a quick look-see. Tromping around the tundra we noticed how the tops of the krummholz were burned red by frost after a low snow year, when the tips of the shrub-like trees stay exposed to the elements. Not a big deal — that’s why they grow the way they do. Then, looking down, tiny patches of bright blue, the season’s first alpine forget-me-nots blooming about two or three weeks earlier than usual. It made us realize that wildflower season is likely to come earlier than usual this year, and it could be sparse, especially compared to last summer, when abundant moisture made for an overdose of flowers. So get out and enjoy while you can … all images by iPhone. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, Morning photo, photography, plants and flowers, public lands | Tagged: Colorado, iPhoneography, mobile photograpy, national forests, nature photography, photography, wildlfowers | 1 Comment »
Posted on May 1, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Colorado's national forest lands, with roadless areas roughly depicted in blue. MAP COURTESY SOUTHERN ROCKIES ECOSYSTEM PROJECT.
Conservation groups favor national version
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — At long last, a roadless rule for more than 4 million acres of National Forest land in Colorado may get some final shape this week, as state and federal officials announce what they’re calling the “next steps” for a state-based version of the rule.
The roadless rule, in its various incarnations, would essentially prohibit road building on almost 60 million acres of public national forest land across the country, based on its value for wildlife, water, buffers against invasive species. In first proposing the rule, former Forest Service Chief Mike Dombeck also talked about the almost overwhelming maintenance backlog on existing roads.
Read more Summit Voice coverage of the roadless saga here.
Gov. John Hickenlooper, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will unveil those next steps at a media event in Denver Wednesday (May 2), with the conservation community watching to see if the newest state version closes loopholes for water development, backcountry logging and energy extraction. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, public lands, US Forest Service | Tagged: Colorado, national forests, Roadless area conservation, roadless rule, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 23, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Eagles Nest Wilderness, Gore Range, Colorado. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.
Sen. Mark Udall still seeking community consensus for new national forest designations in White River NF
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A proposal to add more wilderness and other specially designated conservation and recreation areas in the White River National Forest got support from a key economic stakeholder last week, as Vail Resorts announced support for what’s now being called the central mountains wilderness proposal.
“The special nature of the economies in Colorado’s resort communities relies on the successful balance of offering thoughtfully developed recreation opportunities on our public lands with the preservation of pristine wilderness areas,” said Beth Ganz, Vail Resorts vice president of public affairs and sustainability. “Vail Resorts is proud to support this effort to strike that important balance. We believe this proposal and the protections it will provide are critical for Colorado.”
“The areas under consideration in Eagle and Summit counties have been identified as important ecological areas that provide wildlife habitat and serve as our community watersheds, including Hoosier Ridge near Breckenridge and West Lake Creek outside of Edwards. These areas will benefit greatly from the contemplated higher levels of protection and will contribute to the quality of life in our iconic mountain communities,” Vail Resorts announced on its web site. (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Central Mountains Outdoor Heritage Act, Colorado, Mark Udall, national forests, Vail Resorts, wilderness | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 21, 2012 by Bob Berwyn
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rules that the agency can’t charge people for roadside picnics, or parking and hiking in undeveloped areas
A federal court of appeals ruling makes clear that the Forest Service can't charge fees simply for parking at a trailhead and hiking.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service can’t charge recreation fees for simple access to public lands, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously last week, rejecting the agency’s bid to include undeveloped areas in the fee program.
The San Francisco-based Appeals Court found the U.S. Forest Service at fault for charging parking fees to people who go for a hike without using amenities such as picnic tables, trashcans and bathrooms located nearby, or who camp in dispersed, undeveloped parts of a National Forest.
If the ruling stands, it will be binding in nine western states and sets a nationwide legal precedent. The ruling doesn’t cover Colorado, but the fee program at Mt. Evans is currently being challenged in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — which does cover Colorado, and the recent ruling out of San Francisco could be a factor in that case. (more…)
Filed under: Summit County Colorado, public lands, US Forest Service, forests, Summit County news, Colorado | Tagged: U.S. Forest Service, national forests, Western Slope No-Fee Coalition, forest service recreation fees, FLREA, Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals | 10 Comments »
Posted on December 25, 2011 by Bob Berwyn
2012 budget includes rider that could limit public input on forest management decisions.
Conservation group says rider could limit public involvement in national forest management
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY— An environmental group says the budget bill that’s awaiting President Obama’s signature includes a rider that eliminates the public’s ability to administratively appeal Forest Service management decisions.
“This year’s appropriations bill is a bad deal for the American public and our national forests,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “National forests are publicly owned lands that deserve public oversight. Curtailing the public’s participation will mean more bad timber sales, drilling and other development proposals.” (more…)
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, forests, Summit County news, US Forest Service | Tagged: Environment, national forests, Public land, Summit County News, US Forest Service | 3 Comments »
Posted on October 10, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
Some of the abandoned trash recently removed from hunting camps on national forest lands in Colorado.
Forest Service frustrated by garbage at backcountry hunting camps on Routt, White River national forests
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Toilet seats, propane bottles and wood stoves were among a few of the items removed recently from some remote backcountry hunting camps of the White River National Forest, south of Craig.
“I’m pretty sure seeing heaps of abandoned gear and trash is not the experience people want when visiting their National Forest.” said Ken Coffin, District Ranger on Blanco Ranger District in Meeker. “Unfortunately this is the sight that will greet visitors to many locations until we are able to find the responsible individuals and have them remove it or remove it ourselves. The latter option strains an already lean budget.”
Rangers recently spent three days removing abandoned property and trash from both the White River and Routt National Forests. It took a team of eight mules and horses to haul the garbage out. Unfortunately, there are several more camp sites in the Morapos Creek area that still require attention. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, federal government, forests, public lands, recreation, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: national forests, public lands, Routt National Forest, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, Summit Voice, U.S. Forest Service, White River National Forest | 1 Comment »
Posted on August 18, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
$1.4 million to help projects on Front Range and West Slope
Moose browse in willows on the Araphoe National Forest, part of a Front Range forest restoration partnership recently awarded a $1 million federal grant.
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — A few National Forests in Colorado will be able to tackle some long-needed restoration projects with $1.4 million in federal grant funding for collaborative partnerships announced last week.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the selection of Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration projects in nine states that promote healthier, safer and more productive public lands. The projects include partnership efforts on forest restoration treatments that reduce wildfire risk, enhance fish and wildlife habitats, and maintain and improve water quality. (more…)
Filed under: Environment, federal government, Forest health, forests, public lands, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service | Tagged: Conservation and Endangered Species, Environment, forest restoration, national forests, Summit County, Summit County News, United States, US Forest Service | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 30, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
An unattended campfire sparked the 15,000 acre Schultz Fire in Arizona's San Francisco Peaks area, resulting in significant damage to natural resources and impacts to residents of the area. PHOTO COURTESY THE U.S. FOREST SERVICE.
Fire danger will range from moderate to very high during the Fourth of July weekend
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — When a thoughtless camper left his campfire in the San Francisco Peaks of Arizona unattended, high winds and dry conditions fueled a wildfire that quickly grew to 15,000 acres.
The Schultz Fire has charred big swaths of forest on a mountain that’s sacred to Native Americans, and resulted in numerous evacuations and dangerous conditions for firefighters.
The same thing could easily happen in Colorado, fire officials warned, as they said that they’ve already received reports of 25 unattended campfires in the Upper Colorado fire management area in the last two months. (more…)
Filed under: forest fires, forests, public lands, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: campfires, camping, fire danger, national forests, Summit County, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, unattended campfires, US Forest Service Upper Colorado Fire Management Unit, Wildfires | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 16, 2010 by Bob Berwyn
A map showing proposed new wilderness areas in Summit and Eagle counties. Click on the map for the full-size version.
Associated Press story published online by Vail Daily was inaccurate and misleading, Polis says
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Congressman Jared Polis said Tuesday that an Associated Press story on the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal was inaccurate. The story was published online by the Vail Daily and several other media outlets. After being contacted by Polis staffers, the Vail Daily took the story off its website.
According to Polis, the story implied that a decision had been made to not move forward with introducing wilderness legislation.
“The AP story misleadingly implied that I made a decision regarding legislation on the Hidden Gems wilderness proposal. This is completely false. The article implied that I have made the decision to not move forward, when in fact I am actively working to see where consensus exists. These things take time,” Polis said. (more…)
Filed under: Dillon Ranger District, Environment, forests, Summit County Colorado, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Associated Press, Forest Service, Hidden Gems, Hidden Gems wilderness, Jared Polis, misleading Hidden Gems story, national forests, Summit County, Summit County Colorado, Summit County News, Vail Daily, wilderness | 1 Comment »