More fracking woes in southwest Colorado

BLM rejects request for orderly master leasing plan

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The BLM’s new management plan for the Tres Rios area is spurring criticism.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Residents and elected officials in southwest Colorado say a new management plan for a vast swath of public lands in the region favors oil and gas companies over community interests.

According to critics, the BLM Tres Rios land resource management plan would allow drilling near the edge of Mesa Verde National Park, adding to near-critical air pollution woes and disturbing important wildlife areas.

Most importantly, the federal agency ignored requests by local governments to ensure the orderly and safe development of fossil fuels. Continue reading

National parks visitation sets all-time record in 2014

Park visitors spent more than $15 billion last year

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Visitors enjoy the scenery at Colorado National Monument. bberwyn photo

Elk Rocky Mountain National Park

Elk along Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park.  bberwyn photo

Staff Report

FRISCO — As the National Park Service nears its 100th anniversary, the parks it manages are more popular than ever. Visitation to national parks broke a long-standing record last year, with more than 292 million visits. The previous record was set in 1987.

“As the National Park Service strives to share a more inclusive and well-rounded version of the American story through the places we care for, it is gratifying to see more people than ever coming to their national parks to enjoy nature, learn about history, and spend time with their families,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. Continue reading

Public lands: Obama’s budget includes boost for national parks

Infrastructure repair, education and outreach targeted

Camping in the backcountry wilderness of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Click on the image to visit the park website.

Camping in the backcountry wilderness of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Click on the image to visit the park website.

Staff Report

FRISCO – The National Park Service could see funding for essential programs and operational needs climb $432.9 million this year under President Obama’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016.

“This is an investment in ‘America’s best idea’ that pays dividends in gateway communities across the nation,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.”For every dollar appropriated to the National Park Service in the President’s 2016 Centennial budget, $10 is returned to the American economy in the form of visitor spending, travel and tourism and construction jobs,” Jarvis said. The funds will help parks upgrade aging infrastructure and respond to climate change, he added. Continue reading

Public Lands: Rocky Mountain National Park and Dinosaur National Monument celebrate centennials this year

Parks invite community to join the birthday party; Dinosaur NM seeks community partners to help plan events

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Trail Ridge Road overlook, RMNP. bberwyn photo.

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Elk in RMNP. bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

Not one, but two famed Colorado public land icons are celebrating 100-year birthdays in 2015. Dinosaur National Monument turns 100 years old on October 4, 2015, and visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park will have a chance to share birthday cake with park rangers on Jan. 26.

Both parks are inviting the public to join in the celebrations with a series of special events. Continue reading

Oyster farm conflict at Pt. Reyes resolved

Commercial operation at national seashore will cease by end of year

Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A long-running battle over an oyster farm at Pt. Reyes National Seashore may be winding down. The National Park Service says a settlement agreement would, if approved by a federal court, would require the Drake Bay Oyster Company to cease operations by the end of the year.

The proposed consent decree would allow the National Park Service to remove onshore and offshore infrastructure associated with shellfish cultivation concurrently with the company’s removal of shellfish. Continue reading

Public Lands: National Park Service wins convictions in three separate drone-ban violations

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Drones may be a nuisance if they’re misused but they can also help scientists track wildlife. USGS Photo.

Will fines deter other would-bee drone pilots?

Staff Report

FRISCO — The National Park Service showed that its ban on drones has teeth. The federal government in three different cases won convictions against park visitors charged with violation restrictions on unmanned aerial vehicles.

An Oregon man Oct. 2 pled guilty to the charge of violating a closure and was fined $1,000 plus court costs. He was charged after he flew his unmanned aircraft over the crowded Midway Geyser Basin and close to bison on August 19.

A Dutch visitor whose drone crashed into Grand Prismatic Spring in early August was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $2,000 in restitution, while another tourist from Germany in September pled guilty to charges arising from operating an unmanned aircraft which crashed into Yellowstone Lake near the West Thumb Marina back on July 18. Continue reading

Travel: Exploring Mesa Verde

Kim Fenske tours Colorado’s only world heritage site

Long Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park.

Long Dwelling, Mesa Verde National Park.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Arriving at the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor and Research Center ten miles east of Cortez in early evening, I worked with a ranger at the tour desk to build an itinerary at Colorado’s only World Heritage site. Despite the ranger’s doubts that I could meet the necessary schedule, I purchased tickets for the three possible tours at a cost less than a camping fee at developed campgrounds. The tours of both Wetherill Mesa in the southwest corner of the park, and Chapin Mesa in the southeast portion of the park, involved driving nearly a hundred miles during the day.

After paying the entry fee, I drove a few miles south to Morefield Campground and registered for two nights of camping at the campground store, open from mid-May through mid-October. The complex offers showers, laundry, internet, fuel, and basic camping supplies, more services than typical of my usual backcountry or primitive camping on national forest lands. After purchasing ice to defend against the ninety-degree heat of the day, I found a tent site conveniently located a short distance from the amenities. My primary criticism of the facilities is that new investment is overdue to update showers and restrooms in the campground. Continue reading

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