Public lands: Watchdog groups slow proposed expansion of uranium mines in Utah


A U.S. Geological Survey map shows concentrations of uranium deposits in the U.S.

Objection process finds flaws in environmental review

Staff Report

FRISCO — An environmental study for the proposed expansion of uranium mines in Utah was flawed and needs to be redone, a regional U.S. Forest Service officer said last week, rejecting Manti-La Sal Forest Supervisor Brian Pentecost’s earlier decision to permit the project.

Responding to formal objections by environmental groups, the regional reviewing officer said Pentecost erred in deciding the project would not have a significant impact.

“There are statements that lack rational and conclusions formed without supporting data. A decision made from this record would not be well informed,” George Iversion, the objection reviewing officer, wrote in his March 20 letter to the Western Action Mining Project. Continue reading

Judge blocks coal leases in Colorado after finding feds failed to tally cost of carbon pollution

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world, thanks in part to massive surface mines like this one in Wyoming. Photo courtesy BLM.

The U.S. is the second-largest producer of coal in the world. Photo courtesy BLM.

Federal court order also voids part of Colorado roadless rule for National Forest lands

Staff Report

FRISCO — Arch Coal and the U.S. Forest Service will have to start from scratch before they plan any new mining activities in a roadless area near Paonia.

A federal judge this week vacated existing federal approvals for an exploration plan, for lease modifications and a site-specific exemption to the Colorado Roadless Rule, seen by conservation groups as a blatant give-away to the fossil fuel industry.

This week’s order follows up on a June ruling, when U.S. District Court Judge R. Brooke Jackson said the U.S. Forest Service failed to account for the costs of carbon pollution associated with any new mining activities. Continue reading

Biodiversity: Tweaking endangered species rules a bad idea, conservation groups say


Federal agencies want to dial back their requirements to track impacts to endangered species. Photo courtesy Colorado Parks and Wildlife.

Cutting back on take limits could put more plants and animals at risk of extinction

By Summit Voice

FRISCO —Watchdog groups are warning that a proposal to weaken endangered species standards could put some plants and animals at greater risk of extinction.

The new rule would scale back the requirement that federal agencies fully track impacts to endangered species under broad programmatic environmental studies. Cumulative impacts on rare species from actions like oil and gas drilling would be discounted in the decision-making process, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

The change is being proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, both agencies have repeatedly failed to track how the projects they approve are affecting rare and vanishing species. Continue reading

Federal judge requires more up-front study for Idaho mining

Court determines that Forest Service failed to meet environmental review standards in approving exploration project on public lands

Pollution from mining can affect ground and surface water for many decades, like here at the abandoned Pennsylvania Mine site in Summit County, Colorado, where miles of stream have poisoned by acid mine drainage. Photo by Bob Berwyn.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A late August federal court ruling from a U.S. District Court in Idaho could have a ripple effect on proposed mining activities around the West.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Edward J. Lodge requires the U.S. Forest Service to do more baseline environmental analysis and disclose potential water quality impacts from an exploratory mining proposal.

In his decision, Lodge, a Bush-era appointee, said the Forest Service failed to meet standards spelled out under federal environmental laws when it comes to evaluating and disclosing potential effects to groundwater. Continue reading

Beaver Creek to upgrade for 2015 ski championships

The White River National Forest scoping map for proposed improvements at Beaver Creek. Click for a full-size view.

New trails sought at Eagle County ski area. Forest Service begins environmental studies with public comment phase

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service and Beaver Creek Ski Area are starting to study a plan that would add a new women’s downhill race course and new giant slalom course, the latter using parts of existing trails on Grouse Mountain. The proposed improvements would be in preparation of the 2015 FIS Alpine World Championships.

White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams started the process with a notice of intent in the Federal Register aimed at soliciting public comments. Continue reading

This land is your land — get involved!


Multiple projects on national forest lands are under way. Watch this YouTube video of the Grateful Dead and Los Lobos singing This Land is Your Land to get fired up, then click on the links below and get involved.


SUMMIT COUNTY — About two-thirds of the land in Summit County is owned by you and me, and managed on our behalf by the U.S. Forest Service. Even the land where our big ski resorts operate is public land, and we all have a responsibility to be involved in making decisions about what happens on that land. Continue reading


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