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“Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow …”

A NASA image captures the Dec. 21, 2010 lunar eclipse just before totality. Click on the image to visit the NASA eclipse page.

SUMMIT COUNTY — It was bit cloudy in Summit County last night, so the view of the eclipse was not the best, but there are plenty of great images coming in from around the world. Visit Summit Voice at Storify for more.


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Week in Review: From North Park to Mars!

Summit Voice coverage of Summit County and Colorado includes photoblogs. Click on the image to see some Memorial Day scenes, with backcountry skiing and fun in the sun along Dillon Reservoir. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

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By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — We’ve ranged far and wide in Summit Voice the past couple of weeks, including to North Park, where reporting on water quality problems in a small stream on the Hell Creek Ranch helped prompt state regulators to speed up the process of issuing a new discharge permit with more stringent conditions that should help protect water quality. Read the initial story, detailing the problems, and the followup, with the response from the Colorado Water Quality Control Division.

Locally, we had video coverage of the Peak 7 neighborhood in Breckenridge, where residents are concerned about the potential fire danger from piles of slash left behind as Xcel cut down trees in the power line corridors. The utility company basically told residents they’re on their own, but local officials are looking into the situation.

Here’s the rest of the stories. Click on the headlines to read more and please share this post with friends via your social networks if you think it’s worthwhile. Summit Voice depends on electronic word-of-mouth, or social media, as it’s called these days, so spread the word.

Water main break busts Dillon retaining wall

Western power grid plans for renewable energy

County to extend medicinal marijuana moratorium

More headlines after the break … Continue reading

Weekly Headlines: From nanotech to El Niño

A recent Forest Service study suggests that controlled burns help reduce carbon dioxide emissions as compared to wildfires on the same scale.

This past week in Summit Voice we wrote about a local entrepreneur who may open a nanotech manufacturing facility in Summit County, a Forest Service study showing prescribed fires may help manage carbon dioxide emissions and new research showing that the rate of ice melt in Greenland is speeding up alarmingly.

We also posted our first two videos thanks to contributor Jenney Coberly and also featured a couple of guest columns — one by local Dr. Don Parsons on health care reform and another by Trout Unlimited CEO Chris Hunt on oil and gas drilling.

Browse our news from the past seven days below and click on the headline to read more.

Is nanotech part of Summit’s economic future?

Posted on March 20, 2010 by Bob Berwyn

Latest high-tech wave could help diversify local economy.

Prescribed fire as global warming tool?

Posted on March 20, 2010 by Bob Berwyn

Summit Voice reports from Summit County, Colorado that new research shows that controlled burns may reduce the amount of carbon dioxide releases as compared to out-of-control wildfires.

Giant ‘Kelvin wave’ reinforces this year’s El Niño

Posted on March 21, 2010 by Bob Berwyn

From Summit County, Colorado, Summit Voice is reporting that a giant Kelvin wave swept across the Pacific Ocean in mid-February, reinforcing El Niño conditons that will continue to influence weather for the next few months.

Roaring Fork ranchers want more wilderness

Posted on March 21, 2010 by Bob Berwyn 

In Summit County, Colorado, Summit Voice is reporting on efforts to add new congressionally designated wilderness areas to the White River National Forest with the Hidden Gems campaign.

Students take spring break road trip — for a cause

Posted on March 21, 2010 by Bob Berwyn

Students from Colorado College will rally at stops around Colorado on a spring break road trip to advocate for addressing the state’s transportation issues.

More headlines after the break … Continue reading

Little known about Summit uranium prospecting

A nuclear power boom could lead to more uranium mining in Colorado. Environmental groups want more oversight, groundwater protection and public disclosure.

Watchdog group wants more public involvement, state sets April 15 public hearing to discuss rules on uranium mining, disclosure of exploratory activities and groundwater protection

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — An upcoming public hearing will help state officials finalize a new set of rules aimed boosting regulatory oversight of mining, especially in the areas of groundwater protection and public involvement in the early phases of mining and exploration.

The rules could benefit Summit County by requiring up-front notification of exploratory activities, said Jeff Parsons, an attorney with the Lyons-based Western Action Mining Project. According to Parsons, there is currently a permit for uranium exploration in Summit County, but little is known about the activity because of existing levels of confidentiality.

Summit County could create its own permitting process for prospecting and mineral exploration, Parsons said, explaining that such a step would give citizens more information about potential mining at the earliest stages. The new rules would also apply to other types of mining.

The rulemaking was triggered by passage of two new state laws in 2008. With a looming nuclear power boom, lawmakers wanted to address uranium mining in particular, Parsons said. The watchdog group advocated for stronger groundwater protection and more public involvement throughout the early stakeholder meetings that began in May 2009. So far, the process has been a model for good government and transparency, he said.

Continue reading

Public meeting for Breckenridge forest health project set

An early map of the Breckenridge Forest Health project shows some of the areas around the town slated for various types and levels of treatment. Forest Service rangers will present an updated version of the plan at a Feb. 10 meeting in Breckenridge.

Public meeting on Breckenridge forest health plan set for Feb. 10,  6 – 8 p.m. at Breckenridge Town Hall

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service has set a Feb. 10 public meeting to present its latest version of the Breckenridge forest health project.

Forest experts with the Dillon Ranger district said they’re prepared to present a detailed version of the plan that includes modifications made to address some of the concerns raised by the public.

The presentation will be followed by a question and answer session, and the agency is also prepared to take another round of written comments on the plan, with a deadline of Feb. 16.

As initially proposed, the project focuses on reducing fire risks and forest regeneration within wildland-urban interface areas affected by mountain pine beetles. In its scoping notice for the project, the Dillon Ranger District identified 5,700 acres of forest extending from Farmers Corner on the north, to the Golden Horseshoe on the east, to Hoosier Pass on the south, and along the base of the Ten Mile Range on the west that could benefit from some kind of treatment. Continue reading

Colorado ski areas holding their own in tough times

State ski group reports 1 percent increase in skier visits for early season; group and international business helped resorts

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Not counting skier visits at Vail Resorts’ four mountains, the 22 members  of Colorado Ski Country USA reported a 1 percent increase in business from last year during the first part of the season, between Oct. 7 and Dec. 31, 2009.

Colorado ski areas were especially busy during New Years week, according to the trade group, which said that skier visits were up by 1 percent compared to the similar period last year.

The preliminary tally is good news for the state ski industry, still feeling the pinch of the ongoing recession, as well as the effects of spotty snowfall so far this season.

“It’s a solid start,” said CSCUSA president and CEO Melanie Mills. “However, we still have a long way to go with a lot of season left. For now, we’re glad to see a little momentum in the way of increased visitation and are hopeful it will continue.”

Continue reading

Fire destroys home near Breckenridge

A home at 6330 Barton Road (County Road 3) near Breckenridge was fully engulfed by flames when firefighters arrived on the scene at 3:30 a.m. PHOTO FROM RED, WHITE & BLUE FIRE.

Cause of early morning blaze undetermined, fire officials say

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — An early morning fire of undetermined cause destroyed a home in Breckenridge early Saturday morning.

According to the Red, White & Blue Fire District, firefighters were called to scene on Barton Road at about 3:30 a.m. after neighbors heard and explosion and reported the fire.

When firefighters arrived, the house was already blazing, forcing the crews to stay outside the home at 6330 Barton Road (County Road 3).

Fire officials said they are investigating the cause of the fire. Nobody was in the house and no injuries were reported. More pictures after the break.

Source: Red, White & Blue Fire District.

Continue reading

Deal to protect San Luis Valley from drilling edges closer

Wild sunflowers bloom at the base of a dune in Great Sand Dunes National Park. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Energy company willing to sell underground mineral rights for $9.7 million

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Stakeholders in the San Luis Valley have taken a giant step toward protecting Great Sand Dunes National Park from mining, energy development and water exports.  Lexam Explorations has agreed to sell its mineral rights if a $9.7 million deal can be finalized by May.

Great Sand Dunes National Park was created by Congress in 2000. More than 150,000 acres are protected, including Colorado’s largest federal wildlife area, the Baca National Wildlife Refuge.

The protected area includes forested alpine peaks, mountain streams, unique sand dune formations at the base of the Sangre de Cristos and a huge complex wetlands vital to migratory birds. But the mineral rights under the surface were not included, and have long been eyed by a variety of developers dating back to the 1980s. Continue reading

No surprise, Summit real estate sales down in 2009

The number of condos sold, along with the average price, dropped in 2009.

Condo sales down 36 percent in 2009,  signs of recovery in national housing market may help local real estate activity in 2010

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — It’s no big surprise, but 2009 was the worst year overall for the U.S. real estate market in more than a decade, and preliminary year-end figures for Summit County reflect those statistics.

Based on data from the county’s multiple listing service, the total number of single-family home sold in 2009 in Summit County was 291, the lowest number since 1993. By contrast, the record number of single-family homes sales (750) was in 1998. (The data from the MLS does not include partial ownership, land and commercial transactions). While the decline from peak numbers at the peak of the market seems dramatic, it wasn’t a huge drop from 2008, when 324 single-family homes sold in the county.

As of mid-January there were 455 single-family homes listed for sale in Summit County. At the current pace of sales it would take about 18 months for those homes to be absorbed by the market.

Continue reading

Mountain News Roundup

A colorful sunset at Loveland Pass, Colorado. PHOTO BY BOB BERWYN.

Weekly headlines and links from the mountains of the world

Compiled by Bob Berwyn

Routt housing bust?

Steamboat Today reported on the 2008 collapse of the real estate development market, publishing statistics from the building department showing that only eight single-family home building permits were issued. The combined value of the construction — for permitting purposes — was $6.4 million. Get more details by reading the full story here.

Also on Steamboat Today is an interesting feature story about a local photographer, Jim Steinberg, who has been hitching across the Western U.S. and documenting the trip with his camera. See a map of his trip here, and read the story online here.

Epic Sierra storms

The Mammoth Times is reporting on how the eastern Sierra town is bracing for what could be an epic series of storms expected to roll through the Sierra Nevada this week. The story also highlights forecasts calling for above-normal precipitation in the region through March.

Continue reading


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