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Travel: BLM improving campgrounds in western Colorado

Popular Rabbit Valley campground enlarged

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The BLM is improving some facilities in the popular McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, west of Grand Junction, Colorado. Photo courtesy BLM.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Campers in western Colorado will have more options this summer, as the Bureau of Land Management quadruples the size of the Rabbit Valley Campground, from four spots to 16.

The campground, in the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area west of Grand Junction, will be closed for several weeks while the work — including two new group campsites — is under way. The campground road will be improved, and each campsite will now have a tent pad, fire ring and picnic table.

“Rabbit Valley is a great place to car camp, and these improvements are designed to enhance the camping experience for visitors,” said Ben Blom, acting National Conservation Area manager for the BLM Grand Junction Field Office. Continue reading

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Colorado’s outdoor industry reppin’ at Euro trade show

Tourism, trade offices team up to create ‘Colorado Pavilion’ at ISPO in Munich, Germany

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Europe seen as important market for Colorado tourism and outdoor companies.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Along with several companies that won state grants to display their products at a huge international sports and outdoor trade show in Munich, Germany, state tourism officials will also present information about Colorado to an international audience at ISPO this week.

Working with gear-makers like Icelantic Skis and Boo Bicycles, trade representatives will work with European-based representatives to staff a Colorado-themed booth at show, showcasing the state and its wares at a Colorado Pavilion.

Most of the companies are homegrown Colorado enterprises, and several of them produce their entire line right here in the state, said Stephanie Dybsky, with the Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

“No other state does something like this,” Dybsky said, explaining that the mission is part of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s efforts to grow Colorado exports to Europe. The outdoor industry was identified in a recent study as one of the sectors having huge potential in growing worldwide industry that isn’t as susceptible to economic ups and downs as some other types of businesses.

Currently, Colorado exports about $1.5 billion in commodities (not services) to Europe. That total dipped as low as $1 billion right after the 2008 recession after peaking at about $1.7 billion in 2008.

ISPO is primarily a business-to-business show, and the goal is to connect Colorado companies with new leads and potential distributors for their products.

Several of the companies included in the joint pavilion have already had success in the export market, including Icelantic Skis, which sells gear all over Europe, according to COO Annelise Loevlie.

Icelantic has also previously attended ISPO, helping to broaden European distribution through Switzerland, Austria and even Russia, Loevlie said.

ISPO Munich offers the latest products, trends and innovations from the entire outdoor sports industry. The show features more than 2,300 exhibitors to 80,000 visitors from over 100 countries. Featured sports include alpine skiing, camping, climbing, fishing, mountain biking, running and snowboarding.

The following companies will be represented in the Colorado Pavilion at ISPO Munich 2013:

•    Aluboo & Boo Bicycles, Fort Collins
•    Big Shot Bikes, Fort Collins
•    CandyGrind, Denver
•    Icelantic Skis, Denver
•    Kinderlift of Colorado, Denver
•    Mountain Shades, Wheat Ridge
•    Newton Running, Boulder
•    Obermeyer, Aspen
•    Phunkshun Wear, Denver
•    Sport Bumper, Denver
•    Tailwind Nutrition, Durango
•    Venture Snowboards, Silverton

You can follow the happening from the Colorado Pavilion in Munich on Twitter: @ColoradoITO.

Travel: Exploring Valdez

Glaciers and rainforests meet near Alaskan harbor town

Ice melting after breaking free from the receding Columbia Glacier near Valdez, Alaska.

Story and photos by Kim Fenske

Alaskan coastal rain forest near Gold Creek.

Valdez is best best known for an oil tanker disaster in 1989, when the ship’s hull was ripped open and subsequently flooded Prince William Sound with 11 million gallons of crude oil that covered an area extending 470 miles to the southwest. However, the port of Valdez today is a biologically vibrant and beautiful part of the coastal rainforest that extends along the Alaskan coastal region.

Bus transportation is available from downtown Anchorage to Whittier, where ferry service delivers visitors to Valdez. I chose to drive the 265 miles across Alaska from Palmer, through the Matanuska River Valley, in order to pass Matanuska Glacier and explore Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.  Along the way, I camped beside Squirrel Creek, a river filled with fast-running, opaque, silt-filled glacial water. Next day, I dropped from a glacier-covered pass to the coastline at Valdez.

At the harbor, I joined a Stan Stephens tour of the Columbia Glacier on a sunny sky, passing friendly sea otters, whales, sea lions, and porpoises. According to the Boulder Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research, Columbia Glacier has receded nine miles since 1980 and is expected to lose another nine miles during the next fifteen years. Discharging two cubic miles of ice into Prince William Sound each year, the Columbia Glacier is the largest North American glacial contributor to rising sea levels. Continue reading

Study prompts Washington to revamp cougar hunting

Over-harvesting increases confrontations between wild cats and humans

A Washington cougar. Photo courtesy Rich Beausoleil/Washington Dept. of Fish and Game.

 By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — In a study that could have implications for predator management on a broader scale, biologists with Washington State University say that the state’s current cougar management scheme wasn’t working as intended.

Whether hunters killed 10 percent or 35 percent of cougars, the population remained the same. The old paradigm of wildlife management would explain this by saying the remaining population increased reproduction to make up for hunting. But this was not the case, the researchers said, explaining that an over-harvest of cougars can increase negative encounters between the predator and humans, livestock and game.

Based on the the 13-year study, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is implementing a new cougar management plan based on equilibrium management. Hunters will remove no more than the surplus of animals that would be generated through natural reproduction. Continue reading

Morning photo: Best of May (part 1)

Spring skies

Early melt-out.

SUMMIT COUNTY — May was quite a month for photography. It’s always been my favorite time of year in the high country, with snow on high, greening up in the valleys, wildflowers and sometimes wild weather that makes for dramatic skies. Here are some of the best shots from May 2012. If any of these images speak to you and you’d like see it framed and hanging on your wall, leave a note in the comment section, and for more Summit County scenes, visit our Imagekind online gallery, where you can order prints, unframed or framed. The gallery even has a nifty preview function where you see how the picture looks with different mattes. Continue reading

Get outside — it’s good for you!

Exercise, spiritual rejuvenation and family fun in the great outdoors

Hiking in Colorado.

Nature is soothing.

By Erin McKinney

SUMMIT COUNTY —Whether gardening or walking through a forest, most of us love spending time in nature without really knowing why. It gives us a sense of peace and amazement. And something mysterious draws us to the great outdoors as well. One reason may be the numerous health benefits of spending time in nature, which have been proven in several scientific studies.

So what are those benefits?

Stress Reduction – Countless studies have found that spending time outdoors reduces stress. This may in part be due to the fact that it removes us from stressful environments. Taking a walk after a stressful day at work or going on a hiking trip as a weekend retreat helps us think more clearly and look at problems from a distance. Nature’s beauty can also provide a welcome distraction to staring at a computer screen or driving a car all day. Even when we are in stressful situations, a view of nature can be calming. Studies have found that a natural view out a window can improve work performance, speed up patient recovery in hospitals, and improve one’s sense of satisfaction. Continue reading

Colorado celebrates Great Outdoors Week

Dylan and Comet Berwyn enjoy a fine outdoors morning near Moab. Celebrate Great Outdoors Week — go camping!

Conservation activists and outdoor enthusiasts organize daily hikes and highlight threats to roadless areas

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado outdoor enthusiasts are celebrating the second annual Great Outdoors Week (Aug. 20-28) with a series of fun hikes and educational events aimed at highlighting potential threats to cherished backcountry areas.

A fierce Washington, D.C. ideological battle over public lands management, as well as continued controversy over a proposed Colorado roadless rule, serve as a backdrop for the activities, with Representative Diana DeGette highlighting what she describes as a special interest-driven attack on protections for backcountry areas.

“Here in Colorado, while my constituents and I are working with the Forest Service to keep the best of our backcountry forests protected, some in Congress are pushing on behalf of special interests to take those protections away entirely,” said DeGette. “Coloradans depend on these areas for our drinking water, our outdoor economy and our cherished way of life, and they must be preserved.”

In July, the House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on H.R. 1581, introduced by House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, which would take away protections for national forest lands and Wilderness Study Areas, opening up an area the size of Wyoming to large-scale development.  Continue reading

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