Forest Service finalizes national snowmobile rules

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Snowmobiles at Vail Pass, Colorado.

New policy requires designation of motorized winter use

Staff Report

FRISCO — With the recent huge growth in motorized winter sports, the Forest Service has been behind the curve in managing public lands, but last month, the agency released its final policy for managing snowmobile and other “over-snow” vehicle use.

As directed by court order, the policy requires that roads, trails and areas where over-snow vehicle use can occur be specifically designated by local Forest Service mangers. Previously, managers had the discretion to decide whether to designate specific areas for over-snow vehicle use. Continue reading

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: President Obama to move ahead with Browns Canyon national monument designation

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Browns Canyon, in central Colorado, will be designated as a national monument by President Barack Obama.

Central Colorado gorge a key piece of state’s recreation economy

Staff Report

FRISCO — A long campaign by public land advocates and their political allies has paid off, as President Barack Obama will use his executive power under the Antiquities Act to designate Browns Canyon, in Chaffee County, as a national monument.

Along with Browns Canyon, Obama is also designating the Honouliuli Internment Camp in Hawaii and Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood. An official White House announcement is expected Thursday. 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

Jared Polis to serve on House Resources Committee

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Congressman Jared Polis.

Colorado lawmaker expected to be a pro-environment voice on a panel led conservative Republicans who often undermine federal efforts to manage public lands on the behalf of all Americans

Staff Report

FRISCO — A languishing proposal to create new wilderness areas in the Colorado mountains may get a boost in Congress this year, as U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (CO-02) joins the House Natural Resources Committee.

In the last two years, the committee has been a bastion of anti-government rhetoric, in some cases considering bills that would significantly weaken protection for natural resources and public lands. As a member of the minority, Polis won’t be able to get any meaningful legislation passed on his own, but his pro-environmental voice will be a welcome addition for public lands advocates. Continue reading

Forest Service delays final decision on controversial Wolf Creek land trade and development scheme

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A proposed resort development near Wolf Creek Pass and the nearby ski area would irrevocably change the character of the area for the worse.

Conservation advocates vow all-out battle to halt unwanted backcountry development

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will take an extra 30 days to scrutinize a controversial land trade that would open the door for construction of a full-scale resort village near Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado.

In November, Rio Grande National Forest Supervisor Dan Dallas approved the swap, triggering a 45-day objection period. Now, Deputy Regional Forester Maribeth Gustafson is extending the objection resolution period for 30 days. Read a detailed story on the proposed trade here. Continue reading

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