Letters: Support for new Colorado wilderness

Will Congress act?

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A view of the Gore Range from the flanks of the Williams Fork Range, at the edge of a new wilderness area proposed by Congressman Jared Polis. @bberwyn photo.

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A map of the areas covered by the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act.

FRISCO — In May, Congressman Jared Polis reintroduced a bill to create about 39,000 acres of new wilderness in Summit and Eagle counties.

According to Polis, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act will help sustain recreational resources, protect watersheds, preserve important wildfire corridors, and strengthen Colorado’s tourism economy.

Along with new wilderness, the bill would also designate 16,000 acres as special management areas for recreation, and where some other activities, including wildfire mitigation and forest health treatments would be permitted.

Trace the history of Polis’ push for new wilderness in the central Colorado mountains in these Summit Voice stories going back to 2010.

Letters:

Dear Editor,

Congressman Jared Polis’ introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act should be applauded. This bill, the result of 5 years of local community engagement and consensus, is important not just to the central Rocky Mountains but to Colorado as a whole. Many Coloradans know this area for the endless recreational opportunities, whether it’s hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, or just relaxing. As the owner of Seymour Lodging Corp, Colorado wilderness is of particular importance to me.

Owning a small business is never easy, particularly when your business is dependent on external factors such as weather and consumer discretionary income. Fortunately for myself and many other small business owners across the state, the designation of wilderness, in addition to enhancing quality of life, makes local tourism a little more secure.

The Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act protects many areas in the White River National Forest, which draws more than 9 million visitors annually; these visitors then support local tourism and outdoor recreation businesses.

The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado is a critical part of the state’s economy which generates $13.2 billion annually in consumer spending, and supports 125,000 jobs which pay over $4 billion in wages to Coloradans. Many small mountain towns count on tourism and outdoor recreation to stay afloat. I know personally how difficult this can be, and I would like to thank Congressman Polis for investing in the state of Colorado.

Richard Seymour

***

Dear Editor,

After reading about the recent introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act, I wanted to publicly thank Representative Jared Polis for his work protecting Colorado. As an avid hiker, I deeply enjoy spending free time in the Central Mountains.

Over the past 5 years Rep. Polis has worked with a plethora of local stakeholders to ensure that this legislation truly helps to support the local community- this hard work has paid off, garnering the support of everyone from mountain bikers and conservationists to hunters and small businessmen.

If passed, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act would provide important protections for key watersheds in the Central Mountains and safeguard our ever-valuable Colorado water for local communities and the greater Front Range. As well, the Act would protect some of Colorado’s best fishing streams and preserve valuable wildlife habitat; thank you, Representative Polis!

Eddie Welsh

Eddie Welsh is history and political science major at Colorado State University.  He has a special interest in environmental issues here in Colorado, particularly in the Central Mountains where he spend a great deal of  time.

Legal wrangling over Alaska mine continues

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Years of legal wrangling may be ahead in battle to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay from a giant mining operation.

Judge temporarily blocks EPA protections for Bristol Bay

Staff Report

FRISCO — Legal wrangling over a proposed mine in a pristine Alaskan watershed continued last week, as U.S. District Court Judge Russel Holland refused to dismiss a lawsuit against the EPA.

The Pebble Mine Limited Partnership has filed several lawsuits in an attempt to stop the EPA from protecting Bristol Bay, basically claiming that the federal agency overstepped its authority by proposing strict environmental rules for Bristol Bay. Continue reading

Yellowstone National Park eyes adaptive management plan for winter motorized use

Snowmobile use in National Parks is strictly managed, like this tour in Yellowstone, but in some national forests, more management is needed to protect the environment and make sure there are opportunities for quiet, non-motorized use.

Snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park will once again be studied by the National Park Service.

Public comments wanted

Staff Report

FRISCO — The National Park Service wants to keep a close eye on how motorized winter activities are affecting Yellowstone National Park, and the agency want to be in a position to respond if they need to.

To that end, the park is taking public comments on a draft Winter Use Adaptive Management Plan aimed at continually improve the management of winter use in the park using the best available science and public input. The draft plan will be available for public review and comment at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/wuamp until August 21, 2015. Continue reading

Environment: Wyoming version of new sage-grouse conservation plan seen as ‘weak link’

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Lack of science-based measures will put more pressure on birds

Staff Report

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say the Wyoming version of a new regional sage-grouse conservation plan fails to meet basic science standards and will open the door to more harmful mining, grazing and fracking.

Wyoming’s version is in stark contrast to the plans for Colorado and Nevada, for example, which require that federal agencies shift industrial use outside of priority habitats for sage grouse. Continue reading

Feds OK three big solar projects in Nevada

Regional plan helps speed reviews

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New solar energy projects are sprouting across the sunny Southwest.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Up-front planning helped speed three big new solar projects through the federal review process, the U.S. Department of Interior said this week, touting the administration’s Western Solar Plan as a model for renewable energy development on public lands.

The plan mapped out solar energy development zones in areas where there was little potential for conflicts over resources. The reviews three new projects in Clark County, Nevada, where completed in 10 months, about half the time it previously took under the project-by-project system. Continue reading

Public lands: Feds release sage grouse plans

Last, best hope for endangered birds?

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Staff Report

FRISCO — If plans, press releases and political mud-slinging could help greater sage-grouse, the majestic western bird would be well on the way to recovery. But the only thing that will really help the imperiled species is on-the-ground action — protecting and restoring the habitat the birds need to survive.

A series of proposed land-use plans released by the federal government this week aims to do just that, by minimizing and avoiding new disturbance to habitat, restoring habitat when possible and reducing threats like wildfires and invasive species. Here’s a fact sheet. Continue reading

Public lands: Grant helps Rocky Mountain National Park boost green transit efforts

Every little bit helps!

A computer-generated split-screen image a split-image simulates the average 20 percent best (left) and 20 percent worst 20 percent (right) visibility at the Long’s Peak vista based on an average of monitored data for years 2000-2004.

A computer-generated split-screen image a split-image simulates the average 20 percent best (left) and 20 percent worst 20 percent (right) visibility at the Long’s Peak vista based on an average of monitored data for years 2000-2004.

Staff Report

FRISCO — A $167,000 grant has helped Rocky Mountain National Park boost environmental efforts.

The 2013 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Clean Cities National Parks Initiative supports alternative transportation projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and educating park visitors about the environmental benefits of reducing our dependence on petroleum.

Through the partnership, the park purchased two electric sedans and one hybrid pickup truck, installed two electric charging stations, launched an idle reduction campaign and enhanced the parks education and outreach efforts toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing sustainable operations.

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