Morning photo: Sunday set

Overview …

FRISCO —I made it out for an early morning photo sesh/dogwalk today, heading to one of my favorite wrinkled areas along the shore of Dillon Reservoir. This particular stretch of shoreline is notched by deep coves, which is good for photography, because you can find different vantage points, in relation to the water and the mountains, to make the most of the reflections, and using the vegetation along the water’s edge to help frame the scenes. Once again, I was struck by how fast our area’s lodgepole pine forests are regrowing after the pine beetle outbreak that move through the north-central Colorado mountains in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In places that were logged early, many of the new trees are already two- to four-feet tall and growing densely, just like the old lodgepole pine forest. This morning’s clouds, fueled with moisture from the remnants of Tropical Storm Dolores, helped soften the light. Click on the images in this set to choose the full-size option, especially for the pano shot, and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for more Colorado landscape photography.

Summit County fire safety efforts pay off

Improved ratings could lower insurance rates

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Firefighters responding to a June, 2011 wildfire in Keystone Gulch. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Ongoing efforts to improve fire safety in Summit County have paid off, as local communities saw their fire-insurance ratings improve, according to the Lake Dillon Fire Protection District.

Firefighter training, fire-prevention efforts and community outreach and education all helped improve the scores from the Insurance Services Office, an industry data-collection group that assigns a public-protection classification from 1 to 10 for more than 48,000 communities nationwide.

The improvements in the ISO ratings, which officially take effect Sept. 1 and are recognized by most major insurance companies, potentially mean reductions in insurance rates for property owners. Continue reading

Morning photo: First wildflowers!

Wet spring promises great blooms

FRISCO — Wow! Colorado wildflowers are awesome most years. Even when things are on the drier side, the shady, cool nooks and crannies in the mountains yield abundant blossoms, but in a year like this, with prolonged spring rains, the plants have really responded. In some places where there may only be a few clumps in average or dry years, the entire ground is covered with a brilliant carpet of blooms. Get out there and enjoy!

Summit County: Dillon Reservoir outflows boosted again

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The Blue River near flood stage near Silverthorne.

Blue River running high through Silverthorne

Staff Report

FRISCO — Flows in the Lower Blue River, below Dillon Dam, are going up again.

With snowmelt speeding up under warm and sunny skies, Denver is boosting the outflow to 1,800 cfs to avoid a scenario where Dillon Reservoir spills at a level that causes outflows to go over that level.

That’s exactly what could happen without upping controlled releases now, Denver Water spokesman Matt Wittern said via email.

“Our experts predict that, if we maintained 1,700 cfs outflow and inflows remain around 2,400, Dillon Reservoir would be full and spilling within a week,” Wittern said. That could bring excessive flows and the potential for flooding below Dillon Reservoir.

Wittern said Denver Water is estimating the remaining snowpack in the Blue River as equivalent to between five and seven inches of water near Hoosier and Fremont passes.

That snow is melting fast, with no letup in sight. Inflows from runoff into Dillon Reservoir averaged 2,467 cfs Tuesday, which was well above current and planned outflows. And those inflows aren’t expected to drop below 1,700 cfs in the next seven days, which means Dillon Reservoir will continue to fill quickly, at the rate of about six inches per day. As of Wednesday, the reservoir was 3.25 feet below capacity.

Wittern also explained that Denver Water can’t legally divert water through the Roberts Tunnel if it’s not needed.

“Right now water levels are very high on the South PIatte River, eliminating this action as an option,” he said.

Troy Wineland, state water commissioner for the Blue River, said property owners in the Lower Blue who face flooding risks can prepare by perusing Summit County’s High Water Preparedness” manual which includes instructions on sandbag preparation and placement, as well as free sand / bag supply locations.

Wineland also said water users in the Lower Blue should be aware that higher flows will push more water through diversions, possibly over-topping in irrigation ditches.

Summit County: Dillon Reservoir expected to fill within a week

Denver Water juggling inflow, outflow

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After peaking later than average, the sremaining nowpack in the Blue River Basin is melting fast. Graph courtesy Denver Water.

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Flows in Blue River tributaries like Straight Creek are near their seasonal peak.

*Story corrected at 2 p.m. Dillon Reservoir outflow to the Blue River increased to 1,600 cfs Monday, July 15.

Staff Report

FRISCO — Dillon Reservoir should be full within a week, according to the latest update from Denver Water, which just bumped up the outflow to the Lower Blue to make room for more runoff the next few days.

As of June 15, Denver Water was releasing about 1.600 cubic feet per second from Dillon Reservoir, with about 2,200 cfs flowing in from the Blue River and its tributaries. And Denver Water is expecting more high inflows for the foreseeable future, according to a recent email update:

“A fresh look at the estimated level of snowpack above Dillon Reservoir … tells us there is still eight inches of snow in some places, meaning high flows can be expected for the foreseeable future. The good news is that inflows to Dillon Reservoir – which have ranged from 2,206 to 2,623 over the past several days – appear to be trending downward.” Continue reading

Morning Photo: Sunday Set

Summer light

FRISCO — Seems like just a few days ago I was still taking pictures of snow, but we’ve quickly slipped into summer mode. Wildflowers are popping, and when (or if) we get a spell of warm and sunny days, the blooms will really get going. The aspens have leafed out, and kayakers, rowers and rafters are frolicking on local reservoirs and streams. Summer is short and sweet in the high country, so now’s the time to get out and get after it, whatever your pleasure may be! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram for daily photo updates and visit our online Fine Art America gallery for some of the best Colorado landscape photography around!

Morning photo: Lupine love!

Wildflower season is here

FRISCO —Even with thick storm clouds brewing over the high country, I ventured down the Lower Blue Valley Saturday morning to check some of our favorite wildflower spots. The cool and wet weather in May has definitely slowed the progression of this year’s bloom, but just a few days of warm sunshine is likely to spur the flowers into high gear. After all, at this high elevation, they only have a couple of months time to complete their cycle of reproduction. One of of the best places to visit this time of year is along the lower sagebrush slopes of the Rocky Mountain foothills, where fields of blue lupines alternate with splotches of bright yellow balsamroot and tender pink and purple phlox.

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