Posted on June 11, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A NASA satellite image shows smoke plumes from the massive wildfires in Alberta.
Numerous Colorado projects delayed as feds juggle budgets in era of monster wildfires
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — U.S. Forest Service officials said they’ve had to defer reviews of ski area projects, delay trail improvements and forest restoration work because of the high cost of fighting wildfires. This year, the agency projects a $470 million gap that ripples through the entire Forest Service budget.
More than a dozen important projects in Colorado were on the hit list, according to a new report released this week by the Department of Agriculture. Some of the projects were canceled altogether because their funding has been diverted to fighting wildfires. Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Colorado, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests | Tagged: fire borrowing, Forest health, U.S. Forest Service, Wildfires | 3 Comments »
Posted on May 1, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Firefighters teamed up in March 2012 to quell an early season wildfire near Keystone Resort, in Summit County, Colorado. Bob Berwyn photo.
Funding shortfall has ripple effect in other public lands programs
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — With a dangerous fire season forecast for parts of the country, especially the drought-stricken far West and Southern Plains, federal firefighting agencies will likely once again face a huge budget shortfall. That could require the Forest Service to divert funds from other programs, according to top administration officials who presented the report to Congress.
The report projects firefighting costs of about $1.8 billion, with only $1.4 billion budgeted. The Obama administration is advocating for a budget that would close the gap by giving firefighting agencies the ability to use emergency funds separate from their discretionary budgets to fight fires.
Similar legislation is pending in Congress, where the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act is cosponsored by Sen.Michal Bennet (D-CO) and Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Ron Wyden (D-OR). Continue reading
Filed under: climate and weather, Environment, forest fires, Forest health, forests, public lands, US Forest Service, wildfires | Tagged: climate change, federal budget, U.S. Forest Service, Wildfires | 1 Comment »
Posted on February 18, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Proposal includes zip lines, high alpine 4WD tours and summer operations of the Imperial Chair
Vail Resorts wants to ramp up summer recreation at Breckenridge Ski Area.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Vail Resorts wants to significantly expand the scope of summer activities at Breckenridge Ski Resort on lands used under permit from the U.S. Forest Service. That means more chairlifts could soon be humming all year long at what is already one of the busiest ski mountains in the world.
The proposal includes zip lines, tree canopy tours and even four-wheel drive tours to remote sections of the Tenmile Range — along with plenty of new construction at the summit of Peak 8 and around the Peak 7 warming hut.
According to the proposal, the resort currently lacks “adventure or thrill-based experiences,” and “interpretive programs that offer an educational experience for users seeking to learn more about the environment.”
The summer improvements plan also includes restoration activities at the ski area that would be incorporated into the plan after the public has had a chance to offer initial comments during a formal scoping phase for the project, the first step in an in-depth Environmental Impact Study that will evaluate impacts. Continue reading
Filed under: Breckenridge, Colorado, Environment, Summit County Colorado | Tagged: Breckenridge Ski Area, public lands, summer recreation, U.S. Forest Service, zip lines Breckenridge | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 23, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Cultivation, possession and use still illegal on federal lands in Colorado
A U.S. Forest Service workers uproots marijuana plants from an illegal grow site on the White River National Forest, near Redstone, Colorado. Photo courtesy USFS.
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — Forest Service law enforcement rangers say they have finished eradicating an illegal marijuana plantation on the White River National Forest near Redstone, Colorado, but they are still actively investigating the site to try and track down the growers.
According to the Forest Service, there were more than 3,300 plants growing at the site. The plants were probably just a few weeks away from being harvested, said agency spokesman Chris Strebig. The Forest Service estimated the value of the plants at about $8.3 million, based on an average value of $2,500 per pound. Each plant is estimated to yield 1 pound of processed marijuana. Continue reading
Filed under: Colorado, Environment, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Cannabis cultivation, Colorado, marijuana growing, U.S. Forest Service, White River National Forest | Leave a comment »
Posted on September 6, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
The U.S. Forest Service may finally address the environmental impacts of snowmobiles, at least in California, where the agency settled a lawsuit with a promise to do better studies.
Conservation groups say agency has been avoiding detailed studies by approving trail systems under streamlined categorical exclusion permitting process
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service may finally come to grips with the environmental impacts of snowmobiles under a new legal agreement that will require a full assessment of snowmobile impacts on wildlife, plants and quiet recreation in five California national forests — the Stanislaus, Eldorado, Tahoe, Plumas and Lassen.
The agreement settles a lawsuit that challenged the Forest Service’s practice of avoiding detailed environmental review on these national forests in the central and northern Sierra and southern Cascades. In many cases, the agency has used categorical exclusions to authorize snowmobile trail grooming without taking a hard look at impacts like federal environmental laws require. Continue reading
Filed under: air quality, biodiversity, Environment, forests, US Forest Service | Tagged: California, snowmobiles, U.S. Forest Service, wildlife | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 11, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
Agency to remove abandoned buildings and old mining gear
Old mining scars are visible all along French Gulch Road, east of Breckenridge, where the U.S. Forest Service is planning a cleanup at the Lincoln Townsite.
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will begin a careful cleanup of mining debris around the historic Lincoln Townsite, near Breckenridge. As part of the agency’s abandoned mine lands safety program, crews will demolish and remove abandoned buildings, sheds and equipment — but five buildings will be left standing at the site after local stakeholders commented on the potential historical value of the structures. Continue reading
Filed under: Breckenridge, Colorado, Dillon Ranger District, Summit County Colorado, Summit County news, US Forest Service, White River National Forest | Tagged: Breckenridge Colorado, Lincoln townsite, mine cleanup, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 9, 2013 by Bob Berwyn
After many years of conflict over logging plans, the Forest Service will transition away from harvesting old-growth trees in the Tongass National Forest.
Agency hopes to complete the shift to sustainable second-growth timber harvests in 10 to 15 years
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service says it will back away from logging old growth in the country’s biggest national forest — Alaska’s 17-million acre Tongass — but not until after completing the already approved Big Thorne timber sale.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack the agency’s plan to to conserve the old-growth forests by speeding the transition to management of second-growth forests. Vilsack said the goal is to increase second-growth timbers until they make up the vast majority of logging projects withing 10 to 15 years. Read the full memorandum here.
The Tongass contains large stands of old-growth rainforest, and provides world-class recreation and fishing while supporting local communities through a variety of economic activities. Continue reading
Filed under: Environment, forests | Tagged: Alaska, Environment, forests, old growth logging, sustainable logging, Tongass National Forest, U.S. Forest Service | Leave a comment »