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Colorado: Forest Service revamps fees for bikepath events

Policy change enables agency to charge per-person fees

The 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties, and based in Copper Mountain, Colorado, on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. Photo Steve Peterson

Cyclists cruise the Summit County recpath on Forest Service land during the 2012 Colorado Cyclist Copper Triangle, a cycling tour in Lake, Summit, and Eagle Counties based at Copper Mountain, Colorado. Photo courtesy Steve Peterson/Copper Triangle.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The White River National Forest has revamped its fee structure for special events using local bike paths that cross national forest lands. Under the changes, organizers of cycling events like the Copper Triangle will pay a graduated per-person fee ranging from $1 per person, up to $2 per person for larger events.

The new fees, authorized under a local special use amendment, will affect special events using three specific bike paths: Vail Pass, Glenwood Canyon and the recpath system around Dillon Reservoir in Summit County, according to WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams. Continue reading

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Colorado: Spring storm packs a punch

Resorts reporting powder conditions, but road conditions could hamper access, while the backcountry avalanche danger soars

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An active northern jet stream is bringing cold air and moisture to the northern tier of states, including Colorado. On and off snow is possible through the weekend.

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The CAIC is reporting numerous backcountry avalanches. Click here for more photos.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — March is living up to its reputation as the snowiest month in the Colorado high country, with chilly spring storm snarling roads, intensifying avalanche danger and adding much-needed moisture to the state’s snowpack.

Ski areas around the state are generally reporting up to 12 inches of new snow in the past few days, and moderate to heavy snow continued falling Saturday morning. Some of the heaviest totals are expected east of the Continental Divide, where the California Department of Transportation reported bumper-to-bumper traffic around I-70 and C-470.

East of Denver, I-70 was closed to the Kansas border, and slick conditions on the westbound approach to the mountains prompted CDOT to require chains, snow tires or four-wheel drive for all vehicles in Mt. Vernon Canyon, just west of Denver.

Continue reading

Colorado: Lynx study expanded to Loveland Pass

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Drop-off box for GPS units at Loveland Pass.

Research to help conservation and recreation planning efforts

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — A multi-year Forest Service study aimed at better understanding how lynx react to human recreational activities was expanded to new areas in Colorado this year, including Loveland Pass, Leadville and Telluride.

Previous efforts have focused on the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area, where  scientists captured lynx and fitted them with collars to transmit GPS data. At the same time, the Forest Service researchers asked skiers and snowmobilers to take GPS transmitters along on their excursions.

A thorough analysis of the data will help land managers make science-based decisions about how to allocate resources as they balance the demand for recreation with a mandate to protect habitat for rare animals like lynx, protected under the Endangered Species Act. Continue reading

Colorado: I-70 repairs will require single-lane closures

Work to take place Sunday-Thursday nights through October

Colorado travelers can expect some lane closures along I-70 the next few weeks as CDOT repairs the road surface.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Road and bridge work along I-70 will require overnight lanes closures between Vail Pass and Chief Hosa the next few weeks, with scheduled for completion in November. Crews will be crack sealing, as well as paving a two-mile segment through Idaho Springs.

Drivers can expect single lane closures on eastbound or westbound I-70, Sunday through Thursday nights, as follows:

  • Eastbound between Vail Pass and Silverthorne – 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Eastbound through Idaho Springs – 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.
  • Westbound through Idaho Springs – 8 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The speed limit is reduced to 45 mph through the work zone. Lane closures are a maximum of two miles long and work can alternate between eastbound and westbound I-70, depending on how the project is progressing. Traffic slowing is possible due to the single lane configurations.

“Crack sealing is a preemptive strike against road deterioration because it extends the lifespan of the highway – both the surface and sub-surface,” said CDOT resident engineer Russel Cox.  “It prevents pot holes from developing and that’s a safety enhancement as well. We see it as a lower cost treatment in the short-term that saves money in the long-term.”

A-1 Chipseal Co. of Denver, CO. is the contractor for the $1.6 million project.

Additional information is available by calling the project hotline at 970-344-4664.

Updated information regarding traffic impacts on this or other CDOT projects is available at www.cotrip.org or by calling 511.  To receive project updates via e-mail, visit www.coloradodot.info and click on the cell-phone icon in the upper right-hand corner. The link takes you to a list of items you can subscribe to, including I-70 West, Denver to Glenwood Springs.

Fee collection at Vail Pass winter rec area starts Nov. 25

Day use passes are $6, season passes available for $40

Snowmobilers prepare for a day of recreation at the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area.

Fee collection at the Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area starts Nov. 25.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —Fee collection and patrols in the Vail Pass Winter Recreation area will start Nov. 25, with a $6 charge for day use passes and a limited number of $40 season passes available for snowmobiling and crosscountry skiing.

The Vail Pass Winter Recreation Area includes more than 50,000 acres of  White River National Forest lands  from Copper Mountain on the east to Vail Mountain on the west, Camp Hale on the south, and the I-70 corridor on the north.

The management strategy for this very popular winter recreation area is the result of many years of collaboration between the Vail Pass Task Force (a citizen’s advisory group) and the Forest Service. The user fees pay for visitor maps, signage of motorized and non-motorized trails, trail grooming, parking lot management and snow removal, visitor information services, backcountry monitoring, and enforcement by uniformed Forest Service personnel. Continue reading

Morning photo: Healthy forests

Still a few patches of trees that haven’t been eaten by bugs

Bristlecones on Mt. Evans.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — For the past few years, the focus has been the pine beetle epidemic and the damage those insect have pesky insects have caused across vast stands of lodgepole pines. There been so much talk and discussion (if only every word killed a beetle) about the beetle epidemic that it’s easy to forget that there are still huge stands of healthy spruce and fir, not to mention aspens. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Incoming storm to favor southwest mountains

On-and-off snow expected through the weekend

Pacific storm to pound the San Juans, Elks and Grand Mesa. Click on the image to see the animated loop.

A polar satellite view shows the wave pattern of storms across the northern hemisphere. Click on the image to see the animated loop.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A complex swirl of storms is approaching the Colorado high country, with the first wave of moisture expected to hit the San Juans, as well as the mountains around Crested Butte, Aspen and Steamboat — all those areas are favored by a southwest flow and are under a winter storm warning.

The storm warning extends as far east as Vail Pass. Some of the higher elevations could pick up more than 12 inches of snow by Saturday evening.

The Summit County area likely won’t see much accumulating snow until late Saturday, Saturday night and into Sunday morning, with perhaps 3 to 6 inches during the first half of the weekend. Under a westerly flow continuing into Sunday, more snow could fall across the area the second half of the weekend, though the official forecast is still a mixed bag, with Grand Junction-based forecasters eying a low-level front that could focus snowfall along the I-70 corridor for a time Saturday.

A second storm system rolling in from the Pacific Monday also looks to be a good snow producer for the San Juans, but forecast details are still sketchy, with some models showing an open trough that could deliver snow with a northwest flow, while other forecasts are predicting a closed low that would have a more southwesterly component.

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