Colorado camping season begins!

Spring snow delays campground openings in a few areas

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Camping at Green Mountain Reservoir is a great way to kick off the summer outdoor season. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

FRISCO — The wet and chilly spring weather may not exactly be perfect for camping, but Coloradans are hearty, and a few showers, or even snowflakes, won’t deter outdoor enthusiasts from taking their first trip of the season.

On the White River National Forest, most campgrounds are open, including the key concessionaire-operated sites in Summit County, mostly clustered around Dillon Reservoir. You’ll find the full scoop on WRNF campgrounds below, right after these outdoor safety tips from the U.S. Forest Service. You can also reserve a campsite in online at Recreation.gov.

  • Motorized travel is permitted on roads only, off road travel is always prohibited (do not drive around snow drift/muddy spots through meadow/forest – turn around!)
  • Please do not cause resource damage- if you get to an area that is muddy and would create ruts or road damage, turn around.
  • Snow patches occur at higher elevations.  While they may not look deep there is thick ice crust- which does break and on which it is easy to get stuck
  • Use caution: some areas on the Forest are experiencing high water crossings and muddy conditions that make travel unsafe and hazardous.

Aspen-Sopris Ranger District

All campgrounds for Aspen – Sopris managed by White River Recreation are open for except for Lost Man and Chapman-South loop Camp Ground. All three of Maroon Bells Scenic Area campgrounds will be open by Ma. 22.

Blanco Ranger District

Snow at higher elevations will keep some roads closed for a couple of weeks ago. Some of the Buford Newcastle Road is open and the road to Trappers Lake is open but not the Campground.

  • Main Marvine  Campground is open and has water
  • East Marvine Campground is open
  • Hines Peak Campground is open
  • North Fork Campground is open and has water
  • South Fork Campground is open

Dillon Ranger District

All 6 concession-managed campgrounds on and around Dillon Reservoir will be open for the Memorial Day weekend: Heaton Bay, Peak One, Pine Cove, Prospector, Lowry, and the Windy Point Group CG.

At Green Mountain Reservoir, four of the six campgrounds will be open: Cow Creek South, Prairie Point, Elliot Creek, and McDonald Flats. The Willows and Cow Creek North Camp Ground will remain closed due to wet “native surface” roads.

Cataract Lake campground and Blue River campground will also be open by Thursday, May 21,

Eagle-Holy Cross Ranger District

We aspire to have the following campgrounds open. Fees are listed. All are first come first serve:

  • Sweetwater Campground $8/night
  • Fulford Cave $8/night
  • Loop B Yeoman Park $8/night
  • Loop A will remain closed due to wet/snowy conditions

Concession Managed:

Rifle Ranger District

  • Spruce Picnic Area will be open
  • Meadow Creek Lake Campground will not be open. You cannot drive to Meadow Lake as there is too much snow. A sign will be installed on Buford New Castle Road indicating snow drift ahead.  If recent weather continues, it will take another week or two for the road to cleared to Meadow Lake.

Colorado fracking industry files formal objection to White River National Forest oil and gas plan

Drillers say restrictions will hinder exploitation of new shale plays to the detriment of local communities

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Most oil and gas development on the White River National Forest is limited to the far western zones in areas where drilling is already common.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Even though the vast majority of public lands in the West are already open for fossil fuel exploitation, oil and gas companies want more.

In their latest push for more drilling, three fracking industry lobbying groups are challenging the White River National Forest’s oil and gas drilling plan, claiming that the agency’s analysis was marred by politics, as elected officials pushed to have the Thompson Divide area excluded from energy development.

In their formal objection to the plan, the groups ( Western Energy Alliance, West Slope Colorado Oil and Gas Association and Public Lands Advocacy) the groups said that, as written, the document could prevent the development of speculative new plays in Mancos and Niobrara shale formations in western Colorado. Continue reading

Summit County session to focus on forest management

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What now, forests?

Panel features White River NF chief Scott Fitzwilliams and Colorado State Forest Service director Mike Lester

Staff Report

FRISCO — A lot of seedlings have sprouted since Summit County experienced the biggest pine beetle outbreak that anyone can remember, and the debate over the future of Colorado’s forests is very much alive — how much of the forest can we manage, and how can we make sure that will help forests in the long run?

With the goal of creating more resilient and diverse forests, one aspect of the discussion centers on differences between active and passive management. This week, the Summit County Forest Health Task Force will host a panel discussion on forest management (Nov. 20, 6-8 p.m. at the Summit County Community & Senior Center, County Commons). Continue reading

Summit County eyes winter road closures

New rules would mesh with management of national forest lands

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Summit County officials are considering a request to close parts of several local roads, including Baldy Mountain Road, to winter motorized recreational traffic. Maps of the other roads are online at the Summit County planning department website.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Summit County officials will take input on a request to ban winter motorized recreation on three county roads:

  • Gold Run Gulch Road/CR 300 (from the Gold Run Trailhead on the north to the intersection with CR 456 on the south)
  • Baldy Road/CR 520 (from the Baldy Trailhead at Emmet Lode/CR 536 to the road’s terminus on Baldy Mountain)
  • Boreas Pass Road/CR 10 (from the Boreas Pass Trailhead to Boreas Pass)

An open house on the request is set for Nov. 19, from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. in the BOCC Hearing Room at the County Courthouse in Breckenridge. More detailed project information and maps will be available at the open house and can also be found on the Special Projects section of the Summit County Community Development website at: http://www.co.summit.co.us/index.aspx?NID=837. Continue reading

Summit County: Forest Service releases revised plan for 21-mile motorized trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain

Community task force finds common ground on contentious proposal

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The Forest Service says there’s room for 13 miles of new motorized trails on Tenderfoot Mountain, despite the fact that the agency can’t adequately maintain existing trails.

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A family outing near the Dillon Cemetery.

By Bob Berwyn

*Previous Summit Voice stories on the Tenderfoot motorized trail proposal are online here.

FRISCO — Critics are likely to say it’s like putting lipstick on a pig, but the U.S. Forest Service claims its latest version of a plan for a motorized trail on Tenderfoot Mountain, near Dillon, will result in a managed, finite system of sustainable trails to replacing the existing spaghetti network of illegal trails in the area.

The agency this week released a revised environmental study for the controversial trail system, which has been hotly debated for the past several years. According to the Forest Service, the new proposed action represents numerous compromises that were made to mitigate environmental and social concerns. Continue reading

Colorado: U.S. Forest Service dismantles illegal marijuana growing operation near Redstone

Cultivation, possession and use still illegal on federal lands in Colorado

illegal marijuana grow site on White River National Forest 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

Colorado: Summit County forests make big comeback after pine beetle epidemic

Forest Service replanting key areas, monitoring regeneration

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Just a few years after logging projects, forests are making a comeback in areas around Pine Cove campground, near Frisco, Colorado.

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A temporary logging road along the Frisco Peninsula.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With mountain pine beetle populations at their lowest level in 30 years, it’s safe to say that the forest health crisis actually turned out to be a much-needed catharsis for Summit County’s overgrown lodgepole pine forests.

U.S. Forest Service researchers are finding that most of the area hit by the bugs are showing encouraging signs of regrowth. Logged areas are primarily seeing dense lodgepole regeneration, along with some aspens. Non-logged areas are also growing back, and some early data suggests that subalpine fir may replace lodepole pines as the dominant species.

Along with continued logging operations in red zone areas, the U.S. Forest Service has been busy replanting some key areas, notably around campgrounds. Altogether, the agency has planted about a quarter of a million seedlings across the White River National Forest in the last three to four years, according to silviculturist Jan Burke, who has tracked the arc of the beetle infestation. Just this past summer, the Forest Service, with help from volunteer partners, planted about 90,000 trees. Continue reading

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