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Colorado: Conservation groups reach deal with Vail Resorts on Breck Peak 6 expansion and withdraw threat of lawsuit

Vail Resorts ups contribution to lynx conservation fund

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Development of the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area will probably begin sometime in the next few weeks and should be ready for skiing this coming season.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — There will be no lawsuit challenging the Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area, as conservation groups say they’ve reached an agreement with Vail Resorts that will help ensure long-term conservation of threatened lynx in the area.

“Our main concern was lynx conservation,” said Rocky Mountain Wild attorney Matt Sandler, who was involved in the recent talks with Vail Resorts. As part of the agreement, Vail Resorts will up its contribution to a conservation fund that will be used for habitat improvements in the region, benefiting lynx and other species. Continue reading

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Colorado: USFS permits ‘Mad Max’ camp site at Officer’s Gulch

Logging company leaves numerous spills, damaged vegetation

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Fuel containers used by a logging crew at Officers Gulch have been leaking. So far, the cleanup has consisted of dumping sawdust on top of the spill. Bob Berwyn photo.

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Fuel leakage from a generator at Officers Gulch.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Forest Service officials with the Dillon Ranger District said they will investigate several small oil spills at a long-term logging camp at the abandoned campground at Officers Gulch.

The agency authorized the logging crew’s stay at the site, where several people lived in campers most of the winter and stored equipment and fuel. In one area, diesel fuel leakage from an old generator spilled off the pavement and into the forest and other spills of unknown materials are visible in the camping area.

In other places, numerous limbs were slashed off young lodgepole pines, presumably to give large trucks room to maneuver in and out. In other spots, snowplows used to clear access to the site in the winter uprooted willow bushes and broke down other trees. Continue reading

Colorado: Conservation group challenges BLM decision to ‘suspend’ Thompson Divide oil and gas leases

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Wrangling continues over oil and gas leasing in Colorado.

Appeal asks state BLM director to let leases expire

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Conservation advocates are challenging a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to extend the life of several oil and gas leases in the Thompson Divide area of Colorado’s White River National Forest.

The leases have been unused for 10 years and were illegally sold to begin with, according to Earthjustice, which is filing the administrative appeal on behalf of Wilderness Workshop.

“Sometimes BLM needs to just say no to the oil and gas industry,” said Earthjustice attorney Michael Freeman. “If we can’t keep energy development out of a place like the Thompson Divide, what part of Colorado is safe? We can meet our energy needs in responsible fashion without destroying our most important public lands,” Freeman said. Continue reading

Colorado: Skier donations build forest conservation legacy

National Forest Foundation awards $650,000 for stewardship work

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Ski area visitors leave behind a year-round stewardship legacy when they contribute to the Ski Conservation Fund. Bob Berwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — Thanks to voluntary contributions from ski resort visitors, the the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation will partner to invest about $650,000 in forest restoration and recreation projects. The donations are collected in a voluntary add-on to ticket and lodging sales, a dollar or two at a time.

The grants were awarded recently to organizations like the Blue River Watershed Group, the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, the Colorado Mountain Club and the Colorado Natural Heritage Program for projects like trail improvements, wildlife habitat enhancement, tree planting and stream restoration. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service finalizes plan to protect bats

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White-nose syndrome is spreading outward from the Northeast. Graphic courtesy whitenosesyndrome.org.

White River National Forest keeps a few caves closed permanently, requires cave registration and decontamination

*Click here for more Summit Voice coverage of white-nose syndrome

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The White River National Forest is well-known for its many ski areas and stunning high-elevation wilderness areas, but the forest is also a Rocky Mountain stronghold for bats. And with a deadly disease poised to move into the region, resource managers are taking steps to try and protect the flying mammals with a new cave access policy.

Based on a regional study completed a few weeks ago, WRNF supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has decided to keep several caves with biologically significant populations closed all year, and other caves may be closed seasonally. Year-round closures are to be enacted on ranger districts if white-nose syndrome is documented within 250 miles. The regional policy and supporting documents are online at this Forest Service website. Continue reading

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

Summit County: Stakeholder group to take another close look at proposal for motorized trails on Tenderfoot Mountain

Consensus sought on divisive plan to build new trails

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Local dirt bike riders hope to create a new system of challenging single-track trails.

Click here to read full Summit Voice coverage of the Tenderfoot issue.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The White River National Forest has hit the pause button on its proposal to develop a new motorized trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain. Before issuing a final decision on the plan, forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams will consider the input of a stakeholder group that’s meeting in a process facilitated by the Keystone Center.

The stakeholder group includes Forest Service representatives, local government officials and planners, conservation advocates, motorized users and local homeowner groups. The hope is to find some sort of consensus on the contentious plan, said Peech Keller, who coordinates environmental reviews for the Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District. The group will meet about every two weeks through mid-June, she added. All the Forest Service documents related to the proposal are online here. Continue reading

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