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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

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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

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

Skiing: Vail, Beaver Creek plan lift upgrades

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The U.S. Forest Service is taking public comments on planned infrastructure improvements at Vail and Beaver Creek.

Eagle County resorts to add some six-seater lifts

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Vail Resorts is looking to boost uphill capacity at its Eagle County resorts by replacing a few aging quad chairlifts with six-seaters, as well as making a few other on-mountain infrastructure improvements. The upgrades are consistent with previously approved master plans for Vail and Beaver Creek, but the U.S. Forest Service is taking  public input on the projects before approving them. Continue reading

Summit County: Forest Service requests $96,000 state trails grant for OHV management

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The grant proposal includes examples of how the funding would be used.

Local stakeholders support idea of summer motorized trail crew

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The Forest Service’s Dillon Ranger District is applying for a $96,000 state trails grant partly to patrol and maintain a trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain that hasn’t been approved or built yet.

An off-highway vehicle subcommittee heard the grant request earlier this month in the first step of a three-stage approval process.

The grant request has support from the Summit County Commissioners, the town of Breckenridge and several nonprofit stewardship groups in the area. Continue reading

Colorado ski industry should embrace wolverine restoration

Bob Berwyn.

Bob Berwyn.

Opinion: Obstructing conservation runs counter the interest of most skiers

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — The upcoming listing of North American wolverines as an endangered or threatened species has huge implications for Colorado, and also gives the Colorado ski industry a chance to work off some of the bad karma it earned for opposing the reintroduction of lynx to the mountains of our state.

Wolverines are largest member of the weasel family and need rugged alpine terrain covered with deep snow to reproduce. Sometime soon, within the next few weeks, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will announce its listing decision, with the best available science suggesting that global warming is likely to reduce habitat for denning and breeding to the point that it will threaten the existence of the species.

That’s were Colorado comes in. With more high-elevation terrain than any other state in the Rockies, and plenty of steep, remote brush- and rock-strewn avalanche paths, our mountains could be a climate refuge for the animals, according to conservation biologists working on recovery plans for the rare critter. Continue reading

Colorado: New snowmobile rules on national forest lands

Winter travel maps detail new closures and designated trails

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New winter travel maps available for national forest lands in Summit County. Click on the image to view, download or print maps for your area.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — The White River National Forest has started enforcing new winter motorized travel rules on the Dillon Ranger District, including the closure of some areas that were previously open to snowmobiles.

The winter travel maps are available at the Dillon Ranger District visitor center in Silverthorne and also online at this Forest Service web page. Dillon District winter rangers will be educating the public about the new changes, checking snowmobile registrations, and responding to snowmobiles in closed areas.  Anyone observing snowmobiles in closed areas is encouraged to record detailed information and report it to the Dillon Ranger District at 970-468-5400.

Motorized users are responsible for obtaining a map to determine where they can ride.  “NO SNOWMOBLE” signs will not be posted except in key areas. More information is available on the White River National Forest recreation web page. Continue reading

Summit County asks for delay on Tenderfoot motorized trail decision and suggests collaborative planning process

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Can Summit County and the Forest Service find common ground for a motorized trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain? Bob Berwyn photo.

‘Rewarding illegal trail creation is not good public policy’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Summit County commissioners continue to express concerns with a U.S. Forest Service proposal to build more than 10 miles of new trail primarily for motorized use on Tenderfoot Mountain, between Dillon and Keystone. All the Forest Service documents for the Tenderfoot proposal are online at this WRNF web page.

In a formal comment letter submitted last week, the BOCC asked the Forest Service to delay making a decision on the project pending a joint collaborative planning process with the county, and offered to come to the table with some funds for maintenance and management of a trail system.

“I don’t think anyone on the planning commission is opposed to finding a place … But I don’t think the Forest Service did its job in looking at other places and saying why they won’t work,” said Craig Suwinski, chair of the Snake River Planning Commission, representing those citizens potentially most affected by noise and other impacts a motorized trail system could have. Continue reading

Colorado: U.S. Forest Service rejects appeal of Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski Area

Opponents of controversial expansion considering legal action

The Peak 6 expansion at Breckenridge Ski area would add about 550 acres of new terrain.

*Read all Summit Voice Peak 6 stories

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Barring legal action, Breckenridge Ski Area could start implementing the controversial Peak 6 expansion as soon as early December after regional Forest Service officials rejected an appeal filed by a coalition of conservation groups, skiers and local residents. Read the appeal here.

Scott Armentrout, Supervisor of the Gunnison, Uncompahgre and Grand Mesa National Forests, the appeal reviewing officer, wrote Nov. 14 that he found that the approval for the project did not violate any federal laws, regulations or policies and recommended upholding White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams’ decision to approve the 550-acre expansion.

The formal decision was made by appeals deciding officer Brian Ferebee, a deputy regional forester for resources. Read the full appeal decision here, and a summary of the appeal decision here.

“I agree with the ARO’s analysis as presented in the enclosed letter. All appeal issues raised have been considered and the record is adequate to support the Forest Supervisor’s decision,” Ferebee wrote in his Nov. 19 decision letter. “I affirm the Forest Supervisor’s decision to approve the Breckenridge Ski Area Peak 6 Project. I deny requested relief to set aside the decision or complete additional analysis.” Continue reading

Summit County: Forest Service says, ‘Give us a chance’ on proposed Tenderfoot Mountain motorized trail system

County officials feel slighted by federal bureaucrats

Motorized riders enjoy cruising a road near the Summit County landfill on lower Tenderfoot Mountain. Bob Berwyn photo.

Related stories

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A plan by the U.S. Forest Service to build 13 miles of new trails for motorized use on Tenderfoot Mountain has put the agency on a collision course with local residents who have fought the plan from its earliest stages. Despite some changes from the original proposal, most residents of the affected area remain adamantly opposed.

Meanwhile, Forest Service rangers are asking the community to give the project a chance, claiming that motorized users will police themselves to make sure that impacts don’t spread beyond the trail system that would span about 1,800 acres on the hillsides above Highway 6 between Dillon and Summit Cove.

The Forest Service released an environmental assessment for the project in mid-November, triggering a 30-day public comment period. Based on the final round of feedback, agency officials will release a final decision on the trail system sometime this winter. All the Forest Service documents relating to the proposal, including comment information, are at this WRNF web page. Continue reading

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