More wildfires burning in Colorado

Evacuations in effect forLime Gulch Fire

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The West Fork Fire complex has grown to more than 600 acres in the rugged San Juan backcountry of southwest Colorado. Photo courtesy InciWeb.org.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — With several new wildfires burning in Colorado and red flag warnings in effect for much of the state, Summit County officials have put a temporary hold on slash burning permits.

“We all have seen the tragic consequences of wildfires yet again in our state, and we want to do everything we can to prevent an out-of-control blaze here in Summit County,” said Lake Dillon Fire Chief Dave Parmley. “This is a worthwhile precaution, especially as we have three teams of firefighters out of the county on the Black Forest fire, as well as two other wildfire leaders assigned to other blazes.”

The Black Forest Fire may be in a mop-up phase, but the Lime Gulch Fire near Conifer and Evergreen is still growing. The Jefferson County fire was initially called the Chair Rock Fire but officials changed the name about about 3:20 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

The Jefferson County Emergency Blog has been activated to support the Chair Rock Fire, burning in the area of Foxton Road and River Road near Conifer, Colorado.

A level three evacuation (leave now) has been issued for the areas within a three-mile radius of the Foxton Road and River Road intersection. According to the JeffCo emergency blog, 410 phones were called within this evacuation area.  Deputies are in the area going door to door to assist with the evacuations. Continue reading

Colorado: Forest Service moves forward with controversial Wolf Creek land trade and development plan

Wolf Creek backcountry. Photo courtesy U.S. Forest Service.

Draft environmental study available for review and comment

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — The U.S. Forest Service is looking to forge ahead with a controversial land trade at Wolf Creek Pass. The southwest Colorado swap could enable development of a new 1,500-unit residential village surrounded by national forest lands full of wetlands and critical to lynx and other sensitive species.

The agency this week released a draft environmental study for the land swap, outlining a preferred alternative that would trade about 204 acres of public land for 178 acres of private land. Read the draft EIS here.

“By design, the land exchange would result in a private land connection to Hwy 160 and, by default, a means to accommodate year-round vehicular access to the private land parcel owned by LMJV (Leavell-McCombs Joint Venture),” the Forest Service wrote in the draft Environmental Impact Statement.

The trade could result in development of a “mini-city of hotels, condos, private homes, parking garages, and retailers, with potentially devastating effects on wildlife habitat in the area, according to Rocky Mountain Wild, a Colorado conservation group that has led the Friends of Wolf Creek campaign for the past 10 years. Continue reading

Weatherblog: Some spring powder in Summit County?

Wilderness Sports sponsors the Summit Voice weatherblog. Click to visit Wilderness Sports online.

Winter weather advisories posted for Tuesday night through late Wednesday

A spring sunset over Buffalo Mountain in Summit County, Colorado. BOB BERWYN PHOTO.

A big-picture view of the Pacific shows a big subtropical jet stream far to the south and some remnant winter energy swirling in the Gulf of Alaska. In between, an area of disturbed weather will move across the Rockies the next few days, bringing some fresh snow.

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A classic spring storm is rolling across the West, marked by a deep trough of low pressure extending down into the desert Southwest. As an “inside slider,” the low will move east of the Continental Divide and set up a deep, moist northeast flow that could produce significant snowfall on the east slope of the Front Range under upslope conditions.

A winter weather advisory from 12 p.m. Tuesday night to 6 p.m. Wednesday (May 11), with 4 to 8 inches of snow possible above 7,000 feet along the Front Range. The winter weather advisory extends to the higher terrain of Summit County, where the National Weather forecast also calls for the chance of 4 to 8 inches of snow across the higher terrain. A-Basin could pick up some decent snow once the weather system moves east of the area Wednesday and the flow switches around to the north.

Farther west and south, around Vail, Aspen and Crested Butte, a winter storm warning is in effect, with heavier snow expected across south-facing slopes Tuesday night, shifting to north-facing slopes Wednesday. Continue reading

Weatherblog: A little bonus storm …

A pronounced low pressure area off the Pacific Northwest coast will spin bits of energy toward Colorado the next few days.

Solid snowfall totals Sunday, more on the way this week?

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The shortwave trough of low pressure that raced across the northern Rockies early Sunday morning delivered respectable amounts of snow to many resorts in northern Colorado, with Loveland, the big winner, reporting 11 inches.  Winter Park reported 8.5 inches, while Copper, Steamboat, Sol Vista Basin, Snowmass, Ski Cooper, and Copper all reporting 6 inches, while A-Basin picked up 5 inches.

All in all, not a bad score for a storm that wasn’t expected to produce much, and a similar wave is expected to move through area Monday morning, followed by a somewhat more vigorous wave sometime around mid-week, though that storm may come in out of the southwest and drop more of the goods on the state’s southwestern quadrant. Continue reading

Feds to consider land swap for Wolf Creek development

Texas billionaire McCombs still intent on pursuing Wolf Creek village project

A map included in the feasibilty analysis shows the lands near Wolf Creek proposed for a trade.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Like some kind of zombie nightmare, a plan to develop real estate on several hundred acres near the base of Wolf Creek ski area has risen from the grave once again.

Rangers with the Rio Grande National Forest said this week they will begin a land trade process that — if approved — would convey 204 acres of public lands, including some adjacent to U.S. Highway 160, to would-be developer Billy Joe “Red” McCombs in exchange for 178 acres of private backcountry inholdings.

The Texas billionaire has been trying for years to win approval for a speculative real estate development near Wolf Creek Pass in an area with sensitive Alpine wetlands and wildlife habitat for threatened lynx.

A previous proposal stalled several years ago, but behind-the-scenes talks at the highest political levels have once again propelled the process. Continue reading

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