Category: US Forest Service

Court deal a win for fee-free public lands access in SoCal

Public lands access activists make progress in fight against recreation fees. @bberwyn photo.
Public lands access activists make progress in fight against recreation fees. @bberwyn photo.

Settlement addresses pesky Adventure Pass fees on 4 Southern California national forests

Staff Report

A long-running and stubborn battle by activists against the spread of public lands access fees has paid off once again in Southern California, where the U.S. Forest Service agreed to designate and mark free parking areas for hikers who aren’t using developed facilities.

The court-sanctioned deal stems from yet another legal battle over federal recreation fees. Public land agencies started charging for access to plug alleged budget holes; public lands advocates have been trying to limit the spread of the fees and make sure they’ve only levied in the places specifically authorized by Congress — namely at developed recreation sites, and not just for general hiking access. Continue reading “Court deal a win for fee-free public lands access in SoCal”

Forest Service eyes camping ban along Montezuma Road

The U.S. Forest Service wants to ban camping along the Snake River between Keystone and Montezuma.
The U.S. Forest Service wants to ban camping along the Snake River between Keystone and Montezuma.

Long-term camping, littering and wildfire danger cited as reasons for proposal

Staff Report

A popular free camping zone between Keystone and Montezuma could be shut down by the U.S. Forest Service. According to the agency, the informal campsites have become a nuisance, with long-term campers damaging natural resources and littering the area with human waste and trash.

As a result, the Forest Service wants to ban overnight camping  year-round in the areas within 0.25 miles of Montezuma Road. The closure cover an area about four miles long and a half mile wide. The area would remain open to day-use activities. Continue reading “Forest Service eyes camping ban along Montezuma Road”

Forest Service rejects development bid near Grand Canyon

The U.S. Forest Service has rejected a proposal that would have enabled a sprawling real estate development near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
The U.S. Forest Service has rejected a proposal that would have enabled a sprawling real estate development near the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Photo courtesy National Park Service.

Conservation groups, Native Americans united in bid to oppose real estate speculation near national park

Staff Report

The U.S. Forest Service has nixed a tentative plan to develop a new mega-resort near the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park.

As proposed in April 2015, the the plan would have resulted in major real estate sprawl around the village of Tusayan, with up to 2,100 residential units and 3 million square feet of retail space along with hotels, a spa and conference center.

The Forest Service had to decide whether to permit road and infrastructure improvements on publicly owned lands near the Grand Canyon that would have facilitated the development. Last week,  Kaibab National Forest Supervisor Heather Provencio rejected the plan. Continue reading “Forest Service rejects development bid near Grand Canyon”

Forest Service eyes permits for Vail Pass bike haulers

Agency considers expansion of downhill bike activity

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More downhill biking eyed at Vail Pass, Colorado.

Staff Report

In the age of instant gratification, it’s probably not surprising that coasting downhill on a mountain bike has become a popular pastime in Summit County. As a result, the U.S. Forest Service is preparing to authorize several ten-year special use permits to different individuals and organizations to serve up to a total of 20,000 downhill cyclists during the summer season.

Up to now, the shuttle service has been authorized under temporary permits serving up to 16,000 people, served by as many as 12 different local businesses, all hauling tourists to the top of Vail Pass so they can zoom back down on the bike path. Continue reading “Forest Service eyes permits for Vail Pass bike haulers”

Forest Service releases draft study for A-Basin expansion

Public comment sought on draft EIS

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Staff Report

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area is one step closer to gaining final approval for a 492-acre expansion that would include a new lift in the Beavers area. The ski area plan also calls for replacing Pallavicini chairlift, removing the Norway chairlift and adding a surface lift to ferry skiers and snowboarders to the popular backside Montezuma Bowl terrain.

Last week, the U.S. Forest Service released a draft environmental study for the planned projects. The agency will take public comments on the draft EIS through March 21. More information is online at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=41664. A public meeting on the draft Eis will be held at The Keystone Center (1628 St John Rd., Dillon, CO 80435) on March 2, 2016 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.

In a cover letter released with the draft study, White River National Forest Supervisor said he is currently evaluating the recreational benefits of these projects against the identified resource impacts these project may create. Continue reading “Forest Service releases draft study for A-Basin expansion”

Federal judge orders Forest Service to turn over more documents related to controversial Wolf Creek development

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Court battles have slowed a proposed development project near Wolf Creek Pass in the San Juan Mountains of southwest Colorado.

Agency may be lagging in turning over documents requested under Freedom of Information Act

By Bob Berwyn

The U.S. Forest Service must try to dig up more documents related to the controversial Wolf Creek Village development proposal, a federal judge ruled this week.

U.S. District Court Judge William Martinez ordered the agency to once again scour its files for emails, memos and other records that have been requested under the Freedom of Information Act. Community activists and public lands watchdog groups want to examine the paper trail because they believe that environmental studies for the development were tainted by political influence. Continue reading “Federal judge orders Forest Service to turn over more documents related to controversial Wolf Creek development”

Aerial forest surveys track continued spread of spruce beetles across Colorado forests

State, federal scientists track forest health

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Aerial survey results show how spruce beetles are taking a toll across Colorado’s forests, with new areas of infestation in the Sange de Cristo, the West Elks and even the northern mountains.
Spruce beetle populations are surging in the southern Rocky Mountains. bberwyn photo.
Spruce beetles are still spreading in the southern Rocky Mountains. @bberwyn photo.

By Bob Berwyn

The latest results from aerial surveys of Colorado forests shows that spruce beetles are doing the most damage, with infestations detected on 409,000 acres across the state, expanding onto 182,000 acres of previously unaffected forests. Since 1996, spruce beetle outbreaks have caused varying degrees of tree mortality on more than 1.5 million acres in Colorado.

The mapping shows spruce beetles spreading outward from the San Juans to the West Elk Mountains, the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and into the northern part of the state around Rocky Mountain National Park. See the full report here: http://www.fs.usda.gov/goto/USFSR2ForestHealth.

State forest experts said it was the fourth year in a row that spruce beetle outbreaks caused widespread tree mortality. As populations of spruce beetles expand, they are starting to affect higher-elevation stands of Engelmann spruce. The report says blowdown events, combined with long-term drought stress, warmer temperatures and extensive amounts of older, dense spruce, have all contributed to the ongoing spruce beetle outbreak. Continue reading “Aerial forest surveys track continued spread of spruce beetles across Colorado forests”