Long-term camping, littering and wildfire danger cited as reasons for proposal
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.
Agency considers expansion of downhill bike activity
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.
Zip lines, canopy tours and other attractions planned
By Bob Berwyn
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is on track to approve a huge expansion of summer activities at Breckenridge Ski Area that will accommodate up to 150,000 additional visitors during the summer season.
The agency this week released a final environmental study for the new installations and programs, along with a draft decision letter from White River National Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams, who said he thinks the new facilities — including zip lines, canopy tours and challenge courses — will enhance public appreciation of national forest lands and the outdoors.
Construction of new dirt bike trails also under way
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service is implementing restoration plans associated with approval of the new off-road motorcycle trail system on Tenderfoot Mountain.
The trail system, long a local point of contention, was approved last year based on a compromise agreement among stakeholders. The Forest Service has already started building part of the trail, with new single-track visible just a few feet above, and running parallel to Straight Creek Road.
Along with new wilderness, the bill would also designate 16,000 acres as special management areas for recreation, and where some other activities, including wildfire mitigation and forest health treatments would be permitted.
Congressman Jared Polis’ introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act should be applauded. This bill, the result of 5 years of local community engagement and consensus, is important not just to the central Rocky Mountains but to Colorado as a whole. Many Coloradans know this area for the endless recreational opportunities, whether it’s hiking, biking, camping, hunting, fishing, snowmobiling, or just relaxing. As the owner of Seymour Lodging Corp, Colorado wilderness is of particular importance to me.
Owning a small business is never easy, particularly when your business is dependent on external factors such as weather and consumer discretionary income. Fortunately for myself and many other small business owners across the state, the designation of wilderness, in addition to enhancing quality of life, makes local tourism a little more secure.
The Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act protects many areas in the White River National Forest, which draws more than 9 million visitors annually; these visitors then support local tourism and outdoor recreation businesses.
The outdoor recreation industry in Colorado is a critical part of the state’s economy which generates $13.2 billion annually in consumer spending, and supports 125,000 jobs which pay over $4 billion in wages to Coloradans. Many small mountain towns count on tourism and outdoor recreation to stay afloat. I know personally how difficult this can be, and I would like to thank Congressman Polis for investing in the state of Colorado.
After reading about the recent introduction of the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act, I wanted to publicly thank Representative Jared Polis for his work protecting Colorado. As an avid hiker, I deeply enjoy spending free time in the Central Mountains.
Over the past 5 years Rep. Polis has worked with a plethora of local stakeholders to ensure that this legislation truly helps to support the local community- this hard work has paid off, garnering the support of everyone from mountain bikers and conservationists to hunters and small businessmen.
If passed, the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act would provide important protections for key watersheds in the Central Mountains and safeguard our ever-valuable Colorado water for local communities and the greater Front Range. As well, the Act would protect some of Colorado’s best fishing streams and preserve valuable wildlife habitat; thank you, Representative Polis!
Eddie Welsh is history and political science major at Colorado State University. He has a special interest in environmental issues here in Colorado, particularly in the Central Mountains where he spend a great deal of time.
Congress Jared Polis introduces land protection measure
FRISCO — A proposal for new Colorado wilderness areas is back on the political table in Washington, where Congressman Jared Polis introduced a new bill that ‚ if passed, would add more than 39,000 acres of land to the wilderness roster.
“The areas that stretch along the Continental Divide in Summit and Eagle counties are the iconic playground of our state,” Polis said. “They are where Coloradans and out-of-state tourists alike go to ski, hike, mountain bike, hunt, and fish … and this bill will ensure they are preserved for future generations to enjoy,” he added. Continue reading “New push for Colorado wilderness expansion”→