The battle over fossil fuel exploitation on public lands heated up in 2015, as environmental advocates launched an aggressive #keepitintheground campaign aimed at convincing the Obama administration to stop issuing leases and permits for oil and gas drilling. But along with the political and environmental battles, there were also some feel-good stories. Right here in Colorado, for example, two beloved tracts of land administered by the National Park Service celebrated centennials. Read more about those birthdays here.
It was a big year for public lands preservation. With Congress gridlocked on many issues, President Obama took the initiative to set aside hundreds of thousands of acres as national monuments under the Antiquities Act, including Browns Canyon, in Colorado. Read more about the creation of Browns Canyon National Monument in these Summit Voice stories, and learn more about President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act here. Continue reading “2015 in Review: Public lands”→
Lance Crosby was a 5-year seasonal resident of Yellowstone; park rangers say they will euthanize the bears responsible for the death
FRISCO — Yellowstone National Park officials have identified the 63-year-old man who was killed Aug. 7 by a grizzly bear. The victim was Lance Crosby, a long-time employee of Medcor, the company that operates three urgent care clinics in the park.
According to a park service press release, Crosby had worked and lived in Yellowstone for five seasons and was an experienced hiker. Park officials continue to investigate the death, with preliminary results showing that Crosby was attacked by at least one grizzly bear. His body was found partially consumed and cached, or covered, and partial tracks at the scene indicate that an adult female grizzly and at least one cub-of-the-year were present and likely involved in the attack. Continue reading “National Park Service releases name of man killed by grizzly bear in Yellowstone”→
State-based wolf plan would have allowed trapping wolves to inflate elk populations
FRISCO — Wildlife advocates in Idaho have slowed the frantic state-sanctioned wolf slaughter that has ensued since the federal government turned management of the species over to the state.
In response to a lawsuit filed by conservationist and wilderness advocate Ralph Maughan, along with four conservation groups, Idaho Fish and Game and the U.S. Forest Service have halted wolf killing in the federally-protected Franck Church-River of No Return Wilderness during the winter of 2015-16. Continue reading “Wolves in Idaho wilderness area get reprieve”→
Growing number of incidents prompts crackdown to protect bears and people
FRISCO — The U.S. Forest Service will try to protect both people and bears in the mountains around Aspen by requiring backcountry campers to store their food in hard-sided bear-proof containers.
The new regulation for the heavily visited 162,333 acre Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area on the White River National Forest comes after Forest Service rangers reported an increasing number of incidents involving humans and bears.
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.