Tag: U.S. 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”

U.S. wildfire season on pace to break last year’s record

Colorado forest fire
Climate change has increased the risk of dangerous forest fires across the West. @bberwyn photo.

Global warming a key factor in surge of giant forest blazes

By Bob Berwyn

With about 1.5 million acres already scarred by wildfires across the U.S. this year, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack is warning of a long, hot fire season ahead. Following a meeting with regional Forest Service leaders, Vilsack, along with Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, said that federal budgets are not keeping pace with the steep increase in fires.

Vilsack said 2015 was the most expensive fire season in the department’s history, costing more than $2.6 billion on fire alone.

“The 2016 wildfire season is off to a worrisome start. Southern California, the Great Basin in Nevada, portions of the southwest, and even Florida and Hawaii are particularly vulnerable this year,” Vilsack said. The sustained California drought killed more than 40 million trees, which are all potential fuel, and projections for hot summer weather, driven by global warming and a massive El Niño hangover, will likely increase the danger even more, he added. Continue reading “U.S. wildfire season on pace to break last year’s record”

Public lands: Utah congressmen try to strip federal land agencies of their law enforcement authority

Proposed measure is the latest attack on public lands by anti-environmental extremists in Congress

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Western public lands are under assault by right-wing extremists. @bberwyn photo.

Staff Report

After failing repeatedly in their far-fetched attempts to claim state authority over federally managed public lands, extremist anti-environment lawmakers from the West are trying a new front in their continued attacks on the federal government.

A new measure introduced in the U.S. House would take away law enforcement authorities from agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service. Instead, local sheriffs would be tasked with policing those lands. Continue reading “Public lands: Utah congressmen try to strip federal land agencies of their law enforcement authority”

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”

Copper Mountain eyes alpine coaster amusement ride

More snowmaking, bike trails to be studied by Forest Service

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More recreation developments proposed for Copper Mountain.

Staff Report

Citing a lack of recreational opportunities at Copper Mountain, the U.S. Forest Service has launched an early comment period for proposed new developments at the Summit County resort, including an alpine coaster ride on the front side of the mountain, increased snowmaking and new mountain bike trails.

“These projects will help connect people to their National Forest while at the same time improving the year-round guest experience at Copper Mountain Resort,” said U.S. Forest Service Dillon District Ranger Bill Jackson. “In particular, we are excited about the additional snowmaking coverage on the West Encore and Collage trails which will allow the U.S. Ski Team additional early-season training opportunities.” Continue reading “Copper Mountain eyes alpine coaster amusement ride”

Forest Services tries to cover its tracks on Wolf Creek

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A controversial plan to develop private real estate near Wolf Creek Ski Area is on hold for now.

Paper trail shows agency hid and likely destroyed records related to controversial development proposal in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains

Staff Report

Environmental and community activists opposed to a massive real estate development in southern Colorado say they have new evidence that the U.S. Forest Service tried to cover up how political influence tainted several steps of the approval process for the project.

A review of more than 60,000 pages documents obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request and a subsequent court order shows that the Forest Service deliberately concealed and destroyed records related to the Village at Wolf Creek development project. Continue reading “Forest Services tries to cover its tracks on Wolf Creek”