Thursday, June 30, 2005

Another Summit County Reservoir Reaches Capacity

First Dillon Reservoir filled to capacity, now Green Mountain Reservoir is as well. Green Mountain is pictured at left, before it filled to capacity.

Located near Heeney, north of Breckenridge approximately 35 miles, Green Mountain Reservoir reached capacity recently and began "spilling" water into the Blue River.

As both reservoirs are now full, the Blue River is now "free." Calling the Blue "free" means there is more than enough water in the system to meet all the adjudicated water rights.

"For the first time in a long time, there's more water in the system than there is demand," said Scott Hummer, Division 5 water commissioner for the State Engineer's Office.

"This is a very unusual situation," Hummer added, explaining that during his 15 years of administering water rights in the Blue River Basis, he's only seen it happen twice - once in 1995 and again in 1997.

Green Mountain Reservoir has a capacity of 154,645 acre feet; a surface area of 2,123 acres; is at an altitude fo 7,950 feet above sea level and the dam is 309 feet tall.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Breckenridge Recreational Opportunities

Summers in Breckenridge abound with recreational opportunities.

With recreational activities to enjoy both indoors and out, there is something for every family member.

The Breckenridge Recreation Center and the Stephen C. West ice Arena offer a full slate of classes and daily activities.

This summer the Recreation Center unveils new triathlon training workshops for women and a fun, new youth competition. Training workshops will take place in July, designed for beginner and intermediate abilities.

Mountain biking is in full swing now. Bike tuning clinics are offered at the Recreation Center during July. These clinics feature essential information about bike repair and maintenance for riders of all levels.

For youths and teens, new Adventure Week Mountain Biking and Kayaking and Freeride/Mountain bike Camps will give young riders a chance to practice their skills with experts and have a great time with friends.

The Nike Summit Trail Running series returns this summer with six great courses in and around Breckenridge. The series attracted nearly 500 runners in 2004.

For more information log on to or call the Breckenridge Recreation Center at 970-453-1734.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Dog vs. Toad

Cucumber Gulch, home to the rare Boreal Toad is being invaded by dogs. A protective management overlay for Cucumber Gulch prohibits dogs altogether, but a variance was made to allow for leased dogs on the trail through the gulch named "Interstate."

Open space planner Heidi andersen said her department will likely initiate a move to rescind the variance after researchers reported finding a dead boreal toad near the trail recently. The toad had small puncture wounds suggesting that a bite from a canine caused its death. The toad was previously located and tagged by the boreal toad research team, which has been surveying the area for several weeks. The toads are a state-listed endangered species.

Andersen said that some of the most blatant violations stem from nearby property owners in the Peak 7 area, who simply let their dogs out of the house to roam free in the area.

She said town trail crews have reported abuses of the area. In one case, a person walked right up to a large sign that spells out the leash restrictions and started throwing a tennis ball for her dog to chase right into the wetlands.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Mountain Biking Tips

Breckenridge's high alpine location presents some unique opportunities for mountain biking. It also presents some challenges you might not be familiar with.

Careful planning is necessary for any bicycle ride at 9,600 feet above sea level. Know your limitations and be prepared to handle any situation. Keep in mind your physical condition and ability to adapt to high altitudes.

Mountain weather can change rapidly. A warm, sunny morning can quickly turn into a torrential thunderstorm. The temperature can drop dramatically in just minutes.

Always carry adequate clothing for changing conditions. Bring along plenty of water (stream and lake water is unsafe to drink), snacks and sunscreen.

Expect varied trail conditions when mountain biking. Rugged, steep and rocky terrain is common. Most local backcountry trails DO NOT receive routine maintenance so situations including fallen logs and washouts may exist.

Breckenridge is truly a cycling friendly community. All Summit Stages buses are equipped with bike racks to transport passengers with bicycles along the bus routes that access all towns in the county.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

2005 Ride the Rockies Finishes-up in Breckenridge

After 405 miles, the 2005 Ride the Rockies bicycle tour finished up in Breckenridge late yesterday afternoon.

The bicyclists came hurtling down from the high point of their tour - the Climax mine at 11,318 feet - whisked ahead of some thunderstorms and crossed the finish line in Breckenridge.

They drank beer, ate bratwurst and lounged on the grass next to the Blue River. Some riders wished the ride could continue and others just looked forward to sleeping in their own bed.

2000 bicyclists descended on the town where entertainment, food and laughter filled the air.

Ride the Rockies is not a race by merely an athletic exhibition for the riders, and enjoying the scenery along the way is on of the biggest reasons many participate.

This was the 20th year of Ride the Rockies and the second time it has finished-up in Breckenridge.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Toast of Breckenridge

For the fourth year in a row, Breckenridge plays host to a culinary extravaganza that has something to please every palate. Whether you're a novice cook, a seasoned chef or simply love to dine, the Toast of Breckenridge includes something for you this July 8 - 10.

Participating chefs include: John Ash, owner of John Ash & Company in Northern California's wine country and teacher at many international cooking schools; Mark DeCarlo, renowned comedian and host of the Travel Channel's "Taste of America"; Susan Purdy, the master of high-altitude baking and author of 30 books; Kent Rathbun, nominated for the James Beard Best Chef of the Southwest for the past four years and chef-owner of two award-wining Dallas restaurants.

In the perfect paring of fine wine and great food, chefs participating in the festival will offer demonstrations on food preparation and wine experts and sommeliers will present a wide range of wine seminars.

The Toast of Breckenridge is one of three events in the 2005 Colorado Culinary Series. For more information call 877-359-5606 or go to

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Dillon Reservoir Reaches Capacity

For the first time in four years Dillon Reservoir is full.

On Monday morning the reservoir reached capacity and started to spill water through the Glory Hole for the first time since 2001. The reservoir came within 9 inches of reaching capacity in 2003.

Dillon holds 254,000 acre-feet of water and is the largest of Denver Water's storage areas. It filled this year despite a below-average snowpack in the Blue River watershed and below-normal streamflows for much of the spring.

Timely spring moisture in the South Platte Basin allowed Denver Water to leave the Roberts Tunnel shut off through most of the spring. The tunnel is used to divert water from the reservoir to the Front Range for consumption.

The wet spring combined with Denver Water's customer conservation helped fill Dillon. The reservoir will remain within a couple of feet of full through Labor Day, according to Denver Water.

Good news, indeed.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Recreation Fees at Trailheads, Picnic Areas and Campgrounds

Initially launched as a "recreation fee demonstration project" nearly 10 years ago, public land access charges were made permanent last year under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA).

Locally, the debate over access fees continues in places such as the Giberson Bay picnic and day use area, where the agency charges $7 per day, with a season pass available for $35. The area is well maintained, with toilets kept relatively clean even on busy Saturdays and a handful of scenically-set picnic tables available.

A for-profit Texas company called Thousand Trails collects the fees. The company is the major campground concessionaire in the White River National Forest.

"The law says you can't charge just to park and hike," said Robert Funkhouser, president of the West Slope No Fee Coalition. "The Forest Service has no intention of complying with the law. In fact, they are openly ignoring the new law. They're charging for sites that don't meet the requirement of the law."

White River National Forest officials say the new law does not affect any of its fee sites; they all qualify under FLREA, according to spokeswoman Sue Froeschle.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Breckenridge Station Transportation Center

The Breckenridge Station - that's the name for the new transit center, located on Watson Avenue on the north end of town.

The center opened in December 2004.

Since its opening transit ridership has increased significantly. Ridership on the Main Street Route (the Orange Route) doubled in the first quarter of 2005 compared to 2003. January 2005 had the highest ridership numbers since the establishment of Breckenridge public transportation.

The primary goal in constructing the facility was to transport more individuals downtown without having to relocate vehicles.

It appears to be working.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Search for the Boreal Toad

Above 9,000 feet in elevation, Boreal toads and tiger salamanders are the only amphibians that adapted to surviving long, cold winters.

Tiger salamanders haven't been spotted in Cucumber Gulch (up Ski Hill Road, near the Peak 8 base area), but Boreal toads have. The Colorado Division of Wildlife researchers have said the gulch offers some of the best habitat in the state for the toads.

The Boreal toad (Bufo boreas boreas) is Colorado's only alpine species of toad. Females generally grow to 11 centimeters and males to 9 centimeters. Both sexes appear warty and usually have a light stripe along the middle of the back. Juveniles may have red warts.

In Colorado, the toads are listed as a threatened species.

Cucumber Gulch is a key site for Boreal toad research this summer.

"It's a jewel. It's a national treasure right in the middle of a developed recreation area," said Environmental Protection Agency wetlands expert Sara Fowler.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Freestyle Center Headed to Steamboat

When Ken and Linda Sawyer announced more than two years ago that they planned to build a state-of-the-art freestyle ski training center at Keystone, most of Summit County rejoiced.

Times have changed. The freestyle center is now on its way to Steamboat Springs.

Many months of negotiations and planning the bring the Freestyle Center to Keystone ended when talks broke down in December. Vail Resorts and the Sawyers could not come to terms on what level of insurance would be enough to provide adequate protection.

The former Keystone Tennis Center now sits full of training equipment, with no one allowed to use it.

Last Tuesday, a Denver moving company took the bulk of the equipment to Steamboat, where it will be stored at the Lowell Whiteman ski academy until a permanent home is found.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Improving the Skier/Rider Experience in Breckenridge

Not this ski season (2005/06) but the next, leaving the Breckenridge ski resort after a day of skiing/riding will be as simple as taking one last run down the mountain to the foot of the big, day-skier parking lots on the north end of town.

No more waiting in bus lines ad no more gridlock while sitting in a bus at the end of the day.

The construction of the $5 million ski run is well underway.

Skiers and riders will be able to head down the existing Four O'Clock ski run to the new Skyway Skiway ski run and end up right in town.

"It improves the skier experience," said former Mayor Sam Mamula who brokered the development deal that includes the new ski run.

The new ski run will be 2,600 feet in length, cost will be somewhere between $4 and $5 million, it includes a bridge over Ski Hill Road, a tunnel under Park Avenue and some additional snowmaking.

Completion date is set for the 2006/07 ski season.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Golf, Golf and More Golf

The U.S. Open at Pinehurst No. 2. The U.S. Womens Open at Cherry Hills in Denver next weekend and the Great West-Peter Forsberg Golf Tournament in Breckenridge this weekend.

This is the second year that Forsberg, the all-everything forward for the Colorado Avalanche, has volunteered to headline the event

The tournament is played at the Breckenridge Golf Club and the Keystone River Course on Saturday and Sunday.

Sports celebrities scheduled to play in the event include Philadelphia Eagles veteran center Hank Fraley, former first-round draft pick and Pro Bowl quaterback Dan Pastorini and Willie O'Ree, the man who broke the NHL's color barrier.

The tournament has existed for 18 years in all, and was headlined by former Broncos John Elway and Steve Watson for a number of years.

For more information on how to get involved, call The Summit Foundation at 970-453-5970

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ull Fest Parade to remain un-P.C.

The Ullr Fest parade, held every year in late January or early February, is just fine as far as town council members are concerned and is not due for a P.C. injection.

That's P.C., as in politically correct.

The council likes the way town police handle the event and they want the "bad apples" who take their behavior overboard to be busted.

"I don't want to suck the soul out of this thing," councilmember Jeffrey Bergeron said.

"We sanitize a lot of things around here. This is one thing we should not sanitize." agreed councilmember Rob Millisor.

"I don't see the parade as being Sodom and Gomorrah," Bergeron added.

It may not be as wicked and depraved as Sodom and gomorrah, but everybody agrees the Ullr parade has a raw edge.

"Traditionally the parade is off color and a little bit raw; that's what it's always been," assistant police chief David Miller said. " But we don't want to be the culture police and the fashion police."

That's the parades attraction and that's what brings out the people to jam Breckenridge's Main Street. And for now, it will stay that way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Western Governors' Conference News

Speaking on the last day of the Western Governor's Association annual conference, in Breckenridge, Samuel Bodman, U.S. Energy Secretary, endorsed efforts to develop "clean" energy while also calling on Congress to pass President Bush's energy bill.

Bodman said the country must decrease its reliance on international supplies of oil and develop alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and nuclear power.

"It is more important than ever to make the best possible use of these resources," he said.

To that end, he also endorsed the work at Golden's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a leader in research of clean energy.

"NREL is essential to the department's core energy mission . . . We feel quite strongly about that," he said.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Breckenridge Master Plan Update

The town of Breckenridge is in the intermediate stages of updating the 1983 Breckenridge Master Plan. The update will include a name change to the Breckenridge Comprehensive Plan.

The comprehensive Plan is an expression of the citizens' values and is intended to provide direction for town decision makers as well as provide the basis for the adoption of regulatory documents.

The new comprehensive Plan is based on citizen input and agency comments received through existing plans and forums.

Town staff is drafting the plan for review by the planning commission and town council. When it is complete it will be presented for public comment. This is anticipated to occur this summer.

The draft plan can be reviewed at under "projects and issues."

Monday, June 13, 2005

Western Governors' Conference News

Some interesting facts coming out of the Western Governors' Conference going on in Breckenridge:

- If the West was a separate country, its economy would be the third largest in the world.

- Thirty-nine percent of U.S. merchandise trade exports originate in Western states.

- Population growth in the West from 200 to 3004 was double the rate in the rest of the nation.

All compiled by the Western Governors' Association.

Skier Visits Set Record in Breckenridge

Breckenridge Ski Resort reached an all-time high in skier visits during the 2004/05 season.

1.471 million skier visits were recorded - a 4.9 percent increase over the 2003/04 season, and the highest number every recorded for the resort.

Keystone Resort broke 1 million skier visits and saw an 8.2 percent increase over the 2003/04 season. Keystone recorded 1.021 skier visits during the 2004/05 season.

Both resorts are owned by Vail Resorts, which recently announced the numbers. Company chairman, Adam Arron said in terms of financial performance, the numbers "speak for themselves."

Vail's stock price recently closed at $28.15 per share, up 3.3 percent.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

National Repertory Orchestra Back in Town

The National Repertory Orchestra, a group of the nation's 88 best musicians ages 18 - 28, starts it eight-week series of concerts Saturday, June 18, at the Riverwalk Center in Breckenridge.

The musicians remain busy throughout the summer, learning and performing a full nine-month symphony season in eight weeks. They rehearse five hours a day, and will perform 14 concerts this year.

An interesting twist to this years series - the orchestra will host a "Where in the world is the NRO?" scavenger hunt. The day before or the day of a concert, one to five musicians from the National Repertory Orchestra will perform in a secret location.

Clues as to where they will be performing will be in the local newspaper, on the local radio station and local television station. The clues will lead people to a location of one of the orchestra's sponsors. Once there, businesses will give seekers another clue as to where the NRO players are.

The first five people who find the NRO players will win free tickets to the upcoming concert.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Western Governors' Association in Breckenridge

Governors from nine western states are expected to join Colorado Governor Bill Owens at the annual Western Governors' Association meeting in Breckenridge, beginning Sunday afternoon.

Premiers from Manitoba, Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada are also scheduled to attend.

There are rumors that California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will attend.

The conference begins Sunday and continues through the following Tuesday with keynote addresses that will focus on economic growth, trade and energy.

Three speakers will address the panel and audience each day, including secretaries from the U.S. Department of Energy and the Department of Agriculture and an administrator from the Environmental Protection Agency.

Friday, June 10, 2005

Breckenridge Nature Series Returns

The third season of the Breckenridge Nature Series is under way.

The series' goal is to educate residents and visitors about Summit County's natural resources.

The Series, sponsored by the town in partnership with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, offers naturalist-guided programs. The schedule includes several wildflower hikes, a series of astronomy nights and a variety of wildlife programs.

Hikes are easy to moderate and most take place within the town trail system.

To receive a complete schedule or to sign up for a program contact Peg Alig at the town (970-453-6422 ext. 19) or email

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Strong Year for Colorado Skiing

Colorado's ski resorts posted their third-best season in 2004/05, with a total of 11.81 million skiers.

"We were up in all categories," said Rob Perlman, president and chief executive of Colorado Ski Country USA, at the industry trade group's recent annual meeting.

This past season bought an increase of more than 550,000 visits over the 2003/04 season.

Fueled by the weakened U.S. dollar, Colorado's $2.5 billion ski industry saw a 28 percent increase in international visitors. An additional 200,000 foreign skiers and riders visited Colorado's 25 ski resorts compared with last year.

The United Kingdom, Colorado's largest international market, sent 31 percent more skiers than in 2003/04.

Next season, Colorado ski resorts should see a record-breaking 12 million skier visits, Perlman predicted. The record of 11.98 million skier visits was set in 1997/98.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Annual Forsberg Golf Tournament Returns

The Breckenridge Golf Club will again be hosting the Great West Peter Forsberg Celebrity Golf Tournament.

The annual event is scheduled for June 18 and 19 at the Breckenridge Golf club and at the River Course at Keystone. Forsberg, a National Hockey League star is bringing a variety of celebrities to town for this benefit tourney.

Lots of activities, events, awards and of course - golf. It is a scramble format with 5-some groups teeing off each hole. It is open to public participation (for a price, of course).

For more information contact the Summit Foundation at 970-453-5970 or the Breckenridge Golf Club at 970-453-9104.

And, I might add, the Breckenridge course is in beautiful condition.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Ski Season REALLY Comes to an End

With the closing of Arapaho Basin last Sunday, ski season in Colorado is really over - for a few months.

With a blanket of heavy, wet June snow covering the area over the weekend, "The Legend" closed for the 2004/05 season on June 5.

Flakes swirled and snow piled up under overcast skies for most of the weekend, but it didn't faze the diehard skiers and riders there for the ski season finale.

The season-ending bash featured a Little Hercules concert near the base lodge and plenty of Hawaiian shirts, brats, beers and bathing suits.

Under partly cloudy skies on Sunday, it was the best of both worlds - sunny, with 8 inches of fresh snow reported in the final three days of the season.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Skyway Skiway and Mountain Thunder Lodge

The Breckenridge Ski Area recently broke ground on two multimillion-dollar projects they say will reduce traffic congestion and improve the skiing experience for patrons. And I believe them.

The resort is building a roughly $5 million ski run that links Peak 8 with the big parking lots on the north side of town. The ski run, named Skyway Skiway, will open for the 2006-07 season. It will allow skiers and riders to ski directly from Peak 8 to the big parking lots in town. The ski run will require a bridge to be built over Ski Hill road and an underpass below Park Avenue. Great design! It means skiers and riders will not have to cross any roads on their way down the mountain. Now, if we can just get that gondola built in one of those big parking lots. . .

It will also connect to the Mountain Thunder condominium project (this is the other multimillion-dollar project I am referring to).

This $16 million residential project is slated to open in the summer of 2006. The new development calls for 34 townhome-style condominium units ranging in price from $540,000 to $925,000.

Twenty-two units have been sold, allowing for construction of the ski run to begin two years earlier than expected.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Golden Horseshoe Purchase Moving Ahead

The Golden Horseshoe (also known as the B&B Mines property) is an 8,000 acre area of land that lies between French Gulch and the Swan River - just north of downtown Breckenridge. The area is home to the native Colorado Cutthroat Trout and encompasses approximately 100 miles of trails and roads, many of which date back to the late 19th century mining area. Remnants of towns, residential areas and mining operations are scattered throughout the area.

The town of Breckenridge, Summit county and the U.S. Forest Service have been working in collaboration for almost a decade on efforts toward managing the natural resources, retaining the backcountry character and providing for the interpretation and enjoyment of the Golden Horseshoe's unique mining history.

The town and county have been negotiating the purchase of the property for years.

The property includes three mining sites - the Wellington-Oro, Jessie and the Royal tiger/IXL mines.The clean-up of these old mines is the stumbling point holding up the purchase.

The closing on the B&B property was to occur originally in June of 2004; because of the continued negotiations over the mine sites reclamation issues, the closing has been delayed.

However, it looks as though it could all come together soon. This will add some wonderful open space to Breckenridge.