Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The Keystone Center Receives Grant

The Keystone Center received a $100,000 grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts to support a joint fact-finding process focused on the risks and benefits of the future expansion of nuclear power in the United States.

"The need for more baseload electricity generation coupled with concerns about climate change and the high prices of oil and natural gas have prompted discussions about the possibility of expanding the role of nuclear power," said Keystone Center president Peter Adler, Ph.D. "Before debating what role, if any, nuclear power should play in the future mix of energy sources, proponents and skeptics need to reach a common understanding about the state of the technologies and the costs, benefits and risks."

Nearly 30 individuals representing public interest groups, the nuclear and utility industries, consumer and environmental advocates, large consumers, labor representatives, state and federal regulators, energy policymakers and the financial, research and academic communities, will participate in the project, which will include three meetings and six workgroup meetings.

The Keystone Center also was recently awarded a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for more than $500,000 to facilitate a dialogue on the role of marketing and advertising in the increasing problem of childhood obesity in the U.S.

The Keystone Center is a nonprofit organization that was founded in 1975 to help facilitate cross-sector dialogues on pressing environment, energy, and public health issues. The Keystone Center does not take positions or advocate particular points of view. Instead, it brings stakeholders together and helps them build practical, consensus-based solutions that break old logjams or avert unnecessary future science and public policy battles.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer Stock Theatre in Dillon & Keystone

The grand old theatrical tradition of summer stock is alive and well in Summit County, as the Lake Dillon Theatre celebrates the season with four productions scheduled to run from June through August.

"I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" and "Charlotte's Web" are both slated for venues in Keystone, while "Once on this Island" will be performed at the Lake Dillon Theatre and the musical "Gypsy" at the Lake Dillon Amphitheatre.

Last year marked the first season of summer stock for the Lake Dillon Theatre, with gratifyingly successful results for the company and its artistic director, Chris Alleman.

"We were in the black last year, which gave us the momentum to grow this year," said Alleman. "This is an expensive venture and we're taking a risk, but a summer stock program in Summit County could end up being huge. Our goal is to have people come in from Denver just to see the performances."

With the exception of the sophisticated adult comedy "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change!" this summer's offerings will veer toward family-oriented entertainment.

Alleman attributes this choice of repertoire to the nature of the summer season traffic, with its mix of tourists, returning second homeowners and kids out of school. But in true Lake Dillon Theatre tradition, Alleman promises something for everyone.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I-70 Saga Continues

Even as the Colorado Department of Transportation finalizes a long-range plan for the I-70 corridor, due for release in September, the mountain corridor coalition is moving ahead with ambitious plans to try and address highway congestion in the short term.

The focus this summer is on transportation demand management, as the coalition recently released a draft plan that calls for a slew of incentive-based measures intended to address peak-time congestion in the corridor.

Some of the ideas floated in the draft include free close-in parking at ski areas for carpoolers, or coupons for discounted goods and services for visitors willing to adjust their travel times to outside peak hours.

Additionally, the plan calls for implementation of a high-tech traffic monitoring and notification system, which could be implemented in a pilot phase as soon as this summer, according to coalition director Flo Raitano. It's not clear to what degree such measures could actually alleviated the crushing peak loads on the highway.

The potential beneficial effect hasn't been quantified, Raitano said. But similar measures have been tried - with mixed success - in other areas, notably in some of the long-distance travel corridors along the Eastern Seaboard.

"The goal is spread out the traffic and numbers we have now," Raitano said, adding that the organization is looking for some public feedback on the measures outlined in the draft plan, available online at

Friday, May 26, 2006

Snake River Cleanup

Long-running efforts to improve water quality in the Snake River, near Keystone and Dillon, will get a jump start this month, as Trout Unlimited has hired an expert to coordinate the cleanup.

At issue is heavy metal contamination from abandoned mines high in the basin. Together with naturally occurring minerals, the acid mine drainage has impaired water quality in parts of the Snake River, with concentrations of some metals exceeding state-set standards established to protect aquatic life.

“I’ll be working with the Snake River Task Force to get a liability agreement,” said Elizabeth Russell, who started her full-time job May 15.

Working from TU’s Boulder office, Russell said the overall goal remains the same: Improving water quality to the point that the Snake River can sustain a healthy trout population.

“We hope that within three years we can have it cleaned up,” Russell said, explaining that there are still some land ownership issues that need to be clarified before on-the-ground remediation begins.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Record Skier/Rider Numbers for '05 - '06 Season

The number of skiers and snowboarders in the United States reached a record 58.8 million last season, up 3.3 percent from a year ago, according to preliminary data from the National Ski Areas Association.

Industry growth is being spurred by the popularity of skiing and snowboarding with a younger crowd and equipment improvements that allow aging baby boomers to stay on the snow longer, NSAA president Michael Berry said Tuesday.

"It's a multigenerational phenomenon," he told The Denver Post. "Baby boomers, their children and their grandchildren are all out there skiing. The resorts have become true multigenerational gathering places."

The association represents 325 alpine resorts nationwide.

The six-state Rocky Mountain region, which includes Colorado, saw a 5.8 percent gain in skier visits, or more than 1.1 million people, to finish at 20.8 million skier visits for the 2005-06 ski season. The state's 25 ski resorts may top 12 million skier visits for the first time this season, though those numbers are still pending.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Nature Series Seeking Volunteers

The Town of Breckenridge Nature Series is seeking fun, motivated and friendly individuals to become part of the Nature Series Volunteer Team. If you have an interest in our natural world, enjoy being outdoors or would like to help promote stewardship of our precious resources, this program is for you.

A variety of exciting opportunities exist for Nature Series volunteers, including assisting with or leading family programs, children's programs or hikes, materials development, administrative or logistical tasks, field studies, special events and more.

Nature Series programming takes place year-round in natural areas in and around Breckenridge. Program times and locations will vary. The Nature Series will provide free training to all volunteers. Volunteers are required to sign up for and attend a volunteer training day on Monday from 5:30-9 p.m., or Saturday, June 3 from 1-4:30 p.m. at the Breckenridge Nordic Center. Food will be provided.

Benefits include ongoing free trainings, a fun, friendly work environment, Breckenridge Recreation Center opportunities, and more.

For more information or to pre-register for programs, contact Carin Faust at (970) 453-3362 or e-mail

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Peak 6 Master Plan Starts Rolling

Rick Sramek, vice president of mountain operations for Breckenridge Ski Resort, confirmed that the ski area wants to work on some master planning this summer, calling Peak 6 the "final piece" of the resort.

"What we were looking for was a good tie-in to the Peak 6 area," Sramek said.

"We were looking for a piece that would make access and egress (to and from Peak 6) possible. It accommodates ski-over access from Peak 7 to a bottom terminal," Sramek said.

"It's likely we'll start master-planning this summer," Sramek said, adding that the public will have a chance to review and comment on preliminary plans.

Making what he called a non-significant permit amendment, Dillon District Ranger Rick Newton in early April carved about between 200 and 300 acres out of the nordic center and added it to Breckenridge Ski Area's permitted terrain. Newton said the agreement between two amicable adjacent permit holders enabled the agency to make the move without requiring public review or comment. Additionally, he said both areas are allocated to the same management prescription under the White River National Forest plan.

"The terrain is better suited to alpine skiing," Newton said, characterizing it as steeper terrain that wasn't being used under the nordic center's permit.

Newton said the terrain added to the resort's permit area at the base of Peak 6 will give better access for any type of proposed lift-served skiing.

Large parts of Peak 6 are designated for lift-served skiing under the White River National Forest plan, but any specific proposal for lifts or trails would require site-specific analysis and review, according to Newton.

No formal proposal in in the works, but the agency has had one meeting with the ski area to discuss the start of a master planning process that will encompass Peak 6, Newton said.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Rafting Season Could be Short and Sweet

The rafting season on the Lower Blue, north of Silverthorne, could be short and sweet - and it could be right around the corner, according to water managers in the process of finalizing plans for the many reservoirs in the Upper Colorado Basin.

Denver Water releases from Dillon Reservoir could peak as soon as this weekend and into next week with raftable flows, though the exact quantities have yet to be determined.

The releases are part of a regional plan to coordinate releases into the mainstem of the Colorado at a time when they are beneficial to habitat for endangered native Colorado River fish species.

Water officials outlined their plans and the storage scenarios Tuesday night at the annual State of the River meeting in Frisco. While the winter began with near-record snowfall, spring turned very dry, rekindling concerns about basin-wide water supplies.

Although all major reservoirs are expected to fill, the outlook isn't quite as rosy as it was just a month ago, said Denver Water's Mark Waage.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Breckenridge Golf Club Opens for the Season

The Jack Nicklaus designed Breckenridge Golf Club opens for the season tomorrow, May 18.

The 27 hold facility, which opened in 1987, consistently ranks as the best (and toughest) mountain course in Colorado.

The Pro Shop offers a wide variety of quality equipment and clothing.

Green fees are $55 and $99 (low and high seasons). High season is June 17 through September 17. Cart fees are $16.

Special rates: 27 holes with cart is $168; happy hour (9 holes after 5 p.m.) is $28.

The Driving Range opened last week - a large bag of balls is $6.

PGA Professional is Erroll Miller and the Golf Course Superintendent is Fred Soller.

Tee times are available four days in advance - phone number is 970-453-9104.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Arapahoe Basin to Close June 4

Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, known for keeping the lifts turning well into the summer, will close on the first Sunday in June, officially ending Summit County's ski season.

Last year, the ski area closed the same weekend. The year before, skiers and riders had until June 11 to make their turns of the season at A-Basin.

Despite the perception that Arapahoe Basin attempts to stay open until the Fourth of July holiday, the last time that happened was nine years ago during the 1996/1997 season, said ski area spokesperson Leigh Heirholzer.

Heirholzer said A-Basin no longer makes it a goal to stay open into the summer.

"The reason we don't is we're opening so much earlier now with snowmaking, we opened Oct. 23, the year before it was Oct. 22," Heirholzer said. "Before snowmaking, we would open closer to Thanksgiving, sometimes even closer to Christmas."

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Copper Mountain Development Hits Snag

The Copper Mountain Metro District wants Intrawest to resolve an outstanding water rights transfer before taking a stance on the latest development plan at the resort.

The district outlined a list of concerns in a memo to the Summit County planning department recently. One issue is the long-standing Intrawest obligation to convey 35 acre-feet of water rights to the metro district.

Intrawest may not have the water rights necessary to meet demands of the current planned unit development (PUD), “let alone the proposed PUD,” according to the memo.

“We do owe them the water rights under the 1999 PUD,” said Intrawest public affairs coordinator Laura Goode. “We know it’s something we need to actively and aggressively work with the metro district on before we go to Board of County Commissioner hearings in the fall.”

Intrawest wants to reallocate existing development rights at Copper, as well as add 613 new units of “equivalent density,” mainly for new residential units in the A Lift neighborhood and for a planned flagship Hardrock Hotel in the Center Village.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Frisco Marina to get Permanent Restaurant Facility

Visitors to the Frisco marina this summer will have the opportunity to sip cocktails and enjoy a lakefront view while sitting on the upper deck of the new Island Grill restaurant.

The town council’s approval of the project paved the way for construction to begin as soon as possible on a permanent restaurant structure with outdoor customer seating and an indoor kitchen and bar area.

A free-standing public restroom and shower facility is also part of the plan, as well as improvements to the site’s parking.

The new restaurant will include a 430-square-foot roofless upper deck, a covered lower deck and 70 seats. Both the eating establishment and the restroom facility will be located adjacent to the existing marina store and will share a common deck.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Wilderness Volunteers Needed

The task of providing stewardship for local wilderness is increasingly falling on volunteer groups, as U.S. Forest Service resources dwindle.

This summer the agency will only have two official wilderness rangers to patrol tens of thousands of acres in the Eagles Nest and Ptarmigan Peak wilderness areas, not nearly enough to cover all the territory on a regular basis.

To back up those meager government resources, local wilderness advocates banded together to form the Friends of the Eagles Nest Wilderness (FENW) 12 years ago. The group is going stronger than ever and will expand its roster of volunteers this summer to beef up its own wilderness stewardship program.

Volunteer applications are due May 12, with a training session scheduled June 10, said volunteer coordinator Maryann Gaug. Gaug said the friends group focuses specifically on designated wilderness - those areas set aside by Congress to be preserved in an untrammeled state for their natural resource and recreational values. That differentiates the group from the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District, which also supports the Forest Service with various service projects outside the wilderness.

Gaug said the group hopes to add about 10 or 15 people this year to help conduct public outreach and education. Funding to administer the volunteer program comes primarily from the Summit Foundation, several local towns, the Arapahoe Basin environmental employee fund and the National Forest Foundation