Friday, March 30, 2007

Keystone to Extend Hours

Thanks to two feet of snow in the last week at Keystone, the resort will extend its hours next week.

Keystone had planned to end its night skiing operations on Sunday, but will keep the lights on for an extra week because of the recent snowfall, this year’s earlier Daylight Savings Time and the timing of the Easter holiday.

The resort will stay open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. starting Monday and ending April 8, giving skiers and riders 14 extra hours on the slopes.

The Montezuma, Summit Express and A51 chairlifts will remain open until 6 p.m. to shuttle riders up the mountain. Also starting on Monday, lift access for day guests will be out of the River Run village.

Lift access out of the Mountain House base area will be limited to morning hours starting Monday through the resort’s closing date set for April 15.

Starting on April 9, Keystone will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, go to or call (800) 468-5004.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Breckenridge Ski Resort's Master Plan

Breckenridge vice president of operations Rick Sramek described the master plan as a road map for the next six to eight years. The list of projects updates the existing ski area master plan, a document that dates back to the 1980s and has been updated with projects like the Imperial Express lift.

Along with upgrades to existing facilities and terrain, Sramek said the resort is considering an expansion on Peak 6, an as-yet undeveloped part of the ski area's permitted terrain. The Peak 6 expansion is likely to generate the most discussion.

According to Sramek, the improvements won't significantly add to skier visit totals at Breckenridge, but are intended to meet the existing demand. Together, the upgrades would boost the area's "comfortable carrying capacity" to about 18,000 skiers per day, a number that Breckenridge sees on a regular basis on peak days.

Roger McCarthy, ski area chief operating officer and vice president of Vail Resorts mountain division, acknowledged during the January work session that Peak 6 plans may stir some controversy. But he said no one should be surprised by the idea, given that Peak 6 has been zoned for ski area use since a revised White River National Forest plan was released in 2002.

"We need the capacity," Sramek said at the time, describing plans to add one or two lifts on Peak 6.

The expansion would add about 400 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain that would match the demand Breckenridge is seeing.

The ski area and the Forest Service laid the groundwork for the Peak 6 expansion last year. The resort swaped terrain between the resort and the adjacent Breckenridge Nordic Center to give the resort access to a spot for the base of a new Peak 6 lift.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Frisco Kayak Park

Construction is expected to begin this autumn to create a whitewater feature for kayakers in Ten Mile Creek near the trailhead parking lot in Frisco.

The ideal dates for use, because of the water run-off, will be from May through July and the goal is for it to be ready next spring, said Jocelyn Mills, senior planner with the Town of Frisco.

To create the whitewater feature, rocks will be reconfigured and bank improvements are planned. Basically, it involves making a "more fun feature for kayakers ... more of a challenge," Mills said, adding that it will likely improve fishing as well.T he project will not change the level or appearance of the creek, but it involves restructuring a fish habitat that was built there in the early 90s, she said.

About three years ago, the idea for the project came up and the town has been working ever since to get the necessary permits. Currently, they are waiting for Colorado Department of Transportation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approvals. Town officials are hoping to have both in hand by this summer, Mills said. Bidding is expected to take place this summer for this first phase, and Frisco Town Council has allocated $100,000 in the budget for the Ten Mile Creek Kayak Park.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Dillon Approves Walgreens Development

Developers of a new Walgreens pharmacy could break ground as early as April on a 16,600 square foot store in Dillon.

Recently the Dillon Town Council gave final approval for the nation’s largest pharmacy chain to open a new store in town.

The store and parking lot will sit on approximately two acres of land between the Comfort Suites and Blockbuster Video on Dillon Ridge Road.

The council approved the planned unit development for Ptarmigan Trails Estates — the official name of the property where the Walgreens will be — on a 5 to 1 vote, and unanimously approved a conditional use permit for a drive-up window for the pharmacy.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Frisco Ponders Peninsula Use

The possibilities include a tubing hill, luge, expanded trails, additional disc golf course and another Nordic building.

The Town of Frisco is looking for some public input as to what they would like to see added to the Peninsula Recreation Area.

This week, Frisco Recreation Open Space and Trails (FROST) Committee met with the town council at a work session to offer suggestions and dates for the public process.

Throughout the last few months, FROST evaluated possible recreation amenities based on what they've heard from the community, Jocelyn Mills, the town's senior planner, told the council Tuesday.

From that, the committee developed a list and will begin to gather feedback from focus groups the week of March 26 with a public forum following on March 29.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Colorado Mountain College Moving Ahead

Colorado Mountain College is well on its way to a new Breckenridge site.

The Breckenridge Town Council passed the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) at this week’s meeting, CMC’s floor plan designs are expected to be completed by the end of this month, and a groundbreaking is planned for this summer for the facility that will be on a 20-acre parcel on Block 11 near the town’s north entrance.

It is a “very aggressive timeline,” said Leah Bornstein, Ph.D., CMC’s dean.

“We’re still on track at this point,” she continued and said that they are hoping to move into the new school in the fall of 2008.

According to the MOU, the college will purchase 20 acres from the town for $1 and it will have 20 years to develop the land. After that, any portion of the property not required to implement its plan will be given back to the town at no cost.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

National Forest Roadless Areas

State officials are taking yet another look at the management of national forest roadless areas in Colorado and may consider making some changes — or even withdrawing — the management petition that was submitted to the federal government last November.

Gov. Bill Ritter and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources (DNR) are studying the issue, and are likely to make a decision sometime within the next month, said DNR deputy director Mike King.

"The Governor and (DNR director) Harris Sherman are trying to get their arms around this," King said, explaining that there is a window of opportunity to make some changes because the federal government has not yet started its state-by-state review of roadless management.

"Gov. Ritter has the authority he needs to modify the petition or even withdraw it," King said.

At issue is the management of millions of roadless acres across the U.S. that were tabbed for protection under a national roadless rule issued in 2001 under the Clinton administration. In Summit County, about 60,000 acres of national forest land could be affected by any changes in roadless management.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Silverthorne Sales Taxes Climb

Silverthorne ended 2006 on a financially positive note, with year-to-date sales tax numbers coming in 12.5 percent higher than in 2005.

The town collected $7,899,155 in sales tax in 2006 compared with $7,019,374 the year before, according to a sales tax report released by the town.

The final figure was about $60,000 higher than where the town expected to finish the year, said town finance director Donna Braun.T

his is the second consecutive year of strong growth in Silverthorne, after the town suffered setbacks in sales tax collections when City Market moved to Dillon in 1998, and again when the national economy weakened following 9/11.

Friday, March 09, 2007

New Fishing Regulations for Blue River

After several rounds of public input and internal rule-making, the Colorado Division of Wildlife (CDOW) has finalized adoption of new catch-and-release regulations for a trout-rich section of the Blue River below Green Mountain Reservoir.

The new rules, which simply require anglers to return all fish to the water immediately after catching them, go into effect May 1.

The change in regulations was prompted in part by a land trade that will enable more public access to the scenic stretch of river through ground managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Anglers concerned about potential impacts to the thriving fishery encouraged the wildlife agency to establish a catch-and-release regime for the reach.

Last summer, CDOW biologists sampled the fish population in the river with a non-lethal electro-shock survey, finding a healthy trout population. Some of the data, combined with anticipated changes in flows resulting from the operation of the dam’s hydropower plant, suggested that a limited harvest of rainbow trout may have benefited the brown trout population by reducing competition. But public input at a series of angler’s roundtable meetings overwhelmingly favored the no-take option. Advocates said the catch and release regs are the easiest for the agency to enforce, making it the best way to protect the fishery.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Arapahoe Basin's Montezuma Bowl

Construction is set to begin this spring on Arapahoe Basin's $3 million expansion into Montezuma Bowl, a project that will represent the ski area's largest addition of new terrain in its 60-year history.

The White River National Forest gave A-Basin the final approval last week to construct Zuma Lift, which will provide skiers and riders access to 400 acres of intermediate and advanced terrain in Montezuma Bowl.

Crews will begin work this spring beginning with the installation of the bottom lift terminal, said ski area spokesperson Leigh Hierholzer.

"It will not affect the operations on the front side of the mountain, so we are still going to stay open until early June," Hierholzer said.

The bowl is located directly south of the top of the existing Norway and Lenawee lifts. The expansion will increase the small ski area's terrain by 80 percent, resulting in 900 skiable acres.

The new terrain is scheduled to open next season.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Above Average Snowfall

After two months of light snowfall, February ended with total monthly snowfall in downtown Breckenridge at above average for the first time since early in the season.

Rick Bly, who measures snowfall for the National Weather Service, tallied 35 inches for the month, well above the 23.4 inches that's average for the month based on records going back more than a 100 years.

The snow melted down to 2.38 inches of water, also well above the average 1.72 inches. Bly said the high winds made it tricky to measure the snowfall totals toward the end of the month. For the season to date, Bly has measured 130.8 inches of snow, making for a 23 percent surplus based largely on the big October storms that added up to more than three times the normal snowfall for that month.

"March is typically the snowiest month," Bly said, adding that Breckenridge averages 26.5 inches for the month. The record March snowfall for the area dates way back to the legendary winter of 1899, when Breckenridge saw 120 inches.

"The last real stinker we had was in 1999, with only 11.5 inches," Bly said, adding that March is the most consistently snowy month. March 2003 was noteworthy for the big Front Range upslope blizzard that hammered a few spots with more than 90 inches of snow. Avalanches after that storm closed I-70 east of the tunnel for a while and even damaged a 100-year old building near Georgetown. That storm spilled far enough over the Continental Divide to help boost March 2003 snowfall at Breckenridge to 47.5 inches.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

"Gateway" to Breckenridge?

The opportunity to create an impactful "gateway to town" hangs in front of Breckenridge with the McKain/Block 11 property, according to Town of Breckenridge's long range planner Laurie Best.

At a work session last week, DTJ Design, a firm out of Boulder, presented preliminary plans to the town council for the property located near Coyne Valley Road at the north end of town.

DTJ specializes in environmental sensitivity, and Best said that was a main focus for the council. Twenty acres of the 72-acre Block 11 property is slated for a new CMC campus.

Right now, the college is planned for the north end of Block 11. The area may also include up to 200 units of affordable housing.

The 127-acre McKain property is being looked at for a 30-acre reservoir that could hold 400 acre feet of water, Best said.

A more complete Blue River restoration (to finish off the partial restoration that occurred in the late '80s) is also planned for the McKain side. At this point, the river channel on the McKain property has not been restored because river rock is still being extracted from dredge boat mining. Future plans include bringing the river back to the western side of the McKain property and restoring the channel so the river will slow down. Riparian corridor and wetlands restoration are also included in the plans.

Friday, March 02, 2007

NRO's Executive Director Let Go

The National Repertory Orchestra's executive director since 1999 will not get a chance to see her ninth season through.

The NRO board announced Thursday that they will not renew Terese Kaptur's contract, citing an inability to mutually agree on an extension.

"Terese specializes in taking ailing organizations, especially symphonies, and breathing life into them, and getting them back on their feet," said NRO board president Reginald Gray.

"She's done an exceptional job for us."

"After nine years we wanted to take a look in the marketplace and see who could be the next executive director for our organization as it reaches a million-dollar-plus budget," Gray said.

Kaptur first served as the director of artistic operations for both the Breckenridge Music Institute and the National Repertory Orchestra.