Sunday, July 31, 2016

Summit County local donates water rights to Silverthorne

#Silverthorne #Colorado
Elise Reuter /

Summit Daily News Link

From the basin between Red Peak and Buffalo Mountain, Willow Creek cascades down the valley to the Lower Blue. Thanks to a donation by a longtime Summit County local, Silverthorne will receive a significant increase in water rights because of an old diversion in the wilderness behind Ruby Ranch.
“This much water could be a significant portion of the overall town usage,” Silverthorne public works director Bill Linfield said. “How the town might use these newly acquired rights is not yet known but will be carefully explored in the coming years.”
Local developer Gary Miller donated a total of 1.833 cubic-feet-per-second (cfs) in water rights to the town, the rough equivalent of 13.71 gallons per second, or 1,185,000 gallons per day.
Sawmill Gulch is diverted from Willow Creek, within the Eagles Nest Wilderness, Linfield said. The diversion, appropriated in 1918, was originally intended for irrigation.
“I’ve owned this water for a long time,” Miller said. “I think the town of Silverthorne has done such a great job. I thought, ‘I’ve got the water; they’ve got a lot of people moving into the town.’ I thought the best thing for me to do was to give it to them.”
Miller has lived in Summit County since 1975, and helped develop part of the Keystone area. In 2013, he participated in a land-swap with the U.S. Forest Service, trading them the 40-acre “ghost town” of Chihuahua for 20 acres of developable space at the base of the gondola.
“It was just water that I’ve owned for decades,” he added. “I was maybe going to use it for building or construction, but I think this is a better use for it.”
Miller filed the quit-claim deed for the water rights on June 27, in exchange for a sum of $10 from the town. On Wednesday, exactly one month later, Silverthorne Town Council unanimously voted to accept the donation.
Though the town has not assessed the value of the water rights, the fact that they are dated before the Colorado River Compact adds inherent value. An agreement formed in 1922 among seven U.S. states in the Colorado River Basin, the Colorado River Compact allocates water rights between the states.
“Water with earlier dates is not subject to that compact and the rules related to water use within the Colorado River Basin, including the Blue River Basin,” Linfield said.
Since the water remains untapped, the town would put in the necessary infrastructure once an appropriate use is determined.
“The town of Silverthorne has millions of dollars invested in our water rights portfolio and we work diligently to manage and maintain those rights,” Linfield said. “While we feel our water portfolio is strong, we are always looking for ways to improve and protect this valuable resource.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Dillon Gateway Development gets green light

#Dillon #Colorado
Elise Reuter /

Summit Daily News Link

Ivano Ottoborgo sits at a table in Adriano’s Bistro; a business that has remained in the family since 1987. The Italian restaurant, with sweeping views of the lake below, will soon be the site of a mixed-use development.
“Our family is looking at developing on our own piece of property,” Ottoborgo said. “This is a big deal for the town of Dillon. We have some community members come in and ask us when it’s starting.”
Known to the town as the Dillon Gateway Development, for its location near the juncture of Lake Dillon Drive and Highway 6, the development will feature a mix of commercial units, market-rate condominiums and workforce rentals.
Ivano’s son, Danilo Ottoborgo, said the project would be one of the first major developments to come to the town in several years.
“We want to show this is possible, and that it can be done to a high standard,” he said.
The town’s planning and zoning commission approved the plans as modified on July 6, with new renderings in a mountain contemporary style created by Denver-based architect Studio PBA. The original architect, Stuart Hutchinson, passed in December 2015 after Ottoborgo approached the town with preliminary plans.
“It’ll be great to kick off some town redevelopment with a project like that,” Dillon town manager Tom Breslin said. “It will drive some density into the town, add a nice new restaurant and other commercial opportunities.”
The commercial space at the base of the building will include an updated rendition of Adriano’s Bistro, a coffee shop run by the same family and 300-square-foot commercial spaces that Ivano Ottoborgo described as “little boutique stores.”
“We’ve tried to think of as many things as we possibly can to make this unique,” he said.
The complex will also feature a fitness room, ski storage and a community room. The first and second floor will house apartments for rent, ranging from one to three bedrooms. Two of the apartments will be set at 70 percent of the area median income (AMI), one will be set at 80 percent AMI and the rest will be market-rate rentals restricted to the local workforce.
“We used to live out by Green Mountain Reservoir,” Ivano Ottoborgo said. “I can feel for people who live there and commute to Summit County. The gas alone was half of our rent.”
The top three floors of the building are dedicated to 44 condominiums ranging from one to four bedrooms, for sale at the market rate. Three of them will include a glass, wraparound atrium.
Ivano Ottoborgo first considered the project about 10 years ago, when he looked to renovate the restaurant. He and his dad originally opened it in 1987. He had planned to develop prior to the recession, but revisited plans in 2014.
“I think the timing of this is really great with a lot of people coming to Colorado,” Danilo Ottoborgo said.
Ivano Ottoborgo and Daniel Eilts, the owner of the neighboring Lake Dillon Conoco, purchased 2.3 acres from the town of Dillon last year for $549,000. The land had been annexed into Dillon’s Urban Renewal Authority, allowing it to be used for development.
“If we renovate this building, it’s just an old building brought up to code,” he said. “We wanted to look into developing it.”
At this stage, Ivano Ottoborgo said his and Eilts’ developments will be separate.
“We are in together as in we are supporting each other,” he said. “We’re trying to say there’s potential here, let’s do something.”
Ivano Ottoborgo plans to break ground next spring, with hopes of wrapping up construction in 2018. Pre-sales will open on Monday.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Breckenridge's Swan River restoration project rises to $2.4 million

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Courtesy of Summit County government

Summit Daily News Link

The restoration of the Swan River alongside Tiger Road east of State Highway 9 in Breckenridge continues, but the county has hit a snag.
Earlier this month while excavating this phase’s mile-long segment, between Rock Island Gulch and Muggins Gulch roads, the contractor in charge of the project discovered unexpected mining waste along about 1,000 feet of the intended channel. The area where this red, iron-rich dirt was found was initially thought to be composed of materials suitable for part of the restoration.
Officials say the setback won’t mean much in the way of holding up the timeframe for finishing this summer’s work on the planned multi-phase, years-long rehabilitation project. It does, however, come with a hefty price tag.
Delays won’t total more than an additional week of construction, but costs associated with this unforeseen complication are estimated at north of $300,000. The project is now forecasted at nearly $2.4 million.
“This is not like way-hot material or anything else, it just doesn’t look particularly good.”Brian Lorch director, Summit County Open Space & Trails Department
“We’re going to keep moving forward with the project,” said Thad Noll, assistant county manager. “We’re following procedures a group of stakeholders — the EPA, Division of Reclamation (Mining and Safety), others — put together. That’s the standard best-management practice for dealing with mine tailings.”
The origin of the new obstacle was an old tramway that used to run along the stretch where it was unearthed. The cable car would drop materials in the boundary area, spreading it across the valley floor.
“We did not know about that because subsequently the dredges came up here, turned this all upside down and basically put clean dredge gravel on top of the mine wastes,” said Brian Lorch, director of the county’s Open Space & Trails Department. “So it wasn’t until we started excavating that channel that we identified these mine wastes on site. We need to handle those in the appropriate way.”
The operation will require isolating the water from the tailings with recognized techniques for doing so. Those include raising the stream’s elevation above the waste, and lining it with a layer to avoid interaction between the two. Experts from several agencies, among them the U.S. Forest Service, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and the Division of Reclamation, conducted site visits to assist with coming up these mitigation solutions.
Water and soil samples were also taken and sent off for testing. The water results should be back in the coming weeks, whereas of the four soil cross sections only one came back with any compounds above a concentration level worth noting. That was for a slightly higher presence of lead, but a measure that still falls well below a level that would cause water-quality concerns.
“This is not like way hot material or anything else,” said Lorch, “it just doesn’t look particularly good. It changes the color of the water, but is not particularly toxic, and therefore the standards for iron in water are very high because it doesn’t kill fish, or people.”
For the meantime, the contractor has stopped doing work in the section where these mining wastes were found and building proceeds in other areas of the channel. Rock crushing also continues on site, but additional rock will be needed from another segment of the channel higher up the river in order to meet a prior contractual agreement.
Although it comes with slightly higher expenses, it’s now full speed ahead with restoration toward completion by the end of October with winter shutdown. Additional planting and vegetation around this segment is scheduled for the following summer to conclude the phase before the fundraising drive begins to eventually start the next one further up the river
“We really have the right group of experts to help us through this setback or challenge,” said Lorch. “Instead of these all being completely redesigned, it’s just sort of an iterative process that we’re working with design-build contractor to address.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Breckenridge looks into potential for better broadband

#Breckenridge #Colorado

Summit Daily News Link

Increasing visitor numbers, budding tech businesses and a growing local population are bringing the discussion on broadband to the forefront of Breckenridge. While the town has not recently studied the existing resources compared with the demand, both locals and visitors have shared concerns with dropped calls and slow Internet speeds.
“During peak periods in Breckenridge, we are starting to see issues in accessing the internet,” Elevate CoSpace founder Amy Kemp said. “We’ve just heard anecdotally that’s starting to happen. … As we’re starting to see more remote workers and more location-neutral companies, it’s only going to put more pressure on our local community. If you could work anywhere in the world, why wouldn’t you work here?”
Like Summit County did last fall, the town of Breckenridge is proposing a ballot measure to opt out of Colorado Senate Bill 152, which limits municipalities from entering partnerships to create broadband infrastructure, such as cell towers or cable. Last fall, The Denver Post reported 44 cities and counties voted to opt out of SB152, with Summit County voters passing the measure by a landslide (89 percent).
“People are starting to talk about it as another essential utility in the community,” Breckenridge Mayor Pro Tem Wendy Wolfe said. “We’re all getting to the point where we can’t live without it.”
Breckenridge Town Council voted to put the measure on this fall’s ballot during their Tuesday, July 12 meeting. And last Tuesday, they also discussed the possibility of commissioning a broadband assessment to explore the town’s options, from working with an existing fiber conduit through the town to developing a town-wide Wi-Fi service.
“I think it’s smart for the town and the community of Breckenridge not just to look at it as a nice-to-have, but a must-have.”Amy KempElevate CoSpace founder
“We can explore, but we can’t actually do anything until this bill passes, which we plan to put on the ballot in November,” Wolfe added.
While the broadband assessment did not go to vote on Tuesday, councilmembers hammered out the details, including whether a study would be seen as an interference with the election process.
“We have to be careful with how we use the data. But we won’t have any conclusion by (November),” Breckenridge town manager Rick Holman said. “This is not going to happen overnight. It’s a multi-year process. The sooner we get started, the sooner we’re going to move toward improvement.”
In the event that the ballot measure does not pass and the town is not opted out of SB152, Breckenridge Councilwoman Erin Gigliello said an assessment would still be useful in conversations with telecommunications companies.
“I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor for our community to see how much the need is,” she added.
When it comes to the cost, Breckenridge financial services manager Brian Waldes added, “We won’t be signing on the dotted line with anybody,” until the election results are in. Preliminary cost estimates for the study are between $50,000 and $75,000.
“We need to get our act together. This is a big deal and this will be a big deal to the future of our guests coming here,” Wolfe said. “Broadband is vitally important to jobs here and guests in town.”

In some areas of Summit County, residents living in “dead zones” are not just pushing for better cell coverage, but any coverage at all. In Breckenridge, the conversation is more about preventing wireless networks from becoming overwhelmed at peak periods when visitor numbers continue to swell.
For example, Wolfe said, upload speeds take a toll as visitors upload their vacation photos to social media sites.
“It’s also affected the people who are working from home, the people who come into town and use our coffee shops, our Wi-Fi connections, people who have meetings,” she said. “You have to be able to connect to the Wi-Fi and have adequate download and upload speeds.”
In Breckenridge, commercial fixed wireless speeds range from 25 to 50 megabits per second, significantly slower than Denver’s wireless speeds, according to the Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology. This is fast enough to stream HD video and download large files but might not be adequate for some tech-heavy businesses.
The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments reported in a 2013 study that some businesses might need speeds of 20-30 Mbps and a few upwards of 100 mbps.
Mobile speeds in the county were reported at about 6 – 25 mbps.
Compared to other counties in Northwest Colorado, Summit is still at the front of the pack. For the 10 counties surveyed, download speeds were divided into three service tiers: fast, medium and slow. Summit County was only surpassed by Carbondale and Pitkin, with about 55 percent of residents reporting “fast” service.
“It’s a huge differentiating factor, if Breckenridge can make it more affordable for businesses to have faster internet,” Kemp said. “I think it’s smart for the town and the community of Breckenridge not just to look at it as a nice-to-have, but a must-have.”
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Glenwood Canyon to close as rock-catching fences are added


Summit Daily News Link

Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon will be fully closed from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday as crews install some heavy-duty fencing at the site of major rockfalls in February.
The crews will use a Huey helicopter to lift 13 steel posts, weighing from 1,800 to 2,800 pounds each, to two sites along the northern canyon wall just west of the Hanging Lake Tunnel.
The highest of these fences, which are each 16 feet tall by about 200 feet wide, will be installed about 300 feet up the canyon wall.
These locations were scouted out by Colorado Department of Transportation geotechnical specialists, and the fencing will be positioned to provide some redundancy of protection, said project engineer Mike Fowler.
After these closures the rockfall mitigation project will continue, with crews working seven days a week, partly to make up for some unexpectedly late supplies, until about Sept. 1.
Two more fences will be installed with a crane at lower elevations during that time, but the project is not expected to require any more full closures past Thursday.
Some of the ongoing work installing the lower two fences may require a 10-foot vehicle restriction on the westbound lane.
These fences, equipped with braking mechanisms, are capable of stopping boulders up to six and seven feet in diameter, said Jim Stepisnik, the project manager. That’s equivalent to about 3.6 million foot-pounds of force, he said.
“These are some of the biggest high-impact fences that will have been installed in the U.S.”
I-70 was closed for nearly a week in February after major rockslides. It was the longest closure in the 24-year history of I-70 through the slide-prone canyon.
Much of the work to prep the sites of these fences, digging and pouring concrete, has been done by hand with crews hiking up to the locations, said Stepisnik.
The fences are first galvanized, then given a protective coating to give them a long working life, said Fowler.
The rockfall mitigation project has a $1.7 million budget, which Stepisnik said has so far come in on time and on budget.
CDOT has a $9 million geohazards budget and about 750 rockfall areas that the agency monitors, the Post Independent reported earlier.
Crews working on the Grand Avenue bridge project plan to take advantage of the closures to get some utility work done on the new pedestrian bridge — hopefully allowing the team to avoid a couple of night detours of Interstate 70.
Rafting companies west of Glenwood Canyon will be able to get to Grizzly Creek and Shoshone put-ins until 1:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, when Colorado State Patrol will start clearing the canyon in preparation for its reopening.
No private boaters will be allowed during the closure, and rafting companies east of the canyon are not being granted such access.
The traffic closure should make for a rare experience for boaters and other recreationists such as bicyclists, who will get an opportunity to enjoy the canyon free of I-70 noise.
Ken Murphy, owner of Glenwood Adventure Co., said his guides have been fighting to claim the river trips on those days.
This also comes at a peak time for rafting business, said Erik Larsson, co-owner of Whitewater Rafting LLC. “As long as you can get here, it should be a fun time with the water still flowing at great levels.
“You’d think that July Fourth is our biggest time of the year, but in reality it’s the last Saturday in July that’s always our biggest day,” said Larsson.
Jess Weaver Trail, Grizzly Creek Trail and Hanging Lake Trail will remain open, but hikers should work around the closure as they won’t be able to access I-70 during that time.
The Glenwood Canyon bike path will remain open, except periodic 10-minute holds near the Hanging Lake Tunnel when the project’s helicopter is overhead. If your trip on the bike path requires a shuttle, plan around the closure.
Westbound I-70 traffic will be forced to exit at Dotsero, and eastbound traffic will have to exit in Glenwood Springs at Exit 116. Drivers will not be allowed to queue up on I-70 for the canyon opening.
The Hanging Lake rest area will also be closed early, starting at midnight preceding evening and remaining closed until 3:30 p.m. each day.
CDOT will maintain access for No Name residents.
For alternate routes, motorists coming west from the Front Range can head south on Colorado 91 at Copper Mountain, continue south on U.S. 24 through Leadville and finally turn back west on Colorado 82 and onto Independence Pass.
This route is 123 miles and takes about 2 hours and 40 minutes. It’s important to note that Independence Pass has a 35-foot vehicle length restriction.
Drivers trying to head west from Eagle County should first drive east to Wolcott, head north on Colorado 131, turn west on U.S. 40 in Steamboat Springs, then south on Colorado 13 in Craig and on to Rifle.
From Wolcott to Rifle, this detour is 204 miles and takes about 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Drivers in Grand Junction can get to the Front Range by taking U.S. 50 east to U.S. 285 for drivers heading to Denver and to U.S. 24 for those going to Colorado Springs.
Some alternate routes have width restrictions that commercial drivers should be aware of — Colorado 131 has an 8-foot width restriction and Colorado 9 north of I-70 has a 12-foot width restriction.
Commercial vehicles west of Glenwood Canyon will be able to park in Dotsero off Exit 133.
CSP will also be staging commercial vehicles on I-70 west of the canyon closure.
CDOT does not recommend driving Cottonwood Pass, Frying Pan Road or Hagerman Pass as alternative routes.
Bustang will continue to run routes between Glenwood Springs and Denver. Visit for the schedule.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The ins and outs of J24 sailboat racing on Lake Dillon

#Lake #Dillon
Special to the Daily

Summit Daily News Link

“Starboard tack!”
Our captain yells the order as sailboats in front of us quickly scurry to get out of our way moments before a head-on collision.
There is nothing easy about sailboat racing on Lake Dillon. Rumor has it that our hometown reservoir is one of the more difficult places to race sailboats in the world, but I have little background to justify that statement. If you want to experience the thrill of a high-alpine lake regatta, join a racing crew. It’s the real deal: Due to the constant wind shifts and random directional changes, a crew out here must be prepared for anything. Learning to sail on Lake Dillon gives you the skills to sail anywhere in the world.
It’s essential for every boat captain to master proper starting techniques before a sailing regatta. If a boat arrives too early, it gets pushed over the line before the starting horn is blown. If a boat passes over too late, the craft is in position to get “gassed,” the term used for bad air. Race marshals are on the watery course to call out premature starts, which forces the boat to turn around and begin again.
The sweet spot is any location where no other boat is stealing your wind. As the count down begins (10…9…8…) the crew realizes we might be missing the mark. We luff our sails to slow the boat boat that we don’ miss the mark. Nearby boats count down just feet away (7…6…5…) until the last few seconds (4…3…2…) when the boats trim in the sails and off we go, on our way to the first upwind mark.
Usually, race organizers place the first mark, or buoy, upwind of the start line. As we pick up speed, the captain calls out “high side” or “windward side,” which means the entire crew on our J24 rushes to even weight on the side of the boat that’s out of the water.
At the start of the race, boats begin with two sails up: the headsail, known as the Jib or Genoa, and the main sail. Located at the helm is our captain, who orchestrates the entire production. Fast decisions make or break our position in the race, and the question remains: Do we tack (a zigzagging steering motion) or not before hitting the lay line?
As we utilize the wind to pick up a nice pace, the crew realizes that we are getting lifted into a perfect position to make a clean tack around the mark. Then, the wind shifts and we get “headed,” meaning the boat is heading too far away from the mark, leaving us no choice but to tack — and then tack again.
Sailboat racing is a production with all hands on deck. Everyone has a role to play, and together, their efforts make all the parts flow like a finely oiled machine.
The captain drives the vessel and commands the rest of the crew for the next move. I’m the trimmer, so when our captain says, “Ready to tack,” I jump into position, patiently watching as the front sail begins to luff before releasing the lines on one side of a winch. I duck under the main sail as it swings to the other side of the boat and pull with all my might to wrap the line around the other winch.
“Trim in!” the captain yells as I grab the crank to tighten the lines. Now we are really cruising. The wind picks up and the crew moves to the high side to balance the boat. I dangle my feet over the edge, holding onto the lifeline.
By now, the boat is out of the water and on course to hit the lay line. I’m in charge of the lines connected to the Genoa, as well as flying the spinnaker. We round the mark and this is where things get a little crazy. Things happen quickly: Pole up. Spinnaker up. Genoa down.
Oh, the joys of racing on a high-alpine lake. Unlike other bodies of water with a consistent wind forecast, unexpected wind shifts are common on high-alpine lakes.
Our man on the foredeck looks out on the water to see changes in the ripples. Foredeck is positioned at the front of the boat and in charge of the spinnaker, the large front sail. His job is to remove the pole and place it on one side or the other depending on the wind.
“Wind puff in four, three, two and one,” he says, as a burst of wind that seemingly comes from nowhere places the boat on edge. We quickly move to the high side to balance out the boat.
During our last race, the boat in front of us began heeling over to the point that one of the crewmembers got dumped in Lake Dillon. Even though the design of modern sailboats makes it almost impossible to capsize, you feel that adrenaline rush when the wind kicks up.
Things get crazy determining what boats are on port tack. When the wind is blowing on the left side of the boat you are on a port tack, and when the wind is blowing on the starboard side you are on a starboard tack. Since boats on a starboard tack always have the right of way, races can be won or lost based on crew tactics: ending on a starboard tack could make all the other boats hustle to get out of your way, with some boats coming within inches of each other before the finish line.
At the end of the day, we are out on intimidating Lake Dillon to have fun and learn new skills. And, when the wind picks up, it certainly gets the heart pumping.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Colorado wolf advocates, wildlife managers again feud over reintroduction


Summit Daily News Link

The debate over the wolf’s place in Colorado remains a heated one.
A week ago, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) — the agency tasked with managing the state’s fishing, hunting, camping and boating and operating 42 state parks and more than 900,000 acres of wildlands — released a statement that climbing sightings of gray wolves over the last several years will lead to a “likely eventual establishment of their population in Colorado.” Because of this assumption, CPW was reminding the public that under the Endangered Species Act of 1973, those who kill a wolf could face up to a year in prison and upwards of $100,000 fines for each offense, per the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Many saw the announcement as harmless enough, with wolf advocates even commending CPW’s progressive effort to help protect the threatened population of this oft-romanticized species from the early days of the American West. But it’s the accompanying inference that wolf numbers will continue to organically grow in Colorado without a formal reintroduction that has set off yet another battle.
“As usual, wildlife management is complicated,” said Dean Riggs, CPW’s Northwest deputy regional manager. “The emotional issues associated with something like this are the things that are hard to deal with. Most people want to make wildlife management simple and/or very scientific, and it’s not.”
On one side of this ongoing dispute are those who fervently oppose the return of the gray wolf to the region, particularly landowners in the agricultural industry and sportsmen who do not welcome competition with another predator in securing elk or deer each hunting season. On the other are those who champion the wolf and its right to be in its prior location and desire a return to a historically more realistic and native ecosystem.
“There’s not a lot of history or knowledge that wolves attack humans, but there will be people, just like there are with bears and (mountain) lions, who are very concerned about a large predator out in the backcountry.”Mike Porraspublic information officer,CPW Northwest
Mike Phillips, executive director of the Turner Endangered Species Fund, is of the latter mindset and is outspoken that, despite the arguments of the countermovement, wolves pose no noteworthy hazard to the livestock industry. That the killing of farm animals is the rare exception to the rule, and techniques already exist to help offset potential issues on private land to responsibly recolonize the state.
“There is no more symbolic voice for the wildlands of Colorado than the howl of the wolf,” said Phillips, who is also a state representative in Montana. “They were an important member of Colorado’s natural history, they could be an important member of the future and they’re important to restoring the natural balance to Colorado. The wolf’s presence would indicate a more complete, a more balanced landscape than not.”
And, he said, because the western half of Colorado is so rich with ungulates — elk and deer — hunters would not even notice an impact to their takes. The matter of human safety is also a possible worry from the re-emergence of this carnivorous animal near the top of many food chains, but that, too, is one that is unfounded. CPW mostly agrees.
“There’s not a lot of history or knowledge that wolves attack humans,” said Mike Porras, CPW’s Northwest public information officer, “but there will be people, just like there are with bears and (mountain) lions, who are very concerned about a large predator out in the backcountry. And, of course, there remains that possibility that there could be a conflict.”
The specific type of gray wolf seen in the state, that CPW asserts is showing up more and more, is the northern version that was re-established in 1995 at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and also extends into Montana and Idaho. While wolf backers argue there is no proof of an increase in Colorado wolf sightings, they also remain aggressive in pushing for reintroduction of both that subspecies, as well as that of the Mexican breed that was put back into the wild in Arizona in 1998.
Since then, a handful of conservation groups sued U.S. Fish and Wildlife in 2014 and won, forcing the federal wildlife protection agency to develop a recovery plan for the Mexican subspecies by the end of 2017. The governors of Utah, New Mexico and Colorado quickly mobilized to officially oppose launch of these wolves in their respective states, with CPW backing the decision by insisting that the region is not the original range of the southern-based wolf, to which wolf crusaders like Phillips spiritedly contest.
Still, muddling the situation further is the fact that CPW is against any systematic reintroduction of the northern subspecies, too, but for different reasons. Among them, because the agency is currently on the hook for any damages caused to private property by either predators or prey, it does not wish to lose vital and limited resources to additional and unknown wildlife expenses. But, if they start showing up in waves, it will be forced to work on management.
“A lot of different factors go into management decisions,” said Porras, “but certainly, losses from predators, losses from game damage are all a big part of that, as well. (Wolves) certainly don’t recognize state boundaries; they just go to where they can find habitat or where they can find food. If they come into the state, then they’re coming in on their own, and we just have to accept that fact.”
What constitutes an established population of wolves is yet another disagreement among these groups of stakeholders — be it mating pairs or multiple and prospering packs in a single area long term. Regardless, members of the pro-wolf viewpoint dispute that anything more than perhaps a handful of strays or occasional border crossing will ever materialize without an implemented reintroduction plan. And producing one allows for the most cost-effective, liberally-managed and successful approach to receiving what the state agency is already under the impression is ultimately unavoidable, but, as of now, CPW isn’t budging.
“The bottom line is that Colorado Parks and Wildlife remains opposed to a (wolf) reintroduction,” said Porras. “Certainly people are fascinated by them. They’re these beautiful creatures, and they’re great to see. But opinions of these species can run the gamut in terms of whether they’re seen as beneficial or harmful. We have to look at both sides and have to walk that fine line. It’s just a much more complicated issue right now to reintroduce them.”
CPW requests that anyone who believes they have spotted a wolf to report it by filling out an online form at: Photographic evidence is valuable if possible, but officials urge members of the public to never approach wildlife and to shoot images only if it is safe.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Volunteers build final segment of Galena Ditch Trail in Breckenridge

#Breckenridge #Colorado
Elise Reuter /

Summit Daily News Link

Small, pink flags lined the faint path through the towering lodgepole pines, where the final portion of the Galena Ditch Trail will connect users from Breckenridge to the Colorado Trail. On Saturday, 128 volunteers worked all day, hammering together bridges, moving large stones, chopping at old stumps and scraping away spongy layers of fallen pine needles.
“It’s all brand new,” crew leader Lyn Formaneck said. “They just stake it out and we start building on top of it. It’ll be great to get this trail made.”
The 3,000-foot segment of trail meanders through a dense forest on a steep slope, overlooking towering piles of tailings from the mining days of the past.
“It’s like playing dot-to-dot, right?” volunteer Billy Goldrick laughed as he scraped a path between the flags. “It goes by fast,” he added. “It’s social. You don’t realize how hard you’re working.”
The crew, helping with Denver-based nonprofit Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC), is animated despite the tough work and afternoon heat. Many old friends from across the state return on an annual basis, trading jokes and old stories from past projects as they chip away at the trail.
“We have a lot of volunteers year after year,” VOC marketing and communications manager Jessica Frazier said. “It’s their thing.”
Every fall, VOC accepts project applications from managers across Colorado, putting together a plan considering the scope of work and the need for volunteers. The Galena Ditch Trail was selected for this summer’s project, completing a connection between the town and the White River National Forest to the east.
The new singletrack trail will be 18-inches wide, and must be carefully cut into the hillside so it doesn’t wash away.
“The key is putting structural material in and keep water off the trail; that’s our whole goal,” Breckenridge Open Space and Trails specialist Tony Overlock said. “The worst problem is when the water hits the trail and continues to run down the trail. We make a little roof pitch, so when the water hits the trail, it runs off.”
Before the volunteers get their hands dirty, engineers and planners scout the area and pick the best route through the trees.
“You try to keep mellow grades — something that’s going to be enjoyable for all users,” Overlock said. “A lot of the process is walking in and out of the woods and trying to find interesting spots.”
Though the multi-use trail is relatively new to the town of Breckenridge, miners constructed the flume ditch a century ago to collect water for hydraulic mining in the valley below. Near the base of the trail, the remnants of the Tiger Dredge still float in a small pond.
“We use a lot of that ditch on this trail,” Overlock said. “It’s been there 100 years so it’s gonna last.”
The final section is all new trail cut into the slope, but the existing three-mile singletrack is popular with hikers and mountain bikers. Running along several types of mining remains, Overlock said old artifacts, including cabins, flume gates and mine shafts can be spotted from the trail.
“We’ve been working for over 10 years to make this happen,” he added. “It’s just been a vision of our Open Space program, connecting the town to our national forest.”
Work began in 2012, with a crew from Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) cutting the first segment of trail. On Friday, they returned to complete the work they started four years ago.
“It’s a really cool project in the sense that it’s a family friendly overnight,” Frazier said.
The volunteers pitched their tents at the base of the trail, where they would regroup for dinner and music that evening. Throughout the afternoon, Keystone Science School instructors gave kids a tour of the Swan River basin, with a lesson on the environmental effects of mining.
VOC has hosted more than 100,000 volunteers since it was created in 1984. This year, the nonprofit received the El Pomar Foundation’s Award for Excellence.
By the time the volunteers broke for lunch, a bridge had been built, a trail had been cleared and several large flagstones had been hauled up the slope, ready for use.
“It’s amazing, at the end of the day, walking out,” Overlock said.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Best places for wildflower viewing

#Summit County #Colorado
Courtesy Breckenridge Tourism Office

Summit Daily News Link

wildflowers are all over the mountains right now, but some places in Summit County are better than others if you want to get your flower fix this season. Mid- to late July is usually the best time to see blooms in all of the High Country areas.
In forests, look for wild roses, yellow arnica and fairy slipper orchids, and in wet areas find tall chiming bells and elephant heads. Head to meadows for penstemon, sneezeweed, and our state flower, the columbine. In alpine areas, don’t miss the queen’s crown, the gentian and the bright and beautiful bundles of forget-me-nots.
Nature photographer John Fielder teaches photography in Summit County and beyond and operates a gallery in Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe. Fielder’s new book, “Wildflowers of Colorado,” contains 100 of his favorite Colorado wildflower photographs. In the book, Fielder describes how to find and photograph wildflowers in northern, central and southern Colorado. It is available at Next Page Books and Nosh in Frisco.
In early summer, Fielder said to visit the numerous side roads of Colorado State Highway 9 (CO-9) between Silverthorne and Kremmling — including Ute Pass Road — to see fields of purple lupine and yellow arrowleaf balsamroot.
Throughout the summer, Fielder said the Acorn Creek Trail off the Ute Park Road, 10 miles north of Silverthorne, guides hikers into the Ptarmigan Peak Wilderness, and the meadows are filled with flowers for the entire season.
Go wildflower hunting while the plants are hitting their peak, as the weather will cool down and the blooms will disappear as quickly as they appeared.
“As summer turns to fall, watch for the brilliant pink fireweed,” said Leigh Girvin in a blog for the Breckenridge Tourism Office. “According to some old wives, when the fireweed blooms to the top of its stalk, winter’s snows are six weeks away. Invariably, I have found this to be true.”
Wildflowers grow in droves all over Summit County, and here are some of the best spots to go for sightings:
Vanessa Agee, director of marketing and communications at the town of Frisco, recommends heading to the hill on the Frisco Peninsula. She said it has incredible wild lupines, which can be seen and approached from the day-use Dickey trailhead on the peninsula.
To get there from I-70, take exit 203 and travel south on CO-9 through Frisco approximately 2.9 miles. At the sign that reads “THANKS FOR VISITING FRISCO,” use the left turn lane to access the trailhead. Proceed 0.1 miles.
“The Rainbow Lake trailhead at the intersection of the bike path and 7th Avenue in Frisco brings you onto a winding trail with the most beautiful columbine ‘grove’ I have ever seen,” Agee said.
She added that this hike is a great one for kids, too. Take the trail just to the right of the Summit County Church of Christ in Frisco and follow the trail to the left uphill to Rainbow Lake.
The grounds of this museum in downtown Breckenridge at Ridge Street and Wellington Road are a great place to effortlessly see wildflowers like Penstemons. At the south end of High Street, head into Carter Park and take a walk up the hill to see wildflowers and nice views.
This two-mile loop gives walkers a chance to enjoy the mountain lake and a scenic waterfall, as well as a plethora of arnica, columbine and purple larkspur.
“My favorite Summit County wildflower hike circumnavigates Lower Cataract Lake for two miles on the edge of the Eagles Nest Wilderness,” Fielder said. “Wildflower varieties are numerous beginning end of June, and one of the thickest fields of columbine I know grows early July on the south side of the lake.”
Drive 16 miles north of Silverthorne on CO-9. Turn left on the Heeney Road, and travel 5.3 miles to Colorado Route 1725 (Cataract Creek Road). Turn left, and drive 2.3 miles to a fork past the campground. Go left and park. There’s a $5 use fee.
This pass sits at about 11,500 feet in elevation at the Continental Divide. Park at the top and walk on the trail to see all kinds of high alpine wildflowers.
Head south from Frisco on CO-9 for approximately 18.6 miles until you hit the top of Hoosier Pass and park at the Continental Divide sign on the right.
This out-and-back trail features more and more wildflowers as the grade gradually increases toward Quandary Falls.
From Breckenridge head south on CO-9 for 7.6 miles to Blue Lakes Drive (#850). Turn right onto Blue Lakes drive and continue for about 100 yards to McCullough Gulch Rd.(#851). Turn right and continue for 2.2 miles, staying left at the y-junction, to the parking area at the trailhead.
This dirt road is passable with most vehicles, and takes visitors up to the alpine zone to see meadows of the bright yellow alpine sunflower and other high-altitude varieties, along with views of the Blue River Valley and the Tenmile Range.
Travel south on CO-9 through Frisco toward Breckenridge. At the southern town limits of Breckenridge turn left on Boreas Pass Road (County Road 10). Follow Boreas Pass Road approximately 3.5 miles to the Bakers Tank trailhead and parking lot on your left. The Bakers Tank Trailhead is the parking area for non-motorized road users.
Flower season lasts a little longer in Mayflower Gulch, where blooms are usually best in early August. Hikers will see blue gentian, Colorado tansy aster and golden paintbrush.
Head toward Copper Mountain off I-70 exit 195 for this hike near Breckenridge. Drive Highway 91 south 6.2 miles past the highway exit and turn left to park.
Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.