The Dillon Town Council rejected a proposal for a large hotel earlier this year over height and parking concerns, but now the developer has cut his design down to size and hopes his re-envisioned "crown jewel" development at the entrance of town will soon become a reality.
The original six-story Crossroads at Lake Dillon Hotel would have been a towering 90 feet tall, with commanding hilltop views of Lake Dillon and the surrounding mountain ranges. The new pitch, although only one story shorter, has shaved 32 feet of the total building to bring it in line with town code.
During a public meeting in Dillon Tuesday night, several residents said they were still concerned over the building's size. But the proposal drew plenty of compliments from local business owners and homeowners who were wary of the town missing another opportunity for much-needed development downtown.
"We pushed and squeezed and pinched everywhere we could," said developer Danny Eilts, whose family has owned the Conoco gas station project site for more than 40 years. "Nothing's done until it's done, but we've got a really, really good plan now."
The proposed 103-unit hotel would include a conference center, recreation deck and indoor pool. It would also boast a rooftop restaurant and patio lounge at its pinnacle, which Eilts said would be open to the public year-round.
"That local business is going to be a main focus for us, because up here you've got to have that year-round, local support," he said.
Eilts hopes that the new development would raise the profile of Dillon's downtown core area, which is tucked away off of Highway 9 and has seen limited development over the past two decades.
The project would coincide with a major overhaul of the Dillon Amphitheater, slated for completion by next July. Town officials hope the revamped venue will draw bigger acts and jumpstart the downtown economy.
"My goal is to clean up that main entrance to Dillon, where my existing business is, because everything's getting pretty aged up there," he said. "I think it would be a great asset for the town and community and would help attract people off of the highway and get them into Dillon."
The Dillon council rejected Eilts' original proposal in March, citing lack of parking spaces and a height that was more than double the limit imposed by zoning rules. The new plan addresses both the parking and height concerns, although it will still need to be re-zoned to allow the 58-foot structure.
"It think Danny and his team have worked hard and listened to the feedback from town council to get a project that seems much more in line with the town's development goals," Dillon spokeswoman Kerstin Anderson said.
To shrink the building's size, Eilts' team changed the originally-planned 23 condominium units into hotel rooms, easing the number of required parking spaces. Part of the planned parking structure was also moved underground, and the heights of each level of it were lowered.
"The views probably won't be as great as they would have been, but they'll still be some of the best around," Eilts said.
If the project is approved, Eilts will jointly own the hotel with Denver-based Frew Development Group and Kinseth Hospitality, an Iowa company. Pending formal approval, the hotel will be branded as a Hilton Garden Inn.
"I think it's a great combination," Anderson said. "Danny is a member of the community who wants the town to be successful. That's paired with outside developers who have the expertise and the contacts to ensure the success of the project."
Crossroads will still need to be approved by the Dillon Planning and Zoning Commission during a public hearing on Dec. 6. If the commission approves the project, the zoning modification would need to be signed off on by the town council at a Jan. 16, 2018, meeting.
On Tuesday evening, town staff and the developers hosted a public meeting to get feedback on the project with more than a dozen locals in attendance. The conversation split down the usual lines of preserving Dillon's small town charm versus encouraging growth in a part of town that hasn't seen a new building in two decades.
"I wish it was smaller," one attendant said. "It just seems out of character for our community."
Business leaders in particular, however, pushed back. They argued that Dillon's core was becoming increasingly blighted and lacked basic amenities that other local towns enjoyed.
"I'd like to take every one here to a nice coffee shop right now," local business owner Eddie O'Brien told the group gathered at Dillon Town Hall, across from the proposed hotel site. "Where are we going to go? City Market?"
If the project gets the green light, Eilts said he and his partners hope to have shovels in the ground by next May.
"We've got a great partnership with some top-notch operators, which was a big priority for me," he said. "We're pushing hard and hope we'll be able to open as soon as possible."
Wassail Days return to Frisco from December 1-10. This weeklong celebration of all things winter features a holiday tree lighting along with 600 luminaries on Frisco's Main Street, Santa visits, breakfast with Santa, a Wassail Night at the Museum, a soup competition with a side of tubing and more.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 1
5-7 p.m.: Carolers will make their way up and down Main Street filling the town with good cheer and holiday music.
5:30 p.m.: This year's Frisco Holiday Tree Lighting will feature Wassail and spiced wine sales benefiting the Family & Intercultural Resource Center, a special guest dressed in red, 600 luminaries, handcrafted fire pits from Fire on Demand and a candlelit holiday sing along with carolers at the Frisco Historic Park Gazebo.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 2
10 a.m. – 12 p.m.: Santa Visits- Santa will visit with boys and girls at the Frisco Historic Park Museum to find out what their fondest wishes are for the holiday season. Santa loves it when parents bring their cameras and take pictures of Santa with the kids.
4-6 p.m.: Frisco Nordic Center Passholder Appreciation Party- Frisco Nordic Center passholders are invited to a happy hour celebration with free food and drinks at the Frisco Nordic Center lodge.
Sunday, December 3
4-6 p.m.: The Soup Cup Classic will be held at the Frisco Adventure Park Day Lodge. Local restaurants and amateur cooks will duke it out for the titles of best professional soup and best amateur soup respectively. Guests will be the judges as they sample soup and vote for their favorite professional and amateur soups. $30 for adults and $15 for kids 12 and under includes all-you-can-eat soup tastings, two beverages (New Belgium beer for guests over 21) and unlimited tubing during the event (a $50 combined value per person). Tickets are available online at WassailDays.com until noon on Sunday, December 3, and then tickets will be available starting at 3 p.m. on Sunday, December 3 at the Frisco Adventure Park Day Lodge.
MONDAY, DECEMBER 4
4-6 p.m.: The Frisco Adventure Park tubing hill will be offering free 30 minute tubing sessions- weather and snow condition dependent. Reservations are strongly recommended and may be made by calling 970-668-2558.
TUESDAY, DECEMBER 5
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.: Nordic ski and snowshoe on the Frisco Nordic Center trails for free. Rentals are also free while supplies last. This is an exceptional opportunity to check out cross-country skiing and snowshoeing at the beautiful Frisco Nordic Center. Please call 970-668-2570 with any questions.
6-8 p.m.: Santa's Calling – From November 23 to December 5 at noon, Frisco Town Hall, Frisco Adventure Park, Frisco Historic Park, Summit County Public Library, Summit County Preschool, Frisco/Copper Information Center, Little Bear Boutique and Stork and Bear Clothing Company will all be accepting call requests from boys and girls who want to talk to Santa about their holiday wishes. Requests may also be made online at WassailDays.com. On Tuesday, December 5 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m., Santa will be calling all the boys and girls on his call list.
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 6
5:45 p.m.: Frisco Cup 3k- Nordic skiers of all abilities are invited to the first Nordic race of the season at the Frisco Nordic Center. This night ski is a fun and friendly competition, and all racers will receive a finish time, cup of soup and an adult beverage. Pre-registration is $15 and day of registration is $20. Registration is available at FriscoNordic.com.
THURSDAY, DECEMBER 7
2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.: Two Below Zero Sleigh Rides at the Frisco Nordic Center will be offering free 30 minute horse drawn sleigh rides. Reservations are required and may be made by calling 970-453-1520.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 8
5 p.m. – 8 p.m.: Wassail Night at the Museum – Guests are invited to experience a cozy winter evening at the Frisco Historic Museum with an afterhours celebration. This free event features wassail, cookies, stories and music to be enjoyed in the Museum, which will be decked out for the holidays.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 9
8:30-11 a.m.: Breakfast with Santa – This breakfast at the Holiday Inn with the holiday's favorite big guy benefits the Summit County Preschool. It is $20 for adults and $10 for children 12 and younger. Reservations are required and may be made at FriscoBreakfastWithSanta.com or by calling 970-668-5508 ext. 1.
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.: Santa Visits – Santa will visit with boys and girls at the Frisco Historic Park Museum to find out what their fondest wishes are for the holiday season. Santa loves it when parents bring their cameras and take pictures of Santa with the kids.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 10
Sunday, December 10 is the last day fill up the "12 Sips of Wassail" card at participating shops and restaurants.
Visit WassailDays.com for more information. For more information about the Town of Frisco, visit TownofFrisco.com or contact the Frisco-Copper Information Center at 800-424-1554.
A new 35-foot cellphone tower serving Verizon wireless' 4G LTE customers went live at the Eagles Nest neighborhood in northern Silverthorne last week, and some locals are already noticing better service, said George Resseguie, president of the Eagles Nest HOA board.
Resseguie said the new tower, which has been disguised to look like the surrounding trees, started up last Tuesday, and some of the people living in the nearby area with Verizon's 4G wireless service are reporting five bars.
"Some people have just rejoiced," Resseguie said, explaining the HOA sent its members emails last week seeking feedback.
Not all locations are created equal, according to Resseguie, as service depends on line-of-sight. Still, a handful of people replied they were already getting improved service, he said.
"We've had little feedback, most of it's been positive and we've been happy with it so far," he said. "I think the lack of feedback means it has been a success. Usually the ones who don't like it will tell you."
The Lake Dillon Fire Protection District, which utilizes Verizon modems to power its emergency crews' mobile-data computers, publicly supported the new tower.
Resseguie previously said the new tower won't end all the dropped calls and dead zones across Lower Blue River Valley, which is infamous for poor service, but it will help.
Verizon and the Eagles Nest HOA have agreed to a 25-year lease for the wireless provider to operate the tower on a hill not far from the Eagles Nest Community Center at 2700 Golden Eagle Road, west of the highway.
The tower project began in February 2015, when Verizon approached the Eagles Nest HOA after vetting four possible sites and landing on this location. Town council gave Verizon the go-ahead in September 2016. Verizon obtained the necessary permitting last spring, and construction began in July.
Eagles Nest has about 750 homeowners in the association, according to Resseguie, who estimates about half have get their wireless services through Verizon.
A proposed rewrite of county planning regulations would ban short-term rentals and bed and breakfasts from operating in Summit County's Backcountry Zoning District, but not everyone is resting easy with the idea.
County planning head Don Reimer describes the effort as a natural response to the uptick in short-term rentals, but admits the proposal drew "a fair number of comments" during a Nov. 6 hearing before the county planning commission.
Critics of the ban describe it as a "stripping" of property rights, for which there's been little public notice, they claim. Additionally, there seems to be some disagreement about how many property owners could be affected, with one concerned citizen saying the county has pegged the number around 50 but a local real estate agent put it "more like 150."
"Our property, Dry Gulch, is not impacted by these changes as we have negotiated (a) Court Settlement that can not be re-legislated," wrote one of those critics, John Cooney, in a Saturday email. "I am trying to be an advocate for these property owners, many who are locals planning to build on their property one day."
The Backcountry Zoning District is loosely defined by county code as some of the more remote areas in Summit County, generally characterized by a lack of maintained roads, little to no utilities and sparse development, if any.
These areas can contain sensitive ecosystems, such as wetlands, steep slopes and sub-alpine forest, in addition to historic mining remnants, high ridges and alpine peaks — many of the geographic features that give Summit County its postcard-like views.
The goal of having restrictive rules in the backcountry zone — as it's explicitly written into county code — is to retain "the relatively undeveloped character" of these places while allowing for some low-impact developments.
Code mandates any development patterns, including the scale and impact of a project, must be "harmonious" with the backcountry. Some land uses the county does allow in the zone include mining by permit, controlled timber harvests, and packing and outfitting operations that are limited to 2,400 square feet of floor space and forbidden from serving more than 20 people a day.
Boat and vehicle storage, single-family homes and Nordic ski huts — the homes and huts also are maxed out at 2,400 square feet of floor area — are similarly allowed per county regulations, as is the construction of new trails by permit.
The county's planning director describes the evolution of the Backcountry Zoning District as a tradeoff, with roads playing a key role in how the zone came to be what it is today. According to Reimer, much of Summit County had been zoned A1 for agriculture uses before the creation of the backcountry zone not too long after the turn of the 21st century.
At the time, the county required property owners to go through a non-conforming parcel plan, Reimer recalled, explaining that meant if they wanted to build, those owners had to perform other improvements, like upgrading the roads.
Many people thought those rules were too burdensome for the backcountry parcels, Reimer said, and others didn't want upgraded access to the backcountry at all because they feared the impact it could have on mountain activities, like cross-country skiing and hiking.
Ultimately, the county tried to strike a balance between the property owners who were being required to make the upgrades many people didn't want and measured development in these areas. The county did this by putting limits on structure sizes and land uses, while nixing the once-required upgrades, Reimer said.
Another part of the reasoning behind the push to keep the backcountry largely as it is, according to the code, is many of these backcountry areas are not suitable for regular, everyday traffic without upgraded infrastructure, namely the roads.
Backcountry roads, where they do exist, generally aren't being plowed in the winter, and even access for emergency vehicles is not guaranteed, according to county code. Reimer said the intention always has been to keep the backcountry "very seasonal."
According to Reimer, at the same time the county was defining the Backcountry Zoning District, they identified a number of commercial uses "not consistent" with the backcountry area. Among them were hotels and lodging.
Fast-forward 15 years, he continued, and the rise of websites like Airbnb.com and VRBO.com has sparked the need to update code to include short-term rentals and bed and breakfasts, which Reimer sees in much the same light he does hotels and other lodging operations.
"Same use, just smaller scale," he said, adding some short-term rentals advertise they can sleep more than a dozen people and he's already seen problems with over-used septic systems, just to name one.
Reimer was also careful to say the proposed write, which can be found on the county's webiste, is still taking shape after the planning commisson hearing, and he's uncertain exactly how it might be tweaked going forward.
He said one of the comments to emerge from the November hearing was the county should consider addressing short-term rentals across Summit County, not solely in the backcountry zone.
"Their recommendation was not to do it here, but to do it across all zones rather than one zone at the time," Reimer said.
However the county does decide to precede, Reimer said he thinks the appetite exists to take up the issue.
A hearing for the proposed rewrite before the Board of County Commissioners is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 23, he said. The county commissioners meet at 1:30 p.m. the second and fourth Tuesdays monthly on the third floor at 208 E. Lincoln Ave., Breckenridge.
For more than three years, Randy Ford knew this state record-breaking moment was going to happen. On Nov. 6, Virginian Lindsay Regali reeled in a 23.5-inch, 4.15-pound Arctic char from Dillon Reservoir.
For Ford, a Summit County fishing guide, it was more a question of when he'd let the moment happen.
That's because back in the spring of 2014, Ford had his first revelation that bigger and badder Arctic char were finally evolving deep in the reservoir after more than two decades of intermittent efforts to inject a healthy population into the lake.
That positive development came after Colorado Parks and Wildlife, led by aquatic biologist Jon Ewert, used a grant beginning in 2007 to stock 30,000 char per year.
To Ford, the owner of Lake Dillon-based Alpine Fishing Adventures, the news of Regali’s record-breaking catch poses as a “double-edged sword” of a situation for not only fishing in Lake Dillon, but the reservoir’s aquatic ecology as well.
And on that fateful spring 2014 fishing trip, Ford realized the biggest of the Arctic char were already large enough to break the previous Colorado record of 3.75 pounds and 20.5 inches, caught at Lake Dillon in 1994 by Marshall Brenner. While targeting brown trout around the reservoir's shore, Ford reeled in a 22-incher.
"A fat, big old Arctic char that was spitting out fingerling rainbow trout," he recalled.
"He had one sticking out of his tail — it would have been a record breaker," the fishing guide added. "But at the time, I didn't want to exploit the fishery. I didn't want to bring too much attention. So I actually waited a long time to let this cat out of the bag.
"I've been catching these big fish for a while now," he continued, "and just this season I said, 'Well, I'm going to open it up. And I'm going to expose this.'"
To Ford, the owner of Lake Dillon-based Alpine Fishing Adventures, the news of Regali's record-breaking catch poses as a "double-edged sword" of a situation for not only fishing in Lake Dillon, but the reservoir's aquatic ecology as well.
Yes, Ford says the publication of the Arctic char state record may attract many more happy anglers to the mountain-side reservoir he loves. And, in turn, he admits it may boom his young guide business as well.
But the lifelong fisherman also has worries about how overfishing or improper fishing in the historically vulnerable Lake Dillon may harm not only the budding char population, but other Lake Dillon fish species too.
Ford believes it's not out of the question in three to four years to have up to 30 boats out on the reservoir fishing for char during periods of the year when, these days, he's almost always the only one out there.
"I've seen it happen at other reservoirs," Ford said. "And it's going to happen. I have exploited the Arctic char fishery. These fish are kind of fragile. When you take them up to the surface it takes a certain skill to release them properly so they survive.
"Something that could happen as a result of this," Ford continued, "is, I bring all the pressure in — too many guys fishing for them. Too many fish getting killed. And it has an adverse effect on the fishery. And that's the last thing I want. That's the worst thing I can think of is people start showing up, picking on them when they are spawning, improperly handling a fish and killing a lot of these fish. That's the worst-case scenario."
OBSERVATION YEARS AHEAD
Ewert — the man who Ford lauds praise upon for the successful growth of the Arctic char species in Dillon Reservoir — isn't so sure a worst-case scenario like the one Ford describes will happen.
Although Ewert says CPW does see overpopulation of predator problems at other lakes in Colorado, he couched that by adding that Dillon currently has a very healthy kokanee salmon population. The salmon population is one Ewert believes is balancing out well with the growing Arctic char population that is now starting to feed on the kokanee. The salmon, Ewert says, is also balancing out the lake's longstanding populations of brown trout and rainbow trout.
"We think we have enough (Arctic char) fish in there to reproduce on their own and sustain themselves," Ewert said, "but the next five years will be key in observing if we continue to have young (large Arctic char) fish appearing. Because, if they do, we know they are increasing their numbers."
"When the char get large," the biologist added, "they will switch to being predators on other fish, like kokanee. Then their growth will really take off. And then, at that point, we have to be careful that we don't have too many predators in the lake. But we are long ways away from that at the rate they are growing right now."
For 11 years Ewert has served as Colorado Parks & Wildlife's Fisheries Biologist for Grand and Summit counties. His grand plan for Lake Dillon over that time was to model it after healthy lakes and hydroelectric reservoirs in Scandinavia that compared similarly cold temperature and depth. Yet those Scandinavian spots had previously managed to foster quality fisheries, something Dillon hadn't manifested in recent years.
That's why Ewert doubled down on investing in the Arctic char in 2007, cash purchasing 50,000 eggs per year from Canada to further introduce the species into its only ecosystem in the Lower 48.
Why? Because much like Ford, Ewert thinks Dillon Reservoir can have an Arctic char-fueled fishery renaissance similar to the kind of renowned brown trout fishing that occurred here in the late '70s.
"Lake Dillon is our most visible and most accessible high-altitude mountain reservoir in the whole state," Ewert said. "Millions of people drive past it, but if you look at fishing traffic on that lake, it's very minimal compared to other lakes.
"It could be more of a resource locally and more of a showcase for cold water mountain reservoirs in Colorado, if it's a destination fishery," Ewert added. "We'd like to see it be a little more developed and make more use of it than we have in last few decades."
Out fishing on a snowy late November day, Ford reeled in and released three Arctic char within about a 30-minute timeframe while he hovered over a "honeyhole" near the Dillon Dam shoreline. The largest of those catches was about 18 inches.
Looking ahead, Ford thinks Lake Dillon Arctic char will further break state records, as big as the 6- to 7-pound range in the coming years, he believes. Then, thanks to the large supply of small kokanee salmon in the reservoir, Ford thinks char may approach 15 pounds in about a decade.
"The day Lindsay caught hers," Ford said, "there was one (Arctic char) bigger than the one she caught that chased up a kokanee salmon and tried to eat it — probably 2 or 3 pounds bigger. So, now that I've seen this, and I know we have big enough char that eat kokanee salmon, because of the fact that the reservoir has more kokanee salmon than any other reservoir, we have a food supply for these char that is amazing."
"This reservoir," the fisherman continued, "was a crap reservoir for fisherman, because it had billions of little fish in it and no big fish. And so now that we have a big fish that can eat little fish, the bigger fish are just going to get bigger."
Breckenridge will become a holiday scene Dec. 2, with the Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas, according to a town news release.
The Race of Santas is when 500-plus runners and walkers dressed in Santa suits will take off with proceeds benefiting Breckenridge Boy Scout Troop 187.
Dogs are welcome for the Holiday Dog Parade right before the Santas take off, and last year, over 150 four-legged fur balls participated in the dog-centered parade.
Free holidays mugs with cocoa gift certificates to local coffee shops and cookies will help keep people warm before Jolly Old Saint Nick himself arrives on the scene to fire up the town tree and more than 140,000 LED lights throughout the Blue River Plaza at 5 p.m. sharp. Afterward, the man in red will visit with children and adults, and possibly even take down some Christmas requests. Immediately afterward the lighting, Phil Kline's "Unsilent Night" procession of holiday music will flow through town leading to the real Santa Claus.
Additionally, holiday-inspired activities will continue throughout the month of December with the Dew Tour, ornament-making and gift workshops in the Breckenridge Arts District before attention turns to New Year's Eve parties and more.
Breckenridge Town Council has heeded the recommendation of its planning commission by backing off an earlier decision to cover a new parking structure at the Tiger Dredge
Barrel Roof | Summit Daily
parking lot with a barrel-vaulted roof.
The revision in favor of a more traditional design stems from concerns a barrel vault would be too unique and unlike anything else in the area, especially considering the new parking structure's proximity to the downtown historic district.
As such, the town has shifted to a gable-style roof, consisting of two roof sections sloping in opposite directions for a classic style that's common in parts of the world known for colder climates and heavy snowfall.
The revised rooftop is a turnaround from Sept. 26, when town council held a work session with designers from Walker Parking Consultants regarding various design elements for the new parking structure.
Initially, council was split on the structure's design, but ultimately decided to go with a barrel-vaulted roof, a modern style featuring a single curve that gives the overall design a semi-cylindrical appearance.
The rooftop decision followed council's identifying the Tiger Dredge parking lot — with some spillover into the adjacent F-Lot — as the best possible place to build the new, roughly $9 million parking structure.
The project stands as a top priority for town government with parking, or the lack thereof, being one of the most pervasive issues plaguing Breckenridge today.
Town staff has been adamant construction needs to begin this spring, and it's likely a ground breaking could come early next year.
The new structure is expected to add almost 300 new parking spaces in the downtown core, but many of the details, such as the final design and overall cost, are still being hammered out.
After settling on the barrel vault, council sought a second opinion and kicked the issue over to the planning commission, which is tasked with weighing various construction projects in Breckenridge based on a variety of factors.
In deciding whether to recommend approving a project, the planning commission will assign points — either positive or negative — based on a variety of things.
A project could incur positive points, for example, by adding additional elements of landscaping or including workforce housing.
On the flip side, a developer can be penalized for things like submitting an architectural plan that's incompatible with the surrounding area.
Also referred to as a "tunnel vault" or "wagon vault," the barrel-vaulted roof raised planners' concerns because of its contemporary style, with the commissioners noting that a barrel vault would basically introduce a new style into an area of town where no others like it are known to exist.
As such, the commission could have dinged the project -3 to -6 points for the barrel roof — architectural incompatibility warrants a deduction in multiples of three — but council also could have ignored the planning commission's rooftop assessment altogether, regardless of the points assessment.
That's because the final say in any planning matter belongs to town council, and the elected body can approve a project if it so choses, regardless of a commission's recommendation or without a recommendation at all.
Additionally, Breckenridge assistant director of community development Mark Truckey said he believes the negative points weren't really a factor. The project, even if it were assessed -6 points, he said, would have likely made up enough positive points to offset the penalty, especially considering its potential to impact the community for the better.
"Town council can approve a project without a passing point analysis," Truckey said, explaining that's been codified because a situation may arise where town council will allow something that doesn't necessarily meet town code. "Nevertheless, it's always been the council's desire to have a passing-point analysis."
Truckey can't remember a project ever being approved by town council against the recommendation of the planning commission, but, "theoretically, if town council wanted to, they could still pass that project," he admitted.
"They could," he continued, "but they like to try to play by the same rules."
At the turn of the 20th century, dredge miners turned Summit County's rivers upside down in search of gold.
Now, more than 100 years later, restoration workers are flipping the Swan River right-side up again, allowing surface water to flow freely. They hope to eventually transform the barren rubble field back into a healthy ecosystem and trout fishery.
"If we've done our job right, no one will even know we've been there in the next 20 years," said Jason Lederer, a resource specialist with the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department.
The Swan hasn't flowed freely since the dredges chewed up its banks, kept the gold and spat the rocks back out. All of the sand and silt that kept the water out of the ground washed downstream, so the river has quietly gurgled under the rocks for the century since.
"One way to think of it is like a bathtub full of marbles, and the water is just sort of flowing through those," Lederer said. "Sometimes you see it on the surface and sometimes you don't."
The Open Space and Trail Department has teamed up with Breckenridge and at least a half-dozen other partners to breathe life back into the Swan. Clearing out all of the marbles is the first step.
For the past two years, workers have been collecting and milling hundreds of thousands of cubic yards of the gravel and rocks that have been suffocating the river.
On Wednesday, Nov. 22, crews are set to wrap up another season of work, pulling out more than 43,000 tons of material since July. Over that time, the county netted roughly $122,000 in royalties from the sale of that processed material.
A big load of the rock from last season was used for the Iron Springs bypass project, an ambitious re-routing of Highway 9 between Breckenridge and Frisco that was finished just weeks ago.
"The royalties add a lot of value to the project," Lederer said. "These are really expensive projects, but if we're able to get a revenue source out of our contractor's work out there, that's a real win-win for everybody."
Last summer, the project liberated one of four sections of the Swan, digging out a channel that now meanders across a wide floodplain.
"We look at the geometry of the valley as a whole: how wide it is, how steep it is, how big the floodplain is," Lederer explained. "And looking at these different parameters, we can make an inference into what the channel should look like."
This summer, workers planted thousands of willows along the new banks of the Swan to help anchor the river while it stretches it legs for the first time in years. But it's not stuck in place just yet.
"We've given the stream a lot of flexibility to move across the floodplain," Lederer said. "It's able to move a little bit over time, and that's OK — that's kind of what we want up there."
After a dry start to the season, the area greened up nicely before the first snowfall, a stark contrast to the moonlike surface from just two years ago.
The stretch that's flowing, dubbed Reach A, is one of four sections identified for de-dredging. That phase cost around $2.3 million total, provided by a combination of state and local government grants.
Gravel milling work this summer has taken place upriver on Reach B, and that's set to continue next summer. Workers need to clear at least 195,000 cubic yards of material before restoration can begin.
The final two sections, however, are being actively quarried on private land and could take some time to free up for restoration.
"Everyone in the valley is sort of supportive of this work, but I don't have a good idea of the timing on anything on private property," Lederer said. "But ideally, we'll continue to move upstream as the opportunity allows."
Vail's Opening Day will feature skiing and riding on the Born Free trail accessed via the Born Free Express (Chair 8) lift.
Beaver Creek's Opening Day will feature skiing and riding on the Gold Dust and Haymeadow trails accessed via the Centennial Express and Buckaroo Gondola lifts.
The chairs start turning at 9 a.m. Wednesday at both resorts.
“Vail’s mountain operations team was able to take full advantage of the colder temperatures and natural snowfall during the last several days, allowing us to move up our Opening Day to Wednesday,” said Doug Lovell, Vail chief operating officer, in a Monday afternoon news release. “We are excited to be able to join Beaver Creek in opening on Wednesday and believe it gives our guests options heading into the Thanksgiving holiday.”
Every home at some point requires maintenance. Some of that maintenance doesn't have to cost you a lot of money if you keep some basic tools around the house. Here are some helpful tools you can keep on hand.
Make sure you have both flathead and Phillips-head screwdrivers of various sizes. A complete set is even better, letting you do everything from tightening loose fixtures to putting together furniture. For light projects, you could opt for a single, multi-bit screwdriver that stores detachable heads in the handle and doubles as a nut driver.
A good hammer is an absolute staple for everything from hanging photos to repairing fence pickets. The most common size weighs 16 ounces. Consider investing in a good hammer with a claw head and an anti-vibration rubber grip. Utility knife
A trusty utility knife or box cutter can come in handy, especially if you're just moving into your home and need to unpack those well-taped-up boxes. And as long as we’re on the subject of knives, consider getting a putty knife. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll reach for it.
It only takes a few millimeters for a shelf or artwork to look off-kilter; a wall level takes the guesswork away. Unless you have an experienced eye, a level will help you hang items on the wall evenly the first time.
You’ll save yourself a lot of frustration if you measure appliances and furniture before trying to fit them into your new place. A long, 35-foot tape measure will do the job in big and small projects. A more modest, 12-foot measuring tape also is a good alternative, particularly for jobs like hanging artwork.
Power outages can happen anytime, so be ready with at least one durable flashlight and batteries. They also come in handy when you're working on repairs in those darker and tighter spaces. Look for hybrid versions, which use solar power and contain a back-up battery. If your new place has electricity upon move-in, you also can purchase a rechargeable work light.
Wrench and pliers
Start with an adjustable wrench that can handle many different jobs. Six-, eight- or 10-inch long wrenches are the most popular. Pliers also are indispensible; look for ones with serrated jaws that grip objects firmly.
Store your most commonly used tools in a single place, such as an easy-to-carry toolbox, and you'll always know where to find these tools when you need them.
Do you have a favorite go-to tool? Share it below!
Are you thinking about buying a house? You'll need a lot of information – and not just about tools! Contact me today to help you find the right home for you.
Nearby ski resorts got an early season boost from Friday night's snowstorm that continued into Saturday morning, leaving a foot or more on Summit County's highest elevations with less accumulation in the low-lying areas.
By early afternoon, both Loveland Ski Area and Breckenridge Ski Resort were reporting a foot of new snow in the last 24 hours.
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area reportedly got 11 inches in the last 24 hours, and Keystone Resort received 8 while Copper Mountain Resort welcomed 7-and-a-half inches of new snow, according to the resorts' snow reports.
Hazardous conditions also fouled-up travel across much of the High Country on Friday night, and chain laws put into effect from Silverthorne to the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel and Vail Pass were lifted Saturday morning.
Loveland Pass reopened in the early afternoon after closing Friday night for avalanche-reduction work.
Plows have made good progress getting to most thoroughfares and many side streets in Summit County, but the roads remain snow-covered.
Additionally, there were two wrecked vehicles on Interstate 70 in a 2-mile stretch between Frisco and Silverthorne on Saturday morning, one that went off-road in the eastbound lanes and overturned, and another headed west that had spun out and gone into the ditch.
Neither accident stopped traffic completely in either direction, but both illustrated that hazardous driving conditions persist.
According to the National Weather Service, gusty winds will increase over the mountains Sunday night with speeds up to 55 mph possible. A high in the mid-40s is in the forecast for Sunday with a low around 17 degrees.
There will be another chance for snow in the mountains Monday night and early Tuesday, with a weak upper-level disturbance expected to pass through the mountains, according to the NWS, which expects drier conditions to return Wednesday through Friday.
The number of active real estate listings for residential properties and vacant land zoned for residential use in Summit County is the lowest it's been in at least the last 10 years, according to statistics tracked by Land Title Guarantee Company of Summit County.
The company's director of sales and marketing, Brooke Roberts, says that inventory is at a record low at the same time the monetary volume of total real estate sales is up 20 percent in a year-to-date comparison, but the actual number of transactions is up only 4 percent.
Based on her 25 years of experience in the industry, Roberts said new listings have never been harder to find, and that scarcity is having its effect on prices and the time a new listing spends on the market.
"Oh yeah, it's very competitive," Roberts said of the current market in Summit County. "You have to be on your game. If you see something you like, it doesn't stay on the market very long."
Even scarier for buyers, Roberts continued, is some properties are selling so quickly they never even show up in the inventory of active listings before they're gone.
According to a pair of weekly real estate reports from Liv Sotheby's in October, inventory is traditionally lower this time of year, but "there has never been a better time to list a property for sale in Summit County." In another weekly report, the Summit County real estate giant called this "a once in a generation opportunity to sell your property."
According to Roberts' figures, that's largely because of scarcity. Right now, she said, there are 551 active listings for residential homes and vacant land on the market. That's 141 fewer than there were in November 2016 and 301 fewer than there were in November 2015.
In fact, after registering 966 active listings for residential or vacant land zoned for residential in November 2007, the number of listings didn't drop below 1,000 again until 2015.
The availability of active listings peaked at 2,085 in November 2009 — just as the country was starting to come out of the 2008 recession — and has steadily declined since then with the fewest postings this year that Roberts has ever seen.
She added that, as a result of simple supply and demand, the average price of a single-family home is now at a record high — just over $1 million — while the average price of a multi-family home stands at over $460,000.
Roberts said that means the average price of a single-family home is up about 15 percent year to date, while a multi-family home is up about 13 percent and vacant land has remained about the same as it was through November last year.
Breaking down where those buyers are coming from, Roberts said about 42 percent of September's real estate sales in Summit County featured buyers who lived on the Front Range.
That's not terribly uncommon because about 39 percent of real estate sales so far this year have featured buyers from the Front Range, 32 percent featured buyers from out-of-state and 28 percent of sales went to Summit County locals. Meanwhile, international buyers made up just a tiny fraction of the total sales.
"We're a drive market," Roberts said matter-of-factly, explaining that Summit County's proximity to Denver and other nearby population centers on the Front Range makes this an enticing place to buy real estate.
OCTOBER BY THE NUMBERS
324: Total real estate sales
264: Total real estate sales (2016)
$213.5 million: Total value of sales
$141 million: Total value of sales (2016)
$5 million: Most expensive sale
$2.63 million: Most expensive sale (2016)
46: Sales of at least $1 million
Source: Summit County Assessor
TOP 5 SALES: OCTOBER
1. $5,080,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 57 Shock Hill (residential home)
2. $3,700,000 — Silverthorne, 70 acres at Shadow Creek Ranch (land not integral to ag use)
3. $3,350,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 13 at Boulder Ridge III (residential home)
4. $3,000,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 2 of the Bartlett and Shock Subdivision (merchandising land)
5. $2,825,000 — Breckenridge, Lot 4 Cottages at Shock Hill (residential home)