Tuesday, October 29, 2013

One Year and counting. . .

Regarding the Village at Wolf Creek Environmental Impact Statement

No word yet.

At least not from my listening post out here in the hinterlands.

It has been a year since the "comment period" deadline passed.

It is fun to entertain thoughts that perhaps this long count is a good sign,
but considering the state of power politics these days, who can tell?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Southwest Faces Looming Threats From Climate Change

I was at a meeting a few days ago where an old timer talked about dealing with our extended drought and hanging on until "normal" rain patterns return.  I couldn't let that pass and stood up to point out that our planet has entered a new climate regime and using past experience to plan for the future is a recipe for disaster.  

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

West Fork Fire Complex - 7/10/2013 - unofficial update

There's been an interesting Op-ed printed in the July 12, 2013 High Country News by John Maclean titled "Stand down from Western wildfires" that's worth a read if you live in a rural-urban interface.


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Archuleta County Fire Ban

As of July 10th, 2013
Fire restrictions* are in place for ALL AREAS in Archuleta, Mineral, and Hinsdale Counties South of the Continental Divide

Photo taken from aboard the International Space Station on June 19, 2013

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Horse Evacuation Plan... S.J.Nat'l Forest FIRE RESTRICTION NOTICE

Not much happening with the fires except that they keep burning away - awaiting a change in weather to change their behavior.


As of July 2nd, fire restrictions are in place for the entire San Juan National Forest. U.S. Forest Service regulations at lower elevations are more restrictive than those at higher elevations.

For more information, please go to: http://www.fs.usda.gov/sanjuan

The Archuleta County Emergency Management has published this statement to help folks with live stock, mainly horses, but also in general it gives an outline of good planning and preparation that any owner of live stock should think about before a fire is threatening them.  Seems to me a good thing to help share:

Saturday, June 29, 2013Horse Evacuation Plan Press Release 

Monday, June 24, 2013

West Fork Fire Complex - Tuesday,7/2/13 - 8 AM - unofficial update

CDOT Special Message:  The Colorado Department of Transportation reopened US 160 over Wolf Creek Pass this morning at 6:00 am.  If fire activity warrants, the highway could be re-closed, so travelers are urged to check road conditions at www.cotrip.org for updated road information. 
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For those curious about the global warming, bark beetle, forest fire connection please see:  

"The Changing Face Of Our Forests - bark beetle and global warming"
"A citizen's review of the 'San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop'"

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Thick smoke billows across the landscape in these digital photographs of the western United States. Both photographs were taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on June 19, 2013.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

West Fork Fire, Windy Peak Fire - 6/23/13 - 4pm - unofficial update

Sunday morning and the fires continue to burn although it seems like the Windy Peak Fire on the other side of the mountain from Wolf Creek Ski Area has slowed, in fact some sources don't even report the fire.

The town of South Fork remains OK, in part because the fire came to an Aspen Forest that wouldn't light up, so the fire took a detour.  The town remains evacuated, with a large contingent of fire fighters and equipment ready to confront any renewed threat to the town.  Further into the mountains the West Fork Complex has burned close to 70,000 acres as of Saturday afternoon.

Further east the East Peak Fire near Walsenburg continues growing to over 10,000 acres, though it's reported to be 10% contained.

Friday, June 21, 2013

West Fork Fire complex and Windy Pass Fire (6/22/2013-7:30am)

Here's an informal update on current fires around the Wolf Creek Pass and the Alberta Park watershed area.
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Friday June 21, 2013  3:00 MDT

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The changing face of our forests - bark beetle and global warming

This is an article I wrote for the Four Corners Free Press out of Cortez, Colorado.  

It's the culmination of my day listening in on the "San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop" {which was organized by the Western Water Assessment and Mountain Studies Institute} plus discussions with some participants.

In particular, I thank Mike Blakeman from the Rio Grande National Forest.  A
lthough Mike was a spectator, he has a scientific background and has a long standing familiarity with the developing scientific understanding.  He spent a good deal of time clarifying and offering further details, not all of which made it into this essay.  

Of course, any errors are mine alone and I will gladly fix any that are pointed out to me.  At the end of this essay I include links to authoritative information sources.
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Have you ever driven over Wolf Creek Pass, the one in southern Colorado straddling the Great Divide? At 10,857 ft. elevation, it's an example of America at its most magnificent; with high mountains and spruce forests stretching out in every direction.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

April 2013 - Village At Wolf Creek EIS Update...

I had the opportunity to see Mike Blakeman while attending the Bark Beetle Workshop in Durango, he explained to me where the EIS process for the Wolf Creek Village was at and about the next steps in this process.  

It's fairly complicated and I asked if he might be able to send me an email outlining what he'd told me.  
Mr. Blakeman went me one better and had a Forest Service wildlife biologist do a detailed write-up.

Below I include Mike's cover letter along with the write-up.


Hi Peter, Below is a detailed write-up about the BA/BO process written by our wildlife biologist. People would never get to read such a thorough explanation in mainstream media, so feel free to post it on your blog if you feel it would be beneficial.  
To summarize the targeted timeline (something could always impact this): Biological Assessment completed on May 1. Fish and Wildlife Service reviews the Biological Assessment (BA) (90 days) and then completes a Biological Opinion (BO) (45 days), which puts us at about mid-September. The land exchange Final (Wolf Creek Village) Environmental Impact Statement and record of decision would most likely come out sometime in the autumn or early winter. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

A citizen's review of the "San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop"

I was able to attend the 
"San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop"
highlighted in my previous post.  It was a cooperative effort between 
the Western Water Assessment (WWA), 
the Mountain Studies Institute (MSI), 
the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership, and 
the U.S. Forest Service 
for "exploring the water-related impacts of bark beetle infestations in the San Juans and the Rocky Mountain West."

The goals were:

  • Share key findings and uncertainties from beetle-water research in Colorado and elsewhere in the West, and describe ongoing studies
  • Seek input from resource managers on the Western Slope about their water/watershed concerns and information needs related to ongoing beetle infestations, particularly the spruce beetle infestation
  • Help connect decision-makers with researchers and information resources

"San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop" 

The workshop was tailored for land managers and other professionals, but the public was invited and a few of us showed up to learn about what scientists were saying regarding the bark beetle epidemic raging throughout the Rocky Mountains... and in fact, throughout mountain forests everywhere.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop - 4/10/2013

I received the following email from the Mountain Studies Institute today and thought I'd pass it along:

San Juan Bark Beetles and Watersheds Workshop

Please join the Western Water Assessment (WWA), the Mountain Studies Institute (MSI), and the San Juan Headwaters Forest Health Partnership for a workshop exploring the water-related impacts of bark beetle infestations in the San Juans and the Rocky Mountain West. 
The goals of the workshop are to:

·         Share key findings and uncertainties from beetle-water research in Colorado and elsewhere in the West, and describe ongoing studies
·         Seek input from resource managers on the Western Slope about their water/watershed concerns and information needs related to ongoing beetle infestations
·         Help connect decision-makers with researchers and information resources

Water managers, forest managers, other decision-makers, researchers, and anyone with an interest in the topic are encouraged to attend. 
Please REGISTER HERE by April 1.  There is no cost for the workshop, but space is limited.
 Wed, 04/10/2013
 9:00am - 3:30pm
 Durango Public Library
Event Type: 
 info@moutnainstudies.org or 970-387-5161
Other Info: 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

January 30 2013 - Village At Wolf Creek EIS Update

Out of curiosity I wrote Mike Blakeman the Public Affairs Officer at the Rio Grande National Forest asking him how the Village at Wolf Creek Environmental Impact Statement was progressing.  He replied with the following, which I pass along with his blessing:

Quite frankly, we aren’t sure when the Village EIS will be completed because the proponent and the Fish and Wildlife Service are negotiating the conservation measures that will address the anticipated adverse effects to the lynx.  
Once agreed upon, these will be incorporated into a final Biological Assessment, which is part of the analysis of effects in compliance with the Endangered Species Act.  
Once this BA is finalized, the FWS uses it to complete a Biological Opinion, which we must have before making a decision about the proposed land exchange.  
What is important to understand is this process is required and in no way means any decision has been made.       
[M.B. - 1/29/2013] 
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Thank you for the information Mr. Blakeman.



As a footnote.

In putting together this post I looked over the visits to these various blog-pages over the past few months and noticed a few have received over one hundred hits.  But, I bring this up because one blog-post sky-rocketed past the others with over 750 hits.  Needless to say, I hope the powers that be take notice; this is a crucial issue and people are paying attention.

The Impact of Climate Change on Ski Resort Operations and Development: Opportunities and Threats
To support my claim in yesterday's VWC-DEIS Comment, namely, that the future bodes ill for such grand speculations as Mr. McCombs dream of bulldozing the Alberta Park Watershed into a luxury vacation village.   I submit a few highlights from the following report, but encourage you to view the entire study at: continue here