White River National Forest

White River National Forest

The White River National Forest released a “conservation-minded” plan Tuesday for future oil and gas drilling. Conservation groups are cheering the plan, saying it proposes closing nearly all of the Thompson Divide to future leasing. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Marci Krivonen

The Forest Service is beginning the discussion about how to deal with increasing problems with crowds in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. This summer saw huge numbers of visitors at popular spots like Crater Lake and the Four Pass Loop. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, forest service officials are working to educate the public before exploring solutions.

Rangers in the Aspen Sopris Ranger District released a youtube video in October detailing the problems they saw this summer.

forestcamping.com

The Forest Supervisor for the White River National Forest says he expects to see more marijuana grow sites on national forest land now that pot is legal in Colorado.

Forest Service officials on Wednesday dismantled a large cultivation site near Ruedi Reservoir. It’s illegal to grow marijuana on federal land and there are strict penalties.

Hunters discovered the latest site that contained more than 2600 mature marijuana plants. That’s $6 million to $8 million worth of pot. Scott Fitzwilliams is Forest Supervisor.

Marci Krivonen

The U.S. Forest Service is proposing media outlets ask permission before filming or photographing in Wilderness areas. But local forest service officials say little will change on the White River National Forest. 

United States Forest Service

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the challenges facing wild places today are different than they were in 1964. Some say it’s increasingly difficult to keep these areas wild and to get protection for new wilderness. The White River National Forest manages eight wilderness areas, including the popular Maroon Bells/Snowmass region near Aspen. In part two of our series, Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen examines the challenges facing the wilderness in our backyard.

High Country News/hcn.org

White River National Forest officials are concerned about overuse at Conundrum Hot Springs, outside Aspen. Forest Service staffers recently pulled more than 35 pounds of trash from the popular recreation area and the number of visitors continues to grow.

Visitors hike from Aspen and Crested Butte to reach the hot springs in the Maroon Bells/Snowmass Wilderness. The area sees more than 3000 people each summer. Martha Moran with the Forest Service says the numbers are impacting the area’s Wilderness character.

savethethompsondivide.org

The public is getting a chance this week to comment on what happens to existing oil and gas leases in Garfield, Pitkin and Mesa Counties. Sixty-five leases within the White River National Forest are up for review. Just eight of them hold active infrastructure, like gas wells. The Bureau of Land Management handles the leases and is soliciting feedback on what do with them.

For Aspen athletes who competed in the Winter Olympics, their season isn’t over yet. Cross country ski sprinter Simi Hamilton says he has several races left.

Weeds are growing more abundantly on the White River National Forest as the agency grapples with budget cuts and fewer staff.

A Colorado Forest Service report shows the state’s forests continue to be hammered by insects and disease, especially at high altitudes.

Most skiers probably don’t realize Aspen Mountain is full of holes...from a history of mining. We’ll take you on a wintry history tour.

Finally, a group of “legally blind” skiers takes to the slopes at Snowmass. For these teenagers, the activity is empowering.

Phil Nyland/White River National Forest

Officials at the White River National Forest are anticipating significant cuts to their noxious weed management program. Funding to fight invasive species on the Forest has declined in recent years and it’s beginning to impact the land. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

The White River National Forest is expecting a 15 to 25 percent cut in the program that includes the management of rangeland and noxious weeds. Forest Supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams will get a final budget later this spring.

allvail.com

The White River National Forest is working toward the final stages of updating its oil and gas plan. The document sets out rules for the energy industry, like where and when they can operate on the Forest. And, it could impact what happens in the Thompson Divide. The agency is updating the old plan partly because oil and gas operations have advanced in the area. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

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