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.

Mountain Edition - February 27th, 2014

Feb 27, 2014

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.

mape_s/Flickr/Creative Commons

The Forest Service is chipping away at plans to improve habitat on 10’s of thousands of acres in the Roaring Fork Valley. The large-scale project includes thinning overgrown vegetation in areas like the Frying Pan and Crystal River Valleys. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

snowpeak/Flickr/Creative Commons

The government shutdown in Washington is limiting access to one Colorado’s most visited places: the Maroon Bells. The road outside of Aspen closed to traffic yesterday during prime leaf-peeping season. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

The White River National Forest closed its facilities in the area Tuesday morning. Bathrooms are locked and campgrounds shuttered. The agency barricaded the popular parking areas just below the famed peaks. Pitkin County owns the two-lane road leading to the Bells. And, yesterday county commissioners were grappling with what to do.

Federal Highway Administration

Cell towers disguised as trees will be erected soon in Glenwood Canyon. It’s a project years in the making. One Forest Service employee has been with the project since day one. Donna Graham’s focus has been to make the towers and their infrastructure mesh with the scenery.

Federal Highway Administration

Construction kicks off Monday on a project to create cell phone service through Glenwood Canyon. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Right now, drivers on Interstate 70 through the Canyon can’t use their phones and there’s limited emergency communication.

That will change once four towers are erected at rest areas along the 13 mile stretch. Marti Whitmore is an attorney for Canyon Summits, the group behind the project. She says cell service at busy tourist spots like Hanging Lake will help in emergencies.

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