Public Comment Open for Proposed Trail Improvements near Winter Park

Project website: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/SulphurTrails

Questions or comments: Email Nick Schade at neschade@fs.fed.us

Forest Service proposes to improve trails near Winter Park
Public has until March 18 to submit comments

GRANBY, Colo. (Feb. 12, 2016) – New trails, enhanced trailheads, and better connectivity to towns are part of the U.S. Forest Service’s proposal to improve its trails system in the Winter Park and Fraser area. Project specifics are being unveiled today on the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests’ web site, and the public is being asked for input.

The Forest Service has collaborated with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Headwaters Trails Alliance, the towns of Winter Park and Fraser and other local groups, including Grand Mountain Bike Alliance and the Grand County Wilderness Group through the Grand County Community Master Trails Plan to develop this proposed action.

The project would connect existing trail networks in the Winter Park and Fraser areas by constructing up to 18 miles of new trails and rerouting or improving existing trails. It would create loop systems with varying difficulty levels close to communities for mountain biking, hiking, and other trail users.

In addition to improving the trail system in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, the proposal would limit bicycle use to designated system trails and roads on across the entire Sulphur Ranger District. Non-system (social or user created) trails could be obliterated.

HOW TO COMMENT

The detailed proposal, project maps and information on how to submit comments are available on the project webpage at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/SulphurTrails. In addition, the Forest Service is hosting an open house in order to provide more information about the project from 6-7:30 p.m. on Feb. 25, 2016, at the Headwaters Trail Alliance Office, located at 120 Zerex Street in Fraser.

The public has until March 18, 2016, to submit comments on any aspect of this project. Comments will be used to identify issues and develop alternatives to the proposal. An interdisciplinary team will then assess the potential environmental effects of each alternative on various resources, including watersheds, wildlife habitat and vegetation among others.  The results of this analysis are expected to be published in an environmental assessment, which will be released in conjunction with a draft decision. Only people who participate in the current comment period will have an opportunity to object to the decision.

The Forest Supervisor will make the final decision on this proposed project.

IMPLEMENTATION

If approved, implementation of the proposed trail system by the Forest Service and its partners could take up to 10 years, though the goal would be completion within 5 years. Restricting bicycle use to designated system roads and trails across the Sulphur Ranger District would be implemented no sooner than 90 days after a decision is signed by the Forest Supervisor. The Forest Service would pursue funding to implement the proposed trail improvements through its partners, including Headwaters Trail Alliance; Denver Water; local communities; federal and state grants; and its own appropriated funding.

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New Natural Eco-Friendly Product Line

Recently I discovered a new line of natural, eco-friendly products from a company called M. Boutique. They offer an all-natural, non-toxic line of candles, home cleaning products, soaps, moisturizers and pet grooming products. M. Boutique products are Green America Certified. They are all formulated with natural essential oil infused fragrance, non-toxic and environmentally friendly, and they all have an aroma therapy component. All M. Boutique products are Free of Sodium Laurel Sulfate, Parafins and Dyes, and are water-based. So far I have tried the room spray, cleaner and dish soap. I love that the smell is not over powering and they are eco-friendly.

M Boutique products can be purchased at mboutiqueintl.com

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Colorado Water Plan Meeting

Citizens around Colorado will get a chance to hear about and comment on the state’s first-ever water plan at upcoming free, and open-to-the-public community meetings around the state. Here are a couple of meetings that are nearby:

Granby Meeting – Colorado River Basin:
Wednesday, August 12th,  6pm to 8pm @ the Inn at Silvercreek

Walden Meeting – North Platte River Basin:
Monday, September 14th, 12pm to 1pm @ US Forest Service Offices

>> Learn more about all the meeting locations at waterforcolorado.org

Can’t attend a meeting? Your voice can still be heard – take action now to protect Colorado’s rivers. >> Fill out a comment form

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Work Your Pass Off May 16th

Work Your Pass Off – Arapaho National Recreation Area

What: Help collect trash along the ANRA shoreline, boat launch and picnic areas.

When: 8 a.m. to noon; Saturday, May 16, 2015

Where: Meet at the Green Ridge or Sunset boat ramps in the Arapaho National Recreation Area near Granby, Colo.

Why: Earn a free ANRA annual pass for each adult volunteer.

Call: 970-887-4100 for more information

Registration required: No

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Receive updates about pile burning

Sign up now to receive updates about pile burning

GRANBY, Colo. – Snow in the mountains around Middle Park this week means the U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District is gearing up for the 2014/2015 pile burning season.

Topping the list for pile burning again this year is Tunnel Hill, located on U.S. Highway 40 between the Town of Winter Park and Winter Park Resort. This 400-acre fuels reduction project, funded in part by Denver Water through the “From Forest to Faucets” program, is reducing the potential impact of wildfire on communities and watersheds. Started in 2012, the project reduced thick, unhealthy stands of lodgepole pine growing on the steep hillsides between the town and the ski area. Due to steep terrain, the wood could not be removed and was piled to burn, creating an estimated 20,000 piles.

In an effort to increase the use and efficiency of prescribed fire while maintaining air quality standards, the Colorado Air Pollution Control Division issued a “Learning Project Smoke Management Permit” to the U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District for the Tunnel Hill Fuels Reduction Project, starting in 2013. The new permit removed a number of conditions and restrictions traditionally incorporated in prescribed fire smoke permits, including limits to the number of piles that can be burned under various weather conditions and times of day when ignition can occur, and placed responsibility on the U.S. Forest Service for attainment and maintenance of National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

The Forest Service had estimated that under a traditional permit it was going to take 6 or more years to complete pile burning on Tunnel Hill due to limits of 250 piles per day under the most optimal weather conditions. Under the new permit, in just eight days between Nov. 5 and Dec. 5, 2013, the District was able to burn a total of 6,660 slash piles on Tunnel Hill, almost five times as many piles as it could have burned on those same days under a standard permit. Even with the increased burning, results from smoke particulate monitoring at four locations showed that air quality near the burn area remained well within the EPA standards.

Another 14,000 piles remain to be burned on Tunnel Hill. Burning will be conducted by a highly-qualified team of U.S. Forest Service firefighters and will begin as soon as there is adequate snow on the ground in that area; and it could continue through the end of the year, depending on conditions. While pile burning will occur under optimal weather conditions and in a manner that will benefit smoke dispersal, residents of the Fraser Valley may still be impacted by smoke, especially in the evening and early morning. Due to the prominence of Tunnel Hill on the Fraser Valley landscape, there may also be a visual impact. Flames, smoke and plumes could be visible on burn days. Forest Service personnel will closely monitor air quality and containment.

Announcements about Tunnel Hill will be sent in advance of and on burn days via email. To sign up for that list, please email SRDupdates@fs.fed.us subject line Tunnel Hill. You may also sign up for a general email list to receive announcements whenever the district is burning piles by using the subject line Pile Burning. If you received updates last year, you will remain on this list unless you ask to be removed, so there is no need to sign up again.

Burning announcements will also be made through http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/3746/; through local media; on GCEmergency.com; and through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. Not near a computer? Get the daily prescribed burning report by calling 970-887-4116.

If you have any questions or concerns about this project, please contact K. Reid Armstrong at krarmstrong@fs.fed.us.

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Easy Steps to Cut Energy Waste and Save Money, No Matter How Cold it Gets

Here’s a great blog post from Rebecca Stanfield’s Blog with a few tips that will save you money on energy bills, and keep you — and your homes —  warmer this winter:

Although terms like “polar vortex” are becoming part of America’s winter vocabulary, there are easy ways to cut energy waste to make sure our utility bills don’t skyrocket as the temperatures plummet.

Keep in mind that heating accounts for a whopping 40 percent of the average home energy use, so consumers can quickly see the effects of energy waste right away on their heating bills. Although relatively simple fixes in managing temperature, regulating humidity, changing filters, and sealing air gaps can produce measurable results, the discussion of winter energy efficiency at home has to begin with the furnace.

Unfortunately, government efficiency standards for furnaces haven’t been updated in a meaningful way since they were first written in 1987. The technology of energy efficiency was in its infancy then, so the humble home furnace hasn’t gotten the 155_Old Furnace.jpgsame big energy-savings revamp as appliances like refrigerators and dishwashers.  A new Department of Energy standard that would have substantially increased furnace efficiency has been put on hold pending a legal challenge by industry, but we hope and expect that DOE will either move forward with this money-saving energy efficiency standard or with an even stronger one before too long.

Still, there have been improvements in efficiency simply because consumers have demanded them. If this tough, cold winter has consumers considering the purchase of a new furnace, Step No. 1 is to look for units with an ENERGY STAR® label to improve efficiency and to lower heating bills. These high-efficiency furnaces have a rating of at least 90 AFUE or higher. AFUE stands for annual fuel utilization efficiency and a 90 AFUE furnace means that the furnace is 90% efficient — for 100 units of energy input, the furnace produces 90 units of heat output.

Meanwhile, the government is making some strides on related furnace efficiency issues. In October, the Department of Energy issued a proposed rule on energy efficiency standards for furnace fans, which push warmed air to circulate through a home in winter and in a central air conditioning system, move chilled air. The initiative would reduce their energy use by 40 percent, saving the average household about $400 over the life of the fan. Over 30 years, U.S. consumers could save at least hundreds of billions of dollars in lower energy bills and several billion more in avoided air pollution costs.

If furnace replacement isn’t an option, one small task will immediately improve its performance – change the filter. Check it every month, especially during heavy use months in winter and summer, and if it looks dirty, replace it. A dirty filter slows the air flow and makes the system work harder, wasting energy.

Here are some other easy ways to cut energy waste in winter:

1. Use a programmable thermostat. These devices cycle off your heating system when no one is home and dial back up before the occupants return. It’s an investment up front, around $100, but over the years, this simple tool can carry much of the energy-efficiency load in your home, cutting heating and cooling costs by 20 to 30 percent. The thermostat settings should reflect the occupants’ usual schedule but if it varies, the settings can be overridden for a day without losing them. More ideas are available from NRDC’s Noah Horowitz.

2. Regulate humidity. The more humidity in a room, the warmer it feels. A room temperature of 70 degrees combined with humidity of 10 percent feels only like 64 degrees but 80 percent humidity makes it feel like 71. Use a humidifier to fight dry air, use less heat and still feel warm. But don’t go overboard: Dust mites, mold and mildew thrive in humidity. Be sure to have an indoor humidity gauge, and keep the range between 30 percent and 40 percent. Follow the humidifier’s cleaning instructions to deter mold and bacteria growth. Learn more in our Furnace Q and A.

3. Plug the gaps. Make sure you’ve fixed any big air leaks in your house and duct system. Cutting heat loss may mean you can buy a smaller new furnace, too. Check for drafts around your house and seal them with caulk or putty. Expanding foam sealant can fill larger areas protected from moisture and sunlight. Add weather-stripping around the edges of doors. Attic insulation can be installed in a few hours with batts or rolls. Insulate heating ducts. Winter is a good time for an energy audit. Our Stay Warm page has more great tips.

4. Ponder those windows. About a third of a home’s total heat loss usually comes through windows and doors. You don’t have to replace windows; you can seal and insulate around them, then add heavier drapes. But cold days can also prod you to do the homework necessary to plan to replace your old windows. Look for National Fenestration Rating Council-rated units. The U-factor measures how much heat can escape. The solar-heat gain coefficient rating measures how much heat from sunshine is transmitted through a window. At Energy Out The Window?, you’ll find more information.

5. Mind the water heater. It’s hard to remember that water heaters need attention, too. Dialing back the setting from 140 degrees to 120 degrees will save money and still give you hot water. If you’re going to be away for a few days, lower the setting even more. But if it’s time to replace the water heater, and you have gas heat, it’s worth looking at ENERGY STAR-rated appliances as they can trim energy use by 50 percent. The ENERGY STAR site lists a lot of efficient options, including whole-home tankless heaters and heat-pump options. More ideas about appliances are available at NRDC’s Smarter Living page.

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Annual Bird Count

Find this news online at:
http://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp/news-events/?cid=STELPRDB5441259

Christmas is for the birds: Join the Sulphur Ranger District’s 12th annual bird count

GRANBY, Colo. –The U.S. Forest Service’s Sulphur Ranger District will host its 12th annual Christmas Bird Count in cooperation with the National Audubon Society on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2013. Join tens of thousands of bird lovers and volunteers across the Americas in a century-old holiday tradition. Families, birders and scientists, armed with binoculars, bird guides and checklists brave the elements to help provide critical data on bird population trends from around the world. Audubon and other organizations use the data collected in this wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations.

Granby-area bird counters can choose to participate by motor vehicle, skis or snowshoes, and all birding skill levels are welcome. Other opportunities to contribute, for those who live in the count area (within 15 miles of Granby), include: volunteering to count and report birds that visit home feeders on the day of the count; allowing access to private property for volunteers to count birds; or simply filling bird feeders that are visible from public roads on the day of the count.

Children and families can get involved by participating in the kids’ route. This short walking loop, ideal for children ages 2-10, follows the Fraser River in Granby’s Kaibab Park and includes a lesson in using binoculars (bring your own or use the ones provided) and clues to identifying birds. The loop is concluded by warm drinks. The children’s bird count will begin at 10 a.m. Please dress warmly and wear snow clothes.

To participate or contribute in any of these events, please contact wildlife biologist Brock McCormick at 970-887-4108 or email bmccormick@fs.fed.us.

To learn more about the Christmas Bird Count, visit http://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.

 

K. “Reid” Armstrong
Community Based Public Affairs Specialist
Sulphur Ranger District
Arapaho Roosevelt National Forests
Pawnee National Grassland
Desk: 970-887-4145
Cell: 970-222-7607
Email: Krarmstrong@fs.fed.us
Web: www.fs.usda.gov\arp
Twitter: www.twitter.com\usfsarp

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Christmas Trees On Sale

Sulphur Ranger District Christmas tree sale is underway

GRANBY, Colo. – For generations, families from across Grand County and the Front Range have made a tradition out of Christmas tree hunting in the mountains west of Denver. A trip to the Sulphur Ranger District offers a memorable holiday experience.   Combined with any of Grand County’s activities and events, visitors can make a full-day or even a full-weekend event out of holiday tree shopping.

How it works

Christmas tree hunters must first obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. Permits cost $10 per tree and are limited to a maximum of five permits per person. This permit allows visitors to cut Christmas trees from almost anywhere in the Sulphur Ranger District from Nov. 1 through Jan. 6. Most roads will be closed to motor vehicles after Nov. 19, but snowmobiles or skis may be used to access much of the district. For snow conditions and a list of restricted areas, contact Visitor Information at 970-887-4100.

Elk Creek Cutting Area

The staffed Elk Creek cutting area offers visitors the opportunity to drive through prime Christmas tree cutting terrain from Dec. 7-15, 2013. Roads will be plowed to allow motor vehicles equipped with four-wheel-drive or chained tires entry from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Snowmobiles and ATVs are not allowed in the cutting area.  The Elk Creek Cutting Area is located west of Fraser, on County Road 72.

Where to buy a permit:

Permits can be purchased at the Sulphur Ranger District Office located at 9 Ten Mile Drive in Granby, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; at the Elk Creek Cutting Area on County Road 72 west of Fraser during operating hours and at the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce located at 78841 U.S. Highway 40, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Country Ace Hardware in Granby will also begin selling permits in early November and are also open seven days a week with varying hours.

What to bring

Christmas tree hunters must bring their own handsaw or ax (chainsaws are prohibited). Additionally straps, strong cord or tarp, sled and work gloves are recommended to help transport and load your tree.    Winter clothing, sun protection, water, warm drinks and snacks are recommended.

K. “Reid” Armstrong
Community Based Public Affairs Specialist
Sulphur Ranger District
Arapaho Roosevelt National Forests
Pawnee National Grassland
Desk: 970-887-4145
Cell: 970-222-7607
Email: Krarmstrong@fs.fed.us
Web: www.fs.usda.gov\arp
Twitter: www.twitter.com\usfsarp

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Forest Service Updates – Areas Affected by Floods

Sulphur Ranger District Update: Sept. 17, 2013
Beaver Creek Road, Keyser Creek Road, Lake Evelyn Road

Sulphur Ranger District did not experience the type of extensive damage the Front Range sustained during last week’s heavy rains and floods. The majority of the district remains open for travel and recreation. Rocky Mountain National Park and portions of the Boulder and Canyon Lakes ranger districts are currently closed (see below for details).

Beaver Creek Road (FSR 133) is now closed to all uses while hazardous trees along the road are cut, skidded and hauled. The road is closed from its junction with Keyser Creek Road (FSR 139) to the seasonal gate about 2 miles south of the National Forest boundary and about 4 miles south of U.S. Highway 40.

Keyser Creek Road (FSR 139 and Lake Evelyn Road (FSR 136), are now open. Anticipate  10-15 minute delays on Lake Evelyn Road. Log hauling, road grading and slash work will still be underway throughout the Church Park Area so please use caution. Hauling is also active on Crooked Creek Road/County Road 50.

See the map: http://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5436218.pdf


Flooding News from the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests:
Due to heavy rains and saturated soils the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland officials are closing portions of the Boulder and Canyon Lakes ranger districts to the public for safety. The closure will also help facilitate emergency response and recovery in those areas.

A map of the closed area, along with other flood information, is available online at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/flood2013. Generally, it includes all National Forest System lands in an area on the Boulder Ranger District north and east of State Highway 72 and continues east of Highway 7 to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District Boundary. On the Canyon Lakes Ranger District it includes the area east of Highway 7 to the Forest boundary, north of town of Estes Park, lands east of the Rocky Mountain National Park Boundary to Signal Mountain, lands east of the Comanche Peak Wilderness Boundary up to the Fish Creek Trailhead then lands east of the Pingree Park Road up to Highway 14. The closure continues north of Highway 14 to the junction with the Manhattan Road (County Road 69) and includes all NFS lands on the east side of the Manhattan Road, south of the Boy Scout Road (County Road 68 C) and Red Feather Lakes Road (County 74E) to the NFS boundary.

The Forest is discouraging all travel and activities on the Clear Creek Ranger District and the Pawnee National Grassland until further notice, as well as areas of the Boulder and Canyon Lakes ranger districts that are not included in the closure.

The current condition of many of the forest roads is unknown. The Forest has 230 miles of roads across the hardest hit areas on the Boulder and Canyon Lakes Ranger Districts. Forest officials will be assessing damage as conditions allow.

The Forest Service is working closely with FEMA, the Incident Management Teams, the state and counties on the disaster response and will continue to do so.

“We are working through an unprecedented event in Colorado,” Forest Supervisor Glenn Casamassa said. “Our priority is public and employee safety. I ask everyone to do his or her part and respect all closures.”

Please use caution in all rain affected areas and travel only when necessary. Road status and closure information be found at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/roads.


From Rocky Mountain National Park:
Trail Ridge Road, Hwy 34 through the park, is available for essential travel only. The rest of Rocky Mountain National Park is closed to all recreational use. This includes the backcountry, all trails, secondary roads, picnic areas, and park campgrounds. Campers have relocated outside the park.


K. “Reid” Armstrong
Community Based Public Affairs Specialist
Sulphur Ranger District
Arapaho Roosevelt National Forests
Pawnee National Grassland
Desk: 970-887-4145
Cell: 970-222-7607
Email: Krarmstrong@fs.fed.us
Web: www.fs.usda.gov\arp
Twitter: www.twitter.com\usfsarp

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Forest Service Logging Update

Sulphur Ranger District Update: Sept. 12, 2013
Beaver Creek Road, Keyser Creek Road, Lake Evelyn Road

Beaver Creek Road (FSR 133) will be closing to all uses Monday, Sept. 16, 2013, while hazardous trees along the road are cut, skidded and hauled to a local mill for use by the wood products industry. The road will be closed from its junction with Keyser Creek Road (FSR 139) to the seasonal gate about 2 miles south of the National Forest boundary and about 4 miles south of U.S. Highway 40. All vehicles and campers will be asked to leave the area by 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.

The roadside hazard tree closure on Keyser Creek Road (FSR 139) will be lifted on Monday, Sept. 16, however flaggers will be in place near the junction of FSR 139 and Lake Evelyn Road (FSR 136), so expect  10-15 minute delays in that area. Log hauling, road grading and slash work will still be underway so please use caution when driving.  This closure area will continue to include Lake Evelyn Road (FSR 136).

Over the coming month, roadside hazard tree work will continue to be active in the Church Park area, which comprises a small portion of Colorado Game Management Unit 28. GMU 28 hunting access will remain open in the following areas: Muddy Creek (FSR 134.1); Cook Creek (FSR 137); lower Keyser Creek (FSR 139) near Horseshoe Campground and the Williams Peak Trailhead; Keyser Ridge (FSR 140); Kinney Creek (FSR 141.1); Ute Peak, South Fork, Williams Fork and areas immediately south of Winter Park and Fraser.

This project is reducing the risks associated with trees falling into the roads in a mountain pine beetle impacted environment. The goal is to keep roads open and available to the public in the long term.

Maps are available online at: www.fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/sulphurupdates.

 

K. “Reid” Armstrong
Community Based Public Affairs Specialist
Sulphur Ranger District
Arapaho Roosevelt National Forests
Pawnee National Grassland
Desk: 970-887-4145
Cell: 970-222-7607
Email: Krarmstrong@fs.fed.us
Web: www.fs.usda.gov\arp
Twitter: www.twitter.com\usfsarp

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