Week in Summit: Epic Discovery launches next summer in Breck
On Monday, Nov. 16 the U.S. Forest Service finalized plans dating back to 2013 that would allow Vail Resorts to pursue its Epic Discovery summer activities project at the Breckenridge Ski Resort.
The approval will allow year round usage in the White River National Forest and provide new warm weather activities at the resort to include: A climbing wall, zip lines, an observation tower and of course the requisite bike trails.
“The activities are not all about thrill and adventure,” Roger Poirier, the Forest Service’s team leader on the project, said in a news release. “The project includes a number of interpretive and educational activities and exhibits as well.”
The new developments were made possible by the 2011 Ski Area Recreational Opportunities Enhancement Act that was sponsored by former U.S. Senator Mark Udall and signed by President Barack Obama, which opened the door for ski resorts operating on federal lands to partake in recreational activities over the summer months. Prior to the 2011 legislation, the National Forest Ski Permit Act of 1986 restricted mountain recreation to alpine and Nordic skiing.
This is the third leg of Vail Resorts summer activities expansion, after similar projects started on Vail Mountain in October 2014 and Heavenly in Lake Tahoe, California in May of this year. Next on the agenda for Vail is similar summer plans in Beaver Creek, Keystone, along with Kirkwood and Northstar in California.
The summer growth is not without its critics as local activists have voiced concern with increased visitation numbers and the potential impact on wildlife habitats.
“The activities are getting uncomfortably close to the definition of an amusement park,” said Leigh Girvin, who identifies herself as a community activist and environmental advocate. “I’m still of the opinion that zip lines and canopy tours in particular start to border on that. These technologies are always advancing, to the point of being more like a chairlift,” she said, adding, “It sure looks like something out of Six Flags to me.”
According to a U.S. Department of Agriculture 2014 estimate, the increased summer activities will increase national forest visits by 600,000, would add 600 full- or part-time jobs and could infuse $40 million into mountain communities.
Construction on the brand new Epic Discovery at Breckenridge is currently scheduled to begin summer 2016, with some of the attractions ready by the following summer.
Winter off road restrictions in White River National Forest
Snowmobiles and other winter OHV’s will have access restricted on roads entering regulated sections of the White River National Forest this winter after the Summit County Commissioners approved an amendment to the Open Space Rules and Regulations and Snowmobile Ordinance 13.
The new regulations, which became effective immediately upon passage, limit access to Gold Run Gulch, Boreas Pass, Baldy and Sallie Barber roads.
Before the addendums the affected roadways provided a route to lands not allowed access by motor vehicle under the White River National Forest Travel Management Plan and the Golden Horseshoe Management Plan. Both plans included more than 10 years of public review aimed at preserving natural resources and recreation opportunities for the public’s enjoyment.
“So many places have a checker-boarding of land ownership, it’s important for us to work together and be consistent,” Summit County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier said.
She was quick to note that the agreement still allows for non-motorized recreational uses in the protected areas. For example, the town of Breckenridge has requested the Golden Horseshoe area be closed for motorized uses in the winter, as the site is popular for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. The U.S. Forest Service, Breckenridge, Summit County Open Space & Trails and a few private entities jointly own the land. Landowners with properties behind the closure points will not be affected by the changes in access.
“These changes are necessary to ensure that we have uniform, consistent management of natural resources across jurisdictional boundaries,” Stiegelmeier said in a statement. “They also help separate motorized uses from non-motorized uses, so that everyone’s recreational experiences are safer and more enjoyable.”
Construction worker takes phone call and loses job
Following a rough day on the job site, a construction worker shares his tale of woe with Breckenridge Police.
On Thursday, Nov. 12, the laborer notified police that he was assaulted after fielding a phone call from his wife while at work the previous day.
According to the man, while conversing with his spouse, a worker operating an excavator began berating the man to end the conversation. When his advice was ignored, the machine operator switched gears and began insulting the man in Spanish.
The caller said he approached the excavator to explain his reason for answering the phone call, but claimed the driver maneuvered the machine’s bucket to block his path and then push him away from the vehicle.
Feeling aggrieved the man yelled at the operator to speak face to face, to which the machine operator responded by using the bucket to push the man down to the ground. After sharing details of the incident with his boss, the responsive husband was informed the next day that the company had no future work available. The man did not press charges but wanted to inform the police of the incident.
Week of snow closes tunnels on Friday
Steady snowfall this week in Summit County culminated in the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel being closed in both directions for about an hour on Friday afternoon.
The Colorado Department of Transportation shut down Interstate 70 tunnel near Silverthorne at about 1:10 p.m. and was able to commence traffic flow around 2 p.m.
The unsurprising culprit was a slick road leading to multiple crashes.
Ski resort snowfall totals for the last week have been impressive, as late November precipitation has set a frosty winter picture sure to warm the hearts of snow sport lovers everywhere.
As of Saturday morning, the snow reports indicate the last seven days have delivered 34 inches to Keystone Resort, 21 inches to Breck, 19 inches to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, 17 inches to Copper Mountain Resort and Loveland Ski Area has been pounded with 26 inches in just the last 72 hours.
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