News briefs: Summit firefighters battle California fires; Forest Service OKs Breck summer expansion
Firefighters send crews to battle California fires
Both Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue and Red, White & Blue Fire this week have sent crews of firefighters to California to assist with the efforts at battling dozens of major wildfires.
“While the wildfire danger in Summit County remains uncharacteristically low for this time of year, we want to take advantage of the opportunity to team with other firefighters throughout the West and give our crews real-world experience and training that can’t be replicated,” said Lake Dillon fire chief Jeff Berino in a statement.
Lake Dillon Fire-Rescue dispatched an engine crew to join nearly 600 firefighters battling the Gasquet Complex, six fires being overseen by a single incident-management team that is burning nearly 3,000 acres in the Six Rivers National Forest near Gasquet.
The Lake Dillon crew consists of engine boss Dennis Jackson and firefighter Bob Corcoran — both LDFR engineers — as well as firefighter Case Byl.
Additionally, LDFR firefighter Dan Ross, who has significant experience battling wildfires, is serving as a crew boss in charge of a team of 20 federally-contracted firefighters in battling the 7,939-acre Rough Fire in the Sierra National Forest near Hume.
Red, White & Blue Fire, meanwhile, sent Capt. Keith McMillan — serving as engine boss — and firefighter/paramedic Brent Bonenberger and firefighter Lacey Theiler to the 28,736-acre Fork Complex Fire in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest near Mount Diablo. Nearly 2,400 firefighters are on scene.
“Our firefighters are excited to be deployed, and we know from other fires in recent years that they bring back invaluable information from the experiences on the fire line and share them with our crews,” said Red, White & Blue fire chief Jim Keating in a written statement.
He noted that this is Theiler’s first deployment to a wildfire.
The assignments can last as long as 14 days before mandatory time off.
The federal government reimburses the fire departments for the salaries, meals and lodging en route for the firefighters (and feeds them in the fire camps) as well as offers standard rates for mileage and use of the wildland fire engines. Additionally, the federal-incident managers cover the “backfill” pay of firefighters back home who are working overtime shifts to cover for the deployed teams.
“It’s important to know that we send teams out to these fires only when conditions here allow and when we have adequate resources to respond to any emergencies locally,” Berino said in a statement. “This also serves us well in building relationships with other fire crews and incident managers who may someday be asked to help us. Those connections are important and help us all be part of one big team.”
Forest Service releases draft decision for Breckenridge summer activities
In response to several multi-season recreation activities proposed by Breckenridge Ski Resort, the White River National Forest released a report describing the potential environmental impacts of the proposed activities with alternative actions. The U.S. Forest Service also released a draft decision on Thursday.
“The resorts provide us with a unique opportunity to connect so many people to the National Forests in a confined, developed area,” Roger Poirier, the Forest Services’s mountain sports program manager said in a statement. “This project is a real opportunity to connect more people to the outdoors and something we want to take full advantage of.”
Breckenridge’s project is one of a few across the nation prompting the Forest Service to rethink how ski areas can provide activities to new guests or those who do not ski during the winter season. Those activities include a climbing wall, zip lines, challenge courses, mountain bike trails and an observation tower.
“This suite of new activities, individually and collectively, provides an opportunity for families and guests to connect with the natural world and appreciate nature through play,” Scott Fitzwilliams, White River Forest supervisor said in a statement, “The entire spectrum of activities provides an environment that will better encourage guests to further discover their national forests or visit them for the first time.”
In his draft decision, Fitzwilliams removed several items from the original proposal submitted by the resort.
“Based on public input and resource considerations, I am not authorizing jeep tours and scenic chairlift rides in the alpine environment and have reduced the amount of mountain bike trails,” Fitzwilliams said in a statement. “The remaining approved projects allow for a good mix of activities while minimizing resource in sensitive areas.”
Ski resorts on the White River National Forest provide recreation opportunities for over seven million visitors annually yet comprise a small portion of the forest’s overall land base; these visits mostly occur in the winter months. The activities are projected to accommodate up to 150,000 additional guests on national forest lands at the resort during the summer months.
The release of this draft decision initiates the 45-day objections period. Individuals who submitted timely and specific written comments during the scoping period (Feb. 10, 2014 through March 12, 2014) or Draft Environmental Impact Statement comment period (Jan. 16, 2015 through March 2, 2015) will have eligibility to file an objection to the Draft Record Of Decision under 36 CFR §218.8.
Both documents are available for download on the White River National Forest website at http://www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=43291. Hardcopies may be reviewed at the Forest Supervisor’s Office in Glenwood Springs and the Dillon Ranger District office in Silverthorne.
Objections, including attachments, must be filed via mail, fax, email, hand-delivery, express delivery, or messenger service (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., excluding holidays) to Reviewing Officer, Dan Jirón, Regional Forester, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, 740 Simms, Golden, CO 80401; FAX: (303) 275-5134, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Objections must be submitted within 45 calendar days following the publication of a legal notice in the Glenwood Post Independent. The legal notice is anticipated to be published on Aug. 14.
Wild West Roundup, whiskey tasting in Keystone
On Saturday, Aug. 15, Keystone Resort will present the Wild West Roundup and Whiskey Tasting in River Run Village. From 1-5 p.m., children of all ages can listen to free music while participating in mechanical bull riding, old-time photos, gold panning, face painting, balloon art, bounce house, roller roper and more, plus, for the adults, tastings of whiskey and food specials priced a la carte at all eight Keystone restaurants and beer and whiskey available for sale in River Run Plaza.
The Keystone Stables also will be providing wagon rides in River Run Village, with Michael DeGarie, of the Keystone Stables, providing line-dancing instruction from 3-4 p.m. After the Wild West Roundup, head to the Kickapoo Tavern for the Jack Daniels BBQ party, with live music from The Wandering Mad Men from 5-7 p.m.
“This fun, inaugural Western event is brought to you by the River Run Merchants,” said Russell Carlton, senior communications coordinator with Keystone Resort. “It’s another family-friendly Keystone offering designed to provide something both kids and adults can look forward to.”
For more information on the Wild West Roundup, visit http://www.keystoneresort.com.
Wine Spectator names world’s Best Restaurants for Wine Lovers
Wine Spectator recently released the winners of the 2015 Restaurant Awards, which honor outstanding eateries with extraordinary wine lists. This year, the program recognized more than 3,600 restaurants from all over the globe. There are three award levels: the Award of Excellence, the Best of Award of Excellence and the Grand Award, with 2,563, 973 and 81 winners this year in each respective category.
“Once again, Wine Spectator congratulates each and every Restaurant Award winner on a job well done,” said Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator. “With this year’s list spanning all 50 U.S. states and over 75 additional countries and territories, we hope wine lovers will use this issue, alongside http://www.winespectator.com’s Restaurant Awards database, as guides to finding the perfect restaurant for any occasion.”
Among the Colorado restaurants that made the list are the Briar Rose Chophouse & Saloon, The Hearthstone Restaurant and Relish in Breckenridge and the Ski Tip Lodge in Keystone. The complete list of award winners is featured in the Monday, Aug. 31, issue of Wine Spectator, available on newsstands now. For more information, visit http://www.winespectator.com.
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