Summit County environmental briefs: Vail Resorts announces Keystone housing development |

Summit County environmental briefs: Vail Resorts announces Keystone housing development

Friends of the Dillon Ranger District Upcoming Events

Wednesday, June 29

French Gulch Mining Tour, B&B trailhead in Breckenridge, 9 a.m.-noon

Thursday, June 30

Summit County Wildlife Hike (See FDRD website), 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Friday, July 1

Peru Creek Campsite Restoration, Peru Creek trailhead in Montezuma, 9 a.m.-noon

Saturday, July 2

Summit County Wildflower Hike, Tenmile Creek at Wheeler trailhead lot, 9-10 a.m.

VR announces Keystone housing development

Vail Resorts, Inc., announced the development of a workforce-housing project on the resort company’s own Wintergreen land parcel near Keystone Resort on Thursday, June 23.

The Broomfield-based company, owner of both Breckenridge Ski Resort and Keystone in Summit County, came to an agreement with general contractor Gorman & Company, Inc., to build up to 200 rental units, on a sliding scale of pricing for employees who in some cases make between $10 and $12 an hour. As planned, the development is intended for local residents who also work in the county at least 30 hours per week. The project is still subject to Summit County public hearings and reviews, as well as community input.

“The housing crisis that hit our mountain resort communities last fall forced us to immediately go to work to explore any and all options to bring new, incremental housing online,” Rob Katz, Vail Resorts’ chairman and CEO, said through a news release. “We are extremely excited to move this project forward and deliver units that employees from across the county can live in.”

The resort company also currently has an application in front of Summit County government for an amendment to the local zoning regulations allowing for more than 100 extra beds at the Tenderfoot complex in Keystone. Vail said in the release that should it receive the county’s approval for these bunks — which it intends to be permanent — that their addition will help to greatly alleviate the housing crisis in the region in the near-term. The approximately 100 bunks combined with the 200 or so new units would result in more than 300 places for Summit County employees.

“The Wintergreen workforce-housing project is an impactful example of the kind of innovative and community-oriented development solutions that are needed to address real needs,” said Katz.

Resist wetting your whistle on the water

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) is participating in Operation Dry Water, a nationally-coordinated effort to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI), from June 24-26. The national weekend of increased emphasis and recreational boater outreach is intended to reduce the number of accidents and deaths related to alcohol and drug use on the water.

In Colorado, boaters whose blood-alcohol content exceeds .08 can be arrested for BUI and face other serious penalties, including having their vessel impounded, fines, jail time and loss of boating privileges. Operating a boat under the influence of marijuana is just as dangerous as doing so with alcohol, and penalties for the two offenses are identical. In addition, many bodies of water in Colorado are considered public property, so open display or use of marijuana is also illegal.

Operation patrols will include heightened enforcement, breathalyzer tests and checkpoints, as well as boater education and outreach. The operation hopes to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance, vision and reaction time; it can also increase fatigue and susceptibility to the effects of cold-water immersion. Alcohol consumption by passengers can cause slips, falls overboard and other dangerous accidents. Additionally, sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion intensify the effects of alcohol, drugs and some medications.

Alcohol is the leading cause of recreational boater deaths, and people enjoying their time on the water are urged to stay alert. “Everyone knows to call 911 and report a drunk driver on the road,” Kris Wahlers, Colorado’s Boating Safety Program Manager, said in a news release. “The same applies to the water. Drinking is not part of the boating experience; it’s a serious public safety issue and the people at risk are you and your group.”

State parks at your library

On Monday, June 20, the Check Out Colorado State Parks Program, which gives residents across the opportunity to visit any Colorado State Park, announced its expansion to 287 libraries statewide.

Through the program, Coloradans can check out a hangtag park pass from their local library for entrance into any of Colorado’s 42 state parks. Each participating library — including all three branches of the Summit County Library — is given two park passes and two accompanying adventure backpacks. A pass and a backpack can be checked out for up to seven days.

“An adventure backpack, filled with park information and educational activities goes with the pass,” Bob Randall, executive director of Colorado’s Department of Natural Resources, said through a statement. “It’s everything you need to explore and enjoy Colorado’s parks on your own or with friends and family.”

As the result of the program, it is estimated that more than 34 million people will visit Colorado’s State Parks based on annual visits to libraries.

Avoid engaging wildlife

In the early summer, wild animals give birth to their young. As newborn animal sightings become more frequent this month, CPW is again reminding the community to avoid approaching, touching or handling young animals.

“We know that people are trying to be helpful,” Renzo DelPiccolo, CPW’s Montrose area wildlife manager, said through a statement, “but the young animals are best cared for by their own parents. The best thing people can do is to leave young wildlife alone.”

Young animals that appear to be left alone have not been abandoned. “Young animals are often left alone to allow the mother to feed, to help them avoid predators and to learn how to live in the wild,” DelPiccolo explained.

Wildlife should never be fed, as there is plenty of natural food available for wild animals. Providing food causes animals to bunch up in small areas, making them vulnerable to diseases and predators. Feeding wildlife also accustoms them to human presence and encourages them to stay in residential areas rather than in their natural habitats.

Pets can also present a danger to young wildlife. Dogs and cats acting on their natural instincts may find young animals and attack or kill them. It is suggested that pet owners keep an eye on their dogs and place a small bell on their cats’ collars to alert small animals.

It is to be expected that not all animals born in a season will survive. “In the case of all wildlife,” said DelPiccolo, “we have to understand that mortality is part of the natural cycle.”

Flight For Life urges summer safety

As the weather warms and people begin to flock to the outdoors, Flight For Life Colorado wants residents and tourists alike to remember to care for their safety.

After the death of five cyclists who were struck by a pickup truck in Michigan a couple weeks back, it’s a reminder that cycling safety deserves attention this summer. Flight For Life Colorado transported 17 cyclists who were injured critically in 2015, and the service expects a similar number this year.

Kathleen Mayer, program director of Flight For Life Colorado, prompts cyclists to take basic precautions when enjoying the summer weather. Wearing a helmet, avoiding cycling alone in remote areas, and remaining aware of traffic can all reduce bikers’ risk of requiring Flight for Life’s services.

“Frequently,” Mayer said, through a release, “it’s not a result of the cyclist doing anything wrong, it’s an inattentive driver.”

Mayer shared additional summer safety tips based on calls received by Flight For Life, including supervising young children around water, learning how to manage compressed gases such as propane, and wearing seat belts.

— Compiled by Kaeli Subberwal, Kevin Fixler

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