Thursday, October 2, 2014

"Mega Deals" at REI

With fall hiking season already in full gear, and winter just around the corner, you may be finding yourself in need of some new gear. If money's a little tight, you may want to check-out REI's current sale - which they're calling "Mega Deals at REI OUTLET".

Thru October 13th REI will be offering up to 70% off on a wide array of outdoor gear and apparel.

For more information simply click on the graphic Ad:


Friday, September 26, 2014

USFS Backs-Off Threat of Photo Fees

As a follow-up to a posting from earlier today, I just found out that the U.S. Forest Service is backing away from a threat to impose fees on photographers who take photos on national forest lands. In a press release issued late last night, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell stated: “The US Forest Service remains committed to the First Amendment. To be clear, provisions in the draft directive do not apply to news gathering or activities.

He also goes on to state: "The fact is, the directive pertains to commercial photography and filming only – if you’re there to gather news or take recreational photographs, no permit would be required. We take your First Amendment rights very seriously. We’re looking forward to talking with journalists and concerned citizens to help allay some of the concerns we’ve been hearing and clarify what’s covered by this proposed directive.”

The statements are the result of an apparent firestorm from a recently proposed, but vaguely-worded rule, that some have interpreted to mean that the USFS would be imposing fees on professional media, as well as amateur photographers, for taking photos on national forest lands. This had some First Amendment advocates alarmed.

The USFS press release further clarifies the intent of the rule with this statement:
The proposal does not change the rules for visitors or recreational photographers. Generally, professional and amateur photographers will not need a permit unless they use models, actors or props; work in areas where the public is generally not allowed; or cause additional administrative costs.
However, neither Tidwell or the press release makes clear how, or if bloggers would be impacted in anyway. Although I do think bloggers would ultimately be part of the exemption, it's not entirely certain to me.

To read the full press release, please click here.


U.S. Forest Service Wants $1500 to Take a Photo

Imagine walking into the Roosevelt National Forest and snapping a few photos of your favorite mountain, wildflower or moose. Then suppose, since your photos turned out to be pretty awesome, that you decide to post them on your blog. Or, perhaps you're an amateur photographer and you thought that maybe you could make a few bucks by selling a print of one of those photos at a local art fair. Now, imagine getting slapped with a $1000 fine from the U.S. Forest Service for failing to obtain a permit to take that photo! Getting that permit isn't exactly walk in the park, either. The U.S. Forest Service wants a $1500 fee to purchase that permit in the first place!

If the USFS gets its way, those scenarios could become fact.

Back in early September the agency in charge with overseeing our national forests proposed a new rule that has First Amendment advocates alarmed. In addition to the impact this would have on bloggers and amateur photographers, many are concerned that the vaguely-worded rule could apply to professional media as well. Gregg Leslie, legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, recently told Oregon Live that, “It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional. They would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can’t.”

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden from Oregon weighed in with this statement: "The Forest Service needs to rethink any policy that subjects noncommercial photographs and recordings to a burdensome permitting process for something as simple as taking a picture with a cell phone. Especially where reporters and bloggers are concerned, this policy raises troubling questions about inappropriate government limits on activity clearly protected by the First Amendment."

Here's a summery of the rule as published on the Federal Register:
The Forest Service proposes to incorporate interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40 to make permanent guidance for the evaluation of proposals for still photography and commercial filming on National Forest System Lands. The proposed amendment would address the establishment of consistent national criteria to evaluate requests for special use permits on National Forest System (NFS) lands. Specifically, this policy provides the criteria used to evaluate request for special use permits related to still photography and commercial filming in congressionally designated wilderness areas. Public comment is invited and will be considered in the development of the final directive.
So what if this rule (and thinking) makes its way over to the National Park Service? More importantly, who owns our "public lands" anyway?

For more information, or more importantly, to voice your opinion, please visit the Federal Register website. The USFS will be accepting comments through November 3, 2014.U.S. Forest Service Wants $1500 to Take a Photo


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Accessible Trail to be Dedicated in Colorado National Monument

Join park staff at Colorado National Monument at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, October 1st to celebrate and dedicate the completion of the Alcove Nature Trail accessibility project!

Following standards established by the U.S. Access Board for Trails, the monument's trail crew constructed a 1/4-mile hard-packed, natural-surface trail composed of crushed granite. Tan in color, the crushed granite blends in with the natural surroundings, yet provides a stable surface to accommodate wheeled assistance devices such as wheelchairs and walkers. The trail tread is five feet wide bordered by hand-shaped sandstone blocks. Causeways constructed over drainages further ease use.

The Alcove Nature Trail starts from the south end of the visitor center parking area where two accessible parking spaces have been added adjacent to the trailhead. It leads from there through pinyon-juniper woodland to an overlook of Wedding Canyon.

Following a few brief remarks and ribbon-cutting at the trailhead, the trail will be open for use (due to concerns for public safety, the trail had been closed during construction). "As the National Park Service approaches its centennial in 2016, we are enthused to offer another type of trail experience for our visitors," shared Superintendent Lisa Eckert.

Recreational fee dollars (your entrance fees) were used to accomplish these trail improvements. In addition to providing a means for people who use wheeled assistance to leave paved areas for an enhanced park experience, project improvements secondarily increase trail stability and upgrade resource protection in the area.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Outdoor Industry Association Applauds Introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act of 2014

The Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) applauds the introduction of the U.S. OUTDOOR Act in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Dave Reichert (R-WA) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR); and in the U.S. Senate by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH). Developed in close consultation with the outdoor industry, the U.S. textile industry, and congressional representatives, this bipartisan piece of legislation will lower costs for outdoor industry businesses, prevent rising retail prices for consumers, and spur innovation by U.S. companies.

“I commend Representatives Reichert and Blumenauer and Senators Cantwell and Ayotte for coming together in a bipartisan effort to support the outdoor recreation industry, a vital part of the economy at the state and national level,” said OIA President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer. “The U.S. OUTDOOR Act will lower costs for outdoor businesses, fuel innovation, attract more consumers to get outdoors using high-quality, affordable apparel and will create more jobs in the United States. We look forward to the enactment of this important legislation.”


* creates unique classifications specific to recreation performance outerwear high-tech apparel, designed especially for outdoor recreation such as hiking, biking, skiing or snowboarding, hunting, fishing, paddling and other recreational activities - in the U.S. Harmonized Tariff Schedule; and

* eliminates onerous duties on these new classifications.

The Senate bill also includes the Sustainable Textile and Apparel Research Fund (STAR Fund) that will promote U.S. jobs and technologies through investments in American research programs and services towards sustainable, eco-friendly apparel supply chains.

The commercial manufacturing industry for recreational performance outerwear moved offshore decades ago, primarily following the technological advancements and commercial manufacturing capacity that are required by U.S.-based outdoor companies. According to the International Trade Commission there is no commercially viable manufacturing of recreational performance outwear in the U.S. In fact, the bill has been thoroughly vetted with the domestic textile and apparel industry to ensure that none of the products covered by the bill are produced in the U.S.

The high tariffs that remain (some as high as 30%) make it harder for millions of Americans to enjoy outdoor recreation in our parks and public lands and, at the same time, stifle innovation, economic growth and the creation of new jobs. If enacted, the bill will add to the $646 billion in consumer spending and the 6.1 million jobs generated by the outdoor industry.

OIA is encouraging consumers and its outdoor companies to contact their members of Congress to request support for the legislation.

Original co-sponsors of the legislation include Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Jared Polis (D-CO) in the House, and Senators Roy Blunt (R-MO), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Rob Portman (R-OH), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) in the Senate.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Mount Evans Highway to Close for Season Due to Road Construction

The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) will close the remaining 10 mile segment of the Mount Evans Highway (State Highway 5) for the season to most vehicular traffic Monday, September 22nd, for road construction.

CDOT needs to build a retaining wall along the edge of the highway to improve its stability near Lincoln Lake, about 6 ½ miles up from Echo Lake, requiring a full closure of the roadway. Only authorized vehicles and hunters with a current license for that game management unit will be permitted to use the highway during the closure period.

Annually, CDOT closes the five-mile segment from Summit Lake to the top of Mount Evans (14,264 feet) the day after Labor Day, per agreement with the U.S. Forest Service. The 10 mile section from Echo Lake (State Highway 103) to Summit Lake closes annually in early October. This year’s earlier closure will provide CDOT the time to make these road improvements prior to snowfall. State Highway 5 is scheduled to reopen for the summer season Friday, May 22, 2015, weather permitting.

Information regarding the opening and closing of seasonal highways in Colorado is available on the website or by calling 511.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

RMNP Announces Saturday Evening Programs

Rocky Mountain National Park announced yesterday two upcoming Saturday evening programs at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center over the next couple of weeks. As the park celebrates its Centennial, the programs will honor the past and celebrate the present to inspire future generations.

On Saturday, September 20, at 7:00 p.m. join a park ranger for Treacherous Treks: History of Longs Peak. As the only "fourteener" in the park, Longs Peak challenges many people to reach its summit. From the early years of Native American stories of trapping eagles upon its summit and the first recorded ascent in 1868 by John Wesley Powell, Longs Peak continues to share stories of beauty and peril. Many people have attempted to summit the 14,259-foot Longs Peak; some were successful, some were not. Follow the treks of Enos Mills, Agnes Vaille and others up to the mightiest peak in the park.

On Saturday, September 27, at 7:00 p.m. join Mary Taylor Young for Rocky Mountain National Park: The First 100 Years. A century has passed since Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915. But the story of any park with "Rocky Mountain" in its name begins not just a hundred years but a billion years ago. Award winning writer, Mary Taylor Young, tells the story of her new book.

These programs are free and open to the public. For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please call the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.