Saturday, April 14, 2018

Rocky Mountain National Park Changes Entrance Fee To Address Infrastructure Needs And Improve Visitor Experience

The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that Rocky Mountain National Park will modify its entrance fees to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs that enhance the visitor experience. Effective June 1, all of the park’s passes will increase. Rocky Mountain National Park is unique in that it offers a Day Pass. Rocky will continue to offer the Day Pass, it will increase from $20 to $25. The Seven-Day Vehicle Pass will increase from $30 to $35, the Seven-Day Motorcycle Pass will increase from $25 to $30. The park’s Annual Pass will increase from $60 to $70.

Last October, the NPS proposed a plan to adopt seasonal pricing at Rocky Mountain National Park and 16 other national parks to raise additional revenue for infrastructure and maintenance needs. The fee structure announced today addresses many concerns and ideas provided by the public on how best to address fee revenue for parks.

Revenue from entrance fees remains in the National Park Service and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. In Rocky Mountain National Park, 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor. The other 20 percent of entry fee income is shared with other national parks for their projects.

According to park superintendent Darla Sidles, “We appreciate all park stakeholders who engaged and commented on the proposed fee increase including elected officials, community leaders, park visitors and our neighbors. We are committed to keeping Rocky Mountain National Park affordable and providing visitors with the best possible experience. This fee increase is still an incredible value when considering other family and recreational experiences. Plus, 80 percent of those funds stay right here in Rocky to benefit visitors and improve the park, such as operating the park’s visitor shuttle bus system, providing food storage lockers at campgrounds, and restoring willow and aspen habitat. The additional revenue will also help us address the park’s $84 million deferred maintenance backlog on projects such as rehabilitating numerous trails like the Onahu Trail and Cub Lake Trail, renovating restroom facilities, replacing a failing septic system at Timber Creek Campground, and mitigating beetle-killed hazard trees in or near park facilities such as picnic areas and trailheads.”

National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Rocky’s 2017 visitation alone was 4.4 million visitors, making it the fourth most visited national park. Throughout the country, the combination of aging infrastructure and increased visitation affects park roads, bridges, buildings, campgrounds, water systems, bathrooms, and other facilities. Maintenance deferred on these facilities amounts to $11.6 billion nationwide backlog.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

Rocky Mountain National Park has had an entrance fee since 1939. The current fee rate has been in effect since October, 2015. The park is one of 117 in the National Park System that charges an entrance fee. The remaining 300 sites are free to enter.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.



Jeff
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Friday, April 13, 2018

National Park Service Announces Plan to Address Infrastructure Needs & Improve Visitor Experience

As part of its ongoing efforts to address aging park infrastructure and improve the visitor experience, the National Park Service (NPS) announced today changes to the entrance fees charged at national parks. The changes, which come in response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, will modestly increase entrance fees to raise additional revenue to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments.

Most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will be increased by $5 and will be implemented in many parks beginning June 1, 2018. Yosemite National Park for example will increase the price of a seven-day vehicle pass to the park from $30 to $35. More than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter. A complete list of park entrance fees may be found here.

All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain in the National Park Service with at least 80 percent of the money staying in the park where it is collected. The funds will be used for projects and activities to improve the experience for visitors who continue to visit parks at unprecedented levels. Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, means aging park facilities incurring further wear and tear.

“An investment in our parks is an investment in America,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality. I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal. Your input has helped us develop a balanced plan that focuses on modest increases at the 117 fee-charging parks as opposed to larger increases proposed for 17 highly-visited national parks. The $11.6 billion maintenance backlog isn’t going to be solved overnight and will require a multi-tiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to repair infrastructure. This is just one of the ways we are carrying out our commitment to ensure that national parks remain world class destinations that provide an excellent value for families from all income levels.”

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.

“Repairing infrastructure is also about access for all Americans,” Secretary Zinke said. “Not all visitors to our parks have the ability to hike with a 30-pound pack and camp in the wilderness miles away from utilities. In order for families with young kids, elderly grandparents, or persons with disabilities to enjoy the parks, we need to rebuild basic infrastructure like roads, trails, lodges, restrooms and visitors centers.”

Fees to enter national parks predate the establishment of the National Park Service in 1916. For example, Mount Rainier National Park began charging an entrance fee in 1908. Factoring in inflation, the $5 entrance fee the park charged in 1914 would be the equivalent of a $123 entrance fee today—more than four times the price of the new seven-day $30 vehicle pass.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

In addition to implementing modest fee increases and enhancing public-private partnerships aimed at rebuilding national parks, Secretary Zinke is working closely with Congress on proposed bipartisan legislation to use revenue derived from energy produced on federal lands and waters to establish a special fund within the Treasury specifically for “National Park Restoration”. The billfollows the blueprint outlined in Secretary Zinke and President Trump's budget proposal, the Public Lands Infrastructure Fund.

The National Park Service has a standardized entrance fee structure, composed of four groups based on park size and type. Some parks not yet aligned with the other parks in their category will raise their fees incrementally and fully incorporate the new entrance fee schedule by January 1, 2020.



Jeff
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

One week left to file your taxes and check-off for wildlife

This year’s tax season ends on April 17, offering extra time for last-minute filers to submit their 2017 federal and state taxes and to make a tax-deductible contribution to help Colorado’s wildlife. Colorado Parks and Wildlife asks those who have not yet filed to consider helping threatened and endangered wildlife when finalizing your Colorado state returns with a voluntary contribution through the Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund.

CPW is one of the organizations included on Colorado state income tax form 104A as part of Checkoff Colorado, which allows taxpayers to make voluntary contributions to the organizations of their choice when filing their state income tax returns. Specifying a contribution on line No. 1 of Colorado tax form 104CH (the Voluntary Contributions Schedule form) supports CPW programs that support wildlife rehabilitation and preservation of threatened and endangered species in the state of Colorado. Specified donations to the Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund are tax-deductible and help support around 750 species of wildlife that cannot be hunted or fished.

Funds go to projects that manage or recover wildlife including birds of prey, amphibians, reptiles, lynx, river otters, black-footed ferrets and others. The Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund also helps support wildlife rehabilitation centers that work to care for injured and orphaned wildlife ranging from orphaned bear cubs to the great blue heron.

“We have a bit of fun with our campaign theme that wildlife doesn’t have an annual income to support their livelihood,” said Dan Zimmerer, CPW’s partnership coordinator. “But the truth is, some species are simply more vulnerable than others. These check-off contributions help us fund CPW projects and help support our rehab partners. These partners truly appreciate your help in doing their very important wildlife work.”

Coloradans contributed more than $180,000 last year to help a variety of species through the tax checkoff, making the Non-game Conservation and Wildlife Restoration Cash Fund the number one fund out of over 20 options for Colorado residents. Some recent non-game success stories in Colorado include the reintroduction of the Canada lynx and natural breeding after translocation of the endangered boreal toad. Be a part of our next conservation story by checking off for wildlife on your 2017 Colorado state taxes.

To learn more about the various species that benefit from your voluntary contribution, please visit cpw.state.co.us.



Jeff
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Friday, March 23, 2018

Public Input Requested on the Future of Cascade Cottages In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is considering options for the future use of the 42-acre Cascade Cottages property acquired in March of 2017. For many decades Kansas school-teachers L.V. and Hazel Davis operated a privately-owned lodging business that was open seasonally from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Honoring the wishes of the family patriarch, the family approached park staff in 2009, offering to sell the property to the park. With assistance from the Trust for Public Land, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy, and many donors, including the Estes Valley Land Trust, Larimer County, and the Town of Estes Park, the park was able to acquire the property. Park staff are now in the process of determining how the property should be used and/or preserved.

The Cascade Cottages property is bordered on the south by Fall River, and is named for a series of cascades on the river. The property is bisected by Fall River Road (U.S. Highway 34), and is located approximately 1 mile inside the Fall River Entrance to RMNP. The property office, 12 rustic cabins, and associated infrastructure are located on the south side of Fall River Road and lie very lightly on the land. The cabins are built on stone or concrete piers, and water lines run above ground. There is no well or permanent water system. Water was hauled to the site and stored in above ground tanks, and propane was delivered to the site. The only externally provided utilities are power and telephone. The property to the north of Fall River Road is undeveloped.

Preliminary Options
While no decision has been made on the future use of the Cascade Cottages Property, some preliminary options have been developed to initiate discussion. These preliminary options are:

Youth Conservation Corps Seasonal Housing
The park’s friends group, The Rocky Mountain Conservancy, funds a youth conservation corps every summer. The corps perform projects within the park such as trail reconstruction. Some of the existing cottages could be renovated and site improvements completed to provide housing that would only be occupied by the corps during the summer months.

Youth and Volunteer Outdoor Education
Some of the cabins could be renovated and minor site improvements completed to provide a rustic lodging and outdoor education facility for youth or park volunteers that have limited experience with the outdoors. Not as outdoorsy as camping, the rustic cabins could provide an outdoors experience without all the comforts of home.

Mothball the Structures
RMNP would terminate all outside services (power and phone), and would secure each building from entry using plywood coverings over windows and doors. While left unused, the buildings would not receive routine maintenance.

Remove the Structures and Restore the Site
The structures and infrastructure would be removed and recycled to the extent feasible. The ground would be scarified to break up compacted soil, and the area replanted with native grasses, forbs, shrubs and trees. The goal would be to place all disturbed areas on a trajectory where they would be restored to natural conditions in a matter of a few decades.

Other Options
If you have comments on the options above or an idea for the future of Cascade Cottages that is compatible with the mission of the National Park Service, please share your idea with us!

Comments must be received in writing by close of business on April 23, 2018. Comments can be submitted online by visiting: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/romo. Look for “Cascade Cottages.”

Comments may also be sent to the following mailing address:

Superintendent
Rocky Mountain National Park
Estes Park, CO 80517

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. Although you can ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee we will be able to do so.



Jeff
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Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Moose Research Continues In Rocky Mountain National Park

Late last summer, park staff began a moose research project to better understand how moose use habitat in Rocky Mountain National Park. Moose presence has been increasing annually on both the east and west sides of the park, with recent reports showing animals observed in every major drainage in the park.

As part of this research, National Park Service staff are collaring up to 40 moose throughout the park. Seven animals were collared on the west side of the park last year, and staff will begin collaring moose on the east side of the park this year as well. This research project will occur for the next five years, through 2022.

Information on moose population size, population growth rate, and carrying capacity as well as habitat use will be gathered from this by excessive browse for decades. During the course of executing this adaptive management plan, new challenges have emerged, including a noticeably growing and expanding research. Moose have not been previously GPS collared in the park, and affixing collars will assist greatly in collecting this important information. Moose will also be monitored for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and baseline health metrics will be collected, which will allow biologists to better understand the overall health of the park’s moose population.

Since 2008, Rocky Mountain National Park’s Elk and Vegetation Management Plan has been undergoing efforts to reestablish the natural range of variation to the elk population, as well as aspen and willow communities which have been impacted by moose populations in the park. Moose are wetland specialists, and can consume significant amounts of willow during the summer months. Aspen and willow are critical habitat for a wide and diverse array of wildlife species.



Jeff
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Monday, March 12, 2018

Phase 2 of Rim Rock Drive Repaving Starts Today

Beginning March 12, road work will start on Rim Rock Drive near the east entrance of Colorado National Monument. From March 12 to 14, the construction company will close one lane and use pilot vehicles to escort cars through the construction zone. Motorists should expect delays of 15-30 minutes. Due to the expected rough and potentially loose surfaces the National Park Service is asking bicyclists and motorcyclists to avoid this stretch of Rim Rock Drive during this time.

The second phase of this multi-phased project involves repairing and resurfacing the east hill of Rim Rock Drive, from the Grand Junction entrance and through the intersection with DS Road and then following DS Road to the monument boundary. Crews will be milling and pulverizing the current road surfaces, preparing the surfaces for paving and then laying new asphalt and concrete.

Superintendent Ken Mabery stated, “The goal of everyone associated with this project is to accomplish the needed work in a safe and efficient manner for the long term access needs of community members and visitors.”

Starting on March 15, the east hill of Rim Rock Drive will be temporarily closed from the Devils Kitchen trailhead and picnic area to Cold Shivers Point overlook for about one month. During this time traffic into the monument and those traveling to or through Glade Park will need to use the Little Park Road detour. Devils Kitchen trailhead and picnic area may be closed for a day or two as paving is completed immediately adjacent to them. DS road will be open to one way traffic with a pilot vehicle escorting motorists through the construction zones.

Visitors traveling from the Fruita entrance will be able to access the visitor center and go as far as the Cold Shivers Point overlook, approximately 15 miles beyond the visitor center. They will be able to exit the monument using DS Road.

Spring hours are now in effect at Colorado National Monument. The visitor center is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily. For additional information please visit www.nps.gov/colm or call 970-858-3617, ext. 360.



Jeff
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Saturday, March 10, 2018

The Colorado Trail Foundation Seeks Trail Crews

The Colorado Trail Foundation is seeking 10 trail crews - the most ever - to help with trail maintenance on the 500-mile trail.

Volunteer Trail Crews vary in length from one to eight days. The CTF provides training, tools, hardhats, meals (except for backpack crews), group camp equipment, and leadership. Volunteers are responsible for their own transportation to the crew location and for their personal equipment, including tent or camper, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, eating utensils, work clothes, and other personal items, as applicable. You can contact the crew leader for crew specifics.

For more information, please click here.



Jeff
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