Saturday, March 29, 2014

RMNP needs your help with trail condition reports

Rocky Mountain National Park is asking for your help. As you're out hiking this spring and summer, the park is asking for hikers to submit trail condition reports. Here's what the park posted on their Facebook page yesterday:
Spring Conditions! Folks venturing out on Rocky’s trails are encountering everything from mud to ice to crusty snow. Not only should you be prepared for changeable conditions, we need your help! Trail Conditions Reports are posted on Rocky’s official website but we need updates. We really need them year-round, but especially this spring and summer, as flood damages to trails and the tremendous snowpack will affect conditions. We rely on folks like you to help give us trail condition reports. As you are out and about, please take a few moments to pass along trail condition reports to the RMNP Information Office. You can email, call 970-586-1206, or stop by a park visitor center. Providing these helps all of us be better prepared for conditions. Think safe - stay safe.


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Protection of High Value Trees and Hazard Mitigation Projects Continue in 2014 at Rocky Mountain National Park

Bark beetles continue to be active within Rocky Mountain National Park, impacting large numbers of conifer trees. The park's priorities for mitigation of the effects of beetles are focused on removing hazard trees and hazard fuels related to the protection of life and property. For several years, Rocky Mountain National Park has had a proactive bark beetle management program. In recent years, bark beetles have been considered at outbreak levels throughout the park. In 2014, the park will continue its mitigation efforts, including applying insecticide, removing hazard trees, prescribed burns, utilizing an air curtain burner, pheromone treatments and implementing temporary closures in a variety of park locations.

Starting in early April and ending by Memorial Day weekend, the park is planning to protect up to 6,700 high-value trees from bark beetles by applying a Carbaryl-based insecticide. Treatment will occur in the following developed areas of the park: Beaver Meadows Visitor Center area, Upper Beaver Meadows picnic area, Moraine Park Visitor Center, Kawuneeche Visitor Center, Aspenglen, Moraine Park, and Glacier Basin Campgrounds, Hollowell Park, Mill Creek Ranger Station, Wild Basin Entrance Station, Sprague Lake picnic area, Bighorn Ranger Station, McGraw Ranch, Holzwarth Historic Site, Kaley Cottages, Lumpy Ridge Trailhead, and the east and west side park service housing areas.

Last year, approximately 6,500 trees were treated and nearly all of these trees were protected from attack by bark beetles. Additional sites have been expanded on the east side of the park as infestation rates increase in forests adjacent to high value trees. Insecticide will be applied from the ground and sprayed onto individual trees to repel beetle attacks. Temporary closures will be in effect during spraying operations.

The park is also treating up to 300 high value limber pine trees with verbenone pheromone packets to minimize infestation from bark beetles. Limber pine trees in the park are currently at risk of mountain pine beetle infestation and infection from white pine blister rust, a lethal non-native invasive fungus. Research is being conducted to identify if any limber pine trees within the park are resistant to white pine blister rust.

Park staff and contracted resources will continue to conduct hazard tree mitigation, through tree removal, throughout the year. Planned project sites include: the Bear Lake area, Lily Lake area, Kaley Cottages, along road corridors and in the Endovalley picnic area. Smaller scale, selective hazard tree removals should be anticipated at trailheads, parking areas, picnic areas, roadside pullouts, campgrounds, and visitor centers. Temporary site closures may occur at smaller sites to facilitate safe operations. Material disposal will involve piles for future burning as well as consolidation at designated sites for future use including firewood collection permits. More information on wood utilization will be available in late summer.

For more information about Rocky Mountain National Park please contact the park's Information Office at (970) 586-1206.


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Summiting Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route

Below is a pretty good video of what it's like to climb Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park. The video takes viewers through the Boulder Field, the Keyhole, the Ledges, the Trough, the Narrows and the Homestretch. Although many hikers and backpackers reach the summit each year, this really isn't a hike:

As you can see, to reach the summit of Longs Peak is more than just a tough day hike. It's considered to be a Class 3 climb, and requires some basic mountaineering skills, especially if the weather goes south on you while on or near the summit. If you think this is something you would like to do someday, I highly recommend learning more about this climb on the website.

If you're like me and think that the summit is beyond your comfort level, you can still hike up to the Keyhole. Although it's an extremely tough hike, there's relatively little exposure to steep drop-offs. In fact, for experienced hikers, it's one of the most popular hikes in the park. The views along much of the hike, especially from the Keyhole itself are quite spectacular. For more information on this hike, please click here.

If you do plan to visit Rocky Mountain National Park this year, please note that our website offers a wide variety of accommodation listings for both Estes Park and Grand Lake.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Multiple Recreation Areas to be Impacted by Mountain Pine Beetle Preventative Spraying

Multiple recreation areas will be temporarily impacted this spring due to efforts related to the mountain pine beetle epidemic, including hazard tree cutting and spraying more than 7,400 trees.

Contract crews are spraying trees in select campgrounds and day-use areas on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District this spring and summer. Contractors spray Carbaryl and U.S. Forest Service crews monitor operations and conditions. Spraying is very dependent on calm weather and could begin as soon as April 28th. Spraying is planned at these locations:

* Bellaire Campground and Day-use
* Dowdy Campground and Day-use (temporary closure necessary)
* Mountain Park Campground and Day-use
* Jacks Gulch Campground
* West Lake Campground and Day-use
* Redfeather Work Center

Approximately 250 white pine blister rust resistant limber pines and conifers will be sprayed as well this spring in the Cherokee Park and Crown Point areas.

Check the website or call visitor information at 970-295-6700 before heading out. Also make sure to check the status of roads across the district, as hazard tree cutting activities and flood damage have some roads closed.


Saturday, March 15, 2014

U.S. Forest Service Seeks Comments on Re-Route of Colorado Trail

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS), Salida Ranger District is seeking public comments on the design and re-route of a portion of the Colorado Trail. The project area is approximately 15 miles west of Salida, Colorado in Chaffee County. Plans include the design and construction of approximately 4.5 miles of new trail located on portions of the Colorado Trail. Comments are due no later than April 15th.

The Salida Ranger District is working to finalize two locations for initial layout and design of a non-motorized portion of the Colorado Trail located in the South Fooses Creek drainage.

* A section of the current single track trail is experiencing significant vegetation and soil loss. To alleviate this damage a re-route of approximately two miles of single track trail will be designed.

* A trail alignment will re-route the current location of the Colorado Trail, currently co-aligned with National Forest System Road (NFSR) #225. This section of trail will include approximately 2.5 miles of new single track trail.

* The final phase will enhance the current South Fooses Reservoir restroom facility site to include trailhead parking and proper signing.

The project will utilize USFS trail standards regarding design, layout and construction of a sustainable class trail system.

To request additional information or submit comments contact Project Manager Brett Beasley at either (719) 539-3591 or Information or comments can also be faxed to (719) 539-3593 or delivered in person or mailed to: Salida Ranger District Office, 5575 Cleora Rd., Salida, CO 81201. The office is open weekdays from 8:00a.m. – 4:30p.m., excluding holidays.


Thursday, March 13, 2014

AmeriCorps Returns to the Canyon Lakes Ranger District

The Canyon Lakes Ranger District has announced that the AmeriCorps crew will once again be helping with hazardous fuels reduction work and firefighting efforts this upcoming season. The crew arrives next week and will be the fourth year the district has hosted a crew.

AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs that engage Americans in intensive service to meet the nation’s critical needsin education, public safety, health and the environment. This AmeriCorps Team is comprised of 12 young adults between the ages of 19 and 24 and provides an enormous service to the U.S. Forest Service. Members of the team are from all across the United States.

The Forest Service provides necessary training and housing for the crew, as well as a liaison to assist the team lead with supervision and assignments. The team will stay at the district’s Fort Collins Administrative Site during its first tour from March 17 to May 9 and then at the Redfeather Work Center during a second period from May 19 to July 18.

In addition to supplementing the district’s firefighting resources, the team is available to help with other projects across the district. In past years this has included noxious weed surveys and monitoring within the High Park Fire burn area; old fence removal on the Canyon Lakes Ranger District; and fence building on the Pawnee National Grassland.

For more information about AmeriCorps, click here.


Tent Rocks

If you’re ever in the Santa Fe or Albuquerque area, be sure to take the one-hour drive to visit Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This is truly a remarkable place. The best way to see this unique landscape is to hike the Cave Loop / Slot Canyon Trail. This short video will give you an idea of what this magical place is all about. For more detailed information on the hike, please click here.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

A Yosemite Classic: The Vernal Fall / Nevada Fall Loop

The spectacular Mist Trail at the eastern end of the Yosemite Valley leads to some of the most popular destinations in Yosemite National Park. Although the mileage is relatively moderate, this is still a fairly tough hike. It’s all worth it though; you’ll visit star attractions such as Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall and the Emerald Pool. For more information on this “bucket list” hike, please click here.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

2014 Temporary Closures to Protect Nesting Raptors in Rocky Mountain National Park

Each year to protect raptor nesting sites, Rocky Mountain National Park officials initiate temporary closures in the Lumpy Ridge and Sheep Mountain areas of the park. To ensure that these birds of prey can nest undisturbed, specific areas within the park are closed temporarily to public use during nesting season and monitored by wildlife managers. All closures started on March 1 and will continue through July 31, if appropriate. These closures may be extended longer or rescinded at an earlier date depending on nesting activity.

Closures include Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, Alligator Rock, Sheep Mountain, and Twin Owls, Rock One. These closures include the named formations. Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the named rock formations. Check the park's website for updated information on raptor closures.

The National Park Service is committed to preserving birds of prey. The same cliffs that are critical for raptors also appeal to climbers. The cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals continues to be essential to the successful nesting of raptors in the park.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest Moves Forward on Flood Recovery Efforts

The September flood caused extensive damage to many roads, trails, and facilities, along with resource damage and other concerns on the forest. Since then the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest and Pawnee National Grassland (ARP) has continued to assess needs and move forward.

Multiple items of note have occurred since the ARP Flood Incident Assessment Team released its report last November. This initial assessment provided a snapshot of the scope and scale of the flood damage on National Forest System lands.

“There is a great deal of work to be done within the Forest’s flood impacted area and we know that annual snow run-off may result in additional damage,” Lori Bell, Flood Recovery Team Lead, said. “We are doing what we can at this point and know that addressing all the needs will take years.”

A critical item identified in the initial assessment was that due to access issues from the flood, a helicopter is needed to supplement ground firefighting efforts. The ARP will have an exclusive use helicopter from mid-June to mid-September. The helicopter will help with response time to fires, along with the ability to support project work when available. This Type 3 helicopter will be similar to the one stationed on the ARP last season, with the U.S. Forest Service providing leadership and working closely with local cooperators for additional staffing support.

The assessment team’s work with the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) has led to the approval of nearly $2.2 million dollars for qualifying damaged roads on the Canyon Lakes and Boulder ranger districts through the Emergency Relief for Federally Owned Roads (ERFO) program. This work will be implemented by the Central Federal Lands group of the FHA once conditions allow and contracts are in place.

Other activities the Forest is involved in since the flood includes working with municipalities organizations on recovery efforts, including power line reconstruction, fill material, debris flow stabilization and dam decommissioning; implementation of a closure order for many roads and trails due to public safety and resource damage concerns; and repair of some lower-elevation roads in the flood area.

The forest, working through the Rocky Mountain Regional Office of the U.S. Forest Service, has also received funding to staff a team to help in the recovery efforts. This team consists of a team leader, community liaisons, engineer, hydrologist, recreation planner and reality specialist. Additional positions may be identified as work continues into the spring and summer. This team will work with the forest to prioritize needs and collaborate with partners to share information and resources as appropriate. Some funding has also been identified to start work on other roads, trails, and facilities damaged by the flood.

Visitors are reminded this flood changed the landscape of the forest dramatically. The forest is still full of recreational opportunities, but not necessarily the same as it was before. Use caution in rain affected areas. Additional information is posted here.