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Winter Park mountain bike race series opens registration

Winter Park Resort has opened registration for its Winter Park Classics mountain bike race series and individual races, which start on June 26.

After having to cancel the series last year due to the COVID pandemic, the resort is looking forward to relaunching the races. Winter Park Resort and the Trestle bike park open June 16.

June will have the Primal Point-to-Point race, July features the Rendezvous Race and August has the King of the Rockies race.

All races have categories for youth featuring six mile courses, beginners, sport, expert and professional. Beginners courses are 13-18 miles and the other category courses are 18-25 miles.

Series registration closes June 15, though individual registration will be open until the day of the race. Registering for the series will offer discounted rates and everyone who registers will get an official jersey. Register at winterparkclassics.com.

Winter Park Resort will also host the USA Cycling Mountain Bike National Championships in July and the Trestle Gravity Series.

Colorado ski resort operators turbo-charged technology last season, and many of the upgrades are here to stay

For many years, resort captains have been slow and steady with investment in technology. The behind-the-scenes stuff — wireless networks, point-of-sale and lodging reservation systems, online ticket sales — typically was overshadowed by flashy projects involving new chairlifts and terrain.

The coronavirus turbo-charged ski resort interest in decidedly unsexy technology, which is now a top priority. After a year of resorts doing everything they could to limit crowding with reservations, early purchasing, touchless retail interactions and mobile apps, the 2020-21 season will mark the moment the U.S. resort industry leaped into the modern world.

“We always had these plans for investment in technology, but COVID accelerated everything,” said Erik Forsell, head of marketing for Alterra Mountain Co., the Denver-based operator of 15 ski destinations. “We took a multiyear process and did it in like five months.”

The embrace of technology spread to every demographic and every industry during the pandemic. Shoppers who maybe were reticent about online purchasing quickly learned the ropes of e-commerce. The ski resort industry rode that wave with innovations that will remain a fixture in the ski experience.

“We see this as the new normal,” said John Lilley, who spent seven years building the buy-early technology that anchors Vail Resorts’ entire business plan. He’s now the chief information officer at Aspen Skiing Co.

To continue reading this article, go to ColoradoSun.com.

Raptors cause more Lumpy Ridge closures in Rocky

Rocky Mountain National Park announced more closures in the Lumpy Ridge area for raptor nesting.

The additional climbing closures will affect the Left Book, Bookmark and Bookmark Pinnacle because of aggressive behavior from nearby nesting Peregrine falcons. Falcons are known to dive at humans near their nest at speeds of up to 200 mph.

In addition, if falcons experience repeated disturbances near their nest, they will abandon it and leave any eggs to die.

“For the safety of both visitors and this federally protected wildlife species these additional climbing closures have been put in place,” a release from park officials said.

In February, Rocky closed many parts of the Lumpy Ridge and Loch Vale areas earlier than in previous years because of an uptick in nesting behavior. Closures include Cathedral Wall, Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock, Batman Pinnacle, Sundance, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, The Book, and Twin Owls and Rock One.

Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings, cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the named rock formations. The closures are currently scheduled through July 31, but park officials may extend or shorten the closures based on nesting activity.

Check the park’s website at www.nps.gov/romo/planyourvisit/area_closures.htm for updated information.

Grand County Fishing Report: Best bite for Grand Lake’s rainbow, brown trout comes early and on overcast days

Lake trout in Lake Granby have been biting small tubes, grubs and crayfish imitations tipped with a small piece of sucker meat.
Courtesy Fishing with Bernie

Here is this week’s Grand County fishing report.

Grand Lake: The water temp 44-47 degrees, and both inlets are flowing. Rainbows and browns have been biting well at the surface early in the morning and throughout the day when it’s overcast.

By mid-morning on sunny days, try fishing a little bit deeper in 10-15 feet of water. Lake trout are spread out in the water column with most being caught in 30-50 feet of water on small plastics tipped with sucker meat.

Williams Fork: Ramp hours are 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Williams Fork is at 73% capacity, and the surface temp is 49 degrees early in the morning before warming to 52 by afternoon.

The lake trout bite is slow to fair. Juvenile lakers are biting well in 60-70 feet of water. Mature fish can be found in 40-70 feet, but the bite is tough right now. I’m seeing trophy class lakers break the surface, casting for them is hit and miss.

Northern pike are sluggish in the cold water and recovering from the spring spawn. Kokanee fishing is slow due to lack of population. Rainbow fishing is also slow since the lake hasn’t been stocked since 2019.

Lake Granby: Water temp has been 48-53 degrees. The bite has slowed a bit but is still good. Rainbows and browns are biting well in the inlets and rocky shorelines on spinners, and small natural colored crankbaits.

Lake trout are being caught in 20-60 feet of water. The transition areas between the rocks and mud have been good areas to concentrate on.

Small tubes, grubs and crayfish imitations have been the most consistent with the preferred color being different every day. Tip your jig with a small piece of sucker meat and keep it fresh for the best action.

The fishing report is brought to you by Fishing with Bernie. Owner Bernie Keefe and his team have been guiding in Grand County for more than 25 years. Randy H., Sam Hochevar and Dan Shannon contributed to this report. Go to www.FishingWithBernie.com or find Fishing with Bernie on Facebook or Instagram for more.

Top 5 most read stories on SkyHiNews.com, week of May 23

Running from Grand Lake to Estes Park, Trail Ridge Road often sees snow along the route well into June. It opened for the season Friday afternoon.
Sky-Hi News file photo

The following stories were the most well-read on www.SkyHiNews.com from May 23-29.

1. Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road to open Friday

Trail Ridge Road opened up to the Continental Divide on Wednesday with park officials planning to reopen the road completely on Friday.

Rocky Mountain National Park announced the opening via Twitter. The western side of the highway is open for vehicles, bikers and people on foot up to Milner Pass on the Continental Divide. The east side is open to Rainbow Curve as far as Rock Cut.

Weather permitting, Rocky hopes to reopen the road completely just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

2. Granby man gets 30 years for murder

A Granby man who admitted to murder was sentenced to three decades in prison amid the grieving loved ones of his victim.

On Friday in Grand County District Court, Judge Mary Hoak sentenced Christopher T. Corcorran, 33, to 30 years of prison time and five years of parole for the death of 42-year-old Dustin Bryant of Wheat Ridge in May 2020. Corcorran will receive credit for 338 days served.

Bryant’s father, mother, brother and partner were in the courtroom for the sentencing and all shared statements with the court. Bryant was remembered as a kind, hard-working and religious man who would do anything for his family and friends.

3. Infrastructure work closes Winter Park trails

Three popular trails in the Winter Park area will be closed this season for infrastructure work around Ski Idlewild Road.

The Headwaters Trails Alliance shared on Tuesday that Yankee Doodle, Meadow Trail and Crosstrails will be impacted.

Yankee Doodle will close at Serendipity west, while both Meadow Trail and Crosstrails will be closed from Ski Idlewild Road to Friendship Drive.

4. Officials investigating origins of fire near Henderson Mill

The US Forest Service is investigating a wildfire that broke out inside the Williams Fork Fire closure area on Saturday.

Around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, fire crews responded to the area along County Road 30, about one mile from the Sugarloaf Campgrounds and near the Henderson Mill, for a wildfire that the Forest Service dubbed the Kinney Fire.

Forest Service spokesperson Tammy Williams said that crews were able to contain the 4.7 acre fire around 3 p.m. Saturday with help from Hot Sulphur Springs Parshall Fire, Kremmling Fire, Grand Fire, Grand EMS and the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

5. Colorado drought conditions drastically improve in nearly half the state, but it’s a different story on the Western Slope

The wet spring across the Front Range brought much-needed moisture to Colorado, which had been classified as dry since last July, allowing more than 23% of the state to emerge from dry conditions in just five weeks.

Over the last 13 weeks, about half of the state has been relieved of drought, according to data released Thursday by the U.S. Drought Monitor. As of Friday, Denver alone has had 8.4 inches of precipitation this spring.

“It’s been a great spring, just what we needed east of the (Continental) Divide,” said Russ Schumacher, director of the Colorado Climate Center. “The big snowstorm in March kicked it off, and then we’ve had this steady string of these upslope storms with rain or snow depending on where you’re at. Considering how bad things were last fall and the start of the winter, we’ve turned that around. But you look west of the divide, and it’s a totally different story, and that’s where those severe drought conditions continue.”

Infrastructure work closes Winter Park trails

Closure signage asks trail users to access the Idlewild Trail system from the High Country Haus area. Meadow Trail, Yankee Doodle and Crosstrails are impacted by the closure.
Courtesy HTA

Three popular trails in the Winter Park area will be closed this season for infrastructure work around Ski Idlewild Road.

The Headwaters Trails Alliance shared on Tuesday that Yankee Doodle, Meadow Trail and Crosstrails will be impacted.

Yankee Doodle will close at Serendipity west, while both Meadow Trail and Crosstrails will be closed from Ski Idlewild Road to Friendship Drive.

Access to the Idlewild Trails will be limited. Users will need to start at the High Country Rec Center to get on Crosstrails, which has been rerouted from Ski Idlewild to Rendezvous Road. Continue on Rendezvous until Friendship Drive and make a right, following the road until the Upper Meadow Trailhead.

Fire closures are also still in place for the Williams Fork and East Troublesome fires. For the latest trail closures in the national forest, go to fs.usda.gov/goto/arp/knowbefore.

Fishing Report: We’re back on the water and the bite has been excellent

Here is this week’s Grand County fishing report.

This large lake trout was caught recently on Lake Granby.

Grand Lake: The water temperature 45 degrees Fahrenheit. Water is starting to flow in from both inlets, but the water around the north inlet is very cloudy and stained from the burned area.

Rainbows and browns are being caught on small jerkbaits and crankbaits in 5-15 feet of water. Lake trout are scattered throughout the water column from 10-60 feet of water. Small tubes tipped with sucker meat have been producing most of the lake trout. Beware of floating debris coming into lake with spring runoff.

Williams Fork: The boat ramp remains closed due to the low water level. Currently Williams Fork is at 69% capacity.

Because I haven’t been on the water yet, I don’t have anything to report on boat fishing conditions. The surface water is still cold, which is bringing all age groups of lake trout within casting distance for anglers from the shore. Shallow diving, suspending or search baits can produce fish early in the morning or on windy overcast days.

With the lake so low, when the wind blows, it is like being in a Sahara Desert dust storm along the shoreline — be prepared for that. Bank fishing for rainbows is slow because the lake hasn’t been stocked since 2019. Northern pike have spawned and are a bit lethargic right now.

Lake Granby: The water temp is 48 degrees, and the water level has been steadily rising over the past week. The docks are in and hazard buoys have been placed around the lake. There is a lot of floating debris, so beware while traveling the lake.

Fishing has been very good for rainbows and browns in the shallow rocky areas on small tubes and crankbaits. Lake trout fishing has been excellent using various small plastics tipped with sucker meat on the bottom in depths from 20-50 feet.

Look for the larger lake trout along shorelines early in the day. Crankbaits and large plastics are go to lures when looking for that big fish bite.

The fishing report is brought to you by Fishing with Bernie. Owner Bernie Keefe and his team have been guiding in Grand County for more than 25 years. Sam Hochevar and Dan Shannon contributed to this report. Go to www.FishingWithBernie.com or find Fishing with Bernie on Facebook or Instagram for more.


Lake levels

(Recorded on Monday)

Williams Fork: 7,789.64 feet (7,811 full)

Green Mountain: 7,895.19 feet (7,950 full)

Lake Granby: 8,256.34 feet (8,277 full)

Colorado’s basin roundtables push back on CWCB’s proposed code of conduct

The Colorado Water Conservation Board is hoping the nine basin roundtables adopt their code of conduct. From left, back row: Steve Anderson, Dan Gibbs, Kevin Rein, Jim Yahn, Heather Dutton, Russell George, Curran Trick, Greg Felt; front row: Jessica Brody, Gail Schwartz, Celene Hawkins, Jaclyn Brown, Becky Mitchell. (Heather Sackett/Aspen Journalism)

The state water board is encouraging all nine basin roundtables to adopt a code of conduct requiring members to communicate in a professional, respectful, truthful and courteous way. But some Western Slope roundtables are pushing back.

Over roughly the past month, Colorado Water Conservation Board Director Rebecca Mitchell has been visiting the remote roundtable meetings on Zoom, answering questions about the code of conduct and urging the roundtables to adopt it. The goal of the document is to make sure everyone feels comfortable speaking up in meetings.

Mitchell said that with important and potentially contentious discussions on the horizon for water-short Colorado, it’s important to have a set of conduct standards in place to guide those discussions.

Gunnison River Basin Roundtable member Bill Nesbitt said at the May meeting it was a “third-grade sandbox question.” Mitchell agreed.

“I think it is similar to a third-grade sandbox, but not every sandbox is fair and some kids throw sand in other kids’ eyes,” Mitchell said. “We need to make the message clear about the expectations as we move forward to some of those really difficult discussions.”

Some members of the Southwest Basin Roundtable welcomed the code of conduct.

“I support adopting a policy,” said Mely Whiting, environmental representative and legal counsel for Trout Unlimited. “I think that things do get more and more controversial as we move forward. In my experience on this roundtable, in recent times things have gotten a little bit out of hand and quite a bit more aggressive. I’ve been, myself, uncomfortable quite often.”

The Colorado legislature created the nine basin roundtables — South Platte, Metro, Arkansas, Rio Grande, San Juan/Dolores (collectively known as Southwest) Gunnison, Colorado, Yampa/White/Green and North Platte — in 2005 to encourage locally driven collaborative solutions on water issues. They represent each of the state’s eight major river basins, plus the Denver metro area, and are made up of volunteers from different water sectors like agriculture, environment, recreation and municipal.

The eight major river basins, plus the Denver metro area, are shown on this map from theSouth Platte River Basin Roundtable. Each basin has its own roundtable, made up of volunteers, to address local water issues. (Image courtesy South Platte Basin Roundtable)

In addition to asking members to promote an inclusive environment that treats everyone fairly, the code also lays out best practices for conducting business. According to the code, the roundtables have the responsibility for noticing meetings, adhering to federal and state laws and public health orders and performing job tasks promptly and effectively.

Members at both the Southwest and Gunnison roundtables had issues with the best practices section. Montezuma County representative Ed Millard said the best practices section seemed more relevant to employees of the Division of Water Resources, not a volunteer board.

“I just think it’s going to have to be tuned to a volunteer organization before we adopt it,” he said at the April Southwest Roundtable meeting. “We certainly do need to resolve the tension and friction, but I don’t think adoption of (an) employee code is the way to do that.”

Southwest adopted the rest of the code of conduct, minus this best practices part at its May meeting. In the Gunnison basin, a motion to adopt the code of conduct failed; the discussion has been tabled until the July meeting.

Roundtable member Michael Murphy, who represents Hinsdale County, said the group already holds their meetings with respect and that the code was unnecessary.

“We are western Colorado. We don’t like being told what to do,” he said at the May Gunnison Basin Roundtable meeting.

While the code of conduct will be the policy of the Colorado Water Conservation Board, Mitchell admitted there was little the CWCB could do to enforce it on the roundtables, and the roundtables don’t have to adopt it.

“Being perfectly honest and transparent, enforcing a code of conduct on a volunteer roundtable is difficult,” she told the Southwest Roundtable. “(Enforcement) is as much a responsibility of me as a self-policing in the way we treat each other.”

Arkansas and Yampa/White/Green roundtables are aware of the code of conduct but have not adopted it. The Rio Grande, South Platte and Metro basin roundtables have formally adopted it. The Colorado and North Platte basin roundtables have not discussed it yet.

Aspen Journalism covers water and rivers in collaboration with The Aspen Times and other Swift Communications newspapers. For more go to www.aspenjournalism.org.

WATER CODE

Text of the Colorado Water Conservation Board’s Stakeholder Group Code of Conduct:

Code of conduct

● Communicate in a professional, respectful, truthful and courteous way to meeting attendees, participants, members, CWCB board, CWCB staff, partners, grant applicants, contractors and members of the public at all times.

● Practice self-management and take ownership of personal behaviors, actions and well-being including serving as a positive role model to others and contributing as part of a team that strives for compromise and collaboration.

● Ensure all written communications and work products reflect the principles in the previous bullets, facilitate basin conversation around issues of interest in a positive manner and operate with the understanding that all communications related to CWCB matters are subject to Colorado Open Records Act requests.

● Promote an equitable, diverse and inclusive environment that treats everyone fairly and demonstrates respect for all people and their ideas.

● Listen actively, welcome constructive criticism, share information in an open, truthful and appropriate manner; embrace forward-looking innovation and solutions consistent with the principles in the Colorado Water Plan.

● Practice excellent stewardship of public trust and public resources such as avoiding or appropriately addressing conflicts of interest and other behaviors that may harm reputations, partners, the CWCB or the state of Colorado.

● Refrain from any written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or a pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental, or emotional harm.

Best practices

● Maintain responsibility for noticing meeting details including all applicable online access needs, call-in information and meeting location details at least 24 hours prior to meetings as well as posting meeting minutes in a timely manner after meeting for all meetings as required through any applicable statutes, legislation or laws.

● Adhere to all Federal and State laws and policies, executive orders, public health orders, policies and procedures

● Perform job tasks promptly and effectively and always strive to perform at the highest level possible; working to ensure timelines are adequate, generally reasonable and consistent with similar state and public processes.

Commercial rafters unsure how much Blue River will run next month

Guests get splashed on a commercial rafting trip on the Blue River north of Silverthorne with Performance Tours Rafting in a previous summer.
Photo from Lauren Swanson / Performance Tours Rafting

Local commercial rafting companies remain unsure if or for how long they’ll be able to guide trips this summer down the traditional 6-mile portion of the Blue River north of Silverthorne.

Kevin Foley, president of Performance Tours Rafting, said Friday, May 14, that recent reports he has received from Denver Water indicate the organization is likely to prioritize filling the Dillon Reservoir.

“What we are being told is, right now, the reservoir is low and snowpack is below average, so their model this year going to be more fill and spill,” Foley said.

Each spring and summer, Denver Water determines how much water it will release into the Blue River north of the Dillon Dam based on how much water is needed in different locations throughout an intricate network of water systems and reservoirs that service water users.

Foley said current conditions and a low water level in Dillon Reservoir point to Denver Water filling the reservoir with any new snow or rain in the coming weeks, rather than diverting flows downstream into the Blue River.

Foley said he will find out more from Denver Water at a meeting next week, but as of now, he said it’s unlikely there will be an extended season on the Blue.

“The way things are shaping up, we may see flows above 500 cubic feet per second for no more than a very, very short period of time.”

Foley said the low water levels were not only cause by a relatively dry winter, but also by a dry spring, summer and fall in 2020 — conditions that drew down Dillon Reservoir.

Foley said one positive variable has been the number of snow- and rainstorms helping to fill reservoirs down on the Front Range in recent weeks. He said those levels could change models affecting how much water needs to be sent down Robert’s Tunnel to Denver, but he expects to find that out next week.

“It’s wait and see,” Foley said. “We’re hoping there will be raftable flows because it’s a great section.”

The Class 2 to 3 Blue River stretch, which usually takes just over an hour for commercial trips, runs 5 to 6 miles from a U.S. Forest Service put-in at Hammer Bridge through Boulder Canyon down to a take-out at Columbine Landing. Foley said Performance Tours and KODI Rafting’s cutoff for the stretch is usually 500 cfs, signaling when they can start and stop. He said the best rafting on the Blue is at 1,000 cfs.

The commercial rafting season on the Blue is notoriously fickle, sometimes very short at just a couple of weeks in dry years to up to two months of rafting in wet seasons.

“What we found over the years when the Blue reaches a point of unraftable flows, most of our guests to the county realize the Buena Vista area is their best option,” Foley said. “It’s only an hour and 10 minute drive. Few people decide not to do it because of proximity.”

Foley said drainages down on the Arkansas River near Buena Vista are looking much better than the Blue. He credited the voluntary flow management program on the Arkansas that enables commercial companies to raft on good, augmented flows deep into summer. Trips out of Buena Vista have been operating for some commercial companies since May 1.

“We’re looking forward to a strong season on the Arkansas,” Foley said.

Top 5 most-read stories on SkyHiNews.com, week of May 2

The sale of Granby Ranch to Missouri developers was finalized on May 5.
Robert Mendoza / Sky-Hi News file photo

The following stories were the most well-read on www.SkyHiNews.com from May 2-8.

1. Developer buys Granby Ranch

Granby Ranch officially has a new owner.

Concluding over a year of uncertainty at Granby Ranch, GR Terra and its affiliate, GRCO, purchased the ski and golf resort on Wednesday. The acquisition includes all assets associated with Granby Ranch’s operations as well as adjacent land parcels.

According to Grand County records, the entire property sold for $20 million.

— Amy Golden

2. A dam in Grand County is showing an increasing risk of failure, prompting a new engineering study

The Colorado River Water Conservation District’s board of directors has approved a contract with an engineering firm to address problems with a dam that are turning out to be worse than previously thought.

At its second quarterly meeting, held in April, the River District board agreed to pay $323,840 to HDR Engineering to further study the movement and potential cracking at the district-owned Ritschard Dam. The dam forms 66,000-acre-foot Wolford Mountain Reservoir across Muddy Creek, about 5 miles north of Kremmling in Grand County. Muddy Creek is a tributary of the Colorado River.

River District staff, aware since 2008 that the dam is settling and moving more than expected, has been monitoring the situation. However, a 2020 Comprehensive Dam Safety Evaluation prepared in December by HDR Engineering for the state’s Dam Safety section of the Division of Water Resources found that the risk of internal erosion of the dam due to cracking had increased from a 2016 evaluation. That year’s evaluation estimated the chances of a dam failure at 1 in a billion in any given year; the 2020 report found a 1.5-in-10,000 chance of a dam failure.

— Heather Sackett, Aspen Journalism

3. State puts Grand Park, Blue Valley Ranch on notice

Water pollution concerns have prompted the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to issue separate notices to two developers in Grand County.

In Kremmling, Blue Valley Ranch received notice dated April 13 for allegedly failing to submit monitor data for its wastewater treatment plant since December 2019. For that violation, Blue Valley Ranch faces a $3,000 fine.

At the Grand Park development in Fraser, a state representative inspected the Elk Creek Condos, the Meadows and a storage facility in early April and found the facilities were discharging “sediment-laden stormwater” into Elk Creek and the Fraser River.

— McKenna Harford

4. Colorado is examining water speculation, and finding it’s ’all the problems’ in one

ECKERT — Melting snow and flowing irrigation ditches mean spring has finally arrived at the base of Grand Mesa in western Colorado.

Harts Basin Ranch, a 3,400-acre expanse of hayfields and pasture just south of Cedaredge, in Delta County, is coming back to life with the return of water.

Twelve hundred of the ranch’s acres are irrigated with water from Alfalfa Ditch, diverted from Surface Creek, which flows down the south slopes of the Grand Mesa. The ranch has the No. 1 priority water right — meaning the oldest, which comes with the ability to use the creek’s water first — dating to 1881.

— Heather Sackett and Luke Runyon, Aspen Journalism/KUNC

5. Judge rejects plea for employer charged in trench death

Negotiations that could allow an employer charged in a 2019 workplace death to avoid trial continue in Grand County District Court, but it seems unlikely the defendant will be able to avoid significant jail time given the judge’s feelings about the case.

Bryan D. Johnson, 52, was charged in August 2019 after one of his workers, Rosario “Chayo” Martinez-Lopez, died in a trench collapse on a worksite in Granby. Johnson was charged with manslaughter, but a proposed plea agreement would have had him admit to criminally negligent homicide and reckless endangerment.

The plea outlined four years of supervised probation, up to 90 days in jail, 400 hours of community service and a $5,000 donation split between Habitat for Humanity Grand County and Grand County Search and Rescue, as well as requirements to attend Workers’ Memorial Day and worker safety seminars.

— McKenna Harford