Issues

LOWER BLUE UPDATES

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Click here for 2007 Newsletter


2006 brought us record snows, high flows on the Blue River, beautiful wildflowers and………. red trees galore!

1) Climate Protection

With all the issues we face in the Lower Blue Valley, the most urgent is wise action to protect our climate global at the local level. Some of our local municipalities and county governments have signed on as members of the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization. We would like to see local governments commit to reducing carbon in the atmosphere by joining the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (IClEI)Climate Protection Program. Vail Resorts is leading the way. We applaud CEO Rob Katz for offsetting 100 percent of Vail Resorts total electricity use by purchasing wind energy for its operations. Click here for more information sites:

http://www.westernresourceadvocates.org/energy/renew.php
http://www.climatesolutions.org/
http://www.energytaxincentives.org/
http://www.focusthenation.org/test.html
http://www.iclei.org
http://www.exxonsecrets.org/html/personfactsheet.php?id=17
http://www.cleanair-coolplanet.org/
http://www.theclimategroup.org/
http://www.energystar.gov/
http://www.coolcities.us/

2) Mountain Pine Beetle Epidemic / Fire Protection

Summit Pine Beetle Task Force has taken on all facets of this problem including the dilemma of how to efficiently transport and use all of the dead trees/slash associated with the removal of dead trees. To accomplish this task, FOLBR has pushed for property owner access on adjacent USFS land for fire mitigation purposes. Numerous federal and local agencies, private businesses and legislators at all levels have weighed in on our forest conditions. Some will argue that the pine trees are only a higher fire hazard during the red needle stage and that crowning fires are not that common. Those who witnessed the fast moving crowning fire in Sept. ‘05 at Farmer’s corner want to have all the fire protection possible. Regardless, we live in a forest that naturally burns. FOLBR has been working to secure adequate reserves of fire fighting water and other resources for the Lower Blue. Appropriate fire mitigation on private property is essential for protection against wildfire. Preventative sprays can protect green unattacked trees. Information abounds on the Summit Pine Beetle web site. Our web site also has information about local resources and efforts.

3) Weeds

Thank you to The Friends of Eagles Nest Wilderness for their successful weed eradication work last summer that will continue this summer! The Wilderness Ecosystem Improvement Project includes noxious weed monitoring and treatment in the Lower Blue. Noxious weeds are a constant threat to the agriculture and ecology of our valley. It is essential to keep out the monoculture of weed species to maintain the diversity of wildflowers and wildlife in the Valley.

4) Roadless Review

The Lower Blue is home to the majority of the roadless parcels in the county. FOLBR submitted comments to the BOCC and the State Task Force on these parcels. We commend the county for their extensive process in evaluating our roadless areas and proposing more acreage as roadless than the currently designated roadless parcels contain.

5) Water

The Lower Blue River has benefitted from higher than average flows this summer and last summer. But, will we be able to expect those flows in the future??? Unless higher snow levels continue, the Blue may look more like a creek in the future. A Town of Silverthorne kayak park could increase water flows in the river. A possible reservoir in Eagle County at Wolcott could satisfy water needs downstream meaning DECREASED water flows in the Lower Blur River. Both projects are big factors in the future of the Lower Blue River.

6) Protecting Open Space

The Lower Blue has benefited from a number of land trades with the Bureau of Land Management and U.S, Forest Service, open space purchases and conservation easements. The north end of the Lower Blue now has significant contiguous land protected as open space.

7) Conservation Easments

Conservation easements- Protection of land through conservation easements is one of the best possible ways to protect the values we treasure in the Lower Blue Valley! A beautiful piece of land in the Slate Creek Ranch is now under the protection of a conservation easement. The owner’s donation protects this magnificent land as open space for the future. FOLBR contributed $750.00 to the Continental Divide Land Trust Stewardship Endowment Fund for this property. This fund establishes financial security for the protection of this property in perpetuity.

8) Transfer of Development Rights (TDRs)

The Lower Blue TDR program and the County-wide TDR program is still evolving. This program will be another tool for private land owners to voluntarily protect their land in perpetuity. This program will be similar to conservation easements, with the County, rather than a private land trust, overseeing the agreement. Planners hope to complete the process by the end of this year or sooner. Currently, there is a demand for TDRs but no program established to facilitate purchases of TDRs. The sooner the details are completed, the better chance the Lower Blue has to increase protected open space using this tool. There is a significant opportunity to protect Lower Blue land through TDRs with the proposed Copper Mountain PUD. The County Commissioners expressed the desire to work with land owners to facilitate transfers prior to the finalization of the program.

9) The Lower Blue Planning Commission

The LBPC completed the update to the Lower Blue Master Plan. The biggest changes in the document were related to the Heeney subbasin plan and the inclusion of language to accommodate the TDR program. We appreciate the contributions of Commissioner Sean Flanigan, who leaves his position as Commission Chair. After 12 years, he had to retire due to term limits. His Lower Blue perspectives and history will be missed. The details of the TDR program will be completed this year. We encourage members to attend Lower Blue Planning Commission meetings to stay informed and involved. The meetings are held in the Silverthorne Town Hall every first Thursday of the month.

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