A couple weeks ago, I shared this blog photo spread titled "Let the annual aspen viewing begin."
Now, after another really rapid weekend road trip this past weekend, I'd like to share some more images that I captured in the Ouray, Telluride, Durango and Pagosa Springs regions.
Again, they pretty much speak for themselves, and indeed it's not too late to make a pilgrimage for some yellow-tree goodness.
In case you haven't had enough bad news about our forests over the summer, with the Waldo Canyon Fire and now flooding and debris flows, here's something else to worry about: insect infestations.
Today, the Colorado State Forest Servicehttp://csfs.colostate.edu/index.shtml issued a notice that this is a good time to have trees inspected for bugs. Here's that missive:
With most insect populations going dormant for the colder months, fall is a great time to have a forester inspect trees for bark beetles and other insect and disease concerns.
“As we approach the transition from fall to winter, it’s in a landowner’s best interest to survey forested property for insect and disease issues,” said Michael Till, forester with the Colorado State Forest Service Woodland Park District. “This is the time of year insects and diseases go dormant for the winter, giving homeowners a chance to take steps to mitigate further damage to their trees before next spring.”
In the CSFS Woodland Park District, which includes Teller, El Paso and Park counties, Till says that there has been an increase in activity for mountain pine beetle, Ips beetle and twig beetles due to exceptional summer heat. That, along with a lack of spring moisture, has put added stress on trees and increased their susceptibility to damage from insects and diseases.
Ponderosa, lodgepole, bristlecone and Austrian pine are tree species commonly infested by bark beetles in the district.
“The Colorado State Forest Service is here to aid landowners with these types of forest management issues,” Till said.
For more information about forest health or to request an inspection, contact the CSFS Woodland Park District at 719-687-2951 or visit csfs.colostate.edu.
Earlier this summer, the Forest Service issued a notice that fires could actually cause infestations to spread, though it's logical to think that fires would drive them away by destroying the hosts (the trees).
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Although recent wildfires in Larimer County have destroyed numerous host trees harboring mountain pine beetle populations, many unburned, dead or dying trees remain and still harbor mature beetles. When these beetles fly in search of healthy new host trees — the annual flights usually begin in early July — they will find stressed trees scorched by the fire and now more susceptible to a beetle infestation.
“Preventive treatments for surviving trees may be more important than ever right now and over the next few seasons, because in fire-impacted areas these trees represent a smaller selection of hosts and have likely experienced additional stressors,” said Sky Stephens, forest entomologist for the Colorado State Forest Service. Stephens also said that in burned areas, high-value trees already treated this year with protective chemical or pheromone agents may no longer be safe from a beetle attack. Chemical sprays and pheromones exposed to high heat or directly to fire may have lost some, if not all, of their effectiveness.
Thanks to a batch of energetic volunteers, Monument and Fountain creeks have less trash lying around. More than 200 people volunteered for the cleanup on Sept. 29.
The Fountain Creek Watershed Greenway Fund is part of the Pikes Peak Community Fund. The group provides stewardship and advocacy for the creek. From its website:
By learning from Denver’s Greenway project successes and others nationwide, we can make the Fountain Creek Watershed a healthy & safe place for our citizens to play, work, and dwell. Waterway corridor improvements will enhance our region’s appeal, increase tourism, better our quality of life, and create redevelopment opportunities — all creating jobs for our local community.
To volunteer in the future: email@example.com.
A post on Reel Rock Film Tour's Twitter page, dated Sept. 21:
Psyched on all the REEL ROCK 7 love! Sold out shows for the past two weeks, hell yeah!
What you should be thinking about right now: buying tickets early.
Check out the trailer here, featuring the big-name guys like Chris Sharma, Conrad Anker and famed free soloist Alex Honnold:
And don't forget that Colorado College as a screening venue holds a special significance on the tour, as it's the alma mater of Reel Rock founders Peter Mortimer and Josh Lowell.
With Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan due in to Colorado Springs later today, the newly formed Center for Western Priorities has released some questions constituents might want to ask him.
The group is run by Trevor Kincaid, former communications director for the campaign of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo.
But the questions should transcend politics. Here they are:
Question 1: The Romney - Ryan Energy Plan calls for giving states control over energy development on public lands. What lands in Colorado do you think should be conserved for the enjoyment hikers, hunters, anglers, and bikers, not to mention the local businesses and communities that depend on those lands for jobs and revenue? And what lands in Colorado would you specifically open up?
Question 2: Republican President Theodore Roosevelt protected more than 200 million acres of public lands during his time in office, once claiming, "there can be no greater issue than that of conservation." As an avid bow hunter, do you support Roosevelt's vision of America, where millions of acres of forest, parks and wilderness are held in trust for current and future generations?
Question 3: It was just reported that the current oil and gas boom is the direct result of more than $100 million in federal research and development investments, as well as billions more in tax breaks. Why does the Romney — Ryan energy plan block federal funding to develop solar and wind technologies that would create thousands of jobs while providing power to the country, helping to avoid the need to sacrifice more of our public lands?
Question 4: Would a Romney - Ryan administration support locally driven, bipartisan efforts to protect public lands through the designation of new national monuments and wilderness areas?
Question 5: Should decision-making and management of public lands be driven purely by the bottom line of coal, oil and gas, and uranium companies? Or are there other uses that government should actively support and provide for?
Question 6: Mitt Romney has received millions of dollars in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. In Colorado, he has a 50-person energy advisory committee, more than 40 of which are associated with the oil, gas, or coal industry. Does this create a conflict of interest between a Romney — Ryan administration and responsibly managing our public lands? Do you feel your Colorado energy advisory committee is reflective of all Coloradans?
Each year around this time, many of us city folk flock to the hills in Colorado to view the aspens changing color.
And by saying that, I'm telling you nothing that you don't already know. So let's kill the words on this post and let seven images do the talking.
Here are aspens in a variety of settings, around the Guffey and Cripple Creek areas:
Yesterday, we got a lot of rain. Good for some areas. Not so much for others.
The sky poured moisture on the barren scar of the Waldo Canyon Fire threatening homes — which scarcely escaped the summer's biggest blaze — with avalanches of mud.
But this blog isn't about those struggles; this blog is about some good land news — for our forests.
Yes, there actually is some. The U.S. Forest Service has released a report showing that the number of insect-killed trees on 750 acres of forested private and public land across the nation is on the decline for the second year in a row. That's true despite the droughts and warm temperatures that have created a feeding frenzy for bark beetles. The report notes:
In 2011, more than 6.4 million acres with mortality caused by insects and diseases were reported nationally, a 2.8-millionacre decrease from 2010, when 9.2 million acres with mortality were reported. During the past 2 years, progressively fewer acres with mortality have been reported, perhaps indicating a downward trend as compared with 2009, when 11.8 million acres with mortality were reported. Slightly more than 59 percent of the mortality was caused by one pest, the mountain pine beetle, a native insect found in Western U.S. forests.
Of course, the bark beetle still remains a force to be reckoned with in Colorado, where its kill rate remains high. But the good news is that the bugs are killing fewer of the old lodgepole pines in the high country. And while Colorado still is at high risk, Montana and Idaho are being hit hardest by the beetle.
The MPB epidemic in northern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming continues, although the populations rapidly decline west of the Continental Divide (Grand, Jackson, Routt, and Summit Counties) in 2011. East of the Continental Divide, Front Range counties experienced a variety of epidemic MPB conditions; populations declined in several Front Range areas, including Gilpin and Park Counties, and, along the northern Front Range, epidemic levels of MPB populations remained about the same in Boulder and Jefferson Counties but continued to increase in Larimer County. MPB mortality occurred in four host tree species, including lodgepole pine (fig. 4), ponderosa pine, limber pine, and Rocky Mountain bristlecone pine. The spread of MPB from high-elevation lodgepole pine forests into low-elevation ponderosa pine forests occurred readily in Larimer and northern Boulder Counties, affecting more densely populated wildland-urban interface communities on the Front Range. Ornamental pine plantings are being lost to MPB near Colorado’s State capital, Denver. MPB is killing lodgepole pine in large numbers, particularly in the vicinities of Aspen and Vail, CO. Although a number of sites are experiencing MPB activity within the southern part of the State, these outbreaks do not approach the levels seen in the northern portions of the State.
For local cyclists, it's long been a gripe: No bikes are allowed on the Pikes Peak Highway.
At least not on most days. The recent development of the Pikes Peak Cycling Hillclimb (aka Assault on the Peak) has given riders a chance once a year to ascend the 14,000-foot mountain in Colorado Springs' backyard. But it's not exactly an ideal situation from a cyclist's perspective. While cars zoom up the now-fully paved road year-round, the most grueling climb in our area is off-limits to bikes 364 days a year.
Or, it was. The city and the United States Forest Service have just announced that cyclists will be able to ride the peak from Sept. 4 through 30. The window of opportunity is a test case to see if cyclists should be given permanent access to the peak.
Cycling activist Al Brody has ridden the highway in the past and even descended it on a unicycle. He says he hopes the road will remain open to cyclists, even if there is some risk of injury.
"The pessimists say somebody's going to get killed, and that could happen ... but I think people who use the [Manitou] Incline — it's inherently dangerous," he says. "I don't think it's much different than the Incline and the Incline is a part of our community and people bring their guests to it."
Brody says that if the highway opens it could become a tourist draw.
"I think a lot of people want to say, 'Hey I biked Pikes Peak,'" he says. "It's probably the hardest road in the lower 48 ... most states don't even have that much vertical ... It may become another badge of courage for Colorado Springs."
Pikes Peak Highway announces pilot bicycle program
Pikes Peak - America’s Mountain, in cooperation with the United States Forest Service, announces a pilot program to allow bicycles on the Pikes Peak Highway from September 4 - 30. This limited program will be used to gather information about the feasibility and compatibility of allowing unescorted bicycle riders on the Highway.
This is a non-escorted bicycle program and riders participate at their own risk. All riders must complete a use agreement and liability waiver available at the Pikes Peak Highway tollgate. Because of the extreme nature of the mountain, children under the age of 18 must be escorted by a parent or legal guardian. Riders need to be aware that there will be vehicular traffic and construction on the Highway and should be prepared for changing weather conditions.
There is no parking near the tollgate so any riders planning to drive to the highway and then bike to the summit are encouraged to park at the Crystal Reservoir Visitors Center parking lot or above. All riders must follow all safety and traffic rules, use regulations and hours of operation.
Participants are required to pay the regular admission fee or use one of the Pikes Peak-America’s Mountain passes. North Slope fees and passes are not eligible for this opportunity.
# # #
When it comes to cycling in the Springs, there's perhaps no more important figure than former U.S. Olympic racer, current personal trainer and Springs resident Chris Carmichael.
Back in 1984, Carmichael competed in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and was part of the first American cycling team to compete in the Tour de France two years later. He also famously coached Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France victories. Today, he operates Carmichael Training Systems.
The Indy reached out via email to the prolific local, who's helped the Springs earn two consecutive spots on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge schedule, to ask him what the event means to the city and the sport.
"The USAPCC is a very big deal," Carmichael says. There are only three races in the country that can attract the best-of-the-best from the other hemisphere, he figures, and our Challenge is one of them, alongside the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour of Utah. "Many Tour de France riders will have the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on their calendars for August."
The Tour de France, considered by most to be the ultimate challenge of cycling, is a "grand tour" that's currently entering its third and final week. While the Challenge runs only seven days, the altitude sets it apart.
"The highest summits the riders cross in the Tour de France are at about 9,000 feet in elevation. Some of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge stages start at 9,000 feet, and the riders will climb to more than 12,000 feet," making it an exceptionally taxing race, says Carmichael.
And while last year locals got to see the prologue of the first-ever Challenge, we're treated again this year as the destination for the stage on Aug. 24: The riders will actually rifle through downtown three times before they're done. "Of all the stages in the 2012 race, Colorado Springs is the only stage with a circuit finish," Carmichael says, "which allows fans to see more of the racing."
——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, 2:50 P.M. ——-
With only five-plus weeks until kickoff, it's time for a reminder — and some good news.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the biggest bike race on U.S. soil, will return to Colorado from Aug. 20 to 26 — passing through Woodland Park, Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs on Friday, Aug. 24. You may remember that last year's challenge boasted the entire Tour de France Top 3, for the first time ever in the States. This year, luminaries including 2011 Pro Cycling champ Levi Leipheimer and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans have signed on again.
The French event is going on now, followed by the Summer Olympics in London. After that, these titans of two-wheeled transport will descend on the Rocky Mountains for the third huge rally in the span of a month, and some of the toughest terrain they'll ever face.
Snaking from Durango to Denver over seven grueling days, the riders will do battle with nine mountain passes over single-day stretches as long as 130 miles, and with elevation changes nearing 4,000 vertical feet.
Day 5, however, finds the riders tackling a rare mostly downhill stage from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs via the route familiar to many powder-hounds: Colorado Highway 9 to U.S. Highway 24. They'll then race through Garden of the Gods before finishing with some dramatic circuits downtown, both prime spots for spectators. According to the Stage 5 profile on the event's official website, though, the fastest speeds of the race will happen as riders come flying down the hill into Woodland Park.
Viewing the event is free — just find a spot along the road and watch 'em go. VIP passes, however, will get you into special seats and autograph lines, plus behind-the-scenes access and even food. They'll run you anywhere from $75 to $500 per ticket, depending on location and amenities available.
For you serious bike enthusiasts, the entire release from USA Pro Cycling Challenge can be found after the jump.
Author, poet and philosopher Henry David Thoreau penned his thoughts about rivers in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers, a book about his and his brother's two-week expedition in the wilderness. Will Stauffer-Norris, Zak Podmore, David Spiegel and Carson McMurray will record their experiences in a similar fashion starting today, when they head downstream the Colorado River from La Poudre Pass in Rocky Mountain National Park. But they will also make use of what Thoreau didn't have back in the 19th century — interactive technology.
The researchers, all Colorado College graduates, are part of Down the Colorado, a project of Colorado College's State of the Rockies Project. During 50 days of hiking, kayaking, rafting and packrafting, they will "measure dissolved oxygen, temperature, salinity, pH, nutrients, and turbidity three times a day, offering a finer resolution of data than is currently recorded at USGS gauging stations" in partnership with Marine Ventures and Below the Surface.
In addition to interviewing river stakeholders and conducting scientific research, they will create a virtual tour and interactive map of the Colorado River Basin with stories, photographs and videos as they pass the Colorado Rockies, Gore Canyon, Barrel Springs, Glenwood Springs, Westwater and Cataract Canyon and Lake Powell. After they reach their destination of Lee's Ferry, Ariz., the team's findings will be made public, and the project will resume this fall and winter near Yuma, Ariz., the "most degraded" stretch of the river.
While the undertaking sounds exhausting (and could get a little smelly), the team appears ready. "Finally, I am now realizing how excited I am to embark on the journey," Spiegel wrote on the project's site Thursday. "There is no place I would rather be than floating down a river with good friends. On top of this, I truly hope that our effort can inspire others with passion for the river and a more nuanced approach to its issues."
Below is "Remains of a River," a 50-minute documentary that Stauffer-Norris and Podmore made during the 2011-2012 Source to Sea, their 113-day journey from the Green River in Wyoming to Mexico's Gulf of California.
Counting how many cars travel certain roads is pretty easy. Just lay down a rubber hose that's connected to a counter do-hickey and let the machine do the work.
But when it comes to counting trail traffic, it's a different story. The city wants to know how many bikes and pedestrians use the trails and needs help finding out. So if you're not doing anything this Saturday or next Wednesday, consider volunteering a few hours on this project.
Here's the city's press release:
The City of Colorado Springs is seeking volunteers to help collect traffic counts on area trails and bicycle lanes on Saturday, June 16, and Wednesday, June 20. For more information and to sign up online to volunteer, please visit www.springsgov.com/bikecounts.
The City of Colorado Springs is conducting bicycle and pedestrian trail counts in order to get more information about the current usage of the trails and bicycle lanes in the city. The City’s count program collects valuable data to measure the use of our bicycle transportation system by bicyclists, pedestrians and other users. This data is used by City staff for planning, design and funding requests to maintain and improve the City’s bicycle transportation system.
The City of Colorado Springs is a Silver-level designated Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists. The City’s bicycle transportation network includes more than 90 miles of designated bicycle lanes, numerous signed bicycle routes, and over 115 miles of multi-use trails.
If you have yet to take action in your garden following the hailstorms, Larry Stebbins from Pikes Peak Urban Gardensoffers the following tips for trying to save hail-damaged plants:
Pick damaged fruit (even if immature) from your fruit trees and discard them to your compost pile.
Trim back your annual flowers (if there is anything left) and fertilize lightly with diluted fish emulsion and seaweed extract.
Veggies can usually recuperate faster than some things in your garden so you may wish to wait a few days to see if they will spring back.
If the veggie plant is stripped of its leaves it is still early enough in the season to replant. Squash, cucumbers and beans should be replanted now. Tomato and pepper plants take a long time to recover so don't wait too long before deciding if it worth keeping them.
Leafy crops like spinach and lettuce might come back if the damaged outer leaves are removed. In one week if the plant is not looking like it will recover to your expectations then replant.
If your garlic is stripped of most of its leaves you have two choices: pick now and eat as a green garlic (still yummy but will not store) or lightly fertilize and hope they grow until harvest come early to mid July.
Onions will come back, so be patient. Trim off the severely shredded leaves but keep as many on the plant as you can.
If some of your shrubs were damaged you should carefully remove the minimum number of leaves and branches to make the plant look acceptable. It should grow back.
Another tip is to stake up some of your recovering plants and where possible put a one to two inch dried grass mulch around the base of the plant. Lettuce will respond nicely to this extra support and care.
Plants whose leaves have been knocked into the soil by the hail can be allowed to dry out a day or two then gently lift the leaves from the soil so it can begin to regrow.
You've got just a couple days to start eating irregular meals, taking coffee at all the wrong times, and indulging yourself in late-night power naps — or even making the leap to a polyphasic sleep schedule. Anything to prep your body for Saturday night's 18th annual Starlight Spectacular.
Though this year's nocturnal bicycle ride across the city begins at an earlier 10:30 p.m., something tells me that the 14-mile ride's effect on participants' sleep cycles won't be greatly diminished. (For the brave and the braggadocios, there's even a 22-mile option winding through the Garden of the Gods.)
The website of organizers Trails and Open Space Coalition promises:
Once again, we will have our famous ‘themed’ rest stops with REI hosting the first fun-filled stop, and Colorado Springs Cycling Club and Old Town Bike Shop outdoing themselves at the second stop at Bancroft Park in Old Colorado City. Hope you enjoy the costumes, refreshments and maintenance support at each stop.reports that the ride will even feature an armadillo and
The Starlight Spectacular provides financial support to the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC) to help us advocate for cyclists. This is an opportunity for you to support the community and help improve the cycling culture and infrastructure in the Pikes Peak region.
Tickets are still available online, from $45 with discounts for teams, families, children, seniors and soldiers. Proceeds benefit the Trails and Open Space Coalition.
P.S. Don't sleep through the pre-ride festivities, which begin at 8:30 p.m. at the Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center.
What can I say, I need my sleep.
And it's hard to imagine that an earlier start time will make this bike ride through the dark any less fun. It's a rare thing to be able to see the city and Garden of the Gods by moonlight without any fear of being hit by a car. And rarer still are the huge groups of cyclists that show up for this ride, hooting and hollering, wearing funny costumes strung with Christmas lights. Plus, it's a benefit for the deserving Trails and Open Space Coalition.
This year, Starlight will feature all the old traditions — including pancakes — as well as some new stuff. Like an armadillo.
Hey, sounds good to me. I'll be there, bright and early (well, relatively), with bells on (literally). If you'd also like to go, visit trailsandopenspaces.org/starlight-spectacular to sign up.
Moonlight Bicycle Ride through Garden of the Gods
Still Sparkling! Still Spectacular! But – Now at a New Earlier Time!
Taking the yawn out of what is already an exciting ride, the 18th annual Heuberger Subaru Starlight Spectacular will begin 90 minutes earlier this year, at 10:30 p.m., Saturday June 9th. Leaving from the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center. cyclists will have the option of riding 14 or 21 miles. Riders are encouraged to add a loop through Garden of the Gods to take in the giant, geological wonders like they aren’t normally seen, just one more element that makes the Starlight ride spectacular!
Riders will travel through the west side of Colorado Springs and Old Colorado City, with two rest stations along the way. Once again REI will host one rest station and Colorado Springs Cycling Club will host the other at Bancroft Park wearing costumes and offering tasty, nutritional snacks.
What’s new this year?
New time at 10:30. Our cyclists love the novelty of seeing some of Colorado Springs’ best attractions by moon and starlight but not all are night owls and the previous midnight start time made for some Sunday fatigue in the past. This year they’ll be able to ride, have breakfast and be in bed before 2 a.m.
Pancakes are back! While cyclists enjoyed last years’ breakfast burritos provided by Whole Foods, pancakes are popular among pedalers. So Whole Foods is expanding the menu and pancakes will be hot and ready for finishing cyclists.
NEW: Aye! Moo! Rah Matey!
Cyclists will be sent into the night by a unique team of “cheerleaders”: a pirate, cow, armadillo (we don’t know what sound they make) and the Starlight Princess.
Boriello Brothers’ Pizza
The popular West One Group Challenge Trophy for the largest team
Cruiser Bikes for Most Creative Attire and Most Extravagantly illuminated Rider and/or bike
Lots and lots of “out”door prizes
Live Music by Pulpit Fiction
Proceeds Benefit the Trails and Open Space Coalition (TOSC)
Dedicated to the preservation of open spaces and parks and the creation of a network of trails, bikeways and greenways for the Pikes Peak region.
Now celebrating our 25th year!
TOSC receives no public tax dollar support.
The Heuberger Starlight Spectacular is our biggest annual fundraiser.
Earlier in the month, I wrote about the conflict over including trails on the project list for PPRTA II (see "Fork in the road".)
Long story short, city groups think it's a grand idea; county groups think road projects need to come first.
But after catching some flack for that stance from trails advocates, the El Paso County commissioners decided to reconsider the recommendations of its PPRTA groups.
The county will meet on the issue tomorrow, and trails advocates, especially the Trails and Open Space Coalition, are seizing the opportunity to advocate.
Read on for TOSC's take:
El Paso County Trails projects were on the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority draft list approved by the Commissioners on Feb 28, 2012. Subsequently they were removed. The Commissioners are now holding this public meeting on PPRTA-2, where trails projects will be considered for re-inclusion, due to TOSC advocacy efforts.
Where: Centennial Hall, Cascade Ave and Vermijo, Colorado Springs
When: Thursday, April 26, 7-9pm
Why: Ask the County Commissioners to add Transportation Trails projects back into the proposed Capital Program list for PPRTA-2, which will go to the voters in November.
• Trails are an important part of the multi-modal transportation network solutions for the Pikes Peak Region.
• Commuters need trails to get to and from work efficiently and safely.
• School children need trails as a safe way to get to and from school
• Trails provide environmental benefits, including cleaner air by reducing the use of fossil fuels.
• Trails reduce traffic congestion by getting people out of their cars.
• Trails reduce our personal and governmental transportation costs by using human power.
• You don't have to be 16 to ride on a trail, they are open to all ages.
• The Cities of Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs and the Town of Green Mountain Falls all have included non-motorized trails projects in their transportation project lists. The County should also.
• Trails need continuity between points A and B. The County needs to be a player so trails don't stop at the City limits.
• Having bike lanes included in City and County road projects absolutely helps address our transportation needs, but may not meet the needs of users who feel unsafe or don't have the skills to ride next to moving traffic.
• Trails have been and must continue to be part of our multimodal transportation solutions for our region.
• Trails provide health benefits for commuters and trails users.
Urge the County Commissioners to put County trails back into PPRTA-2.