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PI Editorial: Glenwood Canyon closures offer no easy solutions, but doing better is possible

There are a lot of reasons to love Glenwood Springs, but canyon closures aren’t on that list.

While our community — and region, given just how many people rely on the canyon for commerce and vacation — was blessed with a relatively unremarkable summer season through Glenwood Canyon, this winter has been anything but.

In January, the canyon was fully or partially closed six times for crashes involving semi trucks. This particular moment feels like it would be easy to blame truckers, but that seems to miss the bigger picture. There are indeed truck drivers who choose to speed or otherwise drive unsafely through the canyon, but they’re not the sole cause of our canyon woes.

Outside of related factors — such as our reliance on Amazon and other companies to get us exactly what we want in one weeks’ time or less — it’s also true that truck drivers are subject to the same hazards all of us are on the road: Aggressive motorists, weather hazards, mechanical failure, terrible Google maps directions and more can happen to anyone. It’s just that the consequences are higher when you’re hauling 30,000 pounds in freight.

In our thinking, the Colorado Department of Transportation has two main questions to answer: how to help everyone become safer drivers through the canyon and how to reduce the chances of a semi-truck crash forcing an hours-long closure.

Neither question has a simple answer, but we truly believe that CDOT can help alleviate both. While some might advocate for stronger traffic enforcement through the canyon, the reality is there are very few places where a law-enforcement officer could safely pull a motorist over. The risk to both officers and the greater public is too great to rely simply on human enforcement.

One possible solution that would help reduce speeding altogether through the canyon? Traffic cameras — they’ve been employed elsewhere in Colorado to great effect and could be a helpful tool in making sure all drivers are more likely to follow the variable speed limits through Glenwood Canyon.

And for semi-trucks, CDOT could also consider keeping the chain requirement in effect on Interstate 70 through the canyon. Currently, trucks are allowed to unchain at Dotsero. Extending the chain law to Glenwood Springs or even through South Canyon to New Castle might require some additional truck pullovers to be built, but it would certainly help during adverse weather. Chains also have the secondary effect of requiring a reduced travel speed, which would also help reduce the risk of crashing.

It’s likely we will never completely mitigate the travel bottleneck Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon poses, but we are hopeful that CDOT can come up with solutions to make the canyon both safer and more reliable regardless of winter weather.

The Post Independent editorial board members are Publisher Peter Baumann, Managing Editor/Senior Reporter John Stroud and community representatives Mark Fishbein and Danielle Becker.

Coal Ridge wrestling hosts duals

Coal Ridge High School boys wrestling hosted Glenwood Springs and North Fork for a round of dual matches on Thursday, Feb. 2. North Fork defeated Glenwood Springs, 63-12. Scores from the Glenwood-Coal Ridge and Coal Ridge-North Fork matches were not posted.

Glenwood Springs match winners versus North Fork included Leobardo Meraz (138 pounds) in a 4-1 decision over North Fork’s Charlie Miller; Cameron Small (190) over Josiah Peters by fall in 3:27; and Kodiak Kellogg (215) over Malachi Deck by sudden victory.

On Friday, Rifle and Basalt (which includes wrestlers from Roaring Fork High in Carbondale) squared off in a dual, with Rifle taking the team win, 46-30.

Wrestled match results

106: Ayden Piatt (Rifle) over Ovet Babonoyaba (Basalt), fall 1:23

113: Towler Scott (Basalt) over Lee Higgins (Rifle), fall 3:36

120: Roaney Requeno (Basalt) over Tucker Collier (Rifle), fall 2:43

126: Gavin Nash (Rifle) over Ivan Babonoyaba (Basalt), major decision 14-2

132: Jordan Irwin (Rifle) over Bronze Urfrig (Basalt), fall 4:53

138: Trey Trouskie (Rifle) over Brandon Alfaro (Basalt), fall 5:09

144: Parker Miller (Rifle) over Luca Shafer (Basalt), fall 3:56

150: Jagen Hazelbush (Rifle) over Randy Del Cid Sosa (Basalt), fall 1:35

157: Arath Lopez (Rifle) over Herberth Requeno (Basalt), fall 0:53

165: Isaac Valencia (Rifle) over Drake Cornett (Basalt), fall 0:52

175: Dayton Schenk (Basalt) over Alex Murchinson (Rifle), fall 5:41

215: Brody Samuelson (Basalt) over Yadier Loya (Rifle), fall 2:22

Glenwood Springs Citizens of the Year award honors contributions of Debbie and Mike Wilde

Mike Wilde was in the know and did his part to convince his wife, Debbie, to attend the annual Glenwood Springs Chamber Gala Saturday night at the Hotel Colorado.

What he didn’t know was that it wasn’t just Debbie who was to be honored as the 2022 Citizen of the Year — but him, as well.

Every so often, rather than just one individual, the honor is bestowed on a local couple who, together or in their own separate ways, have contributed to and made an impact on the community.

And so it was that the surprise was mutual when both were called to the stage during the awards ceremony portion of the 1980s prom-themed party.

To make it extra special, their adult sons, Taylor and Carson, came to Glenwood Springs from out of state to help present the award.

“We had been keeping it pretty quiet,” Mike Wilde said of his behind-the-scenes work with the Chamber to line up co-nominators Mike and Chip Wells, Nancy Bo Flood and Stacey Gavrell for a video salute that was played at the event Saturday.

The words were as glowing about Mike’s contributions as a longtime science teacher at Glenwood Springs High School and his numerous volunteer efforts, as for Debbie’s many years of work in the nonprofit human-services field and volunteering to champion many community projects over their 40 years in Glenwood Springs.      

Among Debbie’s efforts toward the betterment of the community:

  • 30+ years helping kids in trouble through her work with YouthZone (formerly Garfield Youth Services), including 22 as executive director.
  • Creating numerous fundraisers for YouthZone, including the popular Kiss-a-Pig/Kiss ‘n Squeal event.
  • Championing children and adults with disabilities through the Valley Life for All initiative.
  • Working to address homelessness and unsheltered families as a special projects consultant for the city of Glenwood Springs.
  • Creating a drug-and-alcohol-awareness class for area high schools.
  • Developing programs for adults with addictions through the Garfield County Human Services Commission.
  • Volunteering on projects related to the new Glenwood Springs Library and new Grand Avenue Bridge.
  • Leadership training for Glenwood Springs Rotary Club members.

“I don’t do it for the recognition,” Debbie said following the award presentation on Saturday. “It’s always been important to me to make a contribution. Life should matter, and for me, it’s about, ‘Here’s my one little piece of time, and here’s what I’m doing with it.’

“This (award) is a huge confirmation and encouragement for that.”

And, for Mike’s part:

  • Bringing the RiverWatch curriculum to Glenwood Springs High School and providing training statewide for other teachers to use the program.
  • Riverwatch Educator of the Year. 
  • Roaring Fork Conservancy Conservator Award.
  • 25- and 30-year service awards from Rivers of Colorado RiverWatch
  • Volunteer and Network leader for EPIC Experience (supporting cancer patients). 
  • Set design, performer for Defiance Community Theater productions.

“I love kids and working with kids, and I enjoy giving back to the community,” he said. “My work has put me in a position where I have been able to do that, but it’s really a team effort in many ways.

“There’s only one now, so you might as well take the ‘now.’”

2022 Glenwood Springs Citizens of the Year Debbie and Mike Wilde with their award.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Nancy Bo Flood, in her nomination support letter for the Wildes, recalled moving back to Glenwood Springs after several years of living and teaching on the Navajo Nation.

“While standing knee-deep in snow, hunting for a Christmas tree up Four Mile Park, a car stopped. Debbie and Mike Wilde waved and shouted a friendly hello, asking, ‘Are the Floods back in town? Welcome!

“That’s what I remember about both Debbie and Mike,” she said. “Their warm, welcoming greeting.”

She added that the Wildes’ “teaming” extended to their work at the Mountain View Church and its children’s ministries as well as leading high-school youth mission trips to several Native Nation reservation sites.

“I also want to comment on the exceptional personal qualities of both Debbie and Mike — being nonjudgmental, developing creative solutions, inviting and including all, and encouraging others to participate and learn new leadership skills,” Flood wrote.

Former GSHS principal Mike Wells and wife Chip Winn Wells made note of the Wildes’ contributions to youth in the community.

“Mike and Debbie Wilde are incredibly involved in helping improve all facets of our community,” they wrote. “Equally impressive, however, is that their volunteerism does not come at the expense of family and friends … the same spirit of generosity that they demonstrate in the community is evident in their personal lives.”

Stacey Gavrell, who works with Valley View Hospital, acknowledged Debbie Wilde’s more-recent work as part of a task force to develop a new addiction withdrawal and treatment management center in conjunction with the area hospitals, local governments, law enforcement and service providers in Garfield County.

“For those individuals experiencing a substance use episode or disorder, having a place for safe detoxification is important,” she wrote. “Beyond a particular episode, assisting an individual with a plan and connections to additional resources can help create a pathway for continued recovery.”

Retired pastor and fellow Rotarian Darrell Mount added in his own letter of support, “(Mike) and Debbie make a loving and committed team. They are Citizens of the Year for many years past and, hopefully, for many years to come.”

And that work indeed continues. On Sunday, Mike Wilde was heading up to the 7W Guest Ranch to volunteer at a camp for adult cancer survivors for the week — something he’s been doing for eight years.

Debbie Wilde continues her work with the various task forces she has been involved with around addiction recovery and homelessness and added, “I still have a couple of big projects in the works.”

Chamber Business Awards

Also awarded at the Chamber Gala were several business awards, including:

Chamber Ambassador of the Year — Charlene Revoir

Top Brass Outstanding Business of the Year — Hotel Colorado

Top Brass New Business of the Year — Adam Decker State Farm Agency

Business Milestone Awards

130 years: Hotel Colorado

50 years: Alpine Bank, Ami’s Acres Campground, Buddy Program

40 years: Vicki Lee Green Realtors

35 years: Advocate Safehouse

10 years: First Bank

Post Independent interim Managing Editor and senior reporter John Stroud can be reached at jstroud@postindependent.com or at 970-384-9160.

Rifle Garfield County Airport becomes possible focal point for economic development

The Aspen Institute is currently seeking feedback from Rifle city leaders on whether they think using the Rifle Garfield County Airport as an attractive lure for spurring new industry and commerce is viable.

Aspen Institute Director of Community Engagement Evan Zislis told Rifle City Council and staff during a Wednesday workshop the airport could be used to attract new business opportunities like aviation tours, pilot- and military-training courses, skydive operations and more. He said the area could potentially become the “flight and freefall capital of Colorado.

“If the Colorado River Valley could become known for those industries, could we attract manufacturing associated with some of that stuff?” he said.

This idea to drum up new industry stems from a recent move carried out by city managers and local stakeholders from New Castle to Parachute to create what’s called the Colorado River Valley Economic Development Partnership. It’s a concerted effort to bring new businesses to Western Garfield County.

Brainstorming efforts have now led to what Zislis is calling a 40-year vision, which aims to use current infrastructure like the airport to create new options over time to sustain and advance the local economy. 

“We started getting everyone’s input,” he explained. “What are the next 100 years of the local economy going to look like? What is it going to be based in? What is it going to be rooted in?”
The Rifle airport itself is the preferred alternative for airports in Aspen and Eagle County during weather closures. Its runway, 7,000-by-100 feet, can accommodate aircraft as large as 727s and 737s. According to aeronautical website airnav.com, the Rifle airport averages 39 aircraft operations per day.

Airport Director and Rifle City Council Member Brian Condie said Garfield County commissioners have, so far, not said whether they support the Aspen Institute proposal to leverage the airport.

Condie said, however, with changing demographics and people continuing to move from cities to more rural places like Rifle, it’s better to take an organized approach to using the airport to bolster the local economy.

“There’s a lot of potential here,” he said.

But Aspen Institute’s proposal sparked some concern from Rifle Mayor Ed Green. He worried bringing in new aviation-related businesses could affect overall airport operations, and that it doesn’t simply cater to places like Aspen.

“One thing that I think is essential is this: These new activities be complementary and don’t overpower (Condie’s) main resource,” he said. “I think a couple other things that I see is, we don’t want this to be disguised as support for the upper valley.

“If we’re going to do it, we’re going to do it because we want to house our own people.”

Rifle has already been trying to leverage its artificial and natural infrastructure to bolster business. It’s currently building more bike trails at the Grand Hogback. It’s trying to turn Paradise Island into a recreational destination. There are even efforts to create a major rock-climbing celebration in town since Rifle Mountain Park is one of the most highly sought after destinations in the world for rock climbers.

Zislis’ ultimate goal is to garner as much feedback as he can from local leaders while also conducting focus groups addressing this 40-year vision. Based on what he finds out, Aspen Institute’s next step is to go out for grant funding with the aim of spending the funds on a consulting firm to conduct a feasibility study.

“This is all about building consensus,” he said.

Post Independent western Garfield County reporter and Assistant Editor Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@postindependent.com

Feria de carreras de la secundaria del condado de Garfield pasa a manos de Youthentity

Los estudiantes observan los especímenes presentados por la mesa Vet Tech de Colorado Mountain College en la GlenX Career Expo en Glenwood Springs High School en marzo de 2019.| Chelsea Self/Post Independent archivo
Chelsea Self / Post Independent

Una popular feria de carreras de primavera y otoño que ha invitado a estudiantes de secundaria de todo el valle de Roaring Fork y el noroeste de Colorado a aprender sobre posibles carreras profesionales cambiará de manos esta primavera.

GlenX Career Expo fue iniciada por el fundador de GlenX, Altai Chuluun, hace siete años y ha continuado durante los últimos cinco años bajo la dirección de Jayne Poss.

El evento ha expuesto a miles de estudiantes de una región que se extiende desde Aspen hasta Meeker a una multitud de posibilidades profesionales, en el evento de la escuela secundaria de Glenwood Springs en la primavera y en el recinto ferial del condado de Garfield en el otoño.

Sin embargo, a partir del evento en GSHS del 21 de marzo, la Career Expo, que funciona como una red, estará bajo la dirección de Youthentity, una organización sin fines de lucro de desarrollo juvenil con sede en Carbondale.

“Juntos convertimos GlenX Career Expo en una experiencia impactante y una oportunidad para los estudiantes de secundaria de nuestro valle,” dijo Poss en un comunicado de prensa refiriéndose a sus esfuerzos y los de Chaluun.

Chaluun agregó: “La misión de GlenX Career Expo es construir una comunidad más fuerte y vibrante que conecta a los estudiantes con recursos que estimularán su conocimiento de las oportunidades y les permitirán cumplir con sus aspiraciones profesionales para un futuro exitoso.”

Al pasar la antorcha, él y Poss dijeron que ambos sentían que Youthentity, como líder comunitario que brinda oportunidades para la exploración y el desarrollo de carreras a estudiantes de secundaria a través de sus programas de educación financiera y Career Academy, encajaba perfectamente.

“Estamos entusiasmados de ampliar la visión de Jayne y Altai de Career Expo,” dijo Greg Beachey, director del programa de la Academia de Carreras de Youthentity. “Nuestro plan es continuar con los excelentes programas que han construido y agregar nuevos elementos a eventos futuros.”

Beachey dijo que esperan incluir más funciones prácticas e interactivas en las exposiciones, y están trabajando para desarrollar un sitio web de búsqueda al que los estudiantes puedan acceder durante todo el año para explorar trayectorias profesionales.

“Los estudiantes pueden explorar algunas carreras posibles de antemano y planificar mejor el tiempo mientras están en la exposición,” dijo Beachey en una entrevista separada. “De esta manera, puede haber un tiempo de preparación más dirigido para los estudiantes antes de que vengan.”

El sitio web permitiría a los estudiantes realizar una evaluación de la personalidad laboral y crear un perfil profesional que pueda ayudarlos a orientarlos hacia algunas posibilidades una vez que estén en la exposición, dijo.

“Podrían encontrar algunas carreras profesionales que ni siquiera conocían,” dijo.

En las exposiciones, los estudiantes también pueden esperar no solo hablar con profesionales de la industria, sino también experimentar elementos prácticos de esas carreras, dijo Beachey.

Una aplicación móvil coordinada ayudará a los estudiantes a navegar fácilmente por la exposición, conectarse con negocios que coincidan con sus intereses e intercambiar información de contacto con posibles empleadores, también explicó.

“Esto realmente encaja bien con lo que ya hacemos,” agregó Beachey. “Youthentity trata de preparar a los estudiantes para el próximo paso en la vida, por lo que esta es una dirección natural para nosotros.

“Jayne y Altai han construido algo que es bastante sorprendente, y nos sentimos honrados de que pensaran en nosotros y estén ansiosos por expandirlo.”

Chuluun lanzó el primer evento en el 2015 en Glenwood Springs High School basado en el concepto de que los estudiantes de secundaria necesitaban una mayor exposición a carreras viables, ya sea que implicara la universidad, una escuela de oficios, capacitación técnica o certificación industrial, además de pasantías y oportunidades de aprendizaje.

“Después de dos años de organizar el evento, Chuluun encontró una mente similar en Jayne Poss, que trabajaba en Aspen Community Foundation en ese momento,” de acuerdo con el comunicado de Youthentity.

Además de exponer a los estudiantes a una variedad de opciones profesionales más amplias, sintió que era una oportunidad para que las empresas del valle compartieran lo que tienen para ofrecer localmente.

Las exposiciones comenzaron en Roaring Fork Valley y se expandieron para incluir Rifle, y eventualmente crecieron para llegar a más de 2.500 estudiantes de secundaria anualmente.

La exposición de Glenwood invita a estudiantes de todo el valle de Roaring Fork, mientras que el evento Rifle atiende a escuelas dentro de Garfield Re-2 y el Distrito 16, incluida Liberty Classical Academy, así como DeBeque y Meeker.

El programa Career Academy de Youthentity ofrece a los estudiantes del área la oportunidad de aprender sobre trayectorias profesionales en industrias como la hospitalidad, el cuidado de la salud, los servicios para animales y la industria de la construcción, incluidas las populares competencias culinarias ProStart para las cuales patrocina un equipo. Para obtener más información sobre las próximas ferias de carreras de Youthentity, comuníquese con Beachey en greg@youthentity.org, y para obtener más información sobre Youthentity, visite Youthentity.org.

Traducción por Edgar Barrantes. Puedes contactar a John Stroud, Editor Gerente Interino y Reportero Sénior del Post Independent, en jstroud@postindependent.com o al 970-384-9160.

Ganaderos recibirán compensación de hasta $8.000 por cabeza perdida por la depredación de lobos, según CPW

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) vendrá a Rifle la próxima semana para discutir y recopilar comentarios del público sobre el polémico plan del estado para restaurar los lobos grises en su ecosistema.

La reunión está programada de 8:30 a.m. a 3:00 p.m. el martes en la sede de Colorado Mountain College de Rifle, en 3695 Airport Road. Cualquiera que no pueda asistir a la reunión en persona pero que esté interesado en hacer un comentario público puede completar un formulario en línea, en engagementcpw.org. La fecha límite para completar y enviar este documento de comentario público es el 22 de febrero.

La oficial de información pública de CPW, Rachael Gonzales, dijo que las personas que se presenten en persona a la reunión de Rifle podrán hablar en orden de llegada.

“Aparecerán, se registrarán y el orden en que se registren será el orden en que proporcionarán comentarios públicos,” dijo.

La reunión será moderada por Reid DeWalt y Eric Odell, dos funcionarios de CPW encargados de crear el Borrador del Plan de Gestión y Restauración de Lobos. Este plan, que se encuentra en la página CPW’s Wolves – Stay Informed detalla exactamente cómo CPW va a regular una población autosuficiente de lobos grises en Colorado. El Gerente de CPW Game Damage, Luke Hoffman, también asistirá.

“El plan se basa en la gestión de los lobos en Colorado utilizando un marco basado en el impacto,” dijo DeWalt, Director Assistente de Recursos Acuáticos, Terrestres y Naturales de CPW, a la Comisión de CPW el mes pasado.

“Esperamos que la gran mayoría de los lobos no se vean afectados por ningún tipo de conflicto en ninguna parte del estado.”

El plan en sí surge de una petición creada en el 2019 por el Rocky Mountain Wolf Action Fund, un grupo liderado por ciudadanos con sede en Louisville. El esfuerzo recibió suficientes firmas (215.370) y, en las elecciones de noviembre del 2020, los votantes de Colorado aprobaron por poco la Proposición 114: La reintroducción de lobos.

Desde entonces, el esfuerzo ha generado varias preocupaciones de ganaderos y ambientalistas tanto a favor como en contra del plan. Algunos ambientalistas aún se muestran escépticos sobre el plan de CPW para potencialmente acabar con los lobos que atacan al ganado. Mientras tanto, una de las principales preocupaciones de los ganaderos es que los lobos puedan afectar sus ingresos.

La presidenta comisionada de CPW, Carrie Besnette Hauser, dijo el mes pasado que el objetivo es desarrollar un plan que la mayoría del público apoye y que represente un compromiso razonable.

“Esto es histórico para Colorado,” dijo. “Y lo haremos bien.”

Hasta ahora, CPW ha tenido dos reuniones sobre el plan de reintroducción, una en Colorado Springs el 19 de enero y otra en Gunnison el 25 de enero. Además de Rifle, se llevarán a cabo dos reuniones más: Una virtual y otra en persona en Denver

Cada uno aborda cuestiones como la mitigación de conflictos no letales, así como la posible compensación que proporciona CPW en caso de que un lobo ataque al ganado.

Odell, Gerente del Programa de Conservación de Especies y líder biológico del proyecto de lobos, dijo que CPW está ofreciendo hasta $8.000 por cabeza perdida directamente debido a la depredación de lobos.

“CPW ha desarrollado opciones de compensación adicionales para abordar la falta de terneros y ovejas,” dijo el mes pasado.

CPW proporcionará un borrador del plan final con las regulaciones propuestas en Steamboat Springs el 6 de abril. La Comisión de CPW votará sobre el plan final del 3 al 4 de mayo en Glenwood Springs.

Traducción por Edgar Barrantes.

Si decides ir:

Qué es: Reunión de CPW para revisar el Borrador del Plan de Manejo y Restauración del Lobo.

Cuándo: 8:30 a.m. a 3:00 p.m. el martes 7 de febrero.

Dónde: Sede en Rifle de Colorado Mountain College, en 3695 Airport Road.

Trabajos de tala en Four Mile Road mantienen ocupados a contratistas como Tanner Shelley

Tanner Shelley, de West Range Forest Products LLC, observa el equipo de tala en Four Mile Road el Jueves, 26 de Enero.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Secciones de una arboleda de álamos se partieron casi instantáneamente después de que una taladora equipada con abrazaderas industriales y una sierra caliente gigante se abriera paso lentamente a través del bosque gris.

Con su impresionante agarre, esta máquina puede recolectar y cortar varios árboles a menos de 12 pulgadas por encima de su base, todo de una sola vez, según el experimentado maderero Tanner Shelley.

“Corta a través de los árboles como mantequilla,” dijo sobre el talador apilador, que estaba ocupado trabajando en Four Mile Road en una mañana de jueves muy fría.

El es gerente de la empresa maderera West Range Forest Products LLC. Esta operación basada en Gypsum actualmente está trabajando en un contrato de administración con el Servicio Forestal de los Estados Unidos. Tiene la tarea de talar secciones de bosque junto a un sistema de senderos cerca de Sunlight Mountain Resort.

Esta es la razón por la que muchos esquiadores y practicantes de snowboard que terminan en las pistas ahora se quedan atrapados detrás de enormes camiones que transportan madera pintorescamente hacia Glenwood Springs.

De lunes a viernes hay alrededor de 20 camiones que ascienden y descienden diariamente por Four Mile Road. Ya sea que transporten troncos de abeto y madera, o, menos notablemente, hasta 22 toneladas de madera astillada de álamo.

Una taladora corta árboles en lo profundo de las montañas cerca de Four Mile Road el Jueves, 26 de Enero.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

“Todo va a la planta de biomasa de Gypsum,” dijo Shelley sobre la madera de álamo astillada. “Lo convertimos en energía verde, y todo va a Holy Cross (Energy).”

Se refiere a la primera planta de energía de biomasa leñosa de Colorado, un proyecto de $56 millones construido en Gypsum, en el 2013. Su misión principal es convertir los árboles que matan escarabajos en electricidad.

Por otro lado, los abetos se talan y transportan en camiones a un aserradero en Monstrose, donde se convierten en postes de 2 por 4 pies, según el guardabosques estadounidense Chris McDonald.

“Tenemos buenos compradores y contratistas en el área que necesitan productos,” dijo. “Por lo general, compiten por nuestra madera.”

Los dos proyectos ejemplifican una relación simbiótica entre los madereros y el Bosque Nacional White River. Se invita a los madereros a obtener ganancias mientras se cortan los árboles más viejos para permitir la regeneración.

Una vez que este contrato finalice en el 2026, se habrán talado hasta 932 acres de bosques. Esto incluye 109 acres al este y al sur de Fourmile Park y otros 823 acres más cerca de la línea del condado de Pitkin.

El guardabosques del distrito de Aspen-Sopris, Kevin Warner, a la izquierda, el guardabosques estadounidense Chris McDonald, al centro, y el gerente de productos forestales de West Range, Tanner Shelley, conversan el Jueves, 26 de Enero en Four Mile Road.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Ray K. Erku/Post Indepenent

McDonald dijo que, históricamente, esta área cerca de Four Mile Road se ha talado bastante.

“Había un aserradero justo al final de la calle, hasta los años 80,” dijo. “Tuvimos proyectos para rescatar los abetos muertos del área de Four Mile y Park, del 2005 al 2014,” afirmó. “Y luego, la mayor parte de nuestro trabajo avanzó hacia el lado este del bosque, abordando el escarabajo del pino.”

El guardabosques del distrito de Aspen-Sopris, Kevin Warner, dijo que las operaciones de tala como estas pueden parecer un poco difíciles al principio, con equipos pesados limpiando árboles.

“Lo que es difícil de pensar es, ¿cómo se verá esto dentro de cinco años?” se preguntó. “Regresa en cinco años y te mostraré cómo se ve.”

La eliminación de los álamos maduros estimula su sistema de raíces y fomenta la diversidad en la edad. La diversidad de edades de los álamos los hace más fuertes y menos susceptibles a las perturbaciones, como la invasión altamente destructiva del escarabajo del pino, dijo.

“Lo que obtienes es esta respuesta intensa de árboles de álamo nuevos y pequeños que surgen,” dijo. “Dentro de unos años, tendrán cuatro, cinco, seis pies de altura.”

Mientras tanto, el Bosque Nacional White River promulgó el viernes varios cierres para motos de nieve y otros vehículos en el área de Four Mile debido a las continuas operaciones de tala, según un comunicado de prensa.

Acres despejados durante un proyecto de rejuvenecimiento forestal cerca de Four Mile Road el Jueves, 26 de Enero.
Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

Ray K. Erku/Post Independent

“Fourmile Road (FSR 300) estará cerrado a todos los vehículos, incluidas las motos de nieve, en la puerta aproximadamente a ½ milla por encima del área de estacionamiento de motos de nieve,” dice el comunicado. “Esto es justo después de que la carretera pasa por el corte de álamo del año pasado, donde los esquiadores suelen estacionarse para esquiar en Williams Peak.”

Además de esto, las primeras dos millas de Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail se cerrarán porque esa sección cruza áreas donde se producirá la tala, según el comunicado. Las motonieves pueden usar rutas alternativas como Fourmile Trail y Pipeline Trail para viajar alrededor de ambos cierres y reanudar el viaje en Fourmile Road/Sunlight hacia Powderhorn Trail.

“Originalmente no anticipamos cerrar la carretera,” dijo Warner. “Pero con la gran cantidad de nieve y las enormes paredes laterales que se forman allí, las distancias de visibilidad se han reducido tanto que es un desafío operar una moto de nieve y tener camiones de troncos en la carretera al mismo tiempo.”

De regreso en la operación de Shelley, toma entre 12 y 15 minutos cargar cada camión nuevo en su camino a Gypsum. Algunos de los álamos recién cortados tienen hasta 100 años. Muy pronto, los árboles jóvenes brotarán en su lugar.

“Cuando tenemos camiones, es bastante caótico en la planicie con todas las partes móviles, el deslizador que entra y sale y los árboles balanceándose,” dijo Shelley. “Se disfruta mucho.”

Traducción por Edgar Barrantes. Puedes contactar a Ray K. Erku, Reportero y Editor Asistente de la región occidental del condado de Garfield, en rerku@postindependent.com o al 612-423-5273.

Coal Ridge boys win, girls fall in Saturday home stand against Moffat County

The Coal Ridge girls and boys managed a split in Saturday afternoon’s basketball contests against the visiting Moffat County Bulldogs.

The girls led off the matinee action at Peach Valley by coming up on the short end of a 51-47 score. The boys saved the day for the Titans by holding off a hard-charging Moffat County quintet in the second half to earn an important 58-51 4A Western Slope League victory.

The boys’ game started off looking like an afternoon walk in the park for Coach Paul Harvey and his Titans, but it turned into what basketball announcer Dick Vitale likes to call white-knuckle time in the game’s final half of play.

The Titans cruised to early leads of 18-6 after one period and 32-20 at the half to give the appearance that this game would look nothing like their thrilling 60-59 overtime win the night before at Summit.

Moffat County had other ideas, though.

“They changed defenses on us there to start the second half, and we were a little slow to adjust to things,” Harvey said. “We have the ability to go on scoring spurts, and that one at the end of the third quarter gave us some confidence and much needed momentum back.”

After watching his team go stone-cold for almost the entire third period, scoring just two points with 1:15 to go, and Moffat County taking a 35-34 lead, he looked on as junior guard Clay Cornejo hit a 3-pointer, which was followed by a triple from fellow junior Lochlan Wade to give the home team a pulse. A drive to the basket and a score by senior James Webber put Coal Ridge back in control of the game at 42-37 entering the fourth period.

Moffat County refused to go quietly, keeping things close throughout the final period, but Wade scored again inside and began to assert himself on the boards. Plenty of help came in the form of another long ball from Cornejo, and baskets from Webber, sophomore Ben Simons, and a steal and layup from senior Andres Mendoza to put the game on ice.

Balanced scoring for the Titans came by the way of 14 points each from Webber and Wade. Cornejo had 12 points, all on 3-pointers. Mendoza chipped in with 10 points.

The Titans now sport a record of 10-7 overall and 6-3 in league play.

For the Titan girls, things looked good in the second half of play after trailing by margins of 11-10 and 22-18 in the game’s first 16 minutes. Coal Ridge came out of the locker room and put together a solid third period by outscoring Moffat County 20-11 to take a 38-33 lead into the final quarter of play.

In the third period, junior guard Brook Richards opened the scoring with a corner 3-pointer, and senior guard Jackie Camunez scored on a drive to the basket to give the Titans a lead of 23-22. Camunez then got a steal and a layup to put the game’s momentum solidly on the side of Coal Ridge. Reserve junior post Averie Cribari hit a short bank shot and junior Emerson Harvey notched a 3-pointer to close out the big third period for the Titans.

Moffat County had an answer for the dominant period from the Titans, and it came in the form of senior forward Cayden King. Time and again during the course of the contest, it was her who came up with big buckets for the Bulldogs. Staying true to form in the fourth period, she scored twice in the lane, and then senior Jadence Vasquez hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 39-all.

Senior Aceleigh Porter and Camunez each netted a 3-pointer to keep Coal Ridge running stride for stride with Moffat County, but it was King who sealed the win for the Bulldogs with a late basket and clinching free throws to give her team the conference win.

The Titans, coming off a narrow 37-35 loss the previous night at Summit, were without the services of starting guard Riley Cheney who suffered a knee injury in the Friday loss.

“Last night may have taken a little bit out of the kids,” said Coal Ridge coach Clyde Morgan. “But we just needed to be a little more aggressive on the defensive end today.”

Camunez topped the scoring ledger for the Titans with 17 points, tying Moffat’s King for game scoring honors. Richards and Porter each had six points for Coal Ridge with Cribari and Mikayla Cheney helping out with five and four points, respectively.

The Coal Ridge girls now stand at 12-6 overall and 4-4 in 4A WSL play.

Next up for both the Coal Ridge boys and girls will be a Tuesday trip for a nonleague affair at Grand Junction High School to face the Tigers.

Glenwood teams split in OT at Durango

The Glenwood Springs boys and girls basketball teams were on the road at Durango on Saturday afternoon, where the boys came away with a 54-49 overtime win and girls lost 40-35, also in overtime, in a battle of two top-10 teams in Colorado’s 5A ranks.

The girls showdown between the fourth-ranked Durango Demons and the ninth-ranked Glenwood Demons saw the Glenwood team grab a slim 17-15 advantage at halftime, followed by a one-point advantage in the third for Glenwood before Durango erased the three-point lead in the fourth.

The extra 5 minutes went in favor of the home team, 10-5, as the Glenwood girls fall to 12-6 overall and remain undefeated so far in the 5A Western Slope League at 2-0.

In the boys game, Durango led 28-25 at halftime, before the visiting Glenwood Demons chipped away in the third, taking a 29-28 lead that was quickly relinquished to the home team. Durango held a 38-33 advantage at the end of the third, but a pair of buckets from Glenwood’s Edwin Olave and Erick Cordero and some made free throws pulled Glenwood to within two, 39-37.

By the 4-minute mark, Glenwood had the score knotted at 41 apiece, leading to a flurry of late-game lead changes and another tie, 45-45, at the end of regulation.

Glenwood senior Aiden Peters nailed a 3-pointer to give Glenwood the advantage with under 2 minutes to play in the extra. Glenwood held the lead despite Durango hitting a 3-pointer of its own to cut the lead to one inside a minute. Glenwood was true from the stripe in the closing seconds to claim the five-point win.

Next up, the Glenwood teams are at home Tuesday against league foe Palisade; girls at 5:30 p.m. and the boys at 7.

Other weekend scores

Friday: Boys – Cedaredge 68, Roaring Fork 52; Basalt 57, Rifle 21. Girls – Grand Valley 75, Aspen 11; Cedaredge 43, Roaring Fork 31.

Saturday: Boys – Grand Valley 60, Gunnison 54; Roaring Fork 74, Meeker 44. Girls – Grand Valley 46, Gunnison 22; Roaring Fork 57, Meeker 48.

Post Independent reporter John Stroud contributed to this report.

State officials draft bill regulating stream restoration

Colorado officials have drafted a bill aimed at addressing a tension between stream restoration projects and water rights holders. 

The draft clarifies that restoration projects do not fall under the definitions of a diversion, storage or a dam and do not need to go through the lengthy and expensive water court process to secure a water right. 

But before a project begins, proponents would have to file an information form with the state Division of Water Resources showing the project will stay within the historical footprint of the floodplain before it was degraded and doesn’t create new wetlands, the draft bill proposes. These forms would be publicly available, and anyone could then challenge whether the project meets the requirements by filing a complaint, which would be taken up by DWR staff. 

If stream restoration projects were required to secure a water right and spend money on an expensive augmentation plan, in which water is released to replace depletions it causes, it could discourage these types of projects, something the state Department of Natural Resources wants to avoid.

“We are trying to make it clear that stream restoration projects do not fall under the definition of diversion,” said Kelly Romero-Heaney, the state’s assistant director for water policy. “However, we put limits on what a restoration project is or isn’t and the restoration project has to fall within the historical footprint of the stream system.” 

Slowing the flow

A beaver dam on Maroon Creek near Aspen. The state of Colorado has a draft bill to resolve tension between stream restoration projects that mimic beaver activity and downstream water rights holders.| Brent Gardner-Smith/Aspen Journalism

Restoration projects on small headwaters tributaries often mimic beaver activity, with what are called beaver dam analogues. These temporary wood structures usually consist of posts driven into the streambed with willows and other soft materials woven across the channel between the posts. The idea is that by creating appealing habitat in areas that historically had beavers, the animals will recolonize and continue maintaining the health of the stream.

The goal of process-based restoration projects like these is to return conditions in the headwaters to what they were before waterways were harmed by mining, cattle grazing, road building and other human activities that may have confined the river to a narrow channel and disconnected it from its floodplain.

In these now-simplified stream systems, water, sediment and debris all move downstream more quickly, said Ellen Wohl, a fluvial geomorphologist at Colorado State University. 

“Natural rivers have all these sources of variability,” Wohl said. “They have pools and riffles, meanderings, obstructions like wood and beaver dams. All those things can help slow the flow, which leads to less bed and bank erosion. It allows sediment to be deposited gradually along the channel, and you increase biological processing and recharge of ground water and soil moisture.”

Although these projects benefit the environment, improve water quality and create resiliency against wildfires and climate change, keeping water on the landscape for longer could potentially have impacts to downstream water users. Under Colorado’s system of prior appropriation, the oldest water rights — which nearly always belong to agriculture — have first use of the water. 

Some are concerned that if the projects create numerous ponds in the headwaters, it could slow the rate of peak spring runoff or create more surface area for evaporation, meaning irrigators may not get their full amount of water. 

John McClow is an attorney for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District and is chair of a Colorado Water Congress sub-committee studying the bill, which will make suggestions to the bill’s sponsors. He said there have been wet meadow restoration projects in the headwaters of the Gunnison River that have harmed water rights holders.

“We had some examples of well-intentioned but poorly designed projects,” he said. “In each case we worked with water rights holders and removed the obstruction so their water rights were not impaired.” 

McClow said he would like to see the bill set a standard to avoid problems at the outset of projects. 

This beaver dam analogue, with posts across the creek and soft, woody material woven across, was built by environmental restoration group EcoMetrics, keeps water on the landscape by mimicking beaver activity. Some water rights holders worry that these types of projects could negatively impact them.| Photo by Jackie Corday

State Sen. Dylan Roberts, who represents District 8 and is chair of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, is one of the bill’s sponsors. He said part of the bill’s urgency is so that Colorado can take advantage of unprecedented federal funding for stream restoration from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.

“If we can demonstrate to the federal government that we have a streamlined process for stream restoration projects, then we will make Colorado significantly more eligible for those federal funds,” Roberts said. “We are trying our best to position our state to receive the resources that we deserve.”

Roberts, a Democrat whose Western Slope district includes Eagle, Garfield, Grand, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties, expects the bill to be introduced later this month.

Romero-Heaney said the state’s system of water law works well because it is adaptable to the evolving needs of Coloradans. The stream restoration legislation aims to reduce barriers to projects while still protecting water rights.

“We are at that moment where we need to make a decision: Do we want to have a future with healthy streams that are providing all those environmental services, or do we want to make that future pretty difficult to achieve?” she said. “It’s a soul-searching conversation for the water community.”

Aspen Journalism covers water and rivers in collaboration with the Glenwood Springs Post Independent and The Aspen Times. For more information, go to www.aspenjournalism.org.

Two Mind Springs workers arrested in Mesa County on extortion charges

A senior director at Mind Springs Health and a former worker at its Circle Program were arrested and jailed late Thursday on criminal charges, local and state documents show.

Megan Navarro, senior clinical director, and Gary Swenson, a former peer counselor at Mind Springs’ residential treatment program in Grand Junction, were arrested and placed in the Mesa County Jail — each charged with criminal extortion and attempting to influence a public servant.

Both are listed as class 4 felonies, punishable by up to 6 years in prison on each charge.

According to their arrest affidavit, the charges have nothing to do with their positions at the Clifton Circle Program, which is a residential treatment program for men ages 18 and over who have substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The affidavit says it stems from separate criminal arrests of Swenson last October for third-degree assault, harassment, second-degree criminal tampering and domestic violence.

The new charges relate to Navarro, who appears to have a romantic relationship with Swenson, purposely working with him to deceive a worker with the Mesa County Pre-Trial Services, specifically lying about how long Swenson worked at the Circle Program, the affidavit says.

The deception involved how long Swenson had worked at the Circle Program in order for him to get a lower bond and not be kept in the jail, according to the affidavit.

“Navarro directing Swenson to deceive Pre-Trial Services Officer (Barry Gordon) and then Swenson telling public servants — pre-trial service officers — that he has been employed locally for 1½ years is vastly different from reality where Swenson had only been working at Mind Springs for three months or so,” James Cannon, an investigator in the Mesa County District Attorney’s Office, wrote in the affidavit.

“Swenson’s and Navarro’s conversations regarding trying to effect the actions and decisions of those involved in his bail bond was clearly to deceive people for Swenson’s benefit of a lower, less restrictive bond,” Cannon added.

Numerous telephone calls had been recorded between the two because Swenson had used the jail’s “Inmate Calling Solutions” phone system, which is monitored and recorded by jail personnel, who reported the conversations.

Both Swenson and Navarro have extensive arrest records.

Swenson, 46, has been arrested and convicted numerous times for decades on such charges as vehicle theft, fraud, criminal impersonation, drug possession, burglary, weapon offenses, receipt of stolen property, hit and run, reckless and careless driving, vehicular eluding, reckless endangerment and assault, according to a 17-page criminal history report obtained through the Colorado Bureau of Investigations.

Navarro, 39, has had numerous arrests on drug-related offenses and failure-to-appear charges, a seven-page CBI report shows.

Ironically, Swenson was featured in a Colorado Sun story last October, the same month he was arrested by Grand Junction police. In that story, he talked about the difficulties in helping people in the Circle program in their efforts to rebuild their lives.

“Your employer has to be real understanding, which they’re usually not,” he said in the story, adding that he had learned from his mistakes.

He had been dismissed from that job in November, according to the affidavit.

John Sheehan, president and chief executive officer at Mind Springs Health, said it’s common practice for mental- and behavioral-health employers to hire people like Swenson and Navarro because they know what their clients are going through.

That employment, however, is contingent on those workers staying out of trouble with the law themselves.

“Our business believes in redemption, so people that have gone through tough times or have turned their lives around often seek positions in our industry,” Sheehan said.

“Megan is an example of that. She’s gone through very difficult times and has gotten herself to a level where she is in an executive position at Mind Springs; but this kind of behavior, if it’s true, is not something we can tolerate in an executive,” he added. “They have to keep themselves clean, and they have to keep themselves out of contact with law enforcement, particularly in Megan’s situation where she’s worked her way up. Unfortunately, this may be a situation where she’s going to face the consequences for that.”