Garfield County Outdoors connects students with nature through Hanging Lake hike

The Garfield 16 and Garfield Re-2 school districts recently coordinated a hike to Hanging Lake, offering students an enriching experience and fostering a deeper connection with local outdoor spaces, according to a Garfield County Outdoors news release.

Garfield 16 School District Outdoor Education Coordinator Ari Philipson emphasized the significance of the outdoor ventures.

“It’s amazing to be able to provide access to students to see and learn of this beautiful place,” Philipson said in the release. “The experience of hiking the difficult trail with their peers and that accomplishment, I hope brings a sense of community and school engagement that they might not otherwise get.”

Sharing similar sentiments, Rifle Middle School Nancy Hauer reflected on the students’ journey.

“This year, a few of our kids considered turning back before reaching the top,” Hauer said. The climb is challenging for many, yet all of our kids persevered and reached the lake and the falls above and felt gratification, pride and achievement that they did it. Knowing they can accomplish a physical challenge, and seeing their peers succeed as well, is extremely rewarding.”

Echoing the appreciation, seventh grade Riverside Middle School teacher Bryan Gall recognized the program’s transformative power.

“Garfield County Outdoors and Hanging Lake have provided an amazing opportunity for local kids to visit one of the greatest local outdoor resources,” Gall said in the release. “Because of this, kids can enjoy a visit to the world-class destination of Hanging Lake who might not otherwise get the chance.”

Under the program, 363 students and 38 adults successfully completed the hike. The Hanging Lake adventure was a prime attraction during the Garfield Family Outdoor Days, where families from the Re-2 and Garfield 16 school districts participated. Notably, 76 individuals embarked on the trek against the backdrop of the lunar eclipse on Oct. 14, according to the news release.

There are aspirations to uphold the Hanging Lake tradition and introduce more outdoor events tailored to different grade levels in the future. The aim is to continuously fortify students’ ties to local outdoor areas throughout their academic journey.

Will rule allowing for killing of wolves that attack livestock sink Colorado’s reintroduction efforts?

Editor’s note: This is the second installment of a two-part series from Aspen Journalism on wolf reintroduction. 

As the final steps fall into place before wolves are officially reintroduced to Colorado, policies governing both lethal take in response to livestock depredation and how to foster coexistence with the apex predator have been a flashpoint among livestock growers, conservationists and lawmakers. 

It’s been a long, three-year haul from Colorado voter approval of gray wolf reintroduction to the creation of the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan in May to locating a viable population in a Western state that is willing to donate the wolves. (Oregon announced in early October that it would donate 10 wolves after other Western states with established populations declined to do so.) 

The return of the wolves to Colorado

Many have remained anxious about having a lethal control option or “management flexibility” in place before Dec. 31, the date by which the state is legally required to reintroduce wolves. It wasn’t until mid-September that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service signaled that it would authorize a so-called 10(j) rule allowing for lethal control of wolves that have preyed on livestock. Barring a reversal, the rule is expected to be in place in time.

However, some conservationists are already saying the management plan and the 10(j) rule will set up the wolves to fail.

What is 10(j)?

Section 10(j) of the Endangered Species Act applies to reintroduced, federally threatened or endangered species. Since an official population of gray wolves does not yet exist in Colorado, during the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan development, CPW requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designate the reintroduced gray wolves as a “‘non-essential, experimental population,” using the 10(j) rule. This would remove Endangered Species Act protection, essentially downlisting gray wolves from endangered to threatened. 

The draft 10(j) rule, released Sept. 15, states that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may designate a population of a listed species as experimental if it is released into suitable natural habitat outside the species’ current range but inside the species’ historic range. Non-essential means that the loss of that population would not decrease the ability of the species to survive in the wild.

Delia Malone, ecologist and chair of the Wildlife Committee of the Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter, was hopeful that the state’s wolf reintroduction management plan would have required non-lethal coexistence measures, but those were not included in the final draft.

The express purpose of the 10(j) rule is to allow for lethal control. It is illegal to kill an endangered species in all cases except proven self-defense. If the reintroduced gray wolves are downlisted to a threatened, non-essential, experimental status, the 10(j) rule would allow those wolves, identified by geographic location, to be “hazed, killed or relocated,” but only if they kill domestic animals and only if there’s proof.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is now in a “wait period” before issuing the final record of decision on the 10(j) rule. 

No mandate for coexistence

Michael Robinson, a senior conservation advocate for the Center for Biological Diversity, told Aspen Journalism that the draft 10(j) rule has left out three key components. First, he said, the rule fully authorizes killing wolves that kill livestock with no restriction on the number of wolves to be killed, even on public lands. “The (Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan) and (draft 10(j) rule) have no limits on killing wolves on public lands,” he said. “What that means is the same level of negligence that is permitted throughout the state also applies to public lands. If wolves kill livestock on public lands, wolves will get killed also.”

Secondly, he said, “Ranchers do not have to take preventative measures.” Neither the Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan nor the draft 10(j) rule requires non-lethal control or coexistence methods, such as range riders, lights, noise or fladry (the use of flags on a fence to scare off predators), prior to killing a wolf that may be threatening or killing livestock. “Right now, it’s voluntary,” said Robinson. 

Colorado state Rep. Elizabeth Velasco (D-HD57) poses for a photo with U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (D-CD2) and U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D). Velasco is a primary sponsor of the “Born to be Wild” bill that designates money for non-lethal control methods from the sale of a specialty license plate.

Delia Malone, ecologist and chair of the Wildlife Committee of the Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter, told Aspen Journalism that the final Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan took out parts of the draft plan that conservation groups agreed with.

“A key thing that the (draft) plan suggested was that coexistence methods be required, and that was not included” in the final plan, she said.

The final plan states that “conflict management techniques are not required to be eligible for compensation; however, CPW will work with livestock producers to implement such techniques to reduce the risk of further depredation.” 

Robinson’s third concern is that the effort in Colorado makes no room for the reintroduction of Mexican wolves. He said scientists recommend, for good reason, that the endangered Mexican gray wolf be recovered alongside the northern gray wolf in the southern Rockies. “The Mexican gray wolf has limited genetic diversity,” he said. “A large enough population to regrow genetic diversity could occur from being connected to northern gray wolves, which is what it was like before wolves were exterminated.”

Renee Deal, a sheep rancher from Somerset, Colorado, speaks at the annual Holy Cross Cattlemen’s Association meeting in January 2023. Deal is worried that wolves will kill livestock and endanger her livelihood.
Marjorie "Marge" Velasquez February 9, 1927 – October 30, 2004

Robinson added that the reintroduction of wolves in Colorado is being set up for failure as a result of the combination of no requirements for preventive, non-lethal measures and generous payment for livestock loss. “It’s a perverse incentive to facilitate wolves killing livestock and for more wolves to be killed,” he said. “The livestock industry, having failed with a big-money campaign to defeat (2020’s Proposition 114), has worked to subvert it through a wolf plan that includes the absence of a requirement for preventative measures.”

Depredation funding mandated while coexistence support is a choice

The activity of Colorado state lawmakers during the 74th General Assembly, as evidenced by two funding bills, suggests that lethal control and livestock compensation are seen as higher priorities than coexistence strategies.

The Colorado Wolf Restoration and Management Plan states that livestock producers can receive fair market value of up to $15,000 per animal that is a confirmed wolf kill, plus up to $15,000 for veterinary costs. Compensation covers cattle, sheep, horses, mules, swine, goats, llamas, alpacas and guard animals, such as burros and dogs. State lawmakers voted to fund compensation via Senate Bill 23-255, which establishes a special Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund. The bill, which passed unanimously in both chambers and was signed into law in May, appropriates hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state general fund for livestock compensation for the foreseeable future.

For the fiscal year ending June 2024, $175,000 will go to the Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund. For every fiscal year thereafter, $350,000 will be transferred to the Wolf Depredation Compensation Fund for livestock loss compensation. The largest sources of general fund revenue are income and sales taxes. State Sen. Dylan Roberts (D-District 8), co-sponsor of the bill, told the Steamboat Pilot & Today that “by creating this in statute, we are dedicating funds that will always be available for compensation, regardless of what happens with the state budget or DNR programming.”

Colorado drivers, beginning on Jan. 1, will be able to purchase a “Born to be Wild” specialty license plate. Proceeds will benefit programs to foster coexistence with wolves. Funding for depredation reimbursement will be automatically appropriated annually from the state’ general fund.

On the other hand, House Bill 23-1265, also known as the “Born to Be Wild” bill, which governs money for non-lethal control, puts the onus on vehicle owners who like wolves. A specially designed license plate will be available starting Jan. 1, 2024, for $100. A one-time fee of $25 goes to the Highway Users Tax Fund, and another $25 goes to the Colorado DRIVES fund. The remaining $50 goes into CPW’s Wildlife Cash Fund for non-lethal control. Whoever buys the plate agrees to pay $50 annually to keep it.

“This bill is an opportunity for everyone who supported (Proposition 114) to support non-lethal measures for our farmers and ranchers,” state Rep. Elizabeth Velasco (D-District 57), primary sponsor of the bill, told Aspen Journalism in an email. Velasco estimates that the fees could bring in up to $1 million for non-lethal mitigation. 

For fiscal year 2023-24, the bill authorizes a $548,000 appropriation to the Department of Natural Resources for use by CPW. That amount corresponds with the estimate that state finance officials believe the license plate sales will bring in before the end of the fiscal year in June. It also sets the ceiling for how much the state can spend on non-lethal control.

“The appropriation of $548,000 is the limit of our authority to spend for the stated purposes,” said Travis Duncan, CPW public information supervisor. “If less revenue is received, we will spend less than that total. If more is received, we will need to ask the legislature for authority to expend more.”

According to the Colorado Legislative Council Staff’s April 5 revised fiscal note for the “Born to Be Wild” bill, expected demand for the plate is based on 60% of the actual demand for the “wildlife sporting” license plate in its first three years, when a total of 22,810 such plates were purchased.

“As such, the fiscal note assumes that the ‘Born to Be Wild’ plate will be issued on the following schedule: 10,960 in the first year, 2,740 the next year and at least 200 plates per year thereafter.” But, unlike SB 23-255, the amount is not guaranteed.

A field near Crawford, Colorado, where ranching operations are a significant economic driver.

Duncan told Aspen Journalism that the agency will work closely with the state to determine license plate revenue.

“These funds will go into CPW’s Wildlife Cash Fund and be used to implement gray wolf reintroduction and management,” he said in an email. “But not for lethal control.” The bill also states that revenue from the wolf license plate can be used for non-lethal mitigation programs, training, personnel, contractors, community outreach, equipment, research and bill promotion. 

State Sen. Perry Will (R-District 5) co-sponsored the bill despite a general dislike for license-plate legislation. “It’s a good bill,” he told Aspen Journalism. Will noted that the legislature considered a license plate bill for livestock compensation but decided against it. 

“It wouldn’t bring in enough money,” he said.

Aspen Journalism is a nonprofit, investigative news organization covering environment, water, social justice and more. Visit

Garfield County Outdoors program receives $250,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado

The Garfield County Outdoors (GCO) program was awarded a $250,000 grant by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) on Sept. 21.

With its vision firmly set, GCO is driven by a commitment to nurture personal growth and confidence through diverse outdoor ventures, ranging from neighborhood strolls to vast backcountry journeys.

This grant is a milestone within GOCO’s Generation Wild campaign, instituted in 2015. Its core objective? Pushing the boundaries and inspiring Colorado families to delve deeper into nature, enhancing their overall well-being.

Aligning forces with Aspen Valley Land Trust (AVLT) and Colorado State University Extension (CSU Extension), GCO has charted a comprehensive blueprint for utilizing the grant. The primary focus will be broadening their community initiatives with a keen lens on inclusivity and sustainability.

The Garfield Re-2 School District stands central to their vision. By infusing additional personnel and resources, this district, often cited as the linchpin of GCO, is poised for an elevated synergy with community and youth figures. Among the slated projects are the formulation of a youth advisory council, spotlighting 10 dynamic leaders from GCO’s affiliate schools, and a slew of youth-centric leadership programs, all aimed at deepening the ties with the educational community.

The four pillars of GCO’s community outreach — New Castle, Silt, Rifle, and Parachute/Battlement Mesa — are set to undergo a transformative phase. Community leaders from these zones will be integrated more profoundly into partner deliberations, ushering in a more holistic and diverse decision-making landscape.

In tandem, GCO is also primed to embark on a meticulous strategic planning phase, aimed at refining their overarching goals and outreach modalities.

Since its foundation in 2017, GCO has unfurled an eclectic range of programs tailored for the youth of western Garfield County. Their collaborations with the Garfield Re-2 and Garfield 16 school districts, and CSU Extension, have yielded innovative solutions to combat outdoor access impediments. Their portfolio boasts a vibrant mix, from agriculture and snow sports to climbing and beyond. 

This year, the program has gathered 3,900 youth and 360 adult participants in various programs for the 2023 year.

“We have really been working hard on developing this program for the past few years,” Partan said. “With this new funding, we are going to be able to not only shift gears, but we will also be able to start providing more programs as well.”

GCO’s Program Director Scott Partan shed light on the current program framework, emphasizing its dedication to students within the two affiliated districts. However, an exciting twist is on the horizon with the imminent roll-out of family-centric modules.

“Our weekly offerings are diverse, ranging from hikes to ski trips to extended outdoor escapades,” Partan said.

Partan said the GCO program aspires to enhance outdoor education outreach across various schools within the district.

“We are fortunate enough to live in this really awesome place that provides a lot of places to explore and activities to do,” Partan said. “There are a lot of people who don’t have the means to do that, so we want to bridge that gap and make sure everyone has access to those opportunities.”

GOCO Generation Wild Program Officer Chris Aaby mirrored the enthusiasm. 

“This is a program that is focused on making sure that we are able to get our future students and generations outdoors,” Aaby said. “We are excited to see this program expanding and can’t wait to help make a community-wide change to see more kids outdoors.”

For more information regarding the program, visit the Garfield County Outdoors website.

Roaring Fork Fishing Guide Alliance makes regional enhancements

Since its formation in 2014, the Roaring Fork Fishing Guide Alliance (RFFGA) has been the driving force for guides and anglers alike in the Roaring Fork region, pledging dedication to the protection and conservation of local fisheries.

In line with their mission, the RFFGA’s recent initiatives have brought significant enhancements to the local fishing community. 

The organization has spearheaded multiple projects aimed at improving accessibility and safety for all users. This includes the recently installed staging signs and parking pavers at the Carbondale boat ramp. 

In a collaborative effort, around 30 volunteers from the RFFGA, Town of Carbondale, Roaring Fork Conservancy and Colorado Parks and Wildlife participated in clearing brush and creating additional spots for boats to anchor along the bank.

Another landmark project by the alliance was carried out at Iron Bridge, where they combined efforts with the Roaring Fork Fishing Club to lay 42 tons of road base. This intervention was crucial to cover large, sharp rocks, which were causing damage to equipment and hindering activities at the ramp.

“We’d like to continue to grow regionally and try to get people from this whole region to come out and join us,” RFFGA President and Founder Kyle Holt said.

Highlighting the Iron Bridge initiative, Holt described the state of the area post-runoff as a challenge. 

“After the runoff, that area was almost like an impassable state with giant boulders sticking up everywhere, we figured we had to do something,” he said.

Though Colorado Parks and Wildlife could not provide funding for these projects, the RFFGA took the initiative with their consent. Beyond these activities, the alliance has also initiated the improvement of the Silt boat ramp on the Colorado River.

The RFFGA has grown, both in terms of its projects and its stature. Recently, the alliance achieved a significant milestone, obtaining 501C3 non-profit status. This development, according to Holt, will enable the organization to garner more resources for river conservation and further improvements.

Reflecting on the essence of the RFFGA’s mission, Holt underscored the passion of the local angling community. 

“There are a lot of anglers and guides in the valley who really care about protecting our waters and this great place that we have the opportunity to call home,” Holt said. “We invite everyone to come check us out if interested.”

Currently boasting over 100 members, the RFFGA welcomes new members. Guides can join for $20 annually, associate memberships stand at $25 per year and outfitters can be part of the alliance for $250 yearly.

For more details or to explore membership options, interested parties can visit the RFFGA’s  Facebook page.

Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort announces Dec. 8 opening date

Sunlight Mountain Ski Resort, a favored winter destination since 1966, has announced its lifts will begin operation for the start of the 2023-24 ski season on Dec. 8. 

Positioned just 20 minutes from Glenwood Springs, the resort offers 72 trails spread over an impressive 730 skiable acres, with a drop that stretches 2,000 vertical feet.

Skiers and snowboarders, from beginners to experts, will find Sunlight caters to their every need. Approximately half of the mountain’s terrain is designed for beginner or intermediate levels. With daily operations scheduled from 9 a.m.-4 p.m., enthusiasts can easily plan their winter getaways.

“If we have a ton of snowfall again, and Thanksgiving weekend looks promising, an earlier opening could be a possibility for us,” Director of Business Development Travis Baptiste said. 

This sentiment echoes the resort’s flexibility in prior years, indicating an eagerness to adapt to optimal snow conditions for its visitors.

Beyond the anticipation of this season’s first descent, Sunlight is looking to the future. As part of its commitment to enhancing the skiing experience, the resort plans to upgrade its lifts. After the close of this season, the existing Segundo double-chair, which serves 970 people per hour, will make way for a state-of-the-art triple-chair with a capacity for 1,400 skiers and snowboarders per hour.

Segundo is Colorado’s oldest operating ski lift. Beginning its service on Aspen Mountain in 1954, Segundo was sold to Sunlight, where it’s been operating since 1973. 

The Segundo Lift carries skiers to the top of Sunlight Mountain Resort.
White River National Forest/Courtesy

“This mountain and the staff couldn’t be more excited to welcome both locals and guests,” Baptiste said “We are eager for everyone to experience what makes Sunlight Mountain unique.”

Kale Hall, a ski and snowboard technician at Sunlight Ski & Bike Shop, is among those gearing up for the upcoming season. Originally from Missouri, Hall made his way west in search of a vibrant snowboard community, a quest that led him to Sunlight.

“Sunlight offers territory for people of all skill levels,” Hall said. The mountain is uniquely designed to accommodate everyone looking for fun on the slopes.”

As winter approaches and the first snowflakes begin to fall, Sunlight Mountain stands ready to offer another memorable season to all who visit.

Annual watershed information hike to take place at Hanging Lake Trail on Sunday

Following the reopening of the Hanging Lake Trail after a large mudslide shut down the popular hiking destination on May 1, the Middle Colorado Watershed Council will take their annual watershed information hike up the trail on Sunday.

This year, the hike will include information regarding the aftermath that left the trail damaged following the 2021 debris flows, as well current usage of the trail and the U.S. Forest Service and National Forest foundation’s plans to rebuild the iconic trail.

A hike with over 1,000 feet in elevation gain — leading to the National Natural Landmark that is Hanging Lake — the trail has seen its fair share of damage in recent years due to a number of natural causes.

The improvements, which are set to begin this fall, include reengineering six of the trail’s seven bridges to better accommodate high water and debris flows.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, improvements taking place will also include:

  • A boardwalk at Spouting Rock to reduce erosion and other impacts by guiding visitors
  • Rock work and flood debris removal
  • Seeding and planting by hand along the trail to stabilize stream banks and reduce erosion
  • Removal of debris and reconstruction of the stream channel
  • Construction of an accessible plaza with seating and shade.

For those looking to participate in the hike, 25 spots are available for reservation. A permit to take part in the hike will be included for those who sign up.

For those who do sign up to participate, attendees will meet at the Glenwood Springs Community Center at 8 a.m. on Sunday, where a shuttle will transport participants to the popular trail. With limited reservations available, visit to reserve your spot. Reservations must be made by Friday.

2023 rafting season shining following record winter in Roaring Fork Valley

Following a record winter in the Roaring Fork Valley, the 2023 rafting season has shaped into prime condition for those looking to get out onto the water.

A season that has allowed for those looking for different types of adventure to have the opportunity to do so, the spring season’s runoff has been one that has been unheard of in recent years.

With the Roaring Fork Valley experiencing water levels that have seemed ageless in recent memory, this year’s rivers have provided raft-goers the experience of both soothing waters and the fierce rapids that have made Glenwood Springs and the rest of the Roaring Fork Valley a staple for thrill-seekers and even-tempered explorers alike.

A winter season that produced a record-breaking snowpack in the western region, where those living in the valley saw a 200% increase in median snowpack, according to the United States Natural Resources Conservation Service, Defiance Rafting Owner Gregory Cowan said this year’s conditions are more than he could ask for. 

“It’s been a wonderful start to the season,” e said. “The weather broke at the right time when we started at the beginning of May, and it has made it possible for any level rafter to have the opportunity to enjoy the waters.”

Dealing with a state-wide drought that has lasted a number of years, Middle Colorado Watershed Council Executive Director Paula Stepp said this year’s water levels could very well be considered an anomaly.

“I have lived in this valley a long time, and I haven’t seen these types of water levels since the ’80s,” she said. “Having a great year is amazing to see but by no means does it mean that this drought is over.”

With the high waters surrounding the Roaring Fork Valley, Glenwood Adventure Company CEO Ken Murphy said that this year’s water levels will make for a long season for those looking to indulge in whitewater rafting to have the chance to do so.

“What has made Glenwood Springs so popular for white water rafting is the variety that those looking to participate have been given,” he said. “With these high water levels, we are looking at having a good chance at having a longer season for people to enjoy this community’s waters, but it really depends on how the rest of the summer season shapes out.”

While this season’s high waters continue to look promising for the industry, he says it’s not up to those in control of booking trips.

“It’s a contemplating industry,” he said. “Mother Nature is our boss during the summer season, and so we have to hope everything goes in our favor for the continuation of this season.”

For those looking to find themselves on the river this season, you can learn more by exploring the number of rafting options available at, or

Hanging Lake Trail back in service

The Hanging Lake Trail has reopened following closures due to a large mudslide that occurred May 1, resulting in ongoing debris flow activity since.

A one-mile hike with over 1,000 feet in elevation gain — leading to the National Natural Landmark that is Hanging Lake — the trail has seen its fair share of damage in recent years due to a number of reasons.

Earlier this month, the White River National Forest approved a handful of improvements to ensure the long-term sustainability of the Hanging Lake Trail in Glenwood Canyon.

The improvements, which are set to begin this fall, include reengineering six of the trail’s seven bridges to better accommodate high water and debris flows.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, improvements taking place will also include:

  • A boardwalk at Spouting Rock to reduce erosion and other impacts by guiding visitors
  • Rock work and flood debris removal
  • Seeding and planting by hand along the trail to stabilize stream banks and reduce erosion
  • Removal of debris and reconstruction of the stream channel
  • Construction of an accessible plaza with seating and shade.

With reservations needed to hike the trail, those looking to hike can visit Dogs and other animals are not allowed on the trail, and swimming and fishing in the lake is prohibited.

On the Fly: An essentials list for success on the water

Whether you wade fish with a pack, sling or vest, we believe there are a few essential items you should always take to the river. As you might have noticed, there are those who travel light, and others who look ready for multiple days in the backcountry. Along with some organization, you can find a happy medium and be prepared for long days spent hiking into Jaffe Park, or short walks on the Fryingpan.

For a typical day spent on the water, here is what would be on our list of “essentials.” Guides would argue you need 01x through 7x tippets, but 4x, 5x, and 6x should have you ready for most situations, whether tying on big wooly buggers on down to size 24 midges. Nippers and forceps are some of the most important and also most frequently lost tools, so an extra set is never a bad idea. Polarized sunglasses, a rain jacket and a cap are something we never leave home without, and don’t forget sunblock and insect repellant for those dog-days of summer coming soon. Concerning leaders, we would suggest both 7.5 and 9 foot leaders ranging from 4x through 6x. You never can have too many, especially on a windy day.

A set of breathable waders, rugged boots, five weight rod, landing net, split shot, indicators and floatant should round it out for the rest of the “essential” accessories. When it comes to flies and boxes, one for nymphs and another for dries should keep you organized and efficient on the river. For the streamer junkie, a bugger box would be a nice addition to your arsenal. We wish everyone a wonderful fishing season here in the Roaring Fork Valley, and that you are prepared for whatever the river has to throw at you.

This report is provided every week by Taylor Creek Fly Shops in Aspen and Basalt. Taylor Creek can be reached at 970-927-4374 or

Proposal to replace Sunlight Mountain chair lift seeks public comment

Following a proposal to replace the Segundo lift at local ski area Sunlight Mountain, the White River National Forest seeks public comments regarding the plan to remove the 1950s era chairlift.

The Segundo lift, which has a capacity of 970 people per hour, is to be replaced with a modern triple-chair carrying a capacity of 1,400 people per hour. 

The new lift would be constructed within the existing lift corridor and would continue to use the existing top and bottom terminal locations, according to a news release from the White River National Forest. 

Sunlight Mountain Resort operates on the White River National Forest through a special use permit. The replacement of the lift is within the WRNF’s permitted area.  

Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner said if the proposal is approved, more needs to be done before construction can begin.

“Before any work on the ground can begin, the Forest Service needs to complete an environmental review of this proposal,” Warner said in the news release. “Public comments about this proposal are a key part of the environmental review.”  

The first phase would begin this summer and included removing trees to widen the lift corridor, constructing retaining walls at the top and bottom terminals, and constructing some new tower foundations.

The second phase would include removing the existing Segundo lift, completing the tower foundations, and installing the new Segundo lift. Phase two would begin construction in the spring of 2024.

All disturbed areas would be revegetated, according to the news release.Public comment will be used to help with the environmental review of the proposal. For more information, including the proposal and how to comment, visit. The WRNF asks that comments be received by June 16.