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Forest Service opens public review of Sunlight’s proposed East Ridge expansion

The U.S. Forest Service is set to begin public review for Sunlight Mountain Resort’s plans to build a new chairlift and expand expert terrain on the ski area’s East Ridge.

It will also likely seek categorical exclusion from a full environmental review, due to the small amount of forest land that would be disturbed by the expansion, according to a Forest Service news release issued on Monday.

The White River National Forest’s Aspen-Sopris Ranger District has scheduled a public meeting from 5-7 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Glenwood Springs Library to answer questions, as the agency begins taking public scoping comments on the proposal.

Sunlight announced last year that it is launching a $4 million expansion project on the far eastern side of Compass Peak, including about 100 acres of new expert skiing terrain and a new chair lift serving the East Ridge area.

Already this season, Sunlight expanded the existing Aligator Alleys, Deception, Defiance, Perry’s Plunge and other double-black diamond runs. The expansion is proposed to continue later this year and next with new runs to the east of the current ski area boundary, along with the new lift and a pit toilet.

Sunlight expansion public meeting

The Aspen-Sopris Ranger District has scheduled a public meeting to discuss Sunlight Mountain Resort’s expansion plans, from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4 at the Glenwood Springs Library.

Forest Service and Sunlight Mountain Staff will be on hand to answer questions.

Sunlight’s East Ridge offers both intermediate and advanced ski terrain that sits both on private land near Four Mile Creek and on public land administered by the White River National Forest.

According to the Forest Service, approximately 2,000 feet of the new lift would be on forest land. The top terminal is proposed to be located between the existing Rebel and Beaujolais ski runs.

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In addition, about three-quarters of an acre is to be cleared for catwalks to provide access to the Rebel and Grizzly trails from the top of the new lift.

The terminal would include an operator building, an engine drive, motor room and unloading area, requiring about a quarter of an acre to be cleared.

A small pit-type outhouse would also be constructed adjacent to the top terminal for public and operator use.

“The purpose of this project is to improve guest access to intermediate and advanced ski terrain,” according to the proposed expansion plan. “There is a demonstrated need to provide direct access by eliminating the use of the Tercero, Segundo and Primo chairlifts. The new lift would also provide access to underutilized trails, increase access to repeat users and improve visitor experience.”

Upon completion of the project, all disturbed areas surrounding the new structures would be revegetated, according to the plan. Construction staging and assembly areas are to occur primarily on private lands. 

“Due to the minimal amount of new disturbance, the Forest Service is considering categorically excluding this project from analysis in an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement,” according to the release.

As a result, the public scoping period is the opportunity for those interested in or affected by the proposal to identify any significant issues before that decision is formally made.

Written comments may be submitted by mail, fax, email or in person by Feb. 23.

Written comments should be submitted to: Scott Fitzwilliams, c/o Devon Cotsamire, Mountain Sports Administrator, Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, 620 Main Street, Carbondale, CO 81623, or hand-delivered between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday-Friday. Faxed comments can be sent to 970-963-1012.

Comments may also be submitted electronically here.

Visit the project home page for additional information.

jstroud@postindependent.com

On the Fly column: A good net man should be cherished

It always pays to have a good net man. There is also something incredibly satisfying about being the net man (or woman) when a buddy lands a nice fish. As net men go, there are all sorts of stories about landing and losing fish. I happen to be married to my net man, and some of the most strenuous arguments and fights in our marriage have actually come from losing a fish. There was the “Incident on the Blue” and “The High Country Incident” that led to a lost rainbow and a lost cutthroat that still cause tension between us when mentioned.

Communication and anticipation are two qualities an angler and net man must possess. They must communicate with each other where the fish is heading and anticipate movements before the fish makes them. Recently, I hooked a nice brown on the Pan, and I cannot over-emphasize the crucial role my net man played in our success. I hooked into the fish and immediately knew I was in for a fight. I yelled for my husband, Max, who was fishing 100 yards or so up river. He quickly made his way over to me, and the chess match was on.

After a few minutes of fish fighting, Max began to try and scoop the brown trout. When Max got too close, it would immediately spook and head back into deeper water. Max processed this and then altered his tactics. He crept closer to the side of the fish, and using his long net parried and blocked the fish’s only outlet into the river. He then approached, and the fish swam directly into the net.

It was a genius solution in an effort to help me land the biggest trout of my life to date. My advice to you is this; if you have a good net man, marry them. If you can’t marry them, then at least buy them a cup of coffee or tank of gas after. I hope Max gets many more chances to redeem himself.

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 taylorcreek.com.

Improvements headed to Sayre Park after community groups fund majority of phase one construction costs

A partnership between the city of Glenwood Springs and various community groups will fund improvements to the home of Strawberry Days — Sayre Park. 

City Council last Thursday unanimously approved allocating approximately $110,000 from the city’s Park Impact Fees Fund for Sayre Park’s phase one improvements.

“These are impact fees that developers, through the years, have to pay into,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said. “That is what this fund is set aside for, to improve our parks.”

The city’s contribution was a match to the more than $147,000 local nonprofit Game On Camps, Hoop d’Ville — organizers of a popular summertime basketball camp and a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, respectively — and Grand River Construction were able to raise. 

Game On Camps Founder Cassandra Irving referees a youth game during a past Hoop D’Ville basketball tournament at Sayre Park in Glenwood Springs.
Post Independent file

According to a news release, Gregg and Marilee Rippy of Grand River Construction contributed up to $100,000 of in-kind services to Sayre Park’s phase one improvements.  

Gregg Rippy has also volunteered to manage the project. 

Subsequently, the city will pay for 40% of the improvements, whereas community groups that have a vested interest in the park facilities will fund the rest. 

“It’s a great model for how we should be doing park improvements,” Brian Smith, Glenwood Springs Parks and Recreation director, said. “A great example of how businesses, service groups and citizen committees can work in partnership with city leaders to build improvements that increase the quality of life for all residents.”   

Sayre Park phase one objectives

  • Demolition of basketball court and gazebo 
  • Construction of three new basketball courts and lighting
  • Installation of ADA curb ramps and pathways
  • Installation of a new drinking fountain with a bottle filler and water service
  • Landscaping and park entry beautification
  • Irrigation modifications
  • Way-finding signage
  • Installation of new furnishings, benches and trash receptacles

Although not originally part of phase one’s improvements, council added onto that list replacing the park’s stairs from the mid-bench down to the courts.

“It’s a safety concern that we wanted to make sure was addressed,” Smith said.

Especially during larger events like Strawberry Days, Smith said the stairs do not suffice; council unanimously agreed.

Including the replacement of the stairs, the project has an estimated cost of just over $250,000 — 60% of which, will come from various community stakeholders. 

Smith said the gazebo, which the Rotary Club installed years ago, had aged and needed replacement. 

“It’s time to take it down and redo it,” Smith said. 

According to Smith, construction will likely begin in April in order to complete all of phase one’s improvements ahead of Strawberry Days in June. 

Additionally, the project has been designated as an Enterprise Zone Contribution Project. This provides an additional tax credit for donors of up to 25% of their donation.

“It means everything and it’s a game changer,” Godes said. “Being able to leverage government resources and public funds along with tapping into people’s philanthropy is a way to get things done in town that you’re passionate about.”

The entire Sayre Park Project includes multiple phases. Phase one focused on the park’s northwest quadrant.

mabennett@postindependent.com      

Sunlight Trails — the stories behind the ski run names

Winter brings renewed wonder when locals and visitors alike take to the trails at Glenwood Springs’ own Sunlight Mountain ski resort.

Each of the more than 60 ski runs at Sunlight has a name, and with each a little story behind the name, according to some of the long-time staffers at the resort.

Many of the ski runs simply honor the region’s geography, culture, history and natural wonders:

Crystal —  for the Crystal River and the historic mining boom town of Crystal City, located above Marble toward Schofield Pass.

Ute and Peacepipe — In honor of the earlier native inhabitants of the region, the Ute Indians.

White River — For the National Forest on which Sunlight is permitted to operate.

Defiance — The name given the frontier fort that was established near the confluence of the Grand (Colorado) and Roaring Fork rivers, which preceded the incorporation of what became Glenwood Springs.

Frying Pan Alley — For the Fryingpan River Valley.

Columbine — The official Colorado state flower.

Sun King — The name of one of the many historic mining camps located south of Glenwood Springs; among them Sunlight itself.

Holiday Hill — The small ski hill that preceded Sunlight.

Midland Express — Named for the Midland Railroad that operated in the Roaring Fork Valley during the mining boom.

And, Zephyr — Named for the famous California Zephyr, the historic passenger train line that came through Glenwood Springs. The name is still used by the Amtrak line.

Some of Sunlight’s runs got their names through naming contests, including Beaujolais — a name submitted by Charlie Sprick, father of local artist Daniel Sprick and grandfather of his son, Dan, who is a ski patroller at Sunlight. Mary Sprick also submitted “Loopity Loop,” which became simply Loop

Others of Sunlight’s trails are named for people who contributed in some way to the ski area’s legacy. Many of them have since passed, but others are still living and remain influential.

Among the latter lot is Tom J’s Glades, formerly Upper Glades, named in honor of longtime Sunlight general manager Tom Jankovsky, who is still a part owner and financial officer for the resort, as well as a three-term Garfield County commissioner.

And, more recently, three runs on the famed East Ridge were named Aligator Alleys (A1, A2 and A3) in honor of current U.S. Ski Team member and New Castle resident Alice McKennis. McKennis got her ski legs under her skiing at Sunlight as a small child with her father, Greg McKennis.  

As for the in-memorium honors, there’s Dawson, located on the west side of the main bowl. It was named in memory of Roy Dawson, who died after a Jeep accident while helping with the construction of the Segundo ski lift. Speaking of which, Segundo itself honors the region’s Spanish heritage. Segundo means “second” in English. The lift was the ski area’s second. The original bottom-to-top lift had a midway option to disembark — thus the run named Midway.

The current upper lift-line run, Primo, is named for Primo Martino, who owned the land on which the lift was ultimately constructed.  

Joslin, another popular west-side run, includes a plaque at the very top of the run honoring the memory of Jim Joslin, an active member of the Sunlight Ski Patrol. Joslin was among the 12 Rocky Mountain Natural Gas employees who died in a tragic propane gas explosion at the RMNG distribution warehouse on Devereux Road on Dec. 16, 1985.

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Teed’s Run, located on the East Ridge, is named for Teed Stoner, who died in an avalanche while snowboarding on the ridge in the early 1990s. Afterwards, Sunlight decided to officially open and maintain the area, which has become popular with steep-and-deep expert skiers and boarders.

Not far from there is Tod’s Ride, named for Todd Elston, a long-time ski patrol director who was injured while doing avalanche mitigation work before the East Ridge was officially opened.

Ivy’s Run, a short trail descending from Columbine to Ute, is named in memory of Ivy Adler, a former member of the Sunlight Ski Team who died in a tragic car accident on Highway 82.

Not far from there is Charlie’s Glades, named in memory of a child who died after hitting a tree while skiing through the woods between Cornice and White River.

There’s also Perry’s Plunge, named for the late longtime Carbondale-area rancher Bob Perry, an original Sunlight investor; Gibson’s Glade, named for Ed Gibson, a longtime Sunlight building and grounds and general maintenance worker; Sherman Forest, named for Tom and Olly Sherman, founders of the 100 Club ski and hiking group in Glenwood Springs; Little Max, named for the late Max Doose; and Casanova Glade, named for the late Tony Casanova, another longtime Sunlight volunteer ski patroller.

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Finally, though not a ski run, there’s also Leonard’s Lookout, an archway framing Mt. Sopris and the Elk Mountain Range that’s named for the late long-time part owner Leonard Lorentson. His son, Todd, now holds those shares of the company, and his granddaughter, Tiffany, sits on Sunlight’s Board of Directors.

jstroud@postindependent.com

With annual Aspen presentation, 5Point Film launches into 2020

When 5Point Film started hosting an annual Aspen show seven years ago, it was a sort of best-of program with encore presentations of crowd favorite films from the previous year’s flagship festival in Carbondale.

But after consistently selling out its Wheeler Opera House shows and expanding to two nights in 2018, the Aspen event has evolved into a higher profile happening with all new 5Point-curated films about thoughtful adventure with inspirational special guests and a signature 5Point concert-style program.

It’s evolved into the nonprofit’s annual kickoff.

“I’m seeing Aspen as setting the stage for what’s to come,” said 5Point executive director Regna Jones.

The 2020 program runs Friday, Jan. 17, and Saturday, Jan. 18, at the Wheeler.

Friday night’s films, presented in partnership with Challenge Aspen, include three inspirational shorts about adaptive athletes and adventurers: “Out on a Limb” profiles rock climber Kai Lin and his “badass prosthetic foot”; 5Point regular Fitz Cahall’s new film “The Mighty Finn” tells the story of an adventurer with cerebral palsy; “Broken” goes inside skier Jon Wilson’s life after losing a leg to cancer.

Saturday night’s mix of films includes a screening of local hero and Olympic medalist Alex Ferreira’s “The Scenic Route,” a travelogue about the X Games champion’s recent travels in Japan.

Built on its five titular points of purpose, respect, commitment, humility and balance, 5Point is more than a showcase of ski porn for adrenaline junkies.

“It has a power to impact people, especially when you get people in a room watching films as they should be seen at this level of craft,” Jones said. “It does have a power to transform people.”

Both nights in Aspen will be emceed by the inimitable Paddy O’Connell, the skier and sometimes comedian who settled in the valley after a trip to 5Point in Carbondale several years ago.

IF YOU GO …

What: 5Point Aspen

Where: Wheeler Opera House

When: Friday, Jan. 17 & Saturday, Jan. 18, 7 p.m.

How much: $20-$28

More info: Friday’s short films are ‘Night of the Turn,’ ‘The Running Pastor,’ ‘Out on a Limb,’ ‘Camel Finds Water,’ ‘Return to Earth,’ ‘Circle of the Sun,’ ‘The Mighty Finn’ and ‘Broken;’ Saturday’s include ‘Banking on Bailey,’ ‘Gone Tomorrow: The Story of Kentucky Ice Climbing,’ ‘Billder,’ ‘Chasing the Sublime’ and ‘The Scenic Route’ with special guest Alex Ferreira; 5pointfilm.org

Now in its 13th year, 5Point has evolved into more than a once-a-year film festival and gathering of the tribes in Carbondale. It has become a valley nonprofit with a year-round presence and impact as well as a national tastemaker for adventure films and the people who love them. It has established its Aspen event as a pillar of the winter season here along with the vaunted April flagship festival in Carbondale, an ongoing “5Point On the Road” tour (there’s a tour stop in Stratton, Vermont, on Saturday night) and its Dream Project scholarshops funding initiatives by Roaring Fork Valley students.

Jones said 5Point also is in expansion mode as a resource for filmmakers, the brands that produce most adventure films and the natural environment that the 5Point community cherishes.

Jones said she expects 5Point this year to expand its footprint and programs in education, possibly with a college partnership, and with a new master class at the Carbondale festival.

The nonprofit is also taking a leadership role on both the activist and business sides of the outdoor industry, building upon its annual Denver program at the Paramount Theater in partnership with the Outdoor Retailer expo and conference.

For filmmakers, 5Point is growing its established 5Point Film Fund, which helps finance productions that embody its five points. The Jackson Hole-based clothing company Stio recently committed $10,000 for 5Point film funding, which will go to a filmmaker who wins a public movie pitch contest at the festival in April.

All of these initiatives are built upon the 5Point foundation of gathering to honor storytellers and share the experience of watching films.

“I want 5Point to continue pushing the envelope of what the future is for adventure film and storytelling, keeping that spark around how important it is, while also keeping some levity around it,” Jones said. “We need places to go to laugh and cry and cheer and sweat and feel everything together with a bunch of people. And then we go out and stand a little taller.”

atravers@aspentimes.com

Coming off her first World Cup points, Hailey Swirbul continues to rise as cross-country skier

For a few brief moments, Hailey Swirbul was the star of the U.S. cross-country ski team. Sure, she was far off the standard set by American teammate Sophie Caldwell that day — in fact, she was only fifth among all U.S. women in the race — but her 30th-place finish was what stood out.

“I keep saying the most exciting part of that day was how excited my teammates were. I think they understand that they are part of that little step — or to me a big step — that I made,” Swirbul recently told The Aspen Times. “They see that, and they celebrate that, and that’s special to have the team supporting me and be that happy for me. Meanwhile, Sophie Caldwell is third on the day, and she gets a normal congratulations.”

The day was Dec. 14 at a World Cup sprint in Davos, Switzerland. Swirbul, a 2016 Basalt High School graduate and former Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club athlete, was getting a rare and surprising World Cup start in only her second season with the U.S. ski team. More of a distance athlete, by no means did Swirbul believe her first World Cup points would come in a sprint.

Then again, she brought extra clothes with her that day just in case she needed them, should she get past the qualifying rounds.

“There is definitely something to be said about that,” Swirbul pondered. “I kind of threw in a change of clothes as an afterthought in case I made it. So I don’t know if I fully believed I was going to pull that off. Part of me did, obviously, because I brought a change of clothes in the end and I ended up needing them to go onto the heats.”

Swirbul started four World Cup races last winter, her first on that stage. Her best finish was 41st, the spot she finished in three of her four races. She opened the 2019-20 season on the World Cup, getting three starts in Ruka, Finland, with underwhelming results. She had been slated to compete in Lillehammer, Norway, a week later, but fell ill and had to sit out.

“The period started off a little rough for me,” Swirbul said. “I definitely got served a big slice of humble pie, and that was what I expected, so it wasn’t a huge defeated feeling.”

Then came Davos. She hadn’t planned on starting that Dec. 14 sprint, but when a few of her teammates fell ill and couldn’t compete, a spot opened and she decided to give it a go. Somehow, on a whim, she finished 30th, which is the cutoff for scoring World Cup points. Her first World Cup point was exactly that, a single point in a sprint race she wasn’t even suppose to be in.

The next day, she finished 21st in a 10-kilometer freestyle for the first distance points of her World Cup career.

“That was really, really exciting,” Swirbul said. “I was really glad I was able to make that jump and prove to myself that I can do it again after a little bit of tough World Cup races in the past I’ve had. It’s no joke over there. If you are off in one race, if you are not 100% feeling it, then you are going to be way off the back.”

Following Davos, Swirbul returned home for a while over the holidays before she competed in the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships at the Michigan Tech Nordic Skiing Center in Houghton, Michigan. Fresh off the World Cup starts, Swirbul was simply dominant in Michigan, taking home national championships in the freestyle sprint, classic sprint and 20-kilometer classic. She was fourth in the 10k freestyle.

A nice bonus, her attention will certainly be back on the international stage the remainder of this winter. She hopes for more World Cup starts, but said her main races will be at the U23 world championships held Feb. 28 to March 8 in Oberwiesenthal, Germany.

“I’m going to try and not let it add extra pressure to me for anything. Belief is different than pressure,” Swirbul said of having World Cup points on her resume now. “For me I think it took believing in myself and focusing on what I do well and my strengths instead of trying to ski like someone else. I think it’s easiest to get caught up in trying to do what other people do really well and kind of lose what you can do well yourself.”

Like the rest of her teammates, the 21-year-old Swirbul aspires to make the 2022 Winter Olympics roster. And despite being one of the most inexperienced members of the current U.S. squad, she looks to be in a good position to make that happen. Scoring her first World Cup points have certainly helped her standing, all part of the journey she’s had in finding her role on the national team.

“If anything they have made me feel like an insider. Everyone on the team has included me and brought me and helped build me up,” Swirbul said. “It feels less weird to have dinner with all these incredible Olympians and athletes, but it’s also important for me to remember and take a step back sometimes. I’m so lucky to be able to be part of it in whatever way I can. I think I’m finding my place more in the group, and they’ve been amazing.”

acolbert@aspentimes.com

Photo Essay: Appreciating the local ski mountain

Sunlight rental shop tech Brett Marshall fits a pair of bindings for Jason Ainsworth and his son Liam, 9, of Castle Rock as riders and skiers take advantage of the $20 lift tickets last Friday. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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The lodge begins to fill up as people enjoy the view as lunch nears last Friday at Sunlight Mountain. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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Riders enjoy the ideal conditions as they make their way down Loop near the Tercero lift. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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A skier makes some turns in the fresh powder, making his way down Primo last Friday. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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Skiers and riders watch others make their way down Primo as they enjoy the short ride up Tercero last Friday. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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A snowboarder crashes into the soft snow after trying a backflip off a jump near Sun King. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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A snowboarders carves some lines in the fresh powder near the top of the Segundo lift last Friday. (Kyle Mills / Post Independent)
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On the Fly column: Next gen fly fishing

When it comes to the next generation of fly fishers, the Roaring Fork Valley is uniquely situated. There are four major rivers, a bunch of lakes and ponds, and plenty of anglers and guides who love to share their knowledge with young people. Nothing compares to seeing a child start to catch fish, understand the hatch, and tying the proper fly on by themselves. Young people often don’t bring their problems and egos to the river like their grown-up counterparts, and the joy they bring is quite contagious. Most kids don’t have bad fly fishing habits to break, so setting them on the right path is usually a cinch.

We sometimes wonder where the next Joan Wulff, Lefty Kreh or Tim Heng is going to spring up from, and I’m willing to bet she or he is right under our collective noses. These kids (and us older kids, too) have a lifetime’s worth of waters to explore in one of the most beautiful places in the country. How lucky is that? Most young people who are interested in this sport are just dying to learn, they just need a good neighbor, parent or any fishy and responsible adult to show them how we do what we do.

If you know a local youngster interested in fly fishing, there is a youth fly tying division in the fifth annual Iron Fly Competition at 4 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Tipsy Trout in Basalt. You can register your little fly tyer at www.roaringfork.org/events and the big kids start tying around 6 pm. You can also take your aspiring angler to your local fly shop — let them ask some questions, make a new friend, get some advice, rummage through the fly bins, or perhaps cast a rod. Shop gurus love meeting and encouraging the “next gen,” and hopefully we can all foster the next great ambassador of our sport together!

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 taylorcreek.com.

Outdoor Careers Internship open to Coal Ridge and Rifle High School students

From organic farming to trail building, the Outdoor Careers Internship will give local high school students the opportunity to get their hands dirty this spring.

Provided by Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers with funding from Great Outdoors Colorado and Garfield County Outdoors, the internship – now in its second year – will run for 10 weeks.

“We have structured this very intentionally where we are offering the internship on the day when students are not in session,” Ben Sherman, Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers education director, said.

Between Feb. 21 and May 8, interns will spend their Fridays working with, and learning alongside members of the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, Fat City Farmers and Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers.

For over 50 years, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies has provided environmental education to the region. Additionally, since 2006, Fat City Farmers has taught food education in the Roaring Fork Valley by fostering gardens and greenhouses at area schools.

“With just three organizations we thought we were covering a great breadth of interest that a lot our students have had in the past,” Sherman said.

The third organization – Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteers – like the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and Fat City Farmers also promotes stewardship of public lands through trail and other restoration projects.

“Students really get a taste of what some of these outdoor focused careers might be like,” Sherman said.

Each semester, the Outdoor Careers Internship accepts students from different area schools.

Only Coal Ridge and Rifle High School students between the ages of 15 and 19 may apply for this spring’s Outdoor Careers Internship.

“We do have many more applications than we have spots,” Sherman said. “The reason that we have kept it so small is we really want to have a focus on all of those students that are accepted.”

For application details, email Ben Sherman at bsherman@rfov.org

The Outdoor Careers Internship pays $11.10 an hour and interested students have until Jan. 22 to complete their application for consideration.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Skier Appreciation Day on Friday benefits area United Way fundraising campaign

A big discount on a lift ticket at Sunlight Mountain Resort on Friday will provide a huge boost for the area United Way campaign to provide people power for local nonprofit service organizations.

The 35th Skier Appreciation Day on Jan. 10 offers $20 tickets for anyone who wants to check out Sunlight for the day, with proceeds benefitting United Way Battlement to the Bells. 

UWBB is in the midst of its $50,000 fundraising campaign to support its partnership with the Americorps VISTA Program.

Skier Appreciation Day typically generates about half of the fundraising goal, according to Traci Gurley-Tomashosky, executive director for the organization. The other sizable portion comes from employee payroll deductions through the local United Way’s corporate sponsors.

The VISTA Program is United Way’s primary contribution to local nonprofits, where full-time Americorps volunteers are matched with a human service organization that is in need of staffing assistance.

“It has equated to a lot more value to our nonprofits than a small grant we would otherwise be able to provide,” Gurley-Tomashosky said.

Since its implementation in 2017, the program has also leveraged more than $265,000 in grants and in-kind donations to the participating agencies, she said.

United Way has been active in Garfield County since 1982, and in 2015 the organization expanded to cover the broader region from Parachute to Aspen.

“For a long time we were able to give larger grants, but the volunteer program has really changed how much we are able to assist these organizations,” Gurley-Thamshosky said.

More information about the local Americorps VISTA program can be found at the UWBB website (unitedwaybb.org).

This year’s Skier Appreciation Day includes a beach/luau themed costume contest at 3 p.m. Friday, a children’s doughnut-eating contest sponsored by Sweet Coloradough, a hula hoop/limbo contest, and a 4 p.m. prize drawing.

For more information about the day’s events, visit Sunlight Mountain’s Facebook event page.

jstroud@postindependent.com