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Chaffee County Public Health issued a public health order April 23 that director Andrea Carlstrom said would be amended in the future to respond to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Work on the trail to the summit of Mount Columbia, long considered one of the more miserable climbs in Colorado’s repertoire of fourteeners, is nearly complete after five seasons of work, but for the time being the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative will be moving on to other projects.

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The town’s first Keep Bewnie Buena event, an expansion of the long-standing spring River Park Cleanup, drew about 150 people of all ages to pick up surface trash not just near the river, but throughout the town.

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The Pike and San Isabel National Forests Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands Salida Ranger District is extending the dates for seasonal road closures in the Four Mile Travel Management Area which will now be in effect from Dec. 1-April 30 each year.

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After extending its 2020-21 season by a week, Monarch Mountain closed its season Sunday, setting a record for visitor numbers despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Randy Stroud, Monarch general manager, said in setting its season record, it broke the 200,000 mark for the first time.

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GARNA executive director Dominique Naccarato will host an hour-long Zoom lecture from 7-8 p.m., April 15 about birding, an exciting way you can interact with nature anytime and anywhere.

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The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association and Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative lead forester Andy Lerch will lead an interpretive hike through areas just above Monarch Park, where ARWC and the US Forest Service have worked to mitigate fire danger.

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Competitors have followed the path of spring runoff since 1999, skiing from the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass for 6 miles, then mountain biking in the shadow of Mount Shavano for a 17 mile ride to the banks of the Arkansas River where whitewater kayaks take paddlers into downtown Salida.

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The Arkansas River Basin has the best water supply outlook in the state with a streamflow volume forecast of 86 percent of average following recent storms that brought heavy snow accumulations to the eastern slope.

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It’s spring cleaning time and the Buena Vista Parks and Recreation department is celebrating with a neighborhood clean-up day Sunday, April 25.

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Mountainfilm on Tour brings a selection of culturally rich, adventure-packed, and incredibly inspiring documentary films curated from the Mountainfilm festival in Telluride.

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Snow in the mountains, sun in the valley and spring break have combined to inspire legions of people to visit Buena Vista recently. And while business owners and their staff members rejoice as visitor dollars help make up for a difficult year, the surge in tourism also brings challenges for the town’s trail network.

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One, near the Tunnels north of Buena Vista has been vandalized. Fourmile volunteer Alan Robinson discovered the damage to the sign, as well as damage to the newly built Bureau of Land Management restrooms at the CR375 parking area.

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In 2020, the Friends of Fourmile organization of the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association received a grant from the Chaffee Common Ground Fund with an ambitious objective attached.

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The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association is seeking the next generation of leadership for its board of directors.

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Signs officially marking the path of the Stage and Rail Trail, a planned 70-mile cycling trail that closely follows the rail line of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad between Salida and Leadville, were recently erected along CR 371, a big step in a very gradual process to create a long-distance cycling trail in Chaffee and Lake counties.

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The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association is seeking the next generation of leadership for its board of directors.

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Signs officially marking the path of the Stage and Rail Trail, a planned 70-mile cycling trail that closely follows the rail line of the Denver & Rio Grande railroad between Salida and Leadville, were recently erected along CR 371, a big step in a very gradual process to create a long-distance cycling trail in Chaffee and Lake counties.

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While CKS Paddlefest “as it has happened in the past” will not be taking place this Memorial Day weekend, some of the land-based competitions that make up the riversports celebration are moving ahead.

Hunters hoping to draw a big-game license in Colorado in 2021 are urged to review the changes in license requirements and fees prior to the March 1 opening of the application period (March 1 – April 6 at 8 p.m. MT). For a good overview of what’s in store, watch CPW’s “What’s New” video for the 2021 big-game seasons.

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After a bit of a slow start to the ski season at Monarch Mountain, snow storms have been steadily hitting the ski area during the last month.

The mountain has received 25 inches of snow in the last seven days as of Thursday and received a measurable amount of snow in 12 of the first 18 days of February, said Scott Pressly, Monarch’s vice president of mountain operations.

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February is only halfway over, but it’s already been one of the deadliest months for avalanches in the history of Colorado. Six people have died in avalanches already this month, including two more during the weekend, bringing the number of fatalities to 10 this season.

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In December, Chuck and Lindy Chicowitz sold the whitewater rafting outfitter they started on the Upper Arkansas River in 1983. Noah’s Ark will now have two longtime employees at the helm.

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As temperatures dipped rapidly Saturday evening, Chaffee County Search & Rescue-North and a Chaffee County Sheriff’s deputy were called to Browns Canyon National Monument to escort a group of hikers back to the trailhead.

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Are you curious about our local wildlife? Join the Greater Arkansas River Nature Association (GARNA) for a virtual lecture, “A Wildlife Wander”, presented by Ryan Kempfer and Chris Kassar of Elk Raven Photography.

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After 3 consecutive years of negative testing, Colorado Parks and Wildlife has removed Green Mountain Reservoir in Summit County from the positive waters list for quagga mussels, a prohibited aquatic nuisance species.

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Monarch Mountain Ski Area remains open despite its inclusion on Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment’s list of outbreak sites across the state.

The inclusion on the list was made Jan. 14. Since that time several employees of the winter sports area have tested positive for the virus although Monarch’s general manager, Randy Stroud, issued a press release Thursday calling the inclusion “somewhat misleading.”

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“There’s just exceptionally weak snow around the whole state,” said Ben Pritchett, forecaster with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. “It’s not historically unusual, but it’s different than what we’ve had the last few years.”

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While many unknowns still linger about the lease of the Tennessee Pass rail line announced on New Years’ Eve, rafting outfitters are concerned about the return of train service on the tracks along the Arkansas River, which have been unused since 1997.

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With 17 inches of new snow in the last week, skiers and riders got some of their first powder days at Monarch this season while the mountain also opened more trails and more lifts.

Local, regional and state organizations are nearly finished with the first phase of a conservation plan along the Arkansas River meant to promote public access and preserve land in southern Lake County.

The driving mission behind decades of work by Trout Unlimited is to conserve, protect and restore America’s cold-water fisheries and their watersheds.

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The town of Buena Vista Parks and Recreation Department released new guidelines Thursday, canceling all ongoing indoor sports programming scheduled through December, following Colorado Public Health’s decision to move the county to orange on the COVID-19 severity dial.

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Chaffee County Search & Rescue–North rescued three exhausted hikers on Mount Belford Sunday evening.

Search and Rescue was paged out to the fourteener at about 5 p.m., Nov. 29. According to an update on CCSAR-N’s Facebook page, the hikers were without headlamps for nighttime hiking or adequate winter gear.

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Monarch Mountain will open for the season today, officials announced Thursday.

“With the most recent snowfall to hit the central mountains, Monarch Mountain will be opening for the season on Friday, Nov. 27,” the ski area wrote in an email.

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Monarch Mountain is staffed, trained and has its building ready for the ski season.

Now it just needs more snow.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife recently signed a partnership agreement with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics to help educate people on how to recreate responsibly to conserve Colorado’s natural resources.

CPW is the first state agency in the U.S. that oversees parks, fish and wildlife to partner with Leave No Trace and advocate for both public land and wildlife conservation.

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As Colorado Parks and Wildlife opens Fishers Peak State Park for a limited “sneak peek” recreation opportunity, the agency continues to look ahead for future state park opportunities. Demand for accessible outdoor spaces remains high in the state, and CPW invites Coloradans to share their ideas for properties or partnerships that may become the next Colorado state park.

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With county sales tax revenues posting stronger collections than expected during the pandemic, the Chaffee Common Ground Citizens Advisory Committee will consider whether to recommend additional funding for strengthening forest health and reducing wildfire danger.

The new, motorized singletrack trail in the Four Mile Travel Management Area, DudBobs, is open, but it took a team effort during the last several years to complete.

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Chaffee County Search & Rescue–North is seeking to recruit new volunteers as the busy summer season closes.

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The Bureau of Land Management has enacted Stage 2 Fire Restrictions for lands throughout Southern Colorado, including those in Chaffee County.

The announcement came on a windswept fall afternoon one day after the Cameron Peak Fire north of Rocky Mountain National Park grew to become the largest wildfire in state history, breaking a record that had been set just 48 days prior when the Pine Gulch Fire north of Grand Junction grew larger than the 2002 Hayman Fire.

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Members of the Central Colorado Unmanned Aerial Systems Club and the Buena Vista Recreation Department broke ground Oct. 8 for the Buena Vista Drone Flying Park, which, when complete, will offer multiple ways for drone pilots to hone their flying skills.

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OpenSnow.com’s Joel Gratz speaks in Salida, says ‘odds are stacked in favor’ of an average winter

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When the Leadville 100 was cancelled this year due to COVID-19, 22-year-old Annie Hughes, a Buena Vista High School graduate who lives in Leadville and had been training for the ultramarathon, did the sensible thing and decided that she would run a course that was even longer and higher.

Buena Vista’s drone flying park on a portion of the Rodeo Grounds will take off this week with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday morning.

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The Greater Arkansas River Nature Association kicked off its annual fundraiser on Saturday, National Public Lands Day, honoring some of it’s volunteers while raising money to support its mission. The fundraiser, along with the organization’s Environmental Hero Awards, are being held online this year.

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Season pass holders will be able to ski any day they want to this season at Monarch, but people buying single-day lift tickets will need to plan ahead.

Monarch Mountain’s 2020-2021 operating plan includes wearing masks on chairlifts, limited capacity indoors and a push to get people to purchase lift tickets ahead of time, among other changes to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Season pass holders will be able to ski any day they want to this season at Monarch, but people buying single-day lift tickets will need to plan ahead.

Monarch Mountain’s 2020-2021 operating plan includes wearing masks on chairlifts, limited capacity indoors and a push to get people to purchase lift tickets ahead of time, among other changes to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be conducting mandatory chronic wasting disease testing during the 2020 hunting season in specific Game Management Units as part of efforts to control the spread with its Colorado Chronic Wasting Disease Response Plan.

Heavy July rains washed out parts of the Rainbow Trail, which was then closed to wheeled traffic.

The U.S. Forest Service, San Isabel National Forest, Salida Ranger District, announced Thursday it has reopened a section between roads 101 (Bear Creek) and 108 (Methodist Mountain) to all uses.