| AspenTimes.com

Private security to continue patrolling through mid-October in downtown Glenwood Springs

Pleased with the effect Citadel Security’s presence has had in downtown Glenwood Springs, the city will continue paying for private security at least through mid-October.

According to City Manager Debra Figueroa, staff received direction from city council to continue utilizing Citadel, but with adjusted hours and on an additional day.

Previously Citadel patrolled downtown, Thursday through Saturday from noon until 10 p.m.

Moving forward, Citadel employees will patrol downtown Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

“The agreement with Citadel is $27 per hour per employee,” Figueroa said of the security officers, which patrol exclusively downtown.

No more than two Citadel security guards patrol at once.

“They are not police officers, they are security guards. But, anyone in uniform with a badge is a deterrent to some of the issues we have had down there. It has been helpful,” said Councilor Tony Hershey. “I think the city has really worked hard to address these issues and I appreciate what staff has done.”

According to city officials, previous issues included: camping, sleeping, exchanging drugs, public intoxication, open alcohol containers, smoking and a considerable amount of litter being deposited mainly under the Grand Avenue Bridge and surrounding areas.

“The addition of private security has had positive results beyond our expectations,” said Councilor Steve Davis. “Just having uniformed personnel on site has made locals and tourists more comfortable and the undesirable elements less comfortable.”

Lt. John Hassell with the Glenwood Springs Police Department agreed that Citadel’s uniform presence alone was having a positive influence in deterring unwanted, illegal activity.

“Their authority is such that they will be the eyes and ears to any criminal activity and will contact Glenwood Police officers to enforce,” stated Hassell. “They have been there to advise citizens and tourists of the smoking restrictions and thus far have had very good compliance.”

The city’s contract with Citadel Security will run through the second week of October.

“As we go forward I believe the Glenwood Springs Police has committed to forming a ranger element to the department to bring this level of patrol in house,” added Davis. “These are uniformed but not weapon carrying personnel.

mabennett@postindependent.com

Garfield County issues rabies alert as seasonal bat activity increases

A recent increase in bat activity has prompted Garfield County Public Health officials to issue a rabies advisory should people come in contact with the animals.

There have not been any human cases of rabies in the county or elsewhere in Colorado this year, but the county did have one bat test positive for rabies, according to Carrie Godes, public health specialist for the county.

“Several individuals have received post-exposure treatment, because the bat that they were exposed to was not caught or was untestable,” she said. “If we cannot confirm whether an animal has rabies, we always treat the individual.”

During the warmer months, bats can fly into homes if doors or windows are left open, especially at night, increasing the risk of human contact with the animals.

In the winter, bats will typically hibernate in caves, but can sometimes find refuge in attics.

“We want to encourage people not to touch wildlife,” Danielle Dudley, a nurse with Garfield County Public Health, said in a recent press release issued by the county.

“In our region, contact with infected bats is the primary source of rabies,” she said. “If someone suspects they have been bitten and can safely and properly contain the animal, we can test it for rabies.”

The release goes on to explain that rabies is a fatal, but preventable viral disease. It can spread to people and pets if they are bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.

Statewide, 120 animals — including bats, skunks, raccoons, dogs, cats and a cow — have tested positive for the disease this year.

Public health officials advise that if a person is scratched or bitten by an animal, to wash the wound immediately with soap and water.

“In many cases, bat bites may not be visible,” according to the release. “If you are unsure if you have been bitten, talk to your health care provider about whether you need post-exposure prophylaxis.”

Rabies in people is 100 percent preventable if treated promptly, according to the release.

Outside the United States, dogs are the most common source of rabies.

“When we talk to people traveling to other countries, we discuss the potential risk of rabies from dog bites,” Dudley said. “In the United States, it is highly recommended that all dogs, cats and ferrets stay up-to-date on their rabies vaccination, even when they are considered indoor pets.”

To avoid rabies:

  • Don’t touch or feed wild or stray animals, and don’t leave pet food outdoors. If you see a sick or orphaned animal, do not touch it; instead contact the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office Animal Control at 970-945-0453, or Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) at 970-947-2920.
  • For questions related to potential rabies exposure or rabies testing, contact Garfield County Public Health in Rifle at 970-625-5200, or Glenwood Springs at 970-945-6614.
  • Vaccinate your pets. Use a licensed veterinarian, and make sure you keep up with pets’ booster shots. Unvaccinated pets exposed to rabid wildlife must be placed in quarantine for up to 120 days or be euthanized. This can be avoided if the animal has been vaccinated.
  • Keep cats and other pets inside at night. Keep dogs within your sight (in a fenced yard or on leash) during the day while outside.
  • Vaccinate pastured animals annually. Have a licensed veterinarian administer an approved large-animal rabies vaccine. 
  • Bat-proof your home. Information is available at cdc.gov/rabies/bats/management.

Recognizing sick wildlife:

  • Many healthy wild animals are normally afraid of humans; sick animals often do not run away when spotted by people.
  • Wildlife with rabies may act aggressively, or will approach people or pets, and may act in a violent manner.
  • Some rabid animals are overly quiet and passive, and want to hide. Don’t bother them.
  • Rabid wildlife might have trouble walking, flying, eating or drinking.

For additional rabies information, contact Garfield County Public Health at 970-625-5200 or 970-945-6614.

Leadville wildlife refuge will allow hunting and fishing for the first time

BOISE, Idaho — The Trump administration said Tuesday that it is expanding hunting and fishing in 77 national wildlife refuges, including one in Colorado, in a move that critics contend is deferring management to states and could harm wildlife.

The Interior Department’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said hunters and anglers can shoot and cast their rods on 2,200 square miles of federally protected land in 37 states, much of which is considered critical habitat for waterfowl and other birds to rest and refuel during their migration.

Among the areas opening to hunting and fishing for the first time are the 4 ½ square miles at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery in central Colorado.

“This is the largest single effort to expand hunting and fishing access in recent history,” Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said last month before the changes were posted Tuesday in the Federal Register.

It’s the latest effort by the Trump administration to open public lands to recreation and industry, including oil and gas drilling, which critics say comes at the expense of the environment and wildlife.

President Donald Trump also has scaled back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, a move that opened the lands that were cut to potential drilling and mining. New plans for the monuments allow more grazing and recreation.

Hunting and fishing will be allowed at seven national wildlife refuges for the first time and expanded at 70 others. The agency, which also now permits it at 15 national fish hatcheries, said some 5,000 regulations have been eliminated or simplified to match state rules.

Conservationists said the changes went into effect without adequate environmental review.

“While the Trump policy retains federal ownership, it basically eviscerates federal management,” said Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility. “The states end up managing federal land with federal dollars but following state laws. That’s a sea change from federal management for conservation and biodiversity rather than promoting hunting.”

One of the big concerns is that state and federal officials don’t appear to have a monitoring system to see what effect the changes might have, not only on game species but those that aren’t hunted, Ruch said.

Hunting groups generally supported the changes.

Chief Executive Officer Adam Putnam of Ducks Unlimited, a group that works to conserve waterfowl habitat, said the changes wouldn’t harm wildlife populations. He said simplifying regulations by adopting state rules would draw more people outdoors.

“It’s going to encourage new hunters and anglers to enter the sport and fall in love with the outdoors and become lifelong conservationists,” he said.

Minidoka National Wildlife Refuge in southern Idaho faces two significant changes: opening a season for hunting elk with bows and arrows and extending boating season by a month.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials, like several other state wildlife agencies, said the federal changes fell short of what they wanted. The U.S. agency said in the newly released rule that it looked forward to working with states on future changes for the start of the 2020 fall hunting season.

Idaho wildlife officials didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment from The Associated Press.
President Theodore Roosevelt founded the National Wildlife Refuge system in 1903, signing an executive order to establish the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge in Florida to protect several types of birds from ornamental plume hunters. There are now more than 550 national wildlife refuges.

Lost sheep rescued after spending 3 days on a porch in Vail

A domestic sheep lost its herd but is safe after spending three days on the porch of a Vail home, thanks to the property manager and her neighbors with May Builders.

“I showed up to work today thinking I was doing plumbing,” said Gabriel Douglass, who helped remove the stranded sheep with Ryan May, owner of May Builders.

Mariella Moyer, the property manager for the new home on Davos Trail road in Vail, said the female sheep was stuck on the porch for three days and would see its reflection in the home’s windows thinking it was with its herd. Moyer, along with other neighbors, notified authorities about the sheep, but it was ultimately up to Moyer to deal with the sheep.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” she said after the two- to three-minute rescue. “I’ve seen some crazy things, but I’ve never had to deal with a lost sheep.”

Moyer lives on a farm, and May lives nearby and already owns a pet sheep. If the sheep’s owner doesn’t come forward, then the sheep will be in safe hands. Moyer is having the sheep looked at by a vet and taking care of it for the time being.

“If she doesn’t get claimed, she has a great home,” she said.

May and Douglass left a construction site Tuesday morning to join Moyer in Vail. The sheep was stuck in a corner of the porch, scared to come out.

“It probably got away from all those sheep that graze on Piney would be my guess,” May said. “I just don’t want her to starve or get hurt.”

Neighbor Pete Thompson was there Tuesday morning watching from the street.

“They were so gentle in the way they rescued it,” he said. “It was wonderful.”

As May and Douglass pulled into Home Depot in Avon on their way back to the construction site Tuesday, they saw two more sheep wandering near Interstate 70.

“Are you kidding me? Two more sheep?” he said while chasing them around Avon. Those two sheep were last seen heading north of Interstate 70.

Hunt Fire near Meeker continues to grow; now over 2,500 acres

MEEKER — Northwest Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit announced Monday that personnel continue to manage the Hunt Fire on Bureau of Land Management land about 26 miles southwest of Meeker in Rio Blanco County, at an estimated 2,578 acres.

Lightning ignited the fire on Thursday, Sept. 5. It is remotely located, burning in thick brush on ridges and valleys north of the Roan Plateau.

Firefighters continue to focus on protecting values at risk, including several isolated historic cabins and dispersed oil and gas facilities, a Monday fire unit news release stated. “Fire managers’ objective is to keep the fire north of the Rio Blanco/Garfield County line, south of an oil pipeline that is located north of the fire, east of Hunter Creek and west of West Willow Creek.”

Sally Lou Johnson, a local adjacent landowner whose BLM grazing allotment is within the burned area, appreciates the fire’s benefits.

“The brush and trees in that area are so overgrown, it’s difficult to get animals in and out, and the junipers are so thick that hardly any grass grows under them,” Johnson said in the release. “The firefighters have been terrific. They saved every one of the livestock troughs along Big Jimmy Ridge.”

The release added that the “patchy mosaic burn” pattern will increase the diversity of ecosystems on the landscape.

“A more diverse landscape can support a wider variety of wildlife species. Big game and livestock will more easily be able to move through the area, and new vegetative growth will provide for greater and improved forage,” the release said.

An area closure is in effect to provide for firefighter and public safety in the area around the wildfire. The area closure includes public lands and routes within an area north of Rio Blanco/Garfield County line, east of Hunter Creek Road, west of West Willow Creek Road, and extending north to County Road 5. This includes Big Jimmy Gulch.

Health insurance premiums in Summit County to go down 41%

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis and other local and state dignitaries gathered Monday in Keystone to celebrate the official launch of Summit County’s Peak Health Alliance, the state’s first health care purchasing collaborative.

Polis announced the collaborative, in combination with the state’s recently passed reinsurance program, will reduce individual plan prices in Summit County next year by an average of 41.5% compared with 2019 prices.

Eighteen months of work came to fruition at the announcement ceremony, which took place at the Keystone Lodge & Spa.

Peak Health executive director Tamara Drangstveit joined Polis, Rep. Julie McCluskie (D-Dillon), state insurance commissioner Michael Conway, Centura Health representative Mark Carley, and The Summit Foundation board members Mark Spiers and Cindy Bargell on the stage to celebrate the relief in premiums for consumers who pay among the highest health care costs in the nation.

“A typical family of four in Summit County buying insurance on the marketplace will save $14,000 next year,” Polis said after unveiling the price reductions. “Those who have been struggling will have that much more to inject into the local economy and to save for college and retirement. It is absolutely transformative and will help many people live, work and thrive in Summit.”

Polis presented a chart showing examples of where Summit residents would see their cost reductions in 2020 compared with 2019.

The Peak Health gold plan prescription drug copay will go down nearly 47%, while the silver plan prescription copay will be reduced by as much as 47%. The bronze plan costs will drop as much as 41%, and the catastrophic plan will see a more than 45% reduction in premiums.

Started as a special initiative of The Summit Foundation, which provided the initial $150,000 of seed money to get the initiative on the launchpad, Peak Health was created as a response to skyrocketing insurance premium costs in the High Country, which nearly doubled for individual buyers from 2015 to 2019.

“The purpose of The Summit Foundation is to help working families,” Spiers said. “The cost of health care was heavily impacting individuals in the county, and so the foundation unanimously approved funding for the initial study costs.”

Spiers credited Conway, the state insurance commissioner, for his guidance and help in creating the alliance.

“The 41.5% cost reduction is nothing short of miraculous,” Conway said. “I know we often talk about how the worst thing to hear is, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ But we are here to help. We are going to do really amazing things. This is why we do this, days like this, where I get to tell a family of four that they will save $14,000.”

Polis credited McCluskie for being a driving force behind the alliance as well as the state’s reinsurance program, which itself will bring premiums down statewide by 18.2%.

“After carrying the legislation in the house that helped make this possible, I watched people in this community work so hard to help bring down the cost of health care for our working families,” McCluskie said. “To have it become real today is probably one of the best moments I’ve had as a legislator.”

While taking her turn at the podium, Drangstveit choked up as she gave an example of the nightmare she and others in the alliance sought to prevent.

Drangstveit explained that, after having twins born prematurely 41/2 years ago, she was able to get the care they needed and was relatively financially unscathed because she had insurance. But she recalled the story of a mother of twins, also born prematurely, who did not have insurance, was unable to buy a home, lost her job, was unable to afford early child care for her babies and is still paying for their therapy with credit cards.

“I’m genuine when I say that I know how much pain this has been causing our community,” Drangstveit said, crediting partners including The Summit Foundation, St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, Bright Health, Rocky Mountain Health Plans and local governments and businesses for coming to the table to make Peak Health a reality.

“The fact that we’ll have this much relief this year, it means a lot to me, personally. It means a lot to all of the people who partnered with us to make this happen, but mostly, it’s all about all those people I heard who have been struggling,” Drangstveit said.

Polis lauded Peak Health Alliance as an example for the state, with nearby mountain communities poised to create their own collaboratives with Peak Health as the organization to model. He said it was an example of the Colorado can-do, problem-solving attitude that gets people working together, tackling problems bigger than any individual could solve.

“Peak is a Colorado-born success story about our frontier spirit, one that we want to replicate across state,” he said.

Hunt Fire southwest of Meeker has burned nearly 2,000 acres since Thursday

Firefighters from the Northwest Colorado Interagency Fire Management Unit continue to manage the 1,874-acre Hunt Fire on Bureau of Land Management land about 26 miles southwest of Meeker in Rio Blanco County, according to an update Saturday afternoon.

The Hunt Fire was started Thursday night by a lightning strike on BLM-managed lands, which includes Hunter Creek, Willow Creek, and Big Jimmy Gulch, according to a news release from the BLM.

The White River Field Office of the Bureau of Land Management has implemented an area closure to provide for firefighter and public safety in the area around the wildfire.

The area closure includes public lands and routes within an area north of Rio Blanco County line, east of Hunter Creek Road, west of Willow Creek Road, and extending north to County Road 5. This includes Big Jimmy Gulch.

Two heavy helicopters are working the fire, along with two hand crews and several engines from BLM and local cooperators. 

For the latest information about the Hunt Fire, visit the Rio Blanco County Sheriff’s Facebook Page, @RioBlancoCountySheriffsOffice.

“Aggressive” bear euthanized after attacking Winter Park Pub employee

A Winter Park Pub employee got quite the scare from a bear hiding inside a dumpster last week.

Around midnight Aug. 29, the worker took out some trash and didn’t notice anything strange, as the dumpster lids were closed, Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officer Mike Porras shared.

When the employee opened the dumpster though, a bear inside of it swatted the employee’s head. The employee sustained a scratch on the top of his head, but was wearing a hat that likely helped protect him from more serious injuries, Porras said.

“Fortunately, the individual was not more injured because there was a significant potential,” Porras said.

CPW was informed of the incident on Aug. 30 and sent officers to location to scout for the bear. Porras said the bear had been seen numerous times in that area, but no one had ever called CPW to report it.

“It’s very typical for bears that have found an easy source of food in dumpsters and trash within the community, they’re going to come back,” Porras said. “By not calling CPW, it’s an irresponsible decision that puts people at risk.”

Ultimately, officers put the bear down because it attacked a human, but also because it was “one of the most aggressive, if not the most aggressive, bears (officers) have ever seen in that area.”

Porras estimates the black bear weighed around 400 pounds, a sign that he frequented that dumpster or others for food.

Though many people avoid calling CPW when they see a bear by a dumpster or residential area because of the misconception that the “bear is just being a bear,” allowing bear-human interactions is irresponsible, Porras said.

So far this year, CPW has received over 3,800 bear incident reports since April 1, most of them involving bears trying to find food.

“If people call us right away, there’s a good chance we can get that bear out of town and keep it away from people and there’s a good chance that bear will not return,” he said. “But if people tolerate a bear in a dumpster in trash in town is not a good situation or an acceptable situation.”

CPW is preparing for bear incidents to pick up as they begin to prepare for hibernation, spending up to 20 hours a day trying to eat 20,000 calories or more. Porras encouraged people to educate themselves on the Bear Aware responsibilities listed on CPW’s website to help prevent bear-human interactions.

Cheers, prost, salud: Frisco, Breckenridge celebrating fall’s pending arrival

Raise a glass to the change in seasons. For three days, the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge will host street parties in honor of the arrival of fall. Guests can expect lots of live music, food, drinks and fun.

Frisco Fall Fest

Since 2012, the Frisco Fall Fest has been the autumnal activity of choice for locals and visitors in town. The annual event features food and drink, local art, music and rustic furniture.

A major draw is the Flavors of Frisco, a tent set up on Main Street that has 12 Frisco restaurants selling delicious small plates ranging from $2 to $6. Now in its sixth year, restaurants like Ein Prosit will serve sausage and pretzels, Bagalis will roast a whole pig for tacos, and Next Page Books and Nosh will ladle out butternut squash soup and chili from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.

Also Saturday, an art show and family-friendly activities run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Unlike August’s Main Street to the Rockies Art Festival, this show has work from only local artists and is more affordable. As attendees peruse the pieces, they can enjoy music from Timber! from noon to 2 p.m. and Mollie O’Brien & Rich Moore from 3 to 5 p.m.

“It’s much more attainable for the normal person to either start or embellish their art collection,” said Nora Gilbertson, Frisco’s special event manager. “If you kind of have some intimidation around that, this is a great place to come check it out, support a local artist and start your art collection.”

The festival was actually called BeetleFest back in 2008 but changed when the town decided the educational theme of pine beetles wasn’t entirely relevant anymore. It used to feature a 4K race, a lumberjack show, chainsaw raffle and smashing a Volkswagen Beetle with a bat.

What hasn’t changed, however, is benefiting Friends of the Dillon Ranger District via beverage sales and showcasing furniture made from beetle-killed pine. On tap are Germany’s Ayinger, Hofbräu and Weihanstephan beers along Coyote Gold margaritas while Mountain Woodworks, Western Log Creations, Alpine Furniture Co. display their handcrafted creations.

“We just have a different vibe than an Oktoberfest,” Gilbertson said. It’s a little more family-friendly, a little calmer, a little more tranquil, but you can still come out, have a good time, great food and support your local community.”

Though the Flavors of Frisco portion of the festival ends Saturday evening, the fun continues Sunday, with the second and final day of the art show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. If you don’t spend all of your tickets on Saturday, don’t worry: Participating restaurants still will accept them throughout the weekend.

Breckenridge Oktoberfest

If that isn’t enough to sate your appetite for lederhosen, then be sure to make time for the three-day Breckenridge Oktoberfest from Friday to Sunday. The 25th annual festival stretches from Lincoln Avenue south to Jefferson Avenue, filling the streets with food, music, games and other revelry.

The fun begins at 2 p.m. Friday with a ceremonial keg tapping at Blue River Plaza. The party continues until 6, with performances by Those Austrian Guys from 2 to 5 at the plaza’s north stage and Pine Beatles from 2 to 5 on the south stage near Ollie’s Pub & Grub. Those Austrian Guys return to the stage at 11 a.m. Saturday as the Polkanauts perform at 2 p.m. on the south stage. The music will continue at 11 a.m. Sunday with the Summit Concert Band on the north stage and Pokanauts to the south while Those Austrian Guys play at 12:30 p.m. at the north stage.

Friday night at 6:30 is also the time to enjoy the multicourse brewmaster dinner — which sold out in early June — at Sauce on the Maggie. Taking over the roughly 150-seat restaurant, diners will enjoy an antipasto course paired with Paulaner Lager or Leonard Kreusch Sapphire Riesling, a beer cheese soup paired with Paulaner Hefe-Weizen or Leonard Kreusch Sapphire Riesling, pork schnitzel and spaetzle mac and cheese paired with Paulaner Oktoberfest Wiesn or Leonard Kreusch Estate Gewurtztraminer, short ribs and scalloped potatoes paired with Paulaner Salvator or Pflücken Semidry Riesling and, for dessert, apple strudel paired with Paulaner Oktoberfest Märzen or Leonard Kreusch Piesporter Michelsberg Spatlese.

The märzen name comes from “March,” the time when the beer was historically brewed to be ready for quaffing at Oktoberfest. And though the festival name also originates from a month, Oktoberfest is traditionally celebrated mid to late September and lasts until early October.

Those Paulaner beers, poured from an estimated 600 kegs, can be acquired with $6 tokens. One token fills a 16-ounce commemorative stein while two are required to top off the 32-ounce stein.

New this year is the option to pick up a preordered stein in advance. Or on Friday, steins can be picked up starting at 1 p.m. at the corner of Main Street and Adams Avenue while the time is bumped up to 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. After 2 p.m. Sunday, all preordered steins that haven’t been picked up will be sold to the public.

In addition to the earlier pickup time, to cut down on lines at the bar Paulaner also will bring 16-ounce cans of its brews that cost the same as the draft versions. Organizers hope it will increase the festival’s sustainability and waste diversion efforts.

“We’re really excited about that, and we need to be mindful of the impact we’re making, and I think this year we’re actually going to deliver on that,” said Casey Willis, director of events with the Breckenridge Tourism Office.

Naturally, there will be German fare to eat with the German beer. Both local restaurants and vendors will serve food like schnitzel and sausages alongside ones from beyond Colorado’s borders. If someone wishes for a plate of food other than 5th Avenue Grill’s goulash or Andy’s Kitchen spaetzel, they can grab lobster rolls from Giampietro Pasta & Pizzeria and pizza from Windy City Pizza and Pub. There will be 41 food vendors that mainly take cash, with prices ranging from $6 to $12.

“The amount of pretzels we go through, in just that weekend, is over 3,500,” Willis said.

Though leashed dogs are allowed at Frisco’s Fall Fest, pets are not permitted at Breckenridge Oktoberfest due to the food and beverage sales. Kids, however, are more than welcome.

The Riverwalk Center — the location for the annual ski swap benefiting Team Summit happening concurrently — will have snow cones, a bounce house, drum circle, face painters and other activities from local nonprofits hosting yard games.

“You can certainly celebrate Oktoberfest at a young age,” Willis said.

For those who want to work off their calories, there are three sporting event options. The Stephen C. West Ice Area will host its annual Oktoberfest hockey tournament, which has been happening since 2012, throughout the weekend while Saturday will be the day for the 18th annual Oktoberfest 5K. New this year is a tennis tournament occurring at the Breckenridge Tennis Center from Friday through Sunday.

Visit GoBreck.com for a complete festival schedule, to order steins, for information on how to volunteer and other details.

Eastbound I-70 closed Thursday night for fire suppression system test at Eisenhower Tunnel

FRISCO — Motorists heading to the Front Range on Thursday evening should get an early start as Interstate 70 will be closed overnight near Silverthorne.

The Colorado Department of Transportation will close eastbound I-70 ahead of the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel overnight Thursday, Sept. 5, to complete testing of the tunnel’s fixed fire suppression system. The first round of testing on the system was completed in July, and this test will finish the process. According to CDOT, the testing is crucial in ensuring the system is properly working in the event of a fire in the tunnel, and a full closure allows the testing to take place more efficiently.

The closure will begin at Exit 205 at Silverthorne, and eastbound traffic will be detoured over Loveland Pass to the other side of the tunnels. The closure is expected to last from 11 p.m. Thursday to about 6 a.m. Friday. To stay up to date on road closures and conditions at all times, visit COTrip.org. Drivers also can sign up for customized travel alerts via text and email on CDOT’s website.