In Brief: Snowmobile closures in forest; part of Hunter Creek Trail closed; Wilderness Workshop helping defend Biden administration |

In Brief: Snowmobile closures in forest; part of Hunter Creek Trail closed; Wilderness Workshop helping defend Biden administration

Staff Report

Logging closes parts of Fourmile area to snowmobiles

The White River National Forest is enacting several closures to snowmobiles and other vehicles in the Fourmile area for public safety due to logging operations. 

Fourmile Road (FSR 300) will be closed to all vehicles, including snowmobiles, at the gate about a half-mile above the snowmobile parking area. This is right after the road passes through last year’s aspen cutting where skiers typically park to ski Williams Peak. 

“The high amount of snow this year means the plowed road beyond this gate is very narrow,” said Aspen-Sopris District Ranger Kevin Warner. “With up to 20 heavy trucks using the road each weekday, the closure is needed for public safety.” 

In addition, the first two miles of the Sunlight to Powderhorn Trail will be closed because that section crosses areas where logging will occur. 

Snowmobilers can use alternate routes — such as the Fourmile Trail and the Pipeline Trail — to travel around both closures and resume travel on the Fourmile Road/Sunlight-to-Powderhorn Trail.

Two logging projects are underway in the Fourmile area to improve forest health, forest officials said.  

An aspen-regeneration project across four areas totaling 109 acres is occurring east and south of Fourmile Park. Clear-cutting and removing mature aspen stimulates their root system to vigorously regenerate. Felled trees are chipped on site and trucked to the biomass plant in Gypsum.

A spruce- and fir-regeneration project is underway farther up Fourmile Road in the Countyline area. Here half-acre to two-acre patches of spruce and fir are being cut from seven units totaling 823 acres. The logs are being trucked to a mill in Montrose.   

“This work will help ensure the long-term health of forests in this area by creating size and age diversity,” Warner said. “The work will also improve wildlife habitat.”

For information, call the Aspen-Sopris Ranger District, 970-963-2266, or visit

Section of Hunter Creek Trail closed

The Hunter Creek Extension — the section of the Hunter Creek Trail between Red Mountain Road and the lower-most bridge over the creek (at the trailhead off Lone Pine Road) — is closed due to a water main break.

The trail may be damaged and require repairs before it can be re-opened, officials said.

Wilderness Workshop among groups defending postponement of oil and gas leases

Seventeen groups represented by Earthjustice and the Western Environmental Law Center moved to intervene Wednesday to defend the Biden administration’s postponement of several oil and gas lease sales. 

A September ruling in U.S. District Court in Wyoming affirmed the administration’s ability to postpone lease sales, but the state of Wyoming and industry groups are suing in an attempt to rewrite the law to benefit fossil fuel companies.

“For too long, BLM has blindly leased public lands to oil and gas companies without actually understanding the impacts of development,” said Peter Hart, attorney with Wilderness Workshop, based in Carbondale. “Now the agency is working to re-evaluate its oil and gas management and to assess impacts, like those that new development will have on the climate. It just makes sense to pause new leasing until the program is brought into this century, and it is well within the agency’s authority.”

In December, Wyoming and two industry trade groups challenged the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s decision not to hold lease sales during parts of 2021 and 2022. Even though the BLM has numerous lease sales scheduled in 2023 — nearly half a million acres are being considered for leasing — the plaintiffs claim the agency has an “unwritten policy” pausing leasing and want the court to order the Department of the Interior and the BLM to hold lease sales every three months across the West.

The Supreme Court and 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have ruled that the Interior Department and the BLM have broad discretion to determine the timing and scope of lease sales, including not holding them at all.  

Carbondale dog-care expansion approved

Garfield County has approved an application for a land-use change permit that recognizes and allows for the expansion of an existing dog day care and boarding facility adjacent to a longtime veterinary clinic near Carbondale.

Alpine Animal Hospital, located off the Highway 82 frontage road, applied for the large kennel expansion, which required a major impact review by Garfield County Community Development.

Review criteria required that the facility not exceed current noise standards for residential zone districts. The Garfield County Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval to the Board of County commissioners in a public hearing on Dec. 7, with conditions including the creation of a noise-mitigation strategy.

County planning staff recommended that the facility’s capacity be increased to as many as 120 dogs, as long as the hospital maintains its state licensing regulations. 

“We have never received complaints about this property,” said Garfield County Senior Planner Phillip Berry. “It has been running kennel operations for a very long time. … Their mitigation steps include smaller group size, bringing barking dogs inside, and making sure that staff is appropriately trained in dealing with dogs who are barking.”

The property has been the home of a veterinary hospital since the 1960s, and a traffic analysis determined that there is adequate parking on the grounds. One additional Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 parking space is also being added at the hospital to meet a county condition of approval.

Series of leading mystics to speak at Aspen Chapel

The Aspen Chapel is bringing some of the foremost mystics in the country to the Aspen over the spring period under the banner of “Wisdom from the Top of the World,” organizers said.

James Finley, a pupil of Thomas Merton, will be teaching March 4-5 on “Awakening Mystical Awareness.”

Christian Dillo, a zen master from Boulder, will lead participantsMarch 18-19 into the “Zen Mind.”

Bill Redfield will be looking at ways to develop wisdom April 22-23.

Cyprian Consiglio, the prior of the New Camadoli Hermitage in Big Sur, will be using music, meditation, and talks May 13-14 to explore the transformation of consciousness.

For more information, visit

Little Nell earns top rankings

U.S. News & World Report’s Best Hotels rankings have been announced for 2023 with The Little Nell named a top property across several categories for city, state, and country: 

  • #1 in Best Aspen Resorts  
  • #1 in Best Aspen Hotels 
  • #2 in Best Colorado Resorts  
  • #2 in Best Colorado Hotels 
  • #23 in Best USA Resorts  
  • #49 in Best USA Hotels 

U.S. News & World Report said it identifies the best hotels using a comprehensive methodology centered on three components: reputation among professional travel experts, guest reviews, and hotel class ratings. 

The Nell was specifically recognized for its ski-in/ski-out location within walking distance of the town’s main attractions, restaurants, and high-end retail establishments.

“To earn this esteemed status across these various categories is an incredible honor,” said Little Nell General Manager Henning Rahm. “It reflects so much more than the hotel’s ski-in/ski-out setting, luxurious accommodations, and renowned wine and culinary programs. This is a tribute to our entire team at The Little Nell. Each member of our staff takes great pride in caring for our guests, ensuring you feel welcome whether joining us in our dining outlets or staying overnight in a guest room or suite.”