In Brief: Sparky agreement to wildfire pact; West Springs’ clean bill of health; different level dump at Tahoe |

In Brief: Sparky agreement to wildfire pact; West Springs’ clean bill of health; different level dump at Tahoe

Staff Report

Garfield commissioners sparky about wildfire pact

Garfield County is on board with the new multi-agency Roaring fork Wildfire Collaborative — but not without some criticism of state and federal land managers’ approach to forest management.

County commissioners on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding joining 17 other area local governments, fire districts, and state- and federal-land agencies in the formation of the collaborative.

The collaborative is “an informal, unincorporated collaborative organization, in which the members set mutual goals and priorities, utilize existing forest-management tools and legal authorities, and align their decisions on where to make the investments needed to achieve the mission and objectives (of the group),” according to a statement of purpose included in the MOU.

The collaborative includes entities in Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, and Gunnison counties, along with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service offices, the Colorado State Forest Service, and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. 

Garfield County had already signed the MOU in the fall but wanted to make some revisions to go along with its participation in the effort.

“A lot of the emphasis is coming from Pitkin and Eagle counties and (USFS) to do more forest management, which from my perspective is more than just prescribed burns,” Garfield County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said at the Monday commissioners meeting.

Specifically, he said he would like to see equal mention of logging, thinning, and other “more aggressive” forest-management methods alongside the practice of prescribed burns.

“I find it ironic that this group talks about climate change, yet they look at forest management as burning the forest, which has the same effect as if we have a forest fire, just to a much smaller degree,” Jankovsky said.

West Springs Hospital gets clean bill of health

West Springs Hospital, the 48-bed, inpatient psychiatric hospital owned and operated by Mind Springs Health in Grand Junction, is now in full compliance with the Colorado Behavioral Health Administration, according to Mind Springs officials. 

They said the Behavioral Health Administration conducted a resurvey of the hospital last week and announced to Mind Springs leadership that West Springs Hospital had been “restored to full compliance status under BHA inpatient regulations.” 

The restoration of the hospital to full-compliance status comes a month after the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, which licenses hospitals on behalf of Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, found the hospital to be 100% in compliance with safety, operational, and quality measures, Mind Springs officials said.

Two feet at Tahoe ski hills early in week

The latest snowstorm at Lake Tahoe dropped about 2 feet of snow in the last 24 hours, leading to chain restrictions and road and school closures, and more snow is on the way.

Tahoe ski resorts are reporting up to 2 feet of snow, some a little more, some a little less, and the National Weather Service in Reno had a winter weather advisory in place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday for more accumulation, including 2 to 5 inches at lake level and 5 to 10 inches above 7,000 feet. Strong winds were forecasted to gust as high as 70 mph which the service said could lead to extensive tree damage.

According to the Tahoe Snow app, Heavenly Mountain Resort has received 26 inches of snow in the past 24 hours with Palisades Tahoe reporting 21 inches, Kirkwood Mountain Resort 19, Sierra-at-Tahoe 16, and Northstar California reported the most at 27 inches.

Last of Vail Back Bowls opened Tuesday

Vail Mountain dropped the ropes Tuesday on Sun Down Bowl, the last piece of the Back Bowls to open for the season.

While there has been ample snow this season, a haul rope to be used for the new Sun Down Express lift had been laying on the runs, creating an obvious hazard. The recent hanging of those cables has now made the area safe for skiers and riders.

The lift will be a four-person, detachable quad from Leitner-Poma, transporting riders along a new lift line on Vail Mountain. That lift line will run from the bottom of the High Noon Express (No. 5) line to the top of the Wildwood area on Vail Mountain, where the Wildwood Express (No. 3) lift meets Game Creek Express (No. 7).

Eagle aims to codify big-box intent

Over 100 acres at the east end of Chambers Avenue in Eagle may be zoned more specifically for big-box stores on land long seen as suitable for that kind of development.

Senior Planner for Eagle Cliff Simonton presented the municipal code amendment to the town of Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission on Jan. 3, explaining there’s a Feb. 28 timeline for establishing the new zone district to meet a pre-development agreement with landowner Merv Lapin. 

“The owner, while we’ve tried to negotiate to extend the time frame on that pre-development agreement, has indicated they would like to have the zone district applied,” Simonton said. “So, we’ve been scrambling to come up with sort of an interim zone district that can be applied that would match our existing code.”

The 125 acres at the east end of Chambers Avenue is zoned to incorporate space for lodging, regional retailers including big-box stores, large-format restaurants, convenience stores, gas stations, and more service and recreational businesses. 

“We created a district that’s very similar to the town’s existing commercial general zone district,” Simonton said. “Other than the fact that this new district will accommodate larger format retail facilities.”

Despite the demand for more housing options, especially affordable housing, he explained that there is “an intent to minimize residential development in the area.”

“This area, given its isolation from the town and its isolation from the types of services that families might enjoy, is probably not the best place for residential development,” he said.

Eagle County offices closed Monday

Eagle County government offices, including the Avon and El Jebel satellite offices, will be closed on Monday, Jan. 16, in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

  • Emergency services are always available by calling 911 
  • For non-emergencies, call the Sheriff’s Office at 970-328-8500
  • The Road & Bridge Department will be on call at 970-479-2200 in cases of emergency
  • ECO Transit bus routes will operate on their regular schedules
  • The Eagle County Solid Waste and Recycling Department, which includes the landfill, Household Hazardous Waste Facility, and the MRF, will remain open.