In Brief: Vail backcountry skier killed; big rig crash gums up canyon; Roaring Fork panel needs alternates |

In Brief: Vail backcountry skier killed; big rig crash gums up canyon; Roaring Fork panel needs alternates

Staff Report

Backcountry skier killed in East Vail

A skier has died in East Vail following a skiing accident, Eagle County Coroner Kara Bettis has confirmed.

The Eagle County Sheriff’s Office responded to the incident, which occurred during the afternoon hours on Monday.

The name of the skier has not yet been released.

The East Vail backcountry is accessed from the China Bowl area of Vail Mountain and has proven to be a deadly area in the years following Vail’s expansion into China Bowl in the 1980s. Monday’s death is the 11th death in the East Vail backcountry since 1986.

Big-rig crash closes westbound Glenwood Canyon

A hazmat spill caused by four big rigs, including a semi-trailer tanker hauling gasoline, colliding on Interstate 70 near Dotsero on Tuesday morning cleared up around 6:30 p.m.

The westbound lane had been closed through Glenwood Canyon since 7:40 a.m.

Colorado State Patrol Public Information Officer Gary Cutler reported no injuries. The cause of the collision had not yet been determined.

Alternates still sought for Roaring Fork planning body

Eagle County has openings for alternates on the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission touted by county officials as an opportunity to participate in discussions about the future.

The commission makes recommendations to the Eagle County Board of Commissioners regarding land use within the Roaring Fork Valley, Missouri Heights, and Frying Pan Road areas of unincorporated Eagle County. The commission meets on the first and third Thursday of every month at 2:30 p.m.

Applications are available online at Applications are due no later than Jan. 31 and can be submitted via email to For more information or to obtain a hard copy of the application, contact Jill Ragaller at 970-328-8751.

Cold feet about a Sweetwater State Park

Sweetwater Lake is supposed to be the state’s 43rd state park. A 2019 “Save The Lake” fundraising campaign helped the White River National Forest land its largest contribution from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to acquire the 488-acre property above the Colorado River.

A one-of-a-kind partnership with Colorado Parks and Wildlife is planned to modernize the property’s facilities and manage recreation at the remote lake surrounded by a smattering of homes and wilderness at the end of a long dirt road. 

Now, the community of Sweetwater is raising a red flag. After two years of meetings with the U.S. Forest Service and CPW, a group of residents last week warned the federal and state agencies that the community is ready to stop cooperating and start fighting as plans unfold for a highly-trafficked destination.

“I think we have moved from ‘save the lake’ to ‘save the community,’” said Janet Rivera, who raised her family near Sweetwater Lake.

The 11-member Sweetwater Lake community group — which has been meeting with USFS, CPW, and Eagle Valley Land Trust to hammer out a plan for the property — warned that a lack of progress on short-term plans for the lake and its nearly 40-year operator is eroding their support for a state park. 

“We feel these meetings have been largely unproductive and are being used to make it seem as if we support the state-park effort,” longtime Sweetwater resident Derrick Wiemer said, reading a letter outlining his group’s revolt at a meeting last Tuesday in Gypsum. “We also feel these meetings may potentially be used as a way to check a public input box …. Our trust continues to be broken.”

Hydroponic lettuce producer closes

A nearly 4-acre hydroponic lettuce-growing facility near Silt recently visited by Gov. Jared Polis now sits dark, stymied by what the owner said was an inability to distribute in larger regional market chains.

The lights turned off Dec. 27 at the once-vibrant plant with the potential of providing economic prosperity and employment to the region, along with a new approach to Colorado agriculture that was heavily supported by politicians both in the region and statewide, including Polis. 

“We saw the future of agriculture today,” Polis said in August while visiting the facility, “the future of food production, and it’s a more sustainable future, which it has to be when we’re having these tough discussions about the Colorado River Compact and the changing nature of water in the west.” 

The facility opened in June 2021 and started supplying lettuce in August that year. The initial funds to build the property were a $30-million expense financed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Colorado Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy.

After doubling sales in December 2022 and getting onboard with Sysco for distribution, Spring Born’s main investor pulled out, forcing the facility to close at the end of the year.

“This facility was designed to feed the state, not just local businesses,” Spring Born CEO Charles Barr said. “So, the size just didn’t match, and I can’t get it to the state unless I have distribution partners, or I have retail partners.”

Whole Foods and local grocery markets also carried Spring Born’s products on the shelves, while the other larger scale companies would not seem to budge.