14ers are free again in Telluride | VailDaily.com

14ers are free again in Telluride

Allen Best
Vail, CO Colorado

TELLURIDE ” Although people tend to think of Colorado’s highest mountains as all being public lands, that’s hardly the case. Several of the 14,000-foot peaks are privately owned, while at others the trails commonly used to reach the peaks are on private land.

Such was the case in a trio of 14ers near Telluride, where a landowner had blocked access for the last several years across his 220 acres, which happens to include the popular Silver Pick Trail that accesses Mount Wilson, El Diente and Wilson Peak.

Last year he charged hikers $100 to cross the property, but had shut off access entirely this summer.

The quandary was resolved when a consortium of interests led by the Trust for Public Land purchased the property. The Telluride Foundation, which contributed $150,000, had valued the property at $3 million, or $136,000 an acre.

The owner, Rusty Nichols, had tried to get the U.S. Forest Service to trade him more easily developed land, but the agency ” which had been loudly criticized for being too generous in previous land exchanges near Telluride ” firmly said no. Nichols had also talked about resuming mining operations on the land, but had no local authority to do so.

PARK CITY, Utah ” Presidential candidates are getting to be a regular thing at Park City: Republican contender Mitt Romney owns a home there, and Rudy Giuliani was scheduled this week to press the flesh and solicit donations.

One party activist predicted Giuliani would bank $500,000. Democrat Barack Obama was also scheduled to visit, says The Park Record.

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. ” Nothing short of a half-mile-wide clear cut would have stopped the Angora fire from torching the homes near Lake Tahoe in late June, according to a U.S. Forest Service study released last week.

The report says fire danger conditions were some of the most severe experienced in the last 20 years, with the air dry and trees parched. Winds gusted to an estimated 40 mph.

But the Forest Service report does not suggest clear cutting as a way to tame wildfires, reports the Sacramento Bee. Instead, the report found that most thinning projects worked as intended, reducing the intensity of the blaze.

But thinning alone is not enough, said Matt Mathews, a Forest Service spokesman, and neither is creating defensible space around homes. “Either one by itself is not enough.”

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