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Posts tagged: Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests

It’s Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month – Head for a National Forest

Kristin Merony and Tammy Randall-Parker, a Forest Service district ranger and a ski instructor at Telluride Mountain Resort, after Kristin’s first solo run down the mountain after a day of ski lessons. (U.S. Forest Service)

Kristin Merony and Tammy Randall-Parker, a Forest Service district ranger and a ski instructor at Telluride Mountain Resort, after Kristin’s first solo run down the mountain after a day of ski lessons. (U.S. Forest Service)

A new year means new resolutions and new adventures to embark upon. As many of you sit down to contemplate your goals of the year, I would like to suggest learning to ski or snowboard on national forests.

January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, which means that on many resorts learning now can be the easiest and most affordable time to head to a forest near you. The U.S. Forest Service is host to 122 ski areas. The most visited forest, the White River National Forest, has 12 ski areas. Read more »

A Century of Skiing With the US Forest Service

A woman poses atop a U.S. Forest Service sign after 5 feet of snow accumulated at Berthoud Pass Winter Sports Area on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Jay Higgins)

A woman poses atop a U.S. Forest Service sign after 5 feet of snow accumulated at Berthoud Pass Winter Sports Area on the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Jay Higgins)

For the third time, the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships have returned to the White River National Forest in Colorado, placing special emphasis on the importance of ski area development on national forests throughout America’s history.

Each year millions of visitors ski and snowboard down the snowy slopes of the ski resorts spread across the White River National Forest, and at ski resorts on forests across the nation – 122 resorts that together boast more than 180,000 skiable acres. The Forest Service averages 23 million visits annually to ski areas, contributing $3 billion to local economies annually and creating approximately 65,000 full-time, part-time and seasonal jobs. Read more »

Archaeological Heritage of Colorado’s Ute Tribe Part of National Forests’ History in Rocky Mountain Region

Wickiups, conical-shape dwellings used by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of southwestern Colorado, are still in use for ceremonial purposes. This photo shows a leaner Ute tipi from the 1870-1880s. The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region partnered with the Dominguez Archaeological Research Group as part of the Region’s mission focus on historic and cultural preservation goals. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin, Dominguez Archaeological Research Group)

Wickiups, conical-shape dwellings used by the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of southwestern Colorado, are still in use for ceremonial purposes. This photo shows a leaner Ute tipi from the 1870-1880s. The U.S. Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Region partnered with the Dominguez Archaeological Research Group as part of the Region’s mission focus on historic and cultural preservation goals. (Photo courtesy of Curtis Martin, Dominguez Archaeological Research Group)

There are small piles of fallen wooden timbers on national forests in the Rocky Mountain Region that tell a story of the area’s past. They are part of aboriginal wooden structures known as wickiups, a conical-shaped dwelling used by native people.

These relics are known to be part of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe of southwestern Colorado and are still in use for ceremonial purposes. The relics are part of the tribe’s legacy of living on these lands and are a part of the cultural history on the Grand Mesa – Uncompahgre – Gunnison, San Juan, White River and Rio Grande national forests. Read more »

Volunteers Clear Weeds to Benefit Rocky Mountain Elk Habitat, Celebrate 50th Year of the Wilderness Act

Volunteers armed with shovels and picks remove clusters of houndstongue from a high elevation meadow in the Raggeds Wilderness on the Gunnison and White River National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Dan Gray)

Volunteers armed with shovels and picks remove clusters of houndstongue from a high elevation meadow in the Raggeds Wilderness on the Gunnison and White River National Forests. (U.S. Forest Service/Dan Gray)

The Raggeds Wilderness, a nearly 65,000-acre area on the Gunnison and White River National Forests near Paonia, Colorado, is prime elk habitat with herd numbers in the hundreds.

Acres of undisturbed coniferous forests are interspersed with open slopes of wet meadows thick with grasses and sedges, a nutritious diet for elk needing to fatten up for the winter. But houndstongue, a purple-flowered invasive weed that takes root alongside nutritious plants, is toxic to elk. Read more »

Rocky Mountain Wetland Provides Fen-tastic Habitat for High Altitude Plants, Wildlife

Plant data is collected from a fen that sits at 11,000 feet near Mount Emmons on the Gunnison National Forest in Colorado. (U.S. Forest Service)

Plant data is collected from a fen that sits at 11,000 feet near Mount Emmons on the Gunnison National Forest in Colorado. (U.S. Forest Service)

Sloshing through a wet meadow in ankle deep water, I am surrounded by thick mats of sedges, rushes and some beautiful wildflowers. This saturated meadow lies in the shadows of the 13,000-foot Sheep Mountain peak near Trout Lake, Colorado. It is a scenic spot, rich in plant diversity, but also a unique habitat in Colorado.

I am visiting this lush, high-altitude wetland with the Grand Mesa Uncompahgre and Gunnison National Forests’ lead hydrologist, Gary Shellhorn who explains that this wet meadow is called a fen. Fens are peat-forming wetlands, created when wetland plants die leaving mats of dead and decaying plant matter. Fens are sustained by mineral-enriched groundwater, which is less acidic.  For this reason fens support a more diverse plant and animal community. In southern Colorado, it takes about 2,000 years to accumulate eight inches of peat at a fen. This suggests that most fens are 4,000 to 10,000 years old. Read more »