• CDOT installing remote-control avalanche triggers

    In the avalanche-prone area known as Seven Sisters on Loveland Pass, three men worked at dizzying heights above the ski slopes with a pneumatic rock drill.

    Workers with Harrison Western Construction battled to dig 10 feet into the side of the mountain to install what the Colorado Department of Transportation hopes is the last word in avalanche mitigation.

    Last Friday, CDOT contractors installed the latest piece of the $980,000 Gazex remotely triggered avalanche system.

  • Closure of Mount Evans Wildlife Area irks resident

    The Mount Evans State Wildlife Area is open to hunters and closed to all other recreational users through the end of October.

    Peter Jacobson, a nearby resident, is one recreational user who is unhappy about the seasonal closure. Jacobson says not much public notice was given before the popular area 10 miles west of Evergreen was closed the day after Labor Day. Signs were posted saying it will be closed until November.

  • New concrete wall in Argo Tunnel designed to prevent spills

    A new $920,000 concrete wall inside the Argo Tunnel above Idaho Springs will prevent spills of contaminated mine water, according to a project manager for the state Department of Public Health and Environment.

  • Many varieties of wildflowers grace foothills landscape

    We have seen many wildflowers in a variety of colors all season. However, one of the earliest spring flowers are those of Mahonia repens. Also known as Oregon grape for its clusters of blue berries in fall. This species is a low-growing shrub that bears yellow flowers both early and prolifically.

    Other flowers come and go all season, usually with a big splash of blue gentians in July or August. Late August and early September, however, bring a vivid display of yellow flowers that are the last hurrah before snowflakes remove all color.

  • Many residents welcome possible shooting ban

    Most area residents seem to have a story about recreational shooting — even though most of them don’t shoot.

    Mike Sowder and his wife dove for the ground when they heard bullets whizzing near their heads while walking near their home in the York Gulch area about a year and a half ago, he said. The couple’s home is at the top of York Gulch near the border of Clear Creek and Gilpin counties.

  • Goldfinches shy away from feeders, foraging for themselves

    Many years ago, I saw my first lesser goldfinch in a yard in Idledale. When I first saw this little yellow-and-black bird, it was acting like a new warbler. That’s what I thought it was.

    I could not find any warbler that looked like it, and then noticed its thick finch-like beak. This sent me to the yellow finches, and there it was among the many goldfinches that occur here: the lesser black-backed goldfinch.

  • Rafting companies enjoying banner year in Clear Creek

    Rafting season in Clear Creek County is on track this summer to be one of the best ever, company owners and industry officials say.

    Higher-than-average snowpack that kept water levels high into late July helped many rafting companies have a strong end-of-season, according to rafting industry officials. Some companies plan to operate for a few more weeks in Clear Creek County, while most have ended their seasons. Official numbers are expected from the Colorado River Outfitters Association in January.

  • ATV use may be permitted on stretch of North Empire Road

    It may soon be legal to drive all-terrain vehicles on a 3-mile segment of county road near Empire, based on recent discussion by the county commissioners of a possible new rule there.

    The commissioners on Aug. 11 approved on first reading an ordinance to allow off-highway-vehicle use, most commonly all-terrain vehicles, on North Empire Road, which is a county road.

    No ATVs currently are allowed on county roads. North Empire Road runs between Empire, where such use is allowed, and U.S. Forest Service land, where it's also permitted.

  • Some poisons to watch out for

    The first bit of fall color to appear in the Bear Creek Valley is the lovely orange-red of poison ivy, Toxicodendron rydbergii. Its unique color often appears to be in small clumps along the canyon walls, announcing the end of summer and the beginning of fall. One can hardly call the color red, for it is almost orange, an unusual color in the changing fall panorama.

  • House finches, other species sighted at area feeders

    Mid-August and instead of the lazy days of hot summer, it has been relatively warm days and good-sleeping cool nights. Sitting out in front of Elk Run Assisted Living, I watched two house finches bring their young to the feeder as well as seeing one adult American robin trying to find a place damp enough to provide one angleworm to feed his one youngster.

    Although nearly full size, the immature robin still sported enough speckles on his breast to identify him and to show his age as a young member of the thrush family.