• Pitching in

    The trails on Mount Bierstadt are getting a much-needed facelift this summer to fix damage that has been done because the area has increased in popularity.

    Last weekend, 30 volunteers worked to reinforce trails and help stop erosion in the area.

    Because of the popular Fourteener’s proximity to the Front Range and easy access with the paving of Guanella Pass in 2011, the area has had a recent explosion of visitors.

  • Santiago Mill off limits during cleanup

    A picturesque, historic gold mill is off limits for the next three to five years during a cleanup — its road access blocked by a newly built fence.

    The Santiago Mill in the ghost-town region of Waldorf is a popular destination for Jeep clubs and other off-road groups who love the trip up an axle-busting gravel road and the spectacular mountain scenery above treeline.

  • Rare and interesting ferns grow in the foothills

    Ferns are not what one could call abundant in Colorado, but we have a few, including some that are rare and interesting.

    The large stands of tall ferns found in the moist, rich eastern woodlands are not to be found in our dry climate, but we do have some rock and cliff dwellers as well as a few that grow in the sub-alpine bogs and meadows.

    The most common fern in the Evergreen area is the delicate brittle fern, Cystoperis fragilis. The stipe or stem of this fern is dark brown to black at the base, shading to straw color or green.

  • Warblers’ beautiful songs fill the air in the foothills

    I can hear what I believe to be a yellow warbler singing, but I haven’t seen it yet, so I am not positive of my identification because I don’t trust my ears. Unfortunately, my hearing is not what it used to be.

  • Improvements eyed for Saxon Mountain four-wheel-drive roads

    Saxon Mountain's four-wheel-drive roads and trails could soon get a U.S. Forest Service spruce-up.

    The popular backcountry area on the mountain south and east of Georgetown is riddled with old mining relics and tailings. Rocky, unmaintained four-wheel-drive roads up the mountain can be accessed from downtown Georgetown.

  • Increase in camping at Barbour Fork Trailhead spurs complaints

    Complaints have increased in recent weeks about campers using the Barbour Fork Trailhead near Soda Creek Road, according to U.S. Forest Service Ranger Penny Wu.

    More campers appear to be using the area, about 3 miles south of Idaho Springs, after Forest Service officials closed a 6-mile stretch of land next to Highway 103, Wu said.

  • June’s showers bring July’s mariposa lilies

    There is an old saying in this area: “When it rains in June, the mariposa lilies will bloom in July.” Well, it certainly has rained in June, so now we can look forward to seeing mariposa lilies in July.

  • Vireos common but not abundant in foothills

    How many of you have seen a warbling vireo? Probably not very many of you. Although they are relatively common, they are not very abundant. Only a single pair is ordinarily found in one breeding area.

    They are not brilliantly colored or birds that you might see walking about in your yard like the American robin. They usually defend their nesting territory with song, and an established pair will keep any other pair from nesting nearby.

  • Two types of doves appearing at area feeders

    Yesterday I received a report on last year’s Thanksgiving Bird Count. This count is done at your home feeding station for one hour on Thanksgiving Day. It is held in 12 western states, so it is especially interesting to western birders.

    Last year, the five most numerous birds seen remained the same as they have been for several years. The most commonly seen birds were 1, dark-eyed juncos; 2, house sparrows; 3, house finches; 4, black-capped chickadees; and 5, mourning doves. There were a total of 137 species seen in the 12-state area.

  • County eyeing land near Bakerville exit for shooting range

    Clear Creek County officials could buy land to establish a public shooting range near the Bakerville exit on the north side of Interstate 70.

    The price of the land and the potential cost for improvements were not immediately available. The property is on the frontage road north of I-70 and just east of a bridge over I-70 that's euphemistically referred to as "the bridge to nowhere." It's near mile marker 224 on the highway.