Fire Restriction, No Fee, Wage Hike
Fee Waived for National Public Lands, Veterans Days
This Saturday, Sept. 25 is National Public Lands Day. To commemorate the occasion, the USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region, will waive fees, where charged, at day-use recreation sites in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, Kansas and the Bighorn, Medicine Bow, and Shoshone National Forests in Wyoming for two more days this year.
In Lake County, the fee waiver includes many Forest Service picnic areas, boat launches, trailheads, and visitor centers. However, the fees for camping, cabin rentals, or other permits still apply. Fees will continue to be charged at Forest Service standard amenity fee recreation sites operated by concessionaires unless individual managers choose to participate.
The press release which was distributed to media outlets also announced that the fees will also be waived in honor of Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11. The Forest Service offers several fee-free days annually to encourage Americans to explore the outdoors and visit their public lands.
Enjoy your National Forests and National Grasslands safely and responsibly. And as always, know before you go!
Stage One Fire Restrictions
On the same day, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office and the Pike-San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands to implement Stage 1 Fire Restrictions across federally administered lands in five counties in central Colorado. And yes, Lake County is included on the list, especially with the forecast of continuing dry and warm conditions in the high country.
“Dry conditions exist across these areas, making them prone to wildfire,” said Forest and Grassland Supervisor Diana Trujillo. “Visitors are our first line of defense in preventing wildfires, so we ask you to respect the restrictions and please recreate responsibly.”
The restrictions officially took effect at 12:01 a.m., September 24, 2021, and will remain in effect through December 31 or until rescinded. Stage 1 Fire Restrictions are in effect for all BLM-managed lands in Chaffee and Lake Counties, and for all National Forest System lands, roads and trails, on the Leadville and Salida Ranger Districts located within Chaffee, Fremont, Lake, Park and Saguache Counties in Colorado.
Land managers implement fire restrictions based on several factors, including fire activity levels, current and predicted weather, fuel moisture, and the availability of firefighting resources. Fire danger is extreme in the area and unless there is a change in the weather patterns soon, there remains a high potential for large fires.
Stage 1 Fire Restrictions prohibit the following:
- Igniting, building, maintaining, attending, or using a fire (including fires fueled by charcoal or briquettes) outside of a permanent metal or concrete fire pit or grate that the Forest Service has installed and maintained at its developed recreation sites (campgrounds and picnic areas).
- Smoking, except in an enclosed vehicle or building, a developed recreation site, or while stopped in an area at least three feet in diameter that is barren or cleared of all flammable materials.
- Operating a chainsaw without an effective and properly installed USDA- or Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE)- approved spark arrestor, a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) kept with the operator, and a round point shovel with an overall length of at least 35 inches readily available for use.
- Blasting, welding, or operating acetylene or other torch with open flame without being in a cleared area of at least 10 feet in diameter and keeping a chemical pressurized fire extinguisher (with a minimum 8 oz. capacity and rating of 2A) with the operator.
- Using an explosive. This includes but is not limited to fuses, blasting caps, fireworks, rockets, exploding targets, tracers, and incendiary ammunition. These fire restrictions are in addition to the year-round wildfire prevention restrictions on federally administered public lands in Colorado.
- Leaving a fire unattended or unextinguished.
- Possession, discharge or use of any fireworks.
- Discharge of a firearm using incendiary or tracer ammunition.
- Burn, ignite or cause to burn any tire, wire, magnesium, or any other hazardous or explosive material.
- Operate any off-road vehicle on public lands unless the vehicle is equipped with a properly installed spark arrester pursuant to 43 CFR 8343.1(c).
For more information on USDA Forest Service Pike-San Isabel National Forests & Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands fire restrictions, please visit the fire restrictions page here. For more information about current fire restrictions in the BLM’s Royal Gorge Field Office, please visit the Rocky Mountain District Fire Restrictions page.
Cooper Raises Wages For Employees
Ski Cooper announced this week that it will raise its company minimum starting wage to $15.25/hr. Recent economic challenges and changes in the labor force and demographics combined with Cooper’s strong financial performance of late are among the several factors that prompted the increase.
Ski Cooper CEO Dan Torsell says: “Cooper’s recent successes, including significant increases in skier visits and revenue, have left us in a very solid financial position. I believe firmly that the fruits of these successes need to be shared with the people who make them possible. I could list a dozen reasons why current economic and market conditions make this a good move, but the simple fact is, it’s just the right thing to do. Our people make Cooper what it is, especially the folks out there on the front lines every day, and we intend to take care of them.”
This new company minimum wage of $15.25/hr exceeds the Lake County living wage figure of $14.26/hr for a single adult as calculated by the MIT Living Wage Calculator, and outpaces most ski resorts in the state, including the Vail Resorts whose minimum wage this season is $15/hr. In addition to increasing the company minimum starting rate, this move will also provide for wage increases in all pay grades for our returning employees.
In recent years Ski Cooper has consistently set its company minimum wage above the mandated Colorado State minimum wage, and competitively according to ski industry standards. Cooper has been on a considerable growth trajectory, setting all-time revenue records for the past seven years and substantial year-over-year visitation increases each ski season for the last nine years (excluding the 2019/20 ski season which was cut short due to COVID-19 shut down orders).
The increased minimum wage will take effect for all non-tipped positions for the 2021/22 ski season.
Ski Cooper is a nonprofit alpine ski resort located nine miles outside of Leadville, CO whose mission is to deliver unparalleled snowsports experiences at family-friendly prices. Ski Cooper comprises 62 named runs and five lifts spanning 480 skiable acres.