Blog :: 10-2020

Federal grant awards $6.3 million for Southwest Colorado broadband

Department of Agriculture announces funding as a part of ReConnect Program

Special Thanks to  Durgano Herald 

Fiber-optic cable being installed in Dolores. A new federal grant will be used to expand high-speed broadband to more than 1,600 people living in three Southwest Colorado counties.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced this week it is awarding $6.3 million to expand broadband internet access in Dolores, San Miguel and Montezuma counties.

The grant is a part of the USDA’s ReConnect Program, which aims to expand broadband infrastructure and internet access throughout rural America. According to the agency, the grant will be used to expand high-speed broadband to more than 1,600 people living in the three Southwest Colorado counties.

Both of Colorado’s U.S. senators hailed the announcement, saying that expanding internet access is more important than ever, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The pandemic has forced many people working in various industries to work from home via the internet. It also has drastically changed school operations throughout Colorado and across the country, with many students attending school partially or fully online.

“During the pandemic, Coloradans have come to rely on broadband more than ever to work, learn and connect remotely,” said Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in a news release. “Yet many of our rural areas still lack access to quality broadband because of the high cost of deployment in areas like Southwest Colorado.”

Bennet sits on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. The committee oversees legislation related to rural development.

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., also applauded the grant in a news release. He sits on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which oversees legislation relating to the internet.

“Southwest Colorado has some of the most challenging terrain in the nation, as the San Juan peaks are a photographer’s dream but a fiber builder’s nightmare,” Gardner said. “I’m excited that Emery (Telcom) will have the opportunity to expand service in Southwest Colorado, and I will continue to fight to connect every corner of this state to high-speed broadband.”

The funding will be provided to Emery, a Utah-based telecommunications company, for use in expanding internet access in Southwest Colorado.

In addition to connecting many residents and households to broadband, the USDA said in its announcement that the broadband infrastructure expansion will connect 91 farms, 52 businesses, three fire stations and two post offices throughout the area.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that as of 2018, 68.4% of Montezuma County’s households, comprising over 26,000 residents, had a broadband internet subscription. In San Miguel County, that percentage estimate was 80.6% of the county’s more-than 8,000 residents. In Dolores County, with its population of just over 2,000, the estimated percentage of broadband-subscribed households was 64.7%.

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    New option gets Denverites to Telluride ski country in 34 minutes

    Special Thanks Spencer McKeeSpencer McKee looks down over the town of Telluride from nearby slopes of Telluride Ski Resort. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin.

    Spencer McKee looks down over the town of Telluride from nearby slopes of Telluride Ski Resort. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin.

    According to The Points Guy, Southwest Airlines is set to start offering flights from Denver International Airport to Montrose during ski season, in addition to a flight route between Denver and Steamboat Springs. The flights to Montrose are set to start on December 19 and last though April 5.

    New Country 99.1 has reported that there will be up to three flights from DIA to Montrose daily.

    A number of resorts are located close to Montrose, including Telluride (66 miles), Powderhorn (67 miles), Silverton (66 miles), Crested Butte (94 miles), Monarch (108 miles) and Purgatory (81 miles). Found in the southwest corner of the state, these resorts have been inconvenient for Denver residents to access in the past, requiring long travel times. For instance, the trip to Telluride typically requires a 360-mile drive that takes 6 or more hours.

    A flight time projector indicates that the travel time between Denver and Montrose will mean just 34 minutes in the air.

    Does this new flight option make you more likely to visit these resorts? 

    Colorado releases COVID-19 guidelines for state ski areas

    Telluride | Colorado Ski Country USA

    Colorado ski areas will be required to keep parties in lift lines separated by 6 feet in all directions, limit capacity in gondola cabins and on lift chairs, and offer trip cancellation policies that don’t pressure customers into traveling if they are sick, according to general COVID-19 guidelines released by the state government Wednesday.

    The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provided ski areas with a list of issues that need to be addressed for the 2020-21 season. Ski areas now must finalize their plans, present them to local public health departments for approval and then submit them to the state for endorsement before the season kicks off. The state’s guidelines can be found at the CDPHE website.

    The state provided guidance on loading gondolas and lifts and also urged ski areas to sharpen plans for crowd size management through tactics such as reservations and congestion-based pricing. Unfortunately lines will be part of the ski industry this year. Distancing will be required at restaurants, ticket offices and even bathrooms.

    Colorado Ski Country USA, a state trade association, was complimentary of the guidance.

    “We appreciate the state’s efforts to work with the industry, local public health officials and counties to craft guidance that sets the stage for a long, successful ski season from a ski industry, public health and local community perspective,” said a statement from CSCUSA president and CEO Melanie Mills. “Finalizing this guidance is an important step as ski areas across the state gear up for ski season and finalize their own area-specific plans for this winter.”

    The trade association has embarked on a campaign to urge ski area customers to “Know Before You Go.”

    “Visit ski area websites, social media channels or coloradoski.com to understand the most up-to-date COVID-related policies and procedures as well as expectations for guest responsibilities during a visit to a ski area,” the association’s statement said.

    One particularly ticklish issue addressed by state guidelines was cancellation policies.

    The state guidelines pose these questions: “How will the ski area address cancellation and postponement policies so that guests do not feel pressured to come if they are sick? How will the ski areas communicate to guests that they should reschedule their vacation if they begin to experience any symptoms before traveling?”

    Ski areas must also be prepared to scale their operations up or down according to COVID-19 positive tests in their communities, the state guidelines said. “How will the ski area learn from its initial opening and improve protocols based on experience?” the document asked.

    Then there’s the big issue of enforcement. The state wants ski areas to address how they will enforce compliance with state and local orders and guidelines by their customers and staff.

    While ski buffs are common among skiers and snowboarders, at least when the weather is cooler, the state wants to make sure masks are worn “to the maximum extent practicable in both indoor and outdoor public spaces, ski schools, and while riding chairlifts or gondolas.”

    Special Thanks to scondon@aspentimes.com

    Mountain Village, CO Announces MV Open for the Fall Season!

    From Anton Benitez, President & CEO
    Telluride Mountain Village Owners Association
    anton@tmvoa.org      

    MV is Open Fall Season!
    This fall is shaping up to be a lively one.  Our town is seeing many more guests this season as people escape to our beautiful area to enjoy the mountains, in addition to second homeowners extending their stays. With so much activity in MV, our local businesses decided to stay open this fall.  To support our members and their guests with getting to our Village Center to enjoy lunch, dinner, hiking trails and activities, TMVOA is extending Dial-a-Ride service for the first time into the fall season with service from noon to 10pm.

    Enjoy the Village and support our local businesses this fall.

    La Pizzeria – Lunch (11-2), Dinner (5-9)
    La Piazza Del Villaggio – Lunch (11-2), Dinner (5-9)
    Poachers Pub – Daily (11-9), except closed on Sat
    Telluride Coffee Co – Mon–Fri (8-5)
    Tracks – Mon-Sat (11:30-7:30)
    Shake N' Dog – Daily (11-4)
    Tomboy Tavern – Daily (4-5 bar/apps), Dinner (5-9)
    Altezza – Daily/Dinner (5-9)
    The Pick – Breakfast & Lunch (8-2)
    Telluride Distillery – Daily (2-8)
    Village Market – Daily (7am-9pm)
    Lodging Open –Mountain Lodge, Peaks, Bear Creek Lodge

    Dial-a-Ride Extended
    We are extending the service 7-days a week from noon-10pm beginning tomorrow (Mon, 19th).  For the next few weeks, we will monitor ridership and extend further as warranted. To use Dial-a-Ride, you must use the App. If you do not have your code or have not set up your App account, please follow these steps.

    1.    Get your code that we previously emailed to you (email was from tmvoa@downtownerapp.com). If you cannot locate this email, contact Heidi Stenhammer at heidi@tmvoa.org (please include your name and address of the property you own).
    2.    Download the Mountain Village DAR App on your iPhone or Android phone.
    3.    Enter your unique owner code in the App to confirm and set-up your account.

    For more information about the App and its functions, visit the TMVOA website here.

    Telluride Gondola closes for fall off-season Oct. 18; buses to run through Nov. 19

    Gondola closes

    This Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, will be the gondola’s last day of operation before closing for more than five weeks of required maintenance. The gondola will reopen for the winter season on Friday, November 20, 2020 and run through Sunday, April 4, 2021.

    Each fall and spring the gondola, which connects Mountain Village and Telluride, closes for routine, required safety inspections and maintenance, and a free bus service is offered during this time as an alternative.

    The Town of Mountain Village, which owns and operates the gondola, and the San Miguel Authority for Regional Transportation are once again partnering to offer free bus service between Mountain Village and Telluride while the gondola is closed. The bus schedule is available for download on our website and will be posted at all bus stops. 

    Special Thanks to Katherine Warren

    Southwest Airlines announces new flights to Miami, Palm Springs, and Montrose (Telluride)

    Southwest Airlines announces new flights to Miami, Palm Springs, and Montrose (Telluride)

    Southwest Airlines Co. today primed its winter flight schedule for seekers of sun and snow with service details for new destinations in Florida, California, and nestled in the Colorado Rockies.

    The carrier announced new seasonal service to Montrose Regional Airport (Telluride) on the Western Slope of Colorado, begins Dec. 19, the same day as previously announced seasonal service to Steamboat Springs. Service to Miami and Palm Springs both will begin November 15.

    New routes to Miami, Palm Springs, and Montrose (Telluride) now available on airline’s website. The number of seats are limited by days of week and market, from the first date of service through March 4, 2021, if booked by 11:59 p.m. Central Daylight Time on Oct. 15, 2020. Blackout dates apply.

    Beginning Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, Southwest will offer nonstop service:

    Miami

    • Miami to Tampa (three times daily in each direction),
    • Miami to Baltimore/Washington (four times daily in each direction),
    • Miami to Houston (Hobby) (four times daily in each direction), and
    • Miami to Chicago (Midway) (once daily in each direction).

    Palm Springs

    • Palm Springs to Oakland(twice daily in each direction),
    • Palm Springs to Phoenix (three times daily in each direction), and
    • Palm Springs to Denver (once daily in each direction).

    Beginning Saturday, Dec.19, 2020, and mirroring the flight schedule previously announced for Steamboat Springs (HDN), Southwest will operate new service seasonally through April 5, 2021:

    • Montrose (Telluride) to Denver (up to three times daily in each direction), and 
    • Montrose (Telluride) to Dallas (Love Field) (once daily on weekends in each direction).

    Special Thanks  Harry S. Johnson

    Colorado town ranked among "best small towns for adventure," according to USA Today

    Special thanks to Spencer McKee

    Autumn in Telluride Colorado - Gondola Photo Credit: Craig Zerbe (iStock).

    Photo Credit: Craig Zerbe (iStock).

    While it could be argued that many small towns around Colorado should be nationally recognized adventure hubs, there's one mountain town in the San Juans that's hard to beat.

    According to USA Today's 2020 ranking of "best small towns for adventure," Telluride, Colorado is one spot that can't be skipped. Nestled between massive mountains and home to one of the country's best ski resorts, it's no surprise that this tiny town of a couple thousand residents earned a top 10 spot on the publication's annual ranking.

    Spencer McKee overlooks the town of Telluride from the nearby ski slopes. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin.

    Spencer McKee overlooks the Town of Telluride from the nearby ski slopes. Photo Credit: Stephen Martin.

    What may come as a shock to those that have visited the Telluride area is that the remote mountain paradise barely made the cut, earning the 10th place ranking. It was bested by a number of other American towns, including Savanna, Illinois – which claimed the 4th place spot, in part, due to 60 miles of bike trails. A Telluride local would likely scoff at that number.

    The USA Today report provides some insight into why Telluride was featured on the list, including that "no matter the season, there's always something to do outdoors in Telluride." The report goes on to list multiple activities the area is known for including skiing, ice climbing, mountain biking, paragliding, and the adrenaline-inducing via ferrata route.

    Spencer McKee on the Via Ferrata Kimberly Saavedra

    Spencer McKee on the Telluride Via Ferrata, a Telluride-area route that wraps around a cliff several hundred feet above the ground. Photo Credit: Kimberly Saavedra.

    Telluride is no stranger to getting praise from USA Today. Last year, the town took the top spot on their list of "best small towns to visit" in the country. As far as the 2020 "best small towns for adventure" list goes, Beaufort, North Carolina was ranked number one.

    Colorado State parks continue to see record crowds

    100120-St. Parks Gold 1-CPT

    Photo: Christopher Tomlinson/The Daily Sentinel; Article: Special thanks ALEX ZORN Alex.Zorn@gjsentinel.com

    Fall colors are drawing more traffic to state parks after an already busy year, particularly in northwest Colorado.

    Through the first eight months of the year, nearly 2.4 million people visited state parks in Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s northwest region. Through August last year, the visitor count was less than 2.1 million.

    After April, the numbers were at about the same point for 2019 and 2020, but once summer hit, Coloradans headed out to the northwest parks in massive numbers.

    From April to August, the northwest parks had 300,529 more visitors this year compared to last year.

    Some of those parks include Highline Lake, Vega, Connected Lakes, Rifle Gap, Rifle Falls and Harvey Gap.

    “In my conversations with state park managers, they, continuing with 2020, saw record visitation over the weekend,” said Randy Hampton, Colorado Parks and Wildlife northwest region spokesperson. “People are still going outside, and visitation continues to be high.”

    He said it used to be that the parks would be crowded mostly during peak days like Labor Day and the opening day of rifle season.

    “It used to be there were these moments where you knew you would be busy, but now we just see a constant churn with people outdoors. Maybe it’s just because people got told to stay inside for too long,” Hampton said.

    “One of the cool things about Colorado is that you can cruise the highways on the weekend and have your breath taken away by the fall colors.”

    Typically, the third Sunday of September every year is considered to be Colorado Day, with the leaves changing before the snows hit.

    “It’s typically the third Sunday of September; it changes every year, but it’s affected by several factors, mostly temperatures,” Hampton said.

    Fall colors generally begin with golden aspens at the highest elevations and narrow leaf cottonwoods in low-lying cold areas as early as late August, according to the San Juan National Forest Service.

    Aspens account for 20% of Colorado forests and usually peak near the end of September to early October.

    According to the fall foliage report from Sept. 30, Telluride to Ouray is around 60% and Pagosa Springs is closer to 50%.

    The degree of coloring can also vary from tree to tree, depending on the leaves’ direct exposure to sunlight.

    “Most people are familiar with the aspens, the most iconic, but it’s the lower elevations that get that amazing color in the oak brush when it goes through an orange and red phase,” Hampton said. “If you can get those rare areas of oak brush and aspen, you get the full rainbow of colors.”

    David Boyd, spokesperson for the Bureau of Land Management and White River National Forest, was in Aspen last weekend and said it was peak sesaon in that area.

    “It’s a major tourist thing for people all over the state to go leaf peeping,” he said.

    Boyd said the fires had little impact on it because Hanging Lake and areas near the Grizzly Creek are not popular spots for that.

    Colorado National Monument spokesperson Arlene Jackson said Ute Canyon is typically the best spot to catch the color change on the monument.

    “It’s not like going up on the mesa. Ours are more small drainages where you have a few cottonwood trees that pop yellow compared to the red of the canyons,” she said. “You have to do a little more exploration and find those small pockets of colors is how I would describe a fall drive through the monument.”

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