Top news stories of 2012

Barbara Lawlor
Peak to Peak

The year began with promise of change, some of which was welcomed, some of which was challenged by mountain residents.
In early spring, the United States Forest Service informed the public that it planned to do extensive mitigation work on the West Magnolia Campground and Recreation area. Officials said that the beetle kill and windblown Lodgepole pine presented a safety hazard, and they planned to do patch cutting. The work also was a safety hazard and the area was closed to the public beginning in June.
At first it was thought the work would be finished by the fall, but large wildfires in other areas got dibs on the equipment, and the project started later than had been planned. The delay led to an extension of the closure and the area is still off limits to the public.
Change also happened in the Hesse Trailhead area, which has been a parking nightmare for years. The narrow, dirt roads are not wide enough for cars and emergency vehicles at the same time. The answer has been to issue tickets or tow. This summer, parking was expanded, and while the work was being done, a shuttle bus from Nederland High School to the trailhead was available. Another parking project is scheduled to take place at the Castle Rock climbing and picnic area in Boulder Canyon.
Rampant graffiti tagging and vandalism plagued the Nederland Police Department during the summer. The juvenile culprits were caught. Since then, TEENS, Inc., and the Town of Nederland raised money to erect a painting wall for people who are spray-paint artists looking for a venue. The teens went before the Nederland Board of Trustees and the whole permitting process to make it happen. It was a case of a bad situation leading to a positive outcome.
The Nederland Bucket Brigade was resurrected as a support auxiliary for the Nederland Fire Department. Led by four women, the group organized the traditional Miners’ Day barrel war. Indian Peaks, Timberline and Nederland fire districts competed in the soggy event, and Timberline went home with the trophy.
On June 5, Venus traveled in front of the sun, a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence that was observed by people all over the world.
A spring drought and windy, hot conditions led to fire bans, red flag days and, ultimately, two of Colorado’s worst wild land fires. The first was the High Plains fire near Fort Collins and the second was the Waldo Canyon Fire in Colorado Springs. Both fires destroyed hundreds of homes and thousands of acres.
A lightning strike fire erupted on Flagstaff Mountain, causing hundreds of evacuations as smoke covered the Boulder Valley. Helicopters hovered over the mountains and firefighters from all over the state jumped from fire to fire.
The monsoon season finally drenched the tinder-dry mountains resulting in some flooding but mountain residents were just grateful to get a reprieve from fire danger. When a wildfire was spotted, firefighters jumped on it before it could explode into a disaster.
The Nederland Fourth of July fireworks were postponed, as were most of the fireworks displays on the Front Range. The fireworks took place during the Old Timers’ and Miners’ Days Weekend.
A stray yearling moose lost its way through town and slipped into the skate park. Although it was rescued and transported to a safe place, the moose died from the stress of the situation. Many mom and kid moose were sighted during the summer. It seems they are here to stay.
With fire a clear and present danger, much attention was focused on mitigation, ridding the area of wild land fuel as well as our own backyards. Neighborhood groups such as Saws and Slaws were formed to clean up the forest. The effort was effective as well as a good way to bring neighbors together in a unified battle against the most dangerous predator.
As the new year approaches and 2012 ends, the area is still dry, without a major snowstorm. A fire ban was in effect until Tuesday, Dec. 18, when a three-inch dusting of snow covered the pine needles and dry grasses.