After a battle Memorial Day by multiple agencies, that small wildfire along Garfield County Road 311 a couple miles south of Silt and south of I-70 was reported 80 percent contained at only 22 acres scorched. The Garfield Sheriff’s office says it’s fortunate the fire’s only about a third of the size it was originally thought to be. How’d it crop up? Well, Sheriff’s spokesman Walt Stowe notes it was a holiday weekend, so the probable cause of the fire could’ve been someone’s barbecue, or some other way sparks could have gotten away from a nearby home and hit dry grasses in the area. Stowe said Tuesday those flames weren’t expected to spread after that strong containment effort, unless exceptionally high winds come up. Of course the fire site is being monitored closely until it’s completely out. You might notice some smoke or a campfire smell driving by on I-70, but please don’t call 911. Garfield County still has numerous responders on site.
Tomorrow evening, that proposed development at El Jebel resumes getting scrutinized by the Eagle County Commissioners. They’re ready to make the trip over from the Vail Valley for the next public hearing on the so-called “Tree Farm” the developer who goes by “Ace” Lane wants to build. If built, his complex would cover 43 acres, directly across Highway 82 from the competing Willits Town Center. Lane wants to have a vast 134 thousand square feet of commercial space, another hotel to go up against Westin’s Element, and as many as 340 housing units. Those have been the big sticking point to the commissioners. Several weeks ago, Lane’s plans only proposed about 43 of the 340 would even be designated “affordable.” Commissioners said that wasn’t even close to enough, and directed Lane to amend his plan to reflect more affordability, so as to house local workers, not just the wealthy. A couple weeks back, he told them he wasn’t ready, so the hearing was continued… to tomorrow. The session begins at 5:00 Thursday, at the El Jebel Community Center.
A whole lot of visitors flocked to Hanging Lake over the 3-day weekend. There haven’t been any reports of new vandalism, after a spate of graffiti that cropped up in April. The US Forest Service’s own police are now going to be patrolling the site now through the summer, hoping to keep things nice for all visitors there, and preventing any more misbehavior. Remember shortly after the April incident, district ranger Aaron Mayville told us that constituted more than graffiti, including some people bringing pets, some jumping into the lake, which is prohibited, and general disregard for the site’s beauty. Now, for a few days in early June, the park and the trail to hike up to it will be closed. The Forest Service says some of its personnel and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps will be working to clear away dangerous trees, build more steps to the waterfall, and do other work on the trail. On peak days, Hanging Lake’s been known to get as many as 1100 to 1200 visitors a day. Ranger Mayville says late next month, a new management plan for the site will be unveiled, hoping to cut those numbers about in half. He’s not yet offering specifics, but the proposal’s expected to include an entry fee to get in, and a shuttle from Glenwood Springs to the site, to alleviate the current traffic and parking snarls.
And you’ll hear more about this in our bridge report, but there’s more paving work going on in Glenwood this week. Work’s done on US 6 in West Glenwood, so now the focus moves to the downtown area that’s going to get a lot of traffic during the bridge project detour, what’s being called a “squareabout” along 8th Street from School Street to Grand Avenue, Colorado Avenue between 8th & 9th, and 9th from Colorado to Grand Avenues. Milling to tear up the old surface in those areas is happening 7 til 7 today & tonight, and then the couple new inches of asphalt will be put down to make things nice and smooth 6 in the morning ‘til 7 in the evening the rest of the week. Along the major detour route, Midland Avenue from Devereux to 8th, that old pavement’s getting milled up this week too, and the re-paving should begin soon after. A lot of Midland will be down to one lane, and you could encounter delays of up to 15 minutes as the paving crew moves along the route. And again that work will run 6 am to 7 pm each day this week.