Connect with us

News

A battle between pedaling and peace heats up over plans for mountain bike park in Conifer

Published

on

A battle between pedaling and peace heats up over plans for mountain bike park in Conifer

CONIFER — A titanic battle of Colorado values and priorities is brewing over a proposed mountain bike park on a 9,000-foot mountain overlooking this quiet foothills community 40 minutes from Denver.

On one side are the thousands of cyclists who take to the state’s roads and trails every day, seeking the thrill and challenge of rolling across world-class terrain amid jaw-dropping settings. On the other are long-time mountain residents, adamant about keeping Colorado’s relentless growth at bay while protecting a peacefulness and quietude that is increasingly under strain.

The battle lines in this faceoff are drawn on a heavily wooded 250-acre parcel along Shadow Mountain Drive just west of Conifer, where a plan to build Colorado’s first dedicated lift-access mountain bike park — with 16 miles of trails and an 830-foot vertical drop spanned by a chairlift — has resulted in dueling campaigns for and against it.

A Change.org petition in support of the project has gathered nearly 2,500 signatures while an effort to stymie the plan has garnered around 4,400 signatures.

John Lewis, a member of a well-organized group fighting the proposed project, said he and his neighbors are ready for the Full Send Bike Ranch proposal to land in front of the Jefferson County Planning Commission. The men behind the project say that could come as early as next month, with a hoped-for opening in 2023 should the county give its blessing.

Lewis last week pointed to a vast slope of evergreen trees fronted by North Turkey Creek burbling through a sun-dappled mountain meadow as natural features he doesn’t want to see degraded or disturbed by the construction of a downhill mountain bike facility with a 300-space parking lot.

He worries about hundreds of vehicles traversing narrow Shadow Mountain Drive every day, negotiating blind curves and racing past driveways to reach the bike park. He worries about impacts to wildlife and to the bucolic views he and his neighbors have enjoyed for decades.

He also worries about an increase in wildfire danger — a flicked cigarette from a moving car, perhaps — to an area that is already tinder dry.

“It’s just not appropriate for a residential area,” Lewis said, driving his truck several miles up Shadow Mountain Drive and passing dozens of signs denouncing the project. “I don’t mind these guys building their bike park — but why here?”

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Ranch near the corner of Shadow Mountain Drive and South Warhawk Road. in Conifer, Colorado on Friday, December 3, 2021. Full Send Bike Ranch will be a 250-acre lift access downhill mountain bike park at the area. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

“Just about the riding”

“These guys” are Jason Evans and Phil Bouchard, lifelong friends and bike aficionados from New Hampshire who moved to Colorado last year just as the COVID-19 pandemic was descending on the state. Bouchard, who describes himself as the “strategy” side of the Full Send operation, defends the project as a net gain for the Conifer area.

He said he and his business partner will be working with the U.S. Forest Service to do major wildfire mitigation on the site, removing dead and down trees to make it far safer than it is now. And he said the Full Send Bike Ranch will help draw cyclists off other trails in the area that are currently overcrowded.

“We think the park will alleviate a bit of pressure on a lot of trail systems,” Bouchard said.

Opponents, he said, have painted the project as an assault to the neighborhood. But there will be no nighttime operations lit up with bright lights and no plans to have competitions with loudspeakers blaring riders’ names and results, Bouchard said.

“It’s a relatively low-impact recreational development that is closed six months of the year,” he said.

The park, he said, answers an unmet demand from Colorado’s avid cycling community. While a number of the state’s ski resorts — including Breckenridge, Keystone and the popular Trestle at Winter Park — offer lift-assisted downhill freeride mountain bike runs, Bouchard said they are sideshows to their primary ski operations.

“It’s just about the riding,” he said of Full Send Bike Ranch.

Full Send would be just over a half hour from the metro area via U.S. 285, and because it’s at a lower elevation than the state’s ski resorts, could be open for more days in the year — with a season extending from April to November.

“If you want to go mountain biking, you don’t have to wait until Saturday and put in a three-hour commute on Interstate 70,” Bouchard said. “You could go after work on a Wednesday.”

Plans also call for a lodge where riders can enjoy a beer after a run. Tickets would be priced at $50 to $80 a day, with season passes available, Bouchard said. The effort to build the park would be a multi-million dollar one, money Bouchard and his partner are confident they can raise if the project is approved by Jefferson County.

The friends are working on a lease arrangement with Colorado’s State Land Board, which owns the parcel.

Gary Moore, executive director of the Colorado Mountain Bike Association, said the Full Send Bike Ranch “scratches an itch” among the state’s earnest pedalers.

“They’re coming at this from a clean sheet design,” he said. “They could really just do what they want to do without facing restraints. There’s a huge contingent of mountain bikers on the Front Range that aren’t getting access to that style of riding.”

1638627057 690 A battle between pedaling and peace heats up over plans

Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Stop Bike Ranch sign near the corner of Shadow Mountain Drive and South Warhawk Road. in Conifer, Colorado on Friday, December 3, 2021. Full Send Bike Ranch will be a 250-acre lift access downhill mountain bike park at the area. (Photo by Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post)

“God’s country”

But neighbors point to Jefferson County’s own Conifer/285 Area Plan, updated in 2014, which notes that residents “value the community’s natural environment and rural neighborhoods.”

“Passive and active recreation facilities, including recreational buildings and outdoor multi-use fields, should be designed to respect and be compatible with the area’s natural resources, rural character and adjacent land uses,” the document states.

google news

News

Police: Truck with 100 monkeys crashes, some of them missing

Published

on

Police: Truck with 100 monkeys crashes, some of them missing

DANVILLE, Pa. — A truck carrying about 100 monkeys was involved in a crash Friday in Pennsylvania, state police said as authorities searched for at least three of the monkeys that appeared to have escaped the vehicle.

The truck carrying the animals crashed with a dump truck in the afternoon in Montour County, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper Andrea Pelachick told the Daily Item.

The truck had been on its way to a lab, Pelachick said.

Authorities have asked residents who might see the monkeys to call state police at 570-524-2662.

It was unclear if any people or animals were injured in the crash.

google news
Continue Reading

News

GM to spend $6.5B, add 4,000 jobs at Michigan EV factories

Published

on

GM to spend $6.5B, add 4,000 jobs at Michigan EV factories

LANSING, Mich. — General Motors is poised to announce next week major electric-vehicle investments in Michigan, with plans to spend $6.5 billion and create up to 4,000 new jobs at two plants.

The state’s economic development board is expected to approve an incentives package Tuesday, according to a meeting agenda posted online.

The Associated Press previously reported the Detroit automaker’s plan to partner in a joint venture to build a $2.5B electric-vehicle battery factory in the Lansing area, adding as many as 1,700 workers. GM also plans to spend $4 billion and create up to 2,300 new jobs by designating an existing plant in Orion Township as its third electric-vehicle factory, along with plants in Detroit-Hamtramck and Spring Hill, Tennessee.

The selections are a big win for Michigan, which missed out on three Ford Motor Co. battery factories and a Ford electric-vehicle assembly plant that will be built in Kentucky and Tennessee.

Michigan state lawmakers and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently enacted a new $1 billion fund designed to land major business projects.

“The Ford announcement felt like a punch in the nose,” Quentin Messer Jr., CEO of the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and president and chair of the Michigan Strategic Fund, said last month. “Michiganders have always responded to every punch with a more forceful counterpunch.”

The Orion Township plant, about 40 miles north of Detroit, now makes the Chevrolet Bolt electric hatchback and small SUV, employing just over 1,100 workers. The company has said that it would soon announce that an existing factory would build electric pickup trucks. Bolt production has been suspended due to a battery recall.

The battery plant will be constructed on the site of GM’s Lansing Delta Township Assembly factory, which makes the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse SUVs.

“GM appreciates the support it has received from the Governor, the State Legislature, Orion Township, the City of Lansing and Delta Township related to two prospective projects that GM is considering in Orion Township and Lansing,” company spokesperson Dan Flores said in a written statement. “Until these projects receive final approval, we have no comment on potential announcement timing,”

GM says it is also spending $154 million to revamp an aging factory near Buffalo, New York, so it can make a key part for electric vehicle motors.

Electric vehicles amounted to less than 3% of U.S. new auto sales last year, but forecasters expect big increases in the next decade. Consumers bought about 400,000 fully electric vehicles.

The LMC Automotive consulting firm estimates EV sales will jump to 763,000 this year and more than 1.2 million by 2023. The firm expects EVs to make up nearly 44% of new vehicle sales by 2033, with nearly 7.4 million sold.

google news
Continue Reading

News

Intel to build $20B Ohio chip facility amid global shortage

Published

on

Intel to build $20B Ohio chip facility amid global shortage

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Chipmaker Intel said Friday it will invest $20 billion to build a new factory in Ohio, an attempt to help alleviate a global shortage of chips powering everything from phones to cars to home appliances while also signaling the giant company’s commitment to manufacturing crucial technology products in the U.S.

The move could also create a new technology hub in central Ohio as related businesses that support chip manufacturing open new facilities and bring expertise to the region.

Intel said two planned factories, or fabs, will support its own line of processors, as well as its new “foundry” business, which will build chips designed by other firms. Existing chip foundries turn out a vast number of custom-designed chips, mostly in Asia. The business is currently dominated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., or TSMC.

The future production site aims to meet multiple needs, Intel CEO Patrick Gelsinger said during a White House event. Chips built there won’t just reduce supply chain pressures, he said, but will also bolster U.S. national security while bringing more tech jobs to the region.

The two factories on a 1,000-acre site in Licking County, just east of Columbus, are expected to create 3,000 company jobs — many of them highly skilled — and 7,000 construction jobs. The facility will support tens of thousands of additional jobs for suppliers and partners, Intel and local and state officials said Friday.

“A semiconductor factory is not like other factories,” said Gelsinger, a former Intel executive who returned to the company as CEO in 2021. “It’s more like a small city supporting a vibrant community of services, suppliers and ancillary businesses. You can think about this as a magnet for the entire tech industry.”

President Joe Biden used Intel’s Ohio announcement to push a $52 billion bill awaiting House approval that would invest in the chip sector and help ensure more production occurs in the U.S.

“We are going to invest in America,” Biden said at the White House. “We’re investing in American workers. We’re going to stamp everything we can, ‘Made in America,’ especially these computer chips.”

Construction is expected to begin this year, with production coming online at the end of 2025. The company is also investing an additional $100 million for an education pipeline to help provide jobs for the facility. Total investment could top $100 billion over the decade, with six additional factories, Gelsinger said.

Intel said one of the products it will make in Ohio is the Intel 18A, “among the most advanced chips ever made,” according to Forrester analyst Glenn O’Donnell. Those will likely be used in the high-end computers that are popular with video game enthusiasts and needed for the data centers run by tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft.

Gelsinger said he expects the Ohio site will also supply specialized chips for cars — a priority for U.S. consumers and officials — and other products such as mobile devices.

Intel’s Ohio site could help relieve pressure on the company’s other production lines.

But making more computer chips in the U.S. won’t entirely protect the industry from supply chain disruptions and shortages because the chips still will be sent to Asia for assembling and packaging, said Nina Turner, a research analyst at IDC.

After years of heavy reliance on Asia for the production of computer chips, vulnerability to shortages of the crucial components was exposed in the U.S. and Europe as they began to emerge economically from the pandemic.

The U.S. share of the worldwide chip manufacturing market has declined from 37% in 1990 to 12% today, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, and shortages have become a potential risk.

Shortages of chips have crimped the ability of U.S. automakers to produce vehicles, and last year, General Motors was unseated by Toyota as the nation’s top-selling automaker for the first time.

The U.S. and Europe are pushing to aggressively to build chipmaking capacity and reduce reliance on producers that are now mostly based in Asia. Semiconductor businesses have also been trying to diversify their operations to avoid bottlenecks caused by problems — such as a natural disaster or pandemic lockdown — in a specific region.

Several chipmakers last year signaled an interest in expanding their American operations if the U.S. government is able to make it easier to build chip plants. Samsung said in November it plans to build a $17 billion factory outside of Austin, Texas.

As Biden alluded to, lawmakers have been urging House and Senate leaders to fully fund a law meant to address the semiconductor chip shortage. They want Congress to fully fund the $52 billion CHIPS for America Act, allowing for stateside investment in semiconductor factories.

Not only has the chip shortage disrupted the U.S. economy, it is also creating a vulnerability in the country’s defense system, since eight of every 10 chips are produced in Asia, lawmakers say.

Intel executives made clear Friday that the size of its Ohio complex will depend on passage of the federal subsidies sought by the Biden administration and Ohio lawmakers.

google news
Continue Reading

Trending