USDA Forest Service Proposes improved Environmental Review for Small Oil and Gas Exploration Projects

WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 2005 - U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today announced a proposal to improve the environmental review process for oil and gas exploration and development projects under federal lease in national forests and grasslands. Public comments are being invited on the proposal for 60 days.

The proposal would allow local forest and grassland units to use a categorical exclusion when approving surface uses, such as road access, drill pad construction and pipeline installation, for oil and gas exploration and development under federal lease.

"Our forest managers have reviewed similar oil and gas projects over the last five years and have learned that projects of this scale do not carry significant environmental effects to human health or the environment," said Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth. "This proposal is a result of that review as well as the agency's commitment to energy conservation in our national forest and grasslands."

Projects under this proposed regulation could not include more than up to a mile each of new and reconstructed road, three miles of pipeline and four drill sites. Currently, these types of projects require an environmental assessment (EA) or environmental impact statement (EIS), which can take six months or longer to complete. This proposal would allow the environmental
review process to be completed in about two months.

The proposal would apply only to activities where there are no extraordinary circumstances related to the project, such as significant adverse effects on threatened and endangered species or their designated critical habitat, wilderness areas, inventoried roadless areas, wetlands, and archeological or historic sites.

Public involvement opportunities would not be limited in any way under this action. Individuals would continue to have an opportunity to be involved in project planning on oil and gas leasing projects prior to their approval.

Categorical exclusions are defined as categories of actions that do not have a significant effect on the environment and therefore, do not require an EA or EIS. They are an existing tool provided for under the National Environmental Policy Act that has been used for decades on a broad range of land management activities. Visit to view the Federal Register notice, which includes instructions on how to send public comments.

The Forest Service manages approximately 193 million surface acres located in 42 states and Puerto Rico. While the U.S. Department of the Interior is the chief federal entity that oversees energy activity on public lands, the Forest Service administers more than 4,600 leases on approximately 4.6 million sub-surface acres in national forests and grasslands. National
forests and grasslands in 25 states hold numerous energy resources, including coal, oil and gas, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind and biomass.

This categorical exclusion may be subject to the Eastern District of California court ruling, Earth Island Institute v. Ruthenbeck. Therefore, oil and gas projects using this categorical exclusion may be required to notice the project to the public, and provide public comment and appeal


Syracuse - Antelope Island State Parks hosts a variety of holiday events. Friday, December 23 at 2 p.m., join park staff to view the Friends of Great Salt Lake's film Lake Affect. This video presents a comprehensive look at Great Salt Lake's ecosystem.

Saturday, December 24 at 2 p.m., enjoy the movie The Great Salt Lake in the visitor center. This video presents a fact filled view of Ancient Lake Bonneville and the current Great Salt Lake.

Tuesday, December 27 at 2 p.m., view Mariners in Hardhats in the visitor center. This video shows the process involved in replacing the Lucin Cutoff trellis causeway with the current earth causeway across Great Salt Lake.

At 2 p.m., Wednesday, December 28, join the park naturalist for a Junior Ranger wildlife tracking program. Children learn which animals inhabit Antelope Island State Park during the winter season. Participants should meet at the visitor center, dress warmly, and bring water and sunscreen.

Thursday, December 29 at 2 p.m., enjoy a presentation on Jim Bridger at the visitor center. For more information, please call (801) 721-9569.


Below are current grooming conditions as of Tuesday, December 13. Utah State Parks staff encourages all riders to carry appropriate avalanche gear and get an avalanche advisory at 1-800-OHV-RIDE or .
Logan Canyon - Riding is excellent, but temperatures are in the single digits.
Amazon - December 8
Beaver Creek - December 8
Cottonwood- No snow yet
Franklin Basin - December 9
Garden City- No snow yet
Temple Canyon -No snow yet
Tony Grove - December 9
Sinks Trail- December 8
Swan Flat - December 8
Hardware Ranch - Hardware Ranch, Strawberry, Elk Valley, the Gorge, Saddle Creek, and Danish Dugway- December 7
Hardware Ranch, Strawberry, Hells Canyon North - December 9
Monte Cristo - 27 inches of snow at Dry Bread Pond and 34 inches at Monte Cristo.
Highway 39 - December 11
Highway 39 to Woodruff Gate, Wasatch Ridge - December 10
Highway 39, Arbs Basin, Ant Flat to Scare Canyon - December 9
Highway 39 to Woodruff Gate, Wasatch Ridge - December 8
Highway 39, Arbs Basin, Ant Flat to Sheep Creek - December 7
Wasatch Mountain - Snow conditions vary from approximately 18 inches to three feet. Currently, Tibble Fork and Silver Lake are not being groomed.

Pine Canyon to park boundary- December 6
Snake Creek Canyon - December 7 and 8
American Fork Canyon to the Narrows - December 8
Cummings Parkway - December 8
Mirror Lake / Mill Hollow- About two feet of snow at Soapstone and approximately five feet at the higher elevations.
Mirror Lake Highway to Ruth Lake - December 8
Soapstone, Mill Hollow to Lake Creek Trailhead - December 9
Soapstone, Mill Hollow to Lake Creek Summit - December 10
Bear River Service to Whitney- More snow needed before grooming can begin.
Uintah Basin- More snow needed before grooming can begin.
Scofield/ Joe's Valley/ Skyline Drive- More snow needed before grooming can begin.
Mt. Nebo- Approximately three feet of snow on top. The lower elevations have enough snow to drive on, but not groom.
Nephi side gate to Payson Canyon gate - December 9
Ephraim/ Manti/ Twelve Mile- More snow needed before grooming can begin.
Cedar Mountain/ East Fork- More snow needed before grooming can begin.
Strawberry Valley- Co-op Creek to Lake Creek Summit and back down Strawberry River - December 7

December 29 Camp Floyd/ Stagecoach Inn State Park and Museum - Fairfield
Junior Pony Express Rider Program: Meet the soldiers at Camp Floyd from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Complete a workbook containing fun, interactive activities and earn an official Pony Express wooden nickel. Taste hardtack, a common food eaten by soldiers at Camp Floyd. The workbook, nickel and hardtack are included with paid admission of $2 per person, or $6 per family. For more information, please call (801) 768-8932.

Fall for Winter

While chilly temperatures and the recent snow storms may have many Utahns thinking winter is already here we've still a few days to wait until it officially arrives.

According to NASA Solar System Ambassador to Utah Patrick Wiggins, winter officially starts here in the northern hemisphere the morning of Wednesday, the 21st at 11:35 a.m. MST when the Sun reaches its most southerly point in our skies.

Following this event, known to astronomers as the December solstice, the periods of daylight will gradually grow longer, and eventually warmer. Things are reversed in the southern hemisphere where the December solstice is seen as the beginning of summer.

The solstice also brings Utah's shortest day with barely 9 hours of daylight versus over 15 hours when the Sun is furthest north in June. Many of the holiday traditions we enjoy at this time of year are thought to have originated in ancient solstice ceremonies.

"An example of this is our use of festive lights." says Wiggins. "In ancient times people kept a very close eye on the Sun at this time of year since everyone could see that it was getting lower and lower in the sky each day. They feared that if something wasn't done, the Sun would
soon disappear altogether."

"So the worried people built great bonfires to entice the Sun to stick around and, sure enough, every year their efforts paid off and the Sun reversed course and started its gradual climb higher and higher into the sky." For additional astronomical information see Wiggins' Solar System
Ambassador's web site at

Salt Lake Resorts Delighted with Deep Snow
SALT LAKE CITY -- On the heels of last year's record winter, a recent series of snowstorms has set the stage for terrific early season skiing and a thriving holiday period. The most recent storm blanketed as much as 24" of Utah's famous "Greatest Snow on Earth®" on Salt Lake's four resorts this week: Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude. Nearly ten feet of snow overall has already fallen this season in the Cottonwood Canyons.

50" in the past ten days has created a buzz among Salt Lake's avid local skiers, and has resort crews opening lifts and terrain to keep pace with the demand. All lifts are open at Alta, Brighton has their terrain park fired up and are starting night skiing this weekend, Snowbird is set to open their last major unopened terrain-Mineral Basin-this weekend, and Solitude is 100% open including their legendary Honeycomb Canyon today.

2004-05 was a record season for all of Utah skiing, when 3.9 million "skier visits" were recorded, an increase of 12% over the previous best year. Bountiful snow played a major role in this achievement, when the best snowfall in 24 years attracted throngs of visiting skiers and snowboarders. Although the snow did not begin as early as last year, the accumulation for this season is already approaching the prominent depths of December 2004.

"Snow drives reservations like nothing else," reports Laura Schaffer, spokesperson for Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. "Our bookings are up double-digits over last year." The strongest growth is at Solitude Mountain Resort where bookings are showing nearly 30% gains over the record pace set last season. "Condos in our village are sold out for the holiday week," reports Jay Burke for the resort. "We do have availability at The Inn, and if you're only looking for a night or two in a condo, I would still contact reservations."

To view the Ski Salt Lake snow report, visit here:

To browse Ski Salt Lake news releases and story-ideas, stop in here: The most accessible city in the Rockies, Salt Lake is Delta Air Line's Western hub. There are 17 carriers overall, with 972 daily flights, non-stop service to 92 cities and over 120 flights landing before noon. With the airport a short six miles from downtown, visitors can travel from either coast and conduct business the same day…or go skiing and snowboarding at the numerous mountain resorts that begin appearing a mere 29 miles from the airport.

Mountain Essentials - Winter "must haves" that make or break your day on the slopes

McLean, Virginia (December 9, 2005) - The annual SIA SnowSports Trade Show in Las Vegas, gives snowsport industry insiders full access to the latest and greatest in mountain essentials - base layers, gloves, hats, eyewear, etc. All these "little things" can make the biggest difference for skiers and snowboarders - providing them with the edge they need to enjoy their day and improve their performance. If you didn't get the chance to attend last January's show, we've collected the ultimate "must have" list for anyone heading out on the slopes this winter season - all of these items also make excellent stocking stuffers.

Mountain Essentials Check-List

·Sunglasses - for those blue bird sunny days

·Goggles - for unpredictable mountain weather

·Layers - wicking base layer, insulation layer, protective outerwear

·Sun Block & Lip Balm - mountain sun and wind take their toll

·Hat - forget hat head, everyone needs a hat

·Gloves/Mittens - frozen hands = bad day

·Neck Gator - really makes a difference on a cold, windy day

·Hydrate - use a hydration pack or stop for water frequently

Talk about essential, if your hands are blocks of ice - you're not going to enjoy any winter activity and your dexterity and performance is affected. However, skiers and riders hand temperatures can vary dramatically -- some people can't get enough insulation, while others are battling sweaty palms all day. The new offerings of gloves have something for everyone:

·Hotfingers offers the Alpine Carver collection for wet/cold conditions and their new Rideside snowboard line for shredders.

·Dakine's new Targa GT offers a low-profile, performance-fit snowboard glove with waterproof/breathable inserts designed just for women.

·Seirus is offering a Softshell Glove System which features two gloves combined to make a technically advanced system.

Eyewear: If you can't see where you're headed on a mountain, you're in big trouble. How many times have you witnessed an unprepared skier/snowboarder heading back in to purchase goggles on a day it's dumping snow or squinting on a sunny day? It's amazing how much fun you can have on a mountain when glare, snow and flat light aren't holding you back.

·Goggles are highly stylized and streamlined this season. Uvex's Magic goggle incorporates technology used by the US Air Force.

·Hybrid Sunglasses - combine lightweight sunglasses with the tight seal of goggles. Rooly Optics' Glide and Utopia's Underworld both combine goggle and sunglass features

Top it off: Up to 60% of your body's heat can escape from an uncovered head. That's why wearing a hat or helmet is essential when it's cold. There are thousands of styles of hats, usually made from fleece or wool. Helmets are also becoming very popular and not only do they protect the head during falls, but they also provide warmth and for the 05-06 season, many helmets feature integrated audio systems.

·Hats - military style, nubby wool, trucker hats, skull graphics - there's a hat that will match every personal style this season. Pistil, Chaos, ASD and Turtle Fur all have a huge selection.

·Giro audio helmets -- Tune Ups II and G10 MX with audio systems integrated through a y-split control cord let riders hook a portable audio player and cell phone into their helmet and switch between the two.

·Bonfire's SkullCrusher beanie features "sub-woofed" volume through studio sized headphones.

·R.E.D's Tantrum Helmet let's you listen to your portable audio device and answer cell phone calls.

Socks: One pair of lightweight or medium weight socks works best for skiing, snowboarding or snowshoeing. Socks are made from a variety of materials, including polyester, silk and wool. Socks designed specifically for snowsports have wicking properties similar to thermal underwear, meaning your feet will stay drier and more comfortable.

·Fox River's new Wick Dry® Revolution snowboard socks are designed to fit the shape of a women's foot.

·SmartWool creates incredibly soft, functional wool ski/snowboarding socks including their new Snowboard socks with the SmartFit system.

·Wigwam's HotFoot sock turns up the heat inside your boots with moisture-control technology.


Midway - The tubing hill at Soldier Hollow at Wasatch Mountain State Park is open for the season. Hours are Monday through Friday noon to 8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Holiday hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. are observed December 21 through January 1, January 17 and February 21.

Tubing sessions are two hours long and start on the even hour. Admission for two-hour sessions is $16 for those seven and older, and children three to six are $9. Single ride pricing is also available. Age three is the minimum age to ride the lift, but free tubing on a small slope with parental supervision is available. All rates include tube use and lift ride.

Rates are available for groups who reserve and pay in advance. Group rates for 25 people or more are $10 per person and groups over 50 are $9 per person. Private parties are available for $675 for a two-hour session. For more information, visit

Francis - Rock Cliff Nature Center staff at Jordanelle State Park host Track Me If You Can! each Saturday beginning December 17. Join the park naturalist from 10 a.m. to noon and learn basic tracking skills necessary to understanding local wildlife. Bring snowshoes or borrow a pair from the park.

Pre-registration is required. Day-use fee is $7 per vehicle with up to eight people or free to Utah State Park pass holders. Rock Cliff Nature Center is located 7.5 miles east of Heber City on Highway 32 near Francis. For more information call (435) 782-3030 or (435) 649-9540.

December 17 Wasatch Mountain State Park - Midway
Naturalist Hike: Lessons from Wildlife - Are the stresses of the holidays getting to you? Join the naturalist for a two-mile round trip hike along the Deer Creek Trail to discover how nature deals with stress. Meet at the Soldier Hollow Train Platform at 10 a.m. For more information, please call (435) 654-1791.

Elk Viewing Begins Dec. 15 at Hardware Ranch

Hyrum - Taking a sleigh ride through the middle of hundreds of wild elk are among the activities people can enjoy at the Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area this winter. A new season of viewing elk at the ranch begins Dec. 15.

Elk began arriving in the meadow at the ranch on Dec. 1. Heavy snow will continue to push elk into the meadow through most of the winter.

Sleigh Rides

Hardware Ranch has been offering horse-drawn rides to view the elk for more than 30 years. When there's snow, big draft horses pull 25-person sleighs through the herd. When there isn't enough snow, the horses pull wagons. During the rides, Division of Wildlife Resources personnel talk with visitors about the elk and the other animals at the ranch. They also provide a short history about the ranch and talk about its habitat.

While the rides are the main attraction, Hardware Ranch is also well known for its informative visitor center and the excellent food served in the Hardware Café. Stock Crossing Catering is operating the restaurant this year. The restaurant is open on Saturdays and Sundays and offers a full-service menu.

Operating Hours

The ranch is open for business Thursdays through Mondays, from noon to 5 p.m. The sleigh rides and visitor center open at noon. On Saturdays, the ranch is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with rides beginning at 10 a.m. Ride tickets cost $5 for those ages 9 and above and $3 for children ages 4 to 8. Children under 3 years old can ride for free. Tickets may be purchased in the visitor center. Please purchase your tickets before 4:30 p.m., which is when the last ride of the day leaves.

The restaurant is open from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 4:30 p.m. on Sundays. Prices range from $4.50 to $7.95 per meal. Hot drinks and snacks are also available.

A "moonlight sleigh ride and dinner" package is also offered every Saturday night beginning New Year's Eve. The package includes a wagon ride among the elk and an all-you-can-eat Dutch oven and prime rib buffet for $25 per person. The ranch will also offer moonlight rides on Valentine's Day this year. Reservations are required for all of the moonlight packages and may be made by calling (435) 753-6206.

Programs for school children begin in January. The programs include two-hours of educational activities that are tied to the core curriculum and are focused on elk. The program also includes a ride through the elk herd.

To reserve a time for a program, school teachers can call (435) 753-6206 or send an e-mail to .

How to Get There-- The Hardware Ranch WMA is located at Mile Marker 22 on east State Road 101 in Blacksmith Fork Canyon. The ranch is about 115 miles north (about a 2-hour drive) from Salt Lake City. It's about 17 miles east of Hyrum and 22 miles southeast of Logan.

Good lodging, food and entertainment are readily available in Cache Valley, within 45 minutes of the ranch. The roads up Blacksmith Fork Canyon are usually plowed and sanded by noon each day. For more information about the Hardware Ranch WMA, call (435) 753-6206 or visit on the Web.
Lots Happening Through the Year

Personnel at Hardware raise all of the hay that is fed to the elk through the winter. The ranch also includes facilities and equipment to conduct numerous wildlife and habitat studies, including grazing programs that promote healthy rangelands and reduce fire danger in forests.

The ranch is owned and operated by the Division of Wildlife Resources as a resting and feeding area for big game animals, including elk, deer and moose. The ranch's managers are also working to develop year-round educational programs and to provide improved recreational opportunities for the public. Hardware Ranch is already a prime location for hunting and fishing and is seeing a marked increase in the number of people who visit the ranch through the year to view wildlife.

View Bighorn Sheep in Provo on Dec. 17

Provo - A chance to view bighorn sheep in the foothills east of Provo awaits Dec. 17 at a free bighorn sheep viewing event. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the free event at Rock Canyon Park in Provo from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Rock Canyon Park is at 2620 N. and 1200 E. (Iroquois Dr.) just northeast of the Provo LDS Temple. Biologists will be on hand with spotting scopes and binoculars to help visitors spot bighorn sheep and to answer questions.

Before the viewing event begins, a 40-minute presentation about these magnificent animals will be given at the Springville DWR office at 1115 N. Main St. in Springville. The presentation by BYU student Loren Chase and DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Scott Root begins at 9 a.m. The presentation is limited to 60 participants and reservations must be made in advance by calling Root at (801) 491-5656.

There is no limit to the number of people who can view the sheep at Rock Canyon Park, and reservations are not required for the viewing event. Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes and to dress warmly.
Directions to Rock Canyon Park

From I-15 take either the University Parkway or Provo Center Street exits. Drive east to 900 East. Turn north on 900 E. to Temple View Drive (east of the Missionary Training Center at approximately 1900 North). On Temple View Drive, proceed east past the LDS Temple (the road will curve to the north). At the stop sign, continue north (the road is now called Iroquois Drive) about 200 yards. Rock Canyon Park is on the east side of Iroquois Drive at 2620 North.
Wild Sheep Are Making a Comeback

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are native to Utah and had climbed the hills of Utah County until about 1930 when sheep in the northern portion of Utah were thought to be extinct in that part of the state. Since January 2000, many bighorn sheep have been reintroduced into the mountains overlooking Utah County's larger cities (from American Fork Canyon to Nebo Mountain) through a joint effort among the Utah Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, the Division of Wildlife Resources, sportsman and conservation groups, and private citizens.

Utah is home to three subspecies of bighorn sheep. Desert bighorns live in several locations in southern Utah. California bighorn sheep have been trans-located to Antelope Island State Park and the Newfoundland Mountain range. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are found at several Utah locations, including Utah County, Flaming Gorge Reservoir, the North Slope of the Uinta Mountains, Desolation Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument.

The Utah County bighorn sheep population is thriving and now numbers more than 100 animals.

Pronghorn Find New Homes in Uinta Basin

Vernal - After a long and somewhat chaotic day, 126 pronghorns recently found new homes in the Uinta Basin in northeastern Utah. Moving the pronghorns is part of an effort to enhance pronghorn populations south of Highway 40, which have been heavily impacted by seven years of severe drought.

"We moved 126 pronghorn to the Northeast Region," said Dave Olsen, biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "The division moved 58 new critters to the Myton Bench unit and 37 on the East Bench. The Ute Tribe also received 30 pronghorn to help enhance their herd.

"The severe drought really impacted the herds," Olsen said. "The Myton Bench herd dropped from around 1,300 [pronghorns] to less than 300, and the East Bench herd went from 900 to 200. The biologists from the Ute Tribe reported similar losses to their herds."

Olsen said the pronghorn were collected as part of a trapping operation on Parker Mountain in southern Utah. Over the last 10 years, Parker Mountain has supplied roughly 4,000 pronghorns to other areas throughout the West to enhance or reintroduce new herds. This year, biologists trapped 390 animals. Most of these animals went to the Ute Tribe, the state of Arizona, the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, and to three UDWR regions - the Northeast, Southeast and Southern.

The UDWR used two traps this year. Two long fenced wings were built to form a large funnel into a circular working area. The pronghorns were then found and herded into the trap using a helicopter. Once in the trap, biologists caught each animal and then sorted and placed them a horse or sheep trailer for transport. Depending on their destination, some of the animals were tagged, radio-collared and/or given antibiotics or a blood test. The new recruits were then driven to their new homes and released.

Last year's snow and rains have helped the range recover, and Olsen is hopeful this enhancement will help speed the pronghorn herd recovery in northeastern Utah by increasing the number of animals and providing some new genetics.

SCI Supports Wetlands Loan Act

TUCSON, Ariz. , Dec. 6, 2005 - SCI joins with the growing chorus of conservation groups in its support for the Wetlands Loan Act introduced by Rep. Mark Kennedy (R-Minnesota) and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-California). This bipartisan legislation would accelerate wetlands conservation by authorizing a $400 million loan to purchase new wetlands before the value of the land significantly increases. Funds from the loan would be used for land acquisition in order to protect wetlands habitat throughout the country, but most notably in the prairie pothole region of the central and northern plains.

"With land values climbing rapidly, money is needed now to help protect important habitat," said SCI Executive Director Tom Riley. "This bill ensures that needed funds will be available and that quality conservation measures can be taken sooner than later."

The funds in question would come from an advance of the Federal Duck Stamp Program which is used to pay for wetland acquisition. The Wetlands Loan Act would also increase the price of the stamp from $10 in 2007 to $25 and $35 in 2015 to help pay for the loan.

"America has lost more than 50 percent of its natural wetlands and my home state of California has lost over 90 percent," said Rep. Thompson. "This bill is a fiscally responsible approach to restoring our wetlands and ensuring a healthy future for America s waterfowl."

"We are facing a growing wetlands conservation crisis," said Rep. Kennedy. "Because the number of hunters in the U.S. has remained relatively static while the price of land is on the rise, we are no longer creating sufficient revenues to preserve the habitat needed for waterfowl production."

Other conservation groups that have signaled their support for the legislation include Ducks Unlimited, Pheasants Forever, International Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, National Wildlife Federation and the Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation.

SCI-First For Hunters is the leader in protecting the freedom to hunt and in promoting wildlife conservation worldwide. SCI's 173 Chapters represent all 50 United States as well as 13 other countries. SCI's proactive leadership in a host of cooperative wildlife conservation, outdoor education and humanitarian programs, with the SCI Foundation and other conservation groups, research institutions and government agencies, empowers sportsmen to be contributing community members and participants in sound wildlife management and conservation. Visit or call 520-620-1220 for more information.

SCI's record-breaking 33rd Annual Hunters' Convention hosted more than 19,700 sportsmen from 50 countries around the world. Thanks to over 1,100 top exhibitors helping hunters realize dreams around the globe, the Convention raised nearly $11 million for SCI and the SCI Foundation. To register to attend SCI's 34th Annual Hunters' Convention, in Reno Jan. 18-21, 2006, call 888-746-9724 toll-free or visit .


A world-class field of international ski jumpers will compete in a World Cup "B" event on Dec. 16-17 at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow. The Nordic Combined event is returning to Soldier Hollow for the first time since the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Over 80 athletes from 17 nations will be competing in Park City and Midway.

The public is welcome to watch the competitions. The Nordic Combined World Cup "B" schedule is as follows:

Thursday, December 15--Official training

Friday, December 16-

Utah Olympic Park, K120 Jump - 10:30 a.m.

Soldier Hollow, 7.5km Sprint - 3:00 p.m.

Saturday, December 17

Soldier Hollow, X-C 10km Mass Start - 9:00 a.m.

Utah Olympic Park, K120 Jump - 1:30 p.m.

If you would like to volunteer for the event please contact the National Sports Foundation at 435.645-7660 ext. 104 or email .


Tune into JEOPARDY on December 20th to see the Clue Crew in action at the Utah Olympic Park. This episode will feature bobsledding clips that were filmed at the Utah Olympic Park last winter. The "Clue Crew" travels the world and films clues for JEOPARDY. JEOPARDY airs at 7:30 p.m. on KJZZ-TV.

The Utah Olympic Park offers public bobsled rides daily Tuesday through Saturday. The public can make reservations now by calling the Utah Olympic Park at (435) 658-4206. Space is limited so reserve your ride now!

Known as "The Comet," bobsleds travel in excess of 70 miles per hour and 5 G's of force as they rocket down the icy track the equivalent of a 40-story drop in less than one minute. Participants must be at least 16 years of age. The cost is $200 per person. For more information a section called "Frequently Asked Questions About Bobsled Rides" is located on the Utah Olympic Park website at to answer a variety of inquiries.


Utah Olympic Oval and US Speedskating will host the U.S. Long Track Championships competitions Dec. 27 - 31 on the "Fastest Ice on Earth" in Kearns. This is one of the important competitions this season which will provide an opportunity for U.S. athletes to make their way into the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy.

The public is welcome to watch the competitions. The schedule is as follows:

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

500m Ladies

500m Men

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

1000m Ladies

1000m Men

3000m Ladies

5000m Men

Friday, December 30, 2005

1500m Ladies

1500m Men

Saturday, December 31, 2005

1000m Ladies

1000m Men

5000m Ladies

10000m Men

For more spectator information, or if you would like to inquire about public activities at the Oval, please call the Utah Olympic Oval Guest Services at 801.968.OVAL or visit .


Dec. 17, Luge Ice Engineer's Open, Utah Olympic Park

Dec. 16-18, Nordic Combined World Cup "B", Soldier Hollow/Utah Olympic Park

Dec. 27-28, Speed Skating US Championship, Utah Olympic Oval

Dec. 30-31, Speed Skating US Championship, Utah Olympic Oval

Jan. 3-10, 2006, U.S. Cross Country Championships, Soldier Hollow

Jan. 6-8, 2006, Visa Winter Series #1 - Olympic Team Tryouts, Utah Olympic Park

Jan. 15, 2006, Luge Masters Nationals, Utah Olympic Park

Jan. 28-29, 2006, North American Pack Style Championships, Utah Olympic Oval

Feb. 3-4, 2006, Visa Winter Series #2, Utah Olympic Park

Feb. 4, 2006, Wasatch Luge Club - Founders Race, Utah Olympic Park

Feb. 25-26, 2006, Visa Winter Series #3, Utah Olympic Park

Feb. 28 - Mar. 5, 2006, Luge Junior Nationals, Utah Olympic Park

Mar. 3-4, 2006, Visa Winter Series #4, Utah Olympic Park

Mar. 8-11, 2006, Ski Jumping Nor Am Jr. Championships, Utah Olympic Park

Mar. 10-12, 2006, Champions Challenge, Utah Olympic Oval

Mar. Junior Olympics, Soldier Hollow

TRCP Signs On Mining Letter from Hunting, Fishing and Conservation Community

WASHINGTON, DC - December 12, 2005 - The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership joined 24 leading national, hunting, fishing, and conservation organizations in signing a letter expressing serious concerns with proposed amendments to the 1872 Mining Act that are included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 - H.R. 4241. In the letter (attached) sent to Representatives Jim Nussle, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, and John Spratt, Ranking Minority Member of the Committee, the groups urge that the controversial mining provision in question be stripped from H.R. 4241 during House-Senate conference negotiations this week.

The mining provision in H.R. 4241 would change the 1872 Mining Law to allow companies to make an outright purchase of public land rather than simply making a claim that gives them access to minerals below the surface of the land. This group's letter points out that "America's hunters and anglers depend upon public lands and waters for habitat managed for sustainability of fish and wildlife resources and open access to pursue their tradition of hunting and fishing." The letter also states "we are concerned these provisions are harmful to fish, wildlife and their habitats, and would diminish the opportunity for the public to appropriately use and enjoy these public resources" adding, "this proposal to sell public land is being universally poorly received throughout the hunting and angling community."

UGS Brochure Enjoys Boom in Sales

Salt Lake City, Utah -- A new brochure recently released by the Utah Geological Survey is breaking sales records. "I've never seen sales like this before for a UGS publication," said Carl Ege, a geologist with UGS.

The Geologic Guide to the Central Wasatch Front Canyons, Salt Lake County, Utah is an illustrated, first-of-its-kind, concise, geologic road guide to Salt Lake County's Wasatch canyons. "The book has been one billion years in the making," said Sandy Eldredge, program manager of the geologic and information outreach program. "It attempts to describe the beauty, recreational opportunities, mining and pioneer history, and unique geologic features of the six canyons in the county."

Recently, the brochure was featured in local media. In the following week, more than 160 copies were sold from the Natural Resources Map and Bookstore. More than half of the brochures have been sold to people who are interested in local geology (teachers, former teachers, geologists, and general public). However many people were buying the brochure as Christmas presents. "It seems the Guide is the perfect gift for the person who has everything," said Ege.

The 28-page brochure is filled with color pictures, illustrations, and foldout maps of City Creek, Emigration, Parleys, Mill Creek, Big Cottonwood, and Little Cottonwood Canyons. The information provides a quick synopsis of the local geology.

The cost of the publication is $3.95. The bookstore is located in the Utah Department of Natural Resources Building at 1594 West North Temple, and is open Monday through Friday, 7:30am to 5pm. Or, call 801-537-3320 or 1-888-UTAHMAP; .

The Utah Geological Survey is an applied scientific agency that creates, interprets, and provides information about Utah's geologic environment, resources, and hazards to promote safe, beneficial, and wise use of land.

Abundant Early Season Snow Awaits Holiday Visitors

SALT LAKE CITY - The snow may have arrived slightly later than last year, but in typical Utah fashion ski resorts are now blanketed
with early season powder. With last year's incredible 700-inches of snowfall still a recent memory, Utah resorts are experiencing great momentum as a result of powerful, recent snow storms and lodging bookings that are 10 to 30 percent ahead of last year.

"People remember that Utah had the best snow in the country during the 2004-05 season, a factor that motivates them to book their ski holidays here. Our consistent snow coupled with ten resorts within an hour's drive from Salt Lake City International Airport largely accounts for our growing numbers despite the fact that national skier days have remained flat over the last several years,"
explained Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah.

Some resorts are boasting similar snow levels to the same period last season. Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort, recipient of 53 inches since Dec. 1, has a higher mid-mountain base depth than they did at this time last year. At 105-inches, The Canyons Resort is within one inch of last year's snowfall for the same period. According to the National Weather Service, Utah ski area snow levels are 111 to 131 percent above average.

A surprise snow storm on Tuesday delivered up to two feet of light, dry powder on Utah ski areas. Base depths have now reached the 60 to 70 inch mark at many resorts, allowing them to open more terrain than in past years for early season skiers. Alta Ski Area and Solitude Mountain Resort are now 100 percent open as is Sundance Resort whose season kicked off today. Park City Mountain Resort opened its King Con lift this morning and will open Jupiter tomorrow to allow access to the high altitude expert terrain. This weekend they will be nearly 100 percent open. Wolf Mountain, formerly known as Nordic Valley, is gearing up for their Dec. 17 opening with great natural snow coverage enhanced by snowmaking. Beaver Mountain, scheduled to open Dec. 13, currently has a 43-inch mid-mountain base depth which is slightly greater than last year's at this time.
Winter Trails '06 Exceeds 100 Locations in U.S. and Canada for the First Time; Twenty-five per cent Increase Over Previous Year; Vermont and New Hampshire Lead List

Winter Trail at 100+ Locations this Year

McLean, VA (December 13, 2005)… For the first time since its inception 11 years ago, Winter Trails will take place at more than 100 locations in the U.S. and Canada. This international event offers those NEW to snow sports an opportunity to try snowshoeing and cross country skiing free at venues hosting a Winter Trails Day event. January 7, 2006, is the official Winter Trails Day although some venues are hosting programs on a different date and all information is posted at .

The largest event - at Estes Park, Co - takes place on February 18, 2006. The majority of events are scheduled at Nordic Centers that are members of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA). Two alpine ski areas - Blue Knob and Liberty Mountain in Pennsylvania - are hosting events and the rest will be located at national, state or local parks.

"Winter Trails is a great example of multiple companies and organizations coming together to stage an event that gives people a chance to sample snow sports and get outdoors in the winter," said David Ingemie, president of SIA. "We are pleased to see how this program has grown over the years and gratified at the level of cooperation of the companies and individuals who make it happen."

Venues in 25 states and four Canadian provinces are participating in the Winter Trails program this year. Vermont tops the list with 12 Winter Trails events. New Hampshire is not far behind with eight events. Massachusetts, Michigan, and California each have seven events listed on the Web site as of today.

Twenty-one product and media companies in the snow sports industry are sponsoring the program along with Nature Valley granola bars. Winter Trails is organized by SIA in partnership with the CCSAA and the American Hiking Society (AHS) to offer those new to snow sports an opportunity to try snowshoeing and/or cross country skiing free. Winter Trails is a part of SIA's Winter Feels Good program to promote the health, fitness and social benefits of snow sports.

"Winter Trails is a unique event since it offers an opportunity to try two snow sports at so many locations," said Chris Frado, executive director of CCSAA. "Our Nordic Center members are pleased to welcome newcomers to snow sports through this program."

Sponsors for Winter Trails 2006 are founding companies Atlas Snowshoe-Company, Mountain Safety Research (MSR), Redfeather Snowshoes and Tubbs Snowshoes along with official outerwear sponsor W.L. Gore and Associates, Columbia Sportswear Company, Sorel boots, Manzella gloves, Alpina, Atomic, Exel, Fischer, Karhu, Rossignol, Salomon, Swix, Whitewoods, Cross Country Skier magazine, Ski Trax magazine, Snowshoe magazine and .