This field session will take passengers on a scenic route over (and under!) the Continental Divide providing breathtaking views of some of Colorado’s highest mountain peaks during peak autumn colors. The first stop will be at Loveland Pass at an elevation of 11,990 feet. Passengers will then descend to a site near the town of Montezuma to partake in a field introduction to one of Xcel Energy’s 230 kV transmission lines where tour hosts will offer information on how Xcel Energy has utilized remote sense data (LiDAR/imagery) to manage vegetation and utility assets both on and off the right-of-way for wildfire prevention and protection. Participants will be exposed to important topics related to management of forests and critical forest health issues such as the Mountain Pine Beetle epidemic. A break for lunch will allow participants to enjoy the fresh air of the mountains before making the journey back under the continental divide through the Eisenhower/Johnson Memorial Tunnels. A tour of the Coors Brewery will provide a final “taste” of the Rocky Mountains.
Rocky Mountain National Park Field Session
This field session will take passengers up to Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) to enjoy the sites of the autumn colors and have the opportunity to enjoy the sounds of elk during the elk rut season. Participants will enjoy a drive through RMNP during one of the most popular times of the year, and a lunch stop will provide time for strolling through the park at an elevation of 8,700 feet. During this field session participants will learn about the unique topic of water conveyance and delivery in Colorado. Approximately 80 percent of the state’s water originates on the Western Slope (west of the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains), but more than 80 percent of Colorado’s population resides on the semiarid Eastern Slope. This poses unique and often controversial challenges, particularly amid a changing climate and increasing resource demand. Two projects will be discussed that faced interesting right-of-way issues: the Colorado Big Thompson Project, a historic project that brings water through the Rocky Mountains to Estes Park and beyond; and the Prairie Waters Project, a recent project that further conveys water along the Eastern Slope. As time and weather allows, a stop in the town of Estes Park will give participants another opportunity to experience Colorado mountain living before heading back to Denver.