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Backcountry Film Festival aimed at winter enthusiasts

The Backcountry Film Festival is scheduled for a Laramie screening at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at the Gryphon Theatre, 710 Garfield. The festival is a collection of short films about winter, adventure, environment, climate and more. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the evening also includes raffle prizes and beer for sale. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Proceeds will benefit Wyoming Wilderness Association, which works to protect public lands in Wyoming. Go to www.gryphontheatre.org for more information.

Volunteers needed for Christmas Bird Count

The Laramie Audubon Society is planning its annual Albany County Christmas Bird Count starting at 7:30 a.m. Dec. 16. Volunteers are planning to meet at Coal Creek Coffee, 110 Grand, to get data forms and assignments for driving and walking routes around the area. The aim of the event is to count every bird present within a 15-mile diameter circle of Laramie that day. Novice birders will be paired with more experienced bird watchers, and everyone is welcome. Feeder watchers are also welcome. This is the 41st count in Albany County and a national tradition that is more than 100 years old. At noon Dec. 16, volunteers will reconvene at The Grounds Internet and Coffee Lounge, 171 N. Third St., to drop off morning reports, with some volunteers continuing in the afternoon. A potluck dinner at 4 p.m. will conclude the event. Call 307-286-1972 for an assignment. Go to laramieaudubon.blogspot.com for more information.

Christmas tree sale to benefit volunteer fire department

The Vedauwoo Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary is selling Christmas trees to raise money for fire and emergency services in the Vedauwoo and Buford areas. The sale is open from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 1-6 p.m. Wednesday-Friday on the southwest corner of Snowy Range Road and Colorado Avenue in West Laramie. Concolor fire trees from 6-10 feet tall are available for $49-$89, according to a news release. Fraser fir wreaths, either 22 or 28 inches in diameter, are available for $27-$42. The sale will continue until trees are sold out. Donations to the auxiliary will be accepted and are tax-deductible. Email treasurer.vvfda@gmail.com for more information.

Christmas tree permits now available

Permits to cut Christmas trees on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests are now available at locations in Wyoming and Colorado, according to the U.S. Forest Service. A permit for one tree from national forest lands is $10, with a limit of five per household. Fourth-graders with a pass from Every Kid in a Park can get a free permit. Tree-cutting is prohibited in wilderness areas, along scenic byways and on the Pole Mountain Unit east of Laramie, among other places. Trees must be located at least 100 feet from roads and 200 feet of recreation areas and can’t be more than 20 feet tall. Complete regulations are available at Forest Service offices or at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/mbr/christmastrees. Locally, permits are available at the Laramie Ranger District Office, 2468 Jackson, from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. They’re available at the Centennial Visitor Center from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 20.

First Day Hike planned for Curt Gowdy

A popular New Year’s Day tradition is set to return to Curt Gowdy State Park with a First Day Hike scheduled for 11 a.m. Jan. 1. Hikers can meet at the park visitor’s center for a free, guided two-mile hike on Kate’s Trail, which is rated easy to moderate. The event includes free entry to the park as well. Similar hikes are scheduled for other state parks around Wyoming. Call 307-777-6323 or go to wyoparks.state.wy.us for more information.

Forest Service reminds visitors about e-bike rules

The U.S. Forest Service classifies electronic bikes, also known as e-bikes, as motorized vehicles, and as such they’re subject to rules governing motorized vehicle use on the national forest, according to a news release. Motorized vehicles must remain on designated motorized routes, which include roads and trails open to all vehicles. Some routes have seasonal closures. Free Motor Vehicle Use Maps are available at Forest Service offices and online at www.fs.usda.gov/detail/mbr/maps-pubs/. E-bike users should stay on designated routes, comply with all signs and barriers, minimize wheel spin and avoid widening trails. The Forest Service monitors new technologies to see how they affect safety and sustainability, and current rules may be reassessed or adjusted in the future. Call the Laramie Ranger District at 745-2300 for more information.

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