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Monarch Mountain opened with a 21-inch mid-mountain base Friday, and the snow continued to fall on skiers getting in their first runs of the season.

“We’re thrilled to be able to open so early and that we have so much terrain open,” said Jessie Smith, Monarch marketing coordinator.

Monarch opened with three of five chair lifts operating and 70 percent of its trails accessible to skiers and snowboarders.

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Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series about Browns Canyon.

With a Republican congressman as an ally, the Friends of Browns Canyon thought their wilderness proposal for Browns Canyon was all but passed. But the legislative process in Washington would prove to be more complicated.

Before submitting his wilderness bill, Rep. Joel Hefley of the 5th Congressional District held a public meeting in 2005 at Chaffee County Fairgrounds. The majority of the 60-some people who showed up were in agreement.