Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Mountain Town News


Crested Butte requires wildlife-resistant cans

MT. CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- Town officials in Mt. Crested Butte, the slope-side resort town, have adopted a law that mandates wildlife--resistant refuse containers for storage of trash that is not kept inside until the day of trash pickup. Increasing problems with bears have been reported during the last several years.

Nearby Crested Butte, the old mining town, took similar action within the last year. After first requiring resistant containers, towns in the Aspen and Vail areas have upped the ante to the more expensive and sturdy wildlife-proof containers.

Telluride uses market
to get affordable housing

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Telluride's town government has taken to using the leverage of free-market real estate to reduce the cost of affordable housing. The Telluride Watch explains that in the case of an 18-unit employee housing project, one unit is being sold at free-market rates, reducing the town's subsidy for the project by 15 percent.

Pellet plant expected
to lower beetle-kill costs

KREMMLING, Colo. -- A plant in Kremmling to process wood into pellets for stoves is moving through the approval process. The Summit Daily News says the $7 million plant is to produce enough pellets to meet the heating needs of 30,000 to 40,000 homes.

The plant will also supply a local market for beetle-killed trees in the Grand Lake, Winter Park, and Summit County areas, which are all located about an hour from Kremmling.

For example, without a local market, tree removal near the new hospital in Summit County cost $1,500 to $1,600 per acre. With a local market for the wood, explains the Summit Daily, the price might have been $500 to $600 per acre.

California skier numbers
declined 20 percent last winter

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. -- Skier numbers in California ended the season 20 percent down from the previous years. More than half of California's 6.2 million skiers this year were recorded in the Lake Tahoe area.

"This was not a good year, as you can well understand," said Bob Roberts, executive of the California Ski Industry Association. "It happens. If it happens three times in a row, call me. This is all attributable to the snow conditions."

Roberts for several years has said the ski industry must address global warming. Still, in an interview with the Tahoe Daily Tribune, he seemed unwilling to pin blame on this winter's warm weather on global warming.

A similar response was elicited by the newspaper from Carl Ribaudo, director of Ski Lake Tahoe, a marketing association of seven of the largest ski resorts in the Tahoe-Truckee region.

"It was a pretty soft season, obviously weather related," he said. "But whether it's a single event or part of a pattern, we'll have to take a look at the longer term."

Sow and 2 grizzly yearlings
die in Banff after hit by train

BANFF, Alberta -- Three grizzly bears -- a 12- to 15-year-old sow and her two yearling cubs -- have died near Banff after the mother was killed by a train. The two cubs survived, although at least one had also been hit, but later died.

"There's nothing more heart-wrenching than 100 meters of guts and gravel between the rails," said Jim Pissot, the executive director of Defenders of Wildlife Canada. "I was just heartsick once again."

The Rocky Mountain Outlook explains that 12 grizzlies have been killed by Canadian Pacific Railways trains in Banff National Park since 2000. The total population in Canada's flagship national park is estimated at 50 to 60.

Wildlife advocates like Pissot say the railroad allows grains of corn to spill from the passing trains, drawing the grizzly bears. In response, the railroad has been vacuuming the tracks to remove the corn, spending $20 million to improve equipment. It's apparently not enough.

"Even a diligent vacuuming of the tracks still leaves enough grain to attract bears, including grain that has fallen into the ballast and is either sprouting or fermenting and attracting bears," Pissot told the newspaper.

Something similar happened in 2005 when a grizzly sow was killed by a train near Banff. Two of her three orphaned cubs were later struck and killed by cars on the Trans-Canada Highway.

Food & Wind Classic
is for the well heeled

ASPEN, Colo. -- The success of Aspen's Food & Wine Magazine Classic is reflected in these simple facts. Although the attendance has been capped since 1995 at 5,000 people, with ticket prices this year costing roughly $1,000, organizers this year scheduled a reserve tasting of Screaming Eagle wines on a Friday morning. Even at an extra $750, it sold out quickly.

The Aspen Times explains that the event began in 1983 as a wine-tasting festival. It drew 300 people. Food & Wind Magazine began running it in 1986, changing it from a wine-tasting event into a full-on foodie smorgasbord. The festival hit its stride in 1990 when Julia Child was the featured speaker. In 1995, The New York Times called it the "granddaddy of them all," and the next year the festival sold out for the first time.

As everything this year, the festival had green edges to it, says the Times. Some tents this year used compostable plates and glasses. Also, organizers set a goal of raising $1 million for Farm to Table, an organization that supports local farmers and sustainable practices.

Kayaker loses boat in
unforgiving Animas

SILVERTON, Colo. -- A happy ending was reported in Silverton after an 18-year-old kayaker lost his boat in No Name Rapid on the Animas River. The man, Will Gordon, hiked 11 miles back up the rugged canyon and eventually to a motel in Silverton. Searchers had been beckoned when the man's passenger-less boat was noticed sailing down the river. Butch Knowlton, the search leader, told the Durango Telegraph that the rapids in the canyon are "fast, turbulent and unforgiving. If you get into trouble, it is a difficult stretch to swim and survive, and a problematical area to search."

Telluride thick with
physicists this week

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Aspen would seem to have the franchise on both Nobel laureates and physicists strolling around town. But, at least for this week, Telluride is holding its own.

Some 180 physicists, three Nobel Prize-winners among them, were scheduled to be in town for the 18th International Conference on Laser Spectroscopy. Previous meetings of the group have been held in Jasper, Vail and Jackson Hole.

An article in The Telluride Watch notes a long association between physicists and mountains. For example, the creation of quantum mechanics in 1927 is attributed to Werner Heisenberg's walks in the mountains, his way of escaping hectic city life to find time for contemplation. For his discovery, he earned the Nobel Prize in physics in 1932.

This week in Telluride, quite a lot of attention will be given to the new, quantum-based generation of supercomputers. At present, the world has two quantum computers: one in Boulder, Colo. and the other in Innsbruck, Austria.

Ogden emerging as
center of extremists?

OGDEN, Utah -- Is Ogden, Utah, located along the Wasatch Front about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City, the coming center for extreme sports? The New York Times dangles that proposition.

The best evidence is that Jeff Lowe, once one of the world's top mountaineers, has returned to Ogden after 30 years in Boulder. He has established a series of climbing routes using bolted ladder rungs, and is now planning a tower of ice -- suspended from steel cables -- to be used for ice climbing

The 2002 Olympic downhills were held in the Wasatch Range to the east, and now several ski companies have established operations in Ogden, about 30 miles north of Salt Lake City. Another plan is to build a gondola from Ogden to a proposed ski and resort community in the Wasatch Range.

The Times says Ogden's commitment to outdoor recreation and adventure-based economy -- coupled with low prices -- is attracting young professionals. The average price of a three-bedroom home runs $160,000. Among those buyers is graphic designer, Delanie Hill, 32, formerly of Jackson Hole. "I can't afford to live in Jackson," she said, "but I can here."

It's not all boom and bustle. The newspaper describes still-empty buildings and a handful of dank bars. Such things, says Lowe, keep Ogden from being "too cool."

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