Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mountain Town News


By ALLEN BEST - MTN TOWN NEWS SERVICE
Express Staff Writer

'Homeless' continue to find shelter in the woods

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. -- It's the same old story. The bark beetles that favor lodgepole pine had another successful summer, leaving behind their old host trees and spreading wildly to new hosts. Foresters tell the Summit Daily News that nearly all the pine forests in the northern portions of the Blue River Valley, north of Silverthorne, are likely to be dead or dying next year. A few paces back are the forests near Breckenridge, but could catch up by next year. Some pine beetles have bored into spruce trees, inoculating them with the deadly blue-stain fungus, but the pine beetles can't reproduce in spruce trees.

County officials fret about ATV problems

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- All-terrain vehicles in Gunnison County are becoming a problem, or problems.

Part of the problem, explains the Crested Butte News, is that Forest Service roads have fewer restrictions than county roads, but riders may not realize when they leave the national forest.

Too, rules differ depending upon where you are from. Colorado-licensed ATV riders cannot drive on county roads. However, 27 states treat ATVs as cars, and so they can drive ATVs on roads in Colorado. In this case, a court has ruled riders are subject to the rules from where they came, not where they are. Understandably, this is not the easiest idea to communicate -- or swallow, if you're a local rider.

But another problem, says Gunnison County Commissioner Jim Starr, is that many ATV riders need more respect for the land. If they don't, he says, their rights will be curtailed.

A local ATV dealer, Adam Griffith, said nearly 1.2 million ATV were sold in the United States last year, suggesting that the problems will continue.

Teton County ups housing requirement of developers

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. -- Teton County commissioners took little time in boosting the affordable housing requirements of builders. Before, builders had to allocate 15 percent of units to affordable housing, and now it's 25 percent.

In other words, explains the Jackson Hole News&Guide, a developer building 100 homes must now provide 25 affordable units, instead of 15. This is in comparison to 60 percent at Aspen, where a hotel developer recently volunteered to up the ante to 100 percent.

Jackson town councilors are moving more slowly, but a preliminary 3-to-2 vote suggests they will follow Teton County's lead. Some of the hesitation is caused by the belief that there are fewer trophy homes within Jackson than in the unincorporated county, and hence fewer impacts.

Also a discussion item is whether requiring more affordable housing of developers will in fact boost the cost of all housing, putting it beyond reach of developers. Some say that, similar to Aspen, virtually all housing is already beyond the reach of local workers, and hence it won't make any difference.

In the past several years, home prices have increased 79 percent, compared to 22 percent for wages.

$5.4 million lot makes Summit County news

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. -- In the context of Aspen, Jackson Hole, or Vail, the listing of a 17-acre in-town parcel for $5.4 million would not even merit a small story. Summit County's real estate market is robust, but at a lower price point.

That listing was cited by the Summit Daily News as the single most expensive home site in Summit County history. The record price for a home sale in Breckenridge was set in August when a six-bedroom house sold for $5.5 million. Also, two lots, of a half-acre and one acre in size, sold for more than $2 million.

By way of comparison, a home in Vail close to the lifts was purchased in the early 1990s for $4.3 million -- then promptly razed.

Home Depot sizes up Silverthorne for store

SILVERHTORNE, Colo. -- Is a Home Depot moving to Silverthorne? The hardware and lumber store chain has purchased a 4.5-acre site in Silverthorne, located along I-70 in Summit County. A consulting firm representative told the Summit Daily News that the company figured it was a no-lose situation. The company hopes to build a store, but if not, real estate prices in Summit County are expected to rise. The town already has a Target. Home Depot had hoped to locate in Frisco, about four miles away, but was rejected by the citizenry. The closest Home Depots currently are in Avon, about 35 miles west, and Golden, 60 miles east.

Another hiker finds religion in the wilds

MINTURN, Colo. -- Yet another hiker has become lost while descending 14,005-foot Mount of the Holy Cross. It happens at least once a year, often several times, but so far without fatality -- a miracle. Among those miracle cases was a retired music teacher who in 1997 was on the thin border of life after spending eight days huddled among rocks above timberline.

The victim this time was a 23-year-old from Lee's Summit, Mo., who had summited with his brother. On the way down, at about 13,000 feet, the pair got separated as a snowstorm was coming in. He was only wearing jeans, tennis shoes, fleece and a rain jacket. He had water and an energy bar.

The Eagle County Sheriff's Department told the Vail Daily that the man suffered some frostbite and was a little hypothermic from his two nights out during which about a foot of snow fell.

The path through the above-timberline talus is well trod, and some years ago was marked with an improved set of cairns, to better guide the uninitiated. Holy Cross being a formally designated wilderness, Day-Glo tape and handrails are probably out of the question.




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