Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Mountain Town News


By ALLEN BEST - MTN TOWN NEWS SERVICE

Ski area offers a chill lift, but wants some hot beds

TELLURIDE, Colo.—Lift lines are almost non-existent at Telluride, the slopes rarely cluttered, the powder skiing phenomenal for those willing to do a bit of hiking.

So why would the ski area operator install a $2.2 million fix-grip quad add even more ski terrain?

That new lift, reports The Telluride Watch, will put riders 400 feet higher on Gold Hill than existing lifts -- opening up an area previously called San Joaquin Bowl to advanced intermediate skiers, with some adjoining areas suitable to expert skiers.

The lift will reach 12,570 feet in elevation and, says the newspaper, offer the "best lift-accessible powder skiing on the mountain." As well, it reduces the hiking requires to access yet another powder-laden bowl, Palmyra Basin, to just 160 feet of climbing.

Altogether, the ski area now has 3,845 vertical feet of skiing, but 4,425 feet if you include that which is accessed by hiking.

Dave Riley, the chief executive of Telluride Ski & Golf, describes this bigger church as a gambit. "Our purpose in building this lift, quite frankly, is to signal our commitment to the community to the long-term success of this region."

In return, his company wants more hotel rooms. The company believes it could have more skiers and snowboarders—if only there were more places for them to stay. "To the degree that we see progress in correcting our bedbase problems, it will make it far simpler for us to move forward," he told The Watch.

One such answer may be a project called Mountain Village Hotel, which is proposed for 189 rooms.

Steel to begin rising in June at Steamboat base

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—The updating and enlarging of the base complex at the Steamboat ski area is continuing. Through the winter, the foundation was poured for One Steamboat Place, which is to be 428,000 square feet in size when completed sometime next year.

In early June, the structure will begin rising. Some 100 truckloads of steel will be needed. The complex will include 80 residential units, underground parking, a new ski school facility, and a nice restaurant, reports The Steamboat Pilot & Today.

As snow fast recedes, the injuries of winter appear

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—With the snow now retreating as rapid a house cat that has caught sight of Doberman, the multitude sins of a long winter are now becoming apparent.

It's not just the dog doo-doo, but in the case of some Colorado mountain towns, a great deal of damage from this winter's unusually deep snow. In Crested Butte, windows and roofs have been damaged, as have benches and fences in the local parks.

So far, reports the Crested Butte News, there has not been new news of any old buildings collapsing, as is sometimes the case in big winters. "It is known as demolition by neglect, which we frown on," said Bob Gillie, the town's building and zoning director.

Durango is heir to a big problem with pollution

DURANGO, Colo.—Farmington, N.M., is a city of about 44,000 people located in the high desert about 41 miles from Durango, the glistening snows of the San Juan Mountains in the distance.

But it keeps some curious company: Houston, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. What do they have in common?

All are in the nation's top six counties for carbon dioxide emissions, according to research published by Purdue University professor Kevin Gurney.

The pollution in L.A. comes primarily from transportation, and in Houston from industrial sources. In Farmington and the broader San Juan County, the pollution comes from two giant coal-fired power plants, plus petroleum and petrochemical production, reports the Farmington Daily Times.

Another major power plant, called Desert Rock, is also proposed on the Navajo Nation—much to the distress of activists, who say the air quality cannot be further sullied.

The region—called the San Juan Basin—is rich not only with coal, but also coal-bed methane and other gas and oil deposits. The drilling has picked up considerably in recent years -- and so has the pollution called ozone.

One source of the pollution, explains the Durango Telegraph, is the tens of thousands of compressors that are used in remote locations to help pump the gas. The compressors burn oil, emitting carbon dioxide. More than 10,000 new gas wells have been approved in northern New Mexico in recent years.

Durango is not in the middle of the gas drilling, but the pollution is blown toward it—and the San Juan Mountains.

"Ozone is a regional pollutant," Mary Uhl, of the New Mexico Air Quality Bureau, told the Telegraph. "You can take a low reading in the middle of a source like a big city. But higher readings don't show up until you're farther downwind."

The Telegraph notes that the federal government's Environmental Protection Agency in March lowered the cap on ground-level ozone concentrations, from 80 parts per billion to 75 parts.

Of course, setting a new threshold does not, of itself, diminish the problem.




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