Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Mountain Town News

Express Staff Writer

Loveland thinking about possible Sno-cat skiing

EISENHOWER TUNNEL, Colo.—To keep up with the Joneses down the I-70 street, Loveland Ski Area is investigating expansion of snow coach-aided skiing.

Two nearby ski areas, Keystone and Copper Mountain, already offer skiing with the aid of snow coaches. Loveland, which is located around the eastern portal of the Eisenhower Tunnel, has changed little since 1999, when a lift was installed to the Continental Divide.

The land in question, Forest Service officials tell the Summit Daily News, has been identified since 1997 as suitable for guided skiing. Such backcountry-with-help skiing is sometimes called "backcountry lite" and in various ways has been a major theme in ski area expansions during the last decade.

The newspaper reports sharply worded conversations on forums such as that hosted by Teton Gravity Research, as backcountry skiers react to incursions of motorized users into the area, called Dry Gulch.

Forest thinning to disrupt mountain biking near Durango

DURANGO, Colo.—Thinning of the ponderosa pine forest has begun in an area near Durango called Log Chutes. The area is frequented by mountain bikers, who have appropriated the old logging roads from more than a century ago into single-track trails.

But the U.S. Forest Service, which administers the area, says the forest is unnaturally thick, and to make it less susceptible to major fires, has begun to thin it. Still vivid in local minds is the 71,000-acre Missionary Ridge Fire of 2002. That fire in the same area burned 57 homes in the wildland-urban interface.

Trails 2000, a local mountain bike trails advocacy group, tells the Durango Telegraph that the logging will interfere with mountain biking for years to come, but concedes it is necessary to mitigate risk of fire to nearby homes.

Million-dollar house sales now common in Basalt

BASALT, Colo.—Despite the slowed economy, a new record has been established in Basalt for real estate with a $3.4 million closing. The Aspen Times says that the 4,184-square-foot house has views, views, views, plus other splendors.

The town, located 18 miles down-valley from Aspen, hadn't had a $1 million sale until five years ago, but since then, more than four score have been registered. Yalonda Long, a broker with Mason and Morse, a real estate agency, said Basalt has become a destination market, and not just a place where people go because they can't afford Aspen itself.

Mammoth pink-slips 4 percent of year-round employees

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif.—Mammoth Mountain has laid off 15 year-round employees, most of them in middle management. They collectively were paid about $1 million in salaries and benefits and were about 5 percent of the year-round workforce, reports The Sheet.

"The company is stable," said Rusty Gregory, the chief executive officer at Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, "but the current credit environment is difficult, and we need to be in a position to service our credit line." He added: "Demand for our products and services is down, and looks like it will be down for the foreseeable future."

Melting snow reveals right-handed gloves

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo.—Somebody in Winter Park long ago described spring as the afterbirth of winter. That metaphor is now fully in your face in many ski towns as melting snowbanks reveal the excesses -- and excrement -- of winter.

In Crested Butte, that excrement has provoked an annual event called Poofest. It was scheduled for what the Crested Butte News called SaTURDay. Organizers of the event suggested that it was a civic "doodie" to seek out the dog-doos lying in alleys, streets, and parks—everywhere dogs have roamed through the winter.

In Jackson Hole, Noah Brenner of the Jackson Hole News & Guide reported in April that discovery of a razor peeking out of a snowbank while walking one day prompted him to behave like his dog on walks through Jackson, his nose and eyes to the ground. Among his finds: lots of gloves, and all of them for right hands.

Aspen water untainted by any upstream drugs

ASPEN, Colo.—In the wake of national news about drugs in municipal water supplies, people wanted to know whether antibiotics, hormones or other drugs are found in Aspen's drinking water.

There are not many people living upstream of Aspen, but just the same, city officials decided to find out for sure, testing for more than 870 drugs, including DEET, penicillin and prednisone. The tests did reveal chlorine and fluoride, both of which are put into domestic water supplies. Fluoride also occurs naturally in local waters.

The lab tests cost between $1,500 and $2,000, reports The Aspen Times.

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