Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mountain Town News

Utah ski connection endorsed by guv

PARK CITY, Utah -- The idea of connecting ski areas of the Wasatch Range is being talked about in Utah once again. The concept has been around for awhile, because of the proximity of the ski hills. Park City has three ski areas, and relatively close, but on the other side of the range, are Alta, Brighton, Snowbird, and Solitude. The Park Record says that Gov. John Huntsman supports the interconnections, saying it will make Utah a more attractive skiing destination while also possibly reducing car traffic. However, he does not support spending government funds to achieve this.

Old mining properties subject of restrictions

OURAY, Colo. -- Ouray County commissioners are considering adoption of restrictions on the size of house and other structures built on former mining properties. With mining from the 1870s continuing for a century, the county now has 1,200 such properties located in the San Juan Mountains, explains The Ouray Watch. County Commissioner Keith Meinert said the purpose of the proposed regulations is to preserve the historic character of the mining districts.

Colorado cloud-seeding raises doubts

GUNNISON, Colo. -- After the 2002 drought, Gunnison County found religion. The next winter, and every winter thereafter, it has donated to a cloud-seeding effort. But this year, with revenues likely to be flat or decline, local officials are more hesitant. With cloud-seeding season drawing near, reports the Crested Butte News, the best they could offer Utah-based cloud-seeder Don Griffith is a maybe. The cost to the county and other Crested Butte-area organizations would be $100,000.

Mining company still hopes for 2010 start

LEADVILLE, Colo. -- The world's roiling economy has resulted in falling prices for metals, but mine operator Freeport-McMoRan says that it still plans to reopen its molybdenum mine between Leadville and Copper Mountain in 2010. The work is "continuing on schedule," company official Eric Kinneberg told The Leadville Chronicle.

After taking a hard and extended look at the world molybdenum market, the company in 2007 announced plans to reopen the Climax Mine, located at Fremont Pass. The company is spending $500 million in renovations, which will make mining operations more efficient.

The reopened mine is to employ 350 people. More than 3,000 worked there at peak productions in about 1980 -- shortly before plummeting molybdenum prices resulted in the mine being closed.

Beetle killed tree fells logger

GRAND LAKE, Colo. -- Foresters have been warning that beetle-killed wood will become ever more dangerous, now that up to 90 percent of lodgepole pine trees in parts of Colorado have now died. Dead trees, after all, have a way of falling over, and the root systems for lodgepole pine are particularly shallow.

Recently, that's what happened near Grand Lake. Logging contractor Kevin Pellini, 43, was near his truck when wind pushed over a tree, causing massive head injuries.

"It just fell over," Grand County Coroner Brenda Bock told the Middle Park Times. "The dead tree's root system was so shallow that it didn't take much for it to fall over."

Vail makes room for stalled trucks

VAIL, Colo. -- When Interstate 70 across Vail Pass closes because of stormy weather, as occurred 43 times last year, it can be hard to find a place to park a truck in Vail. There just isn't much room, plus that means a lot of idling diesel engines in one place -- not much fun for neighbors out for a stroll.

To reduce the congestion, Colorado transportation officials have come up with a strategy. First, truckers driving from the west will be alerted to conditions more frequently. Some $3 million has been spent to install 14 variable-message signs.

Those signs will tell truckers of what lies ahead -- and what does not. In other words, they will be advised to snag parking spaces well away from the foot of the pass, even as far away as Dotsero and Gypsum, about 50 miles away. There will be 410 parking spaces for trucks along highways and frontage roads in this more distant location.

Sewage heat will warm streets

AVON, Colo. -- Heat from a sewage treatment plan in Avon is going to be diverted to melt snow on future streets and sidewalks in the emerging downtown area. The heat might also be used to heat the swimming pool at the Avon Recreation Center. Key to making the project work is a $1.5 million grant from the Governor's Energy Office in Colorado.

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