Friday, August 27, 2010

Mountain Town News


Big changes outlined for Park City ski area

PARK CITY, Utah -- Talisker has big changes in mind for The Canyons, one of the three ski areas at Park City. There will be more employees, a new high-speed quad, and more snowmaking, plus a new name. Sort of.

The new name is to be simply Canyons, as in we were going to Deer Valley but instead went to Canyons.

The new lift will increase uphill capacity by 47 percent. The company also plans to expand snowmaking and add 100 employees.

Talisker gained control of the ski area several years after a bidding war with Vail Resorts. The ski area had been the last property in the one-time ski empire called American Skiing, one of three chains that were busy acquiring new ski areas in 1997. The other two were Intrawest and Vail Resorts. American Skiing is now gone, Intrawest greatly diminished and only Vail seems interested in—and capable of—growing.

Foreclosures rising in the Crested Butte area

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. -- Foreclosures continue to rise in Gunnison County. The Crested Butte News reports 130 this year, outpacing last year when altogether 183 foreclosures were started.

That eclipsed the old record of 132, set in 1987. And it also compared with just 10 in 2006 at the height of the real estate boom.

How many properties in this current wave of foreclosures can be traced to Crested Butte itself? County Treasurer Melody Marks said all price ranges and parts of the large, ranching-dominated county have been affected.

Fraser voters get final yea-nay on pot shops

FRASER, Colo. -- Voters in Fraser, a town located adjacent to Winter Park, will decide in November whether dispensaries of marijuana will be allowed within the town. Normally, town boards and councils have made that decision. Breckenridge said yes, Vail no. But Fraser Town Board has always tried to achieve consensus. In this case, explained Jeff Durbin, the town manager, it was clear that no such consensus was possible. One trustee strongly opposed the marijuana dispensaries, while others were inclined to support it. The unwritten policy is that "if there's enough disagreement among us, let's just take it to the voters and see what they think."

Biking enthusiasts say Telluride back on rise

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. -- Local mountain biking enthusiasts were hoping for 600 competitors and another 400 spectators when the Mountain States Cup held its Full Tilt bicycle race on the slopes of Telluride. The Telluride Watch spoke of Telluride's "burgeoning reputation as a mountain biking mecca," though with not much evidence to cite. The enthusiasm seems to be centered around a race course built in anticipation of the World Cup event held there in 2002.

Jackson Hole voters open the checkbook

JACKSON, Wyo. - These may be hard times economically, but voters in Teton County bellied up to the bar to approve a raft of spending measures. The $34 million will be generated in three to four years.

The largest single project will be $11.75 million for new surgery rooms, more treatment areas for chemotherapy treatment and other improvements at the local hospital, Saint John's. Also getting the nod were a $850,000 pedestrian and bicycle bridge over the Gros Ventre River between Jackson and Grand Teton National Park, and $3.8 million upgrades of various public buildings to reduce energy use.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide notes that an estimated 60 percent of the sales tax collections come from residents of the valley. The average annual cost for each resident is about $50. This is not a tax increase, as voters had chosen to continue the tax.

Broad-brimmed Dylanwows 'em in Jackson

JACKSON, Wyo. -- Wearing a broad-brimmed hat, alternating between the keyboard, guitar and harmonica, Bob Dylan played before 3,000 people at Snow King, the ski resort in Jackson. Reviewing the show, the Jackson Hole News&Guide says that Dylan had the crowd with him from the third song moving forward.

Still, the newspaper's reviewer thought the show sterile at times and over-polished. The reviewer also noted that Dylan never spoke to the crowd. "He could have been playing anywhere at any time."

But does Dylan ever speak to his audiences?

Can global warming explain all of this?

TELLURIDE, Colo.—It's been a wet, wet summer in the mountains of Colorado, but firecracker hot and dry in British Columbia. Does global warming have anything to do with either one?

Near Vail and Aspen, microbursts have caused waves of water and mud to flow across highways. And at Telluride, it has left the forests full of mushrooms.

In British Columbia, it has been hot and dry. Fires have popped up across the province, and fire danger at Whistler was classified as "extreme" beginning Aug. 12. Campfires are banned, and even use of power tools within 20 meters (about 33 feet) of forests has been banned.

Squamish, located down valley from Whistler, had a record-breaking temperature of 98 degrees. More stunning than the temperature was that it broke the old record by 9 degrees.

While climate scientists repeatedly warn against ascribing any one thing to global warming, this increased warmth does fit in with a trend. Despite the cold weather of North America's East Coast last winter and snow in places like Houston and Dallas, 2010 has been the hottest year on the planet since broad and reliable record keeping began in 1880, scientists from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration reported recently.

But how about the big rainstorms? While certainly not talking about the rain in Colorado this summer, The New York Times asked climate scientists whether the more global extremes—the floods in Pakistan, for example—can be attributed to the accumulating greenhouse gases. "Probably," they said.

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