Friday, October 15, 2010

Mountain Town News


By ALLEN BEST - MTN TOWN NEWS SERVICE

Scary fire quelled, but it will come

FRASER, Colo. -- In early October, a wildfire fire roared across 500 acres near Winter Park and Fraser. The flames underscored the need for preparation.

In Winter Park, the fire renewed angst about slow efforts to remove trees on national forests adjacent to the town. Funding was announced last spring, but no cutting occurred during the summer—much to the dismay of town officials in Winter Park. The acting regional forester, Tony Dixon, told the Forest Service that the wood removal efforts were delayed by the need for environmental review and bidding procedures.

In Winter Park and Summit County, residents have proudly pointed out how much better they cloaked their housing amid the trees than did places like Vail, where most housing can be seen from the interstate highway.

Then came the warmer winters, the tree-weakening drought, and an epidemic of bark beetles now well on its way to killing 90 percent of lodgepole pine in Colorado.

At least some residents know it's just a matter of time.

"It's scary to see the smoke, but you know it's eventually coming," one resident told the Sky-Hi News. "Nature needs this fire."

Whistler glaciers still shrinking, but less so

WHISTLER, B.C. -- Measurement of the glaciers above Whistler in September revealed very little recession from the previous year. This goes against the grain. Most glaciers around the world have been shrinking by increments, which worries scientists.

Whistler's glaciers have been shrinking, too. It's just that in the last year there was less shrinking. Why? One theory advanced by a writer for Pique Newsmagazine is that this year's ice is the result of a giant snow winter in the late 1990s.

The La Niña now in the Pacific Ocean bodes another cold, snowy winter for Whistler. But the long-term trend is clear. It probably won't be an ice time.

Telluride puts plastic ban in the bag

TELLURIDE, Colo. -- Telluride last week officially became the first community in Colorado to ban plastic bags. The ban will be phased in, beginning in January when the two local grocery stores will be required to begin collecting a 10 cents-per-bag fee. The full ban takes effect in March. After that, grocers can give out paper bags, but must charge a 10-cent fee. Small plastic bags for meat, produce and newspapers will be exempted.

The intent is to get people to adopt reusable bags. Though the ban has been under discussion for three years, a locally produced film called "Bag It," previewed last May, created a sense of urgency. The film documented the problems of the extravagant use of plastic, reflected by a swirl of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that is, by some accounts, the size of Texas.

The Telluride Watch reports significant dissent. One local business owner vowed to seek a voter referendum. He said the move would only result in the use of paper bags, which he said are "way worse for the environment."

David Oyster, one of two dissenting council members, said he remained fundamentally opposed to intruding upon the relationship between a retailer and his customer.

Heartburn still evident in the new, bigger Vail

VAIL, Colo. -- No, it's not a Denver, a Vancouver or even a Salt Lake City. But for a ski town, Vail in the last few years became much taller and bulkier in its buildings.

Several new buildings—the Solaris, the Ritz-Carlton, and the Four Seasons—are all coming online this year. Lodges that just a few years ago looked big in Vail now are dwarfed. But is it good?

The Vail Daily asked that question of various citizens. One of the developers, Peter Nobel, insists that big isn't bad if the architecture has integrity. In his case, he believes it does.

Sheika Gramshammer, one of the town's original residents and hoteliers, sees the changes as too drastic.

"We're bringing the city into the mountains," she said.

Kerry Donovan, the daughter of original residents, concedes that she doesn't like what she sees.

"But once they're up, they're up and you can only learn from them and move on from there."

The task now, says Jim Lamont, executive director of the Vail Homeowners Association, is to figure out how to develop an international clientele to take advantage of this new and much bigger infrastructure.

"To sit back and think we can relax and all we have to do is throw open the doors and wait for people to come again—think again," he said.




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