Friday, August 12, 2011

Mountain Town News


Snow continues to block some roads

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- Going into August, some of the more formidable snowbanks on mountain roads of the West still block roads.

"If you've witnessed more August snow than what we have in 2011, you've been around for a very long time," writes Tom Ross in Steamboat Today.

He's been around Steamboat since about 1978.

Ross reported that water levels are now just falling and that some creeks in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness can be forded safely, while snow continues to crowd some high-country lakes.

The road across Buffalo Pass remained blocked by two snowbanks going into August. Located north of Steamboat, the snow-measuring site there perennially has Colorado's deepest snowpack.

From Crested Butte, the road to the old mining town of Schofield is usually blocked well into July. This year, entering the second week of August, it's still blocked.

Quick-acting dad saves daughter from cougar

CANMORE, Alberta -- Quick action by the father scared a cougar that had attacked his 6-year-old daughter.

The father was walking in front of the girl along a lake southeast of Banff and Canmore when the cougar pounced. The father screamed and threw his water bottle at the 80-pound cat. The startled cougar took off, leaving the girl with a few scratches.

Had the cougar been a better hunter, the outcome might have been different, wildlife authorities told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. Just the same, they were puzzled why the cougar had attacked. It was well fed. They know the mother of the 2-year-old lion had died, and they think the cat had failed to learn to be wary of people.

The cat was later tracked down and killed, as history has shown that if a young cat attacks a human once, it will do so again. That said, this is the first cougar attack in the Banff-Canmore area since 2001.

About 250 miles south in Montana, a grizzly bear attacked a 50-year-old hiker in Glacier National Park. The hiker said he had been making noise, but nonetheless rounded a bend in the trail and encountered the sow, which had one sub-adult with her. The hiker sustained bites to his leg and arm before the bear retreated. He was able to hike out on his own, reports the Whitefish Pilot.

Pay-to-throw trash a hit in Grand Lake

GRAND LAKE, Colo. -- An innovative program designed to reduce illegal dumping and spilled trash cans seems to be working even better than was hoped for in Grand Lake, at the west entrance to Rocky Mountain National Park. Trash bags are sold and can then be pitched into a community trash container. The program is of great convenience to the weekenders, notes the Sky-Hi News.

Steamboat asks for tax to prop up direct flights

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. -- Voters in Steamboat Springs will be asked to approve a quarter-cent sales tax in order to boost the revenue guarantees for airline flights during ski season.

Steamboat has had a direct flight program since the 1970s. A decade ago, the skiing company asked the community to share a greater proportion of the expenses, and so a 2 percent lodging tax was adopted in 2004.

However, with the recession, the proportion of seats occupied has declined, and partly because of increased fuel prices, airlines have higher costs.

The ski area operator intends to continue paying just as much money. Rob Perlman, senior vice president of marketing for the Steamboat Ski Corp., a division of Intrawest, said the company bears half the cost but captures only 25 percent of money spent by winter visitors.

"The ski area is committed at a minimum to the average of what we've paid for the last three years, $1.1 million," he said.

The sales tax was chosen because it was seen as spreading the cost over those most likely to benefit—the entire community. Destination visitors are estimated to spend $1,100 on average at restaurants and stores and for services.

Improved trails draw bikers to Snowmass

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. -- The slopes of Snowmass are alive with mountain bikers this year, the result of a stepped-up development of mountain bike trails. At the end of the last ski season, the Aspen Skiing Co., the operator of Snowmass, got approval from the Forest Service to build several new mountain biking trails. Gravity Logic, the company that designed Whistler's mountain bike terrain park, was hired to design the trails. The same firm is designing expanded offerings on the slopes of Steamboat.

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