deals with bad press
BRECKENRIDGE – The publicist for a Hollywood star once
said that the only bad news is an obituary. In Breckenridge,
something of the same question is being asked after a front-page
story appeared in the 125,000-circulation alternative weekly
Westword in Denver. The headline on the story was “Bad
Boys of Breckenridge: The Town Was Their Bitch – Until
Last Halloween, Cody Wieland was beaten to death by three younger
men. The “bitch” is a reference to the short-lived
advertising campaign by Vail Resorts, the company that owns
Breckenridge, last year in which it tried to appeal to the young
set with an advertisement about “ruling the slops by day
and making the town your bitch by night.”
The story is long and colorful, particularly in describing
the licentious use of liquor in the town. It also suggests that
Vail Resorts incubated the deadly atmosphere through its advertising
and also its dirt-cheap Buddy Passes that attract young male
Meanwhile, under the headline of “Is any publicity good
publicity when it deals with murder,” the Summit Independent
Daily (April 24) checked into how town officials were taking
the Westword ink. Town and business officials were predictably
not overjoyed, but neither did they seem anguished about the
Mayor Sam Mamula said the reality is that Breckenridge’s
bar season is vastly over-rated and it’s actually a pretty
sedate place. Still, he wonders if the upcoming trial of the
three men will attract people looking or a Wild West-type of
place where anything goes.
Superfund fails to restore river
MINTURN – In 1979, a mine near Vail shut down after almost
a century of operation and left millions of tons of tailings
along the Eagle River. Because of leach from the tailings, almost
nothing lived in the eerie orange waters of the river.
But after a Superfund-ordered cleanup that is believed to have
cost more than $60 million, most of the cadmium and other heavy
metals have been removed, and brown trout have returned in large
numbers. However, the Eagle River is still not completely clean,
says state wildlife biologist Bill Andree. Enough zinc remains
in the river to prevent the return of a native fish called sculpin,
he told the Vail Daily (April 23). Another biologist, John Woodling,
said it may be impossible to remove enough zinc to allow sculpin
Another species of fish native to the river, the Colorado River
cutthroat trout, also is unlikely to return to the river, and
it’s because of activities of man. The brown trout, an
immigrant fish from Europe, eats the native fish.
Historian predicts fewer wildfires
DENVER – In an interview with the Rocky Mountain News
(April 24), Stephen J. Pyrne, a wildfire hiustorian, said the
state’s fire problem won’t disappear immediately
but will become domesticated as communities and federal agencies
further thin forests in the urban-wildlands interface. He expects
this process to continue for anther five or six years, and he
credits the initiative of the Bush administration.
Beyond that, the next concern will be the “generic public
land,” land that is not designated for wilderness or special
biological purposes and is not next to communities.
“Because we can’t decide what we want that land
to be, that’s where most of the forest health problems
will occur,” he said. “The land between, that’s
where the action is going to move, and we ought to be thinking
about what we want to do there.”
Colorado avalanche deaths on average
BOULDER – As of late April, six people were killed in
avalanches in Colorado, the state’s average. In almost
every other respect, however, it was an above-average season,
reported the Colorado Avalanche Information Center on April
The number of avalanches reported was 110 percent of average.
Eighty-four people were caught in slides compared to an average
of 67. The number of people partly buried was well above average
at 29 compared to 15. And 13 people were injured in Colorado
avalanches this year compared to an average of six.
Meanwhile, avalanches continue to present a problem in California.
The owner of a 7-Eleven store in South Lake Tahoe recently died
in an avalanche in Alpine County. He was buried under 5 feet
of snow, 15 feet away from his snowmobile, reports the Tahoe
Daily Tribune (April 28).
Ski ruling shakes up legislature
ASPEN – In 1995, David Cooper was racing on a course
set up by the Aspen Valley Ski Club when he crashed into a tree,
leaving him blind. His parents sued the ski club and the coach.
The defense argued that the liability waiver signed by Cooper
and his mother prevented litigation. The Colorado Supreme Court
last June said that public policy prevented a parent from taking
responsibility for a minor’s claim for negligence.
Last week, the Aspen Daily News (April 28) reported that decision
had two impacts. First, the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association
named it “Case of the Year.” Second, that very same
day, Colorado lawmakers amended a bill to give parents the right
to waive liability for children participating in sports activities.
“If we can’t allow for parents to take responsibility
for their children in cases of ordinary negligence, we will
put an end to outdoor and recreational activities for children,”
said Rep. Al White, of Winter Park. Martin Freeman, who represented
Cooper in the lawsuit, said the legislation “just steamrolls
over a century of Colorado public policy.” He suggested
the constitutionality of the law might be tested if the right
case comes along.
White said that he and Ken Chlouber, also a Republican, of
Leadville, introduced the bill because insurance companies and
underwriters were worried that “every scraped knee or
twisted ankle would result in a lawsuit with huge settlements
or big verdicts.”
Steamboat experiences cow gridlock
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Another cattle drive down the main
street of Steamboat Springs may be held over the Fourth of July
this year, despite the public’s beef with the “udder”
gridlock created by a similar event two years ago. That event
resulted in an hour-long traffic jam, notes The Steamboat Pilot
(April 17), but this next moo-ving moment is to occur on a Sunday
Minors score Summit County tobacco
SUMMIT COUNTY – When 16- and 17-year-old teens went to
buy tobacco at stores, one in four stores sold them the goods.
For that indiscretion, the 11 retail clerks were fined $200
for selling to minors.
For Laurie Best, Summit County’s tobacco prevention coordinator,
that number is surprisingly far better than past compliance
checks. One reason, she told the Summit Daily News (April 23),
is a letter of thanks to retailers who have complied. As for
the clerks who failed, she said that some of them can’t
figure out the math that yields the magic number of 18 –
the age that tobacco can be sold in Colorado. This is despite
cash registers that will do the math for them, she says.
Whistler to study over-65 housing
WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler’s over-65 population
increased from 3 percent in 1996 to more than 5 percent in 2001.
During that time, however, housing costs and taxes rose, making
it increasingly difficult for older residents to remain in the
The community has now created a Seniors Housing Task Force,
which hopes to come up with a strategy for creating assisted-living
facilities, reports the Whistler Question (April 23).
Wolf debate continues in Canada
CANMORE, Alberta – Wolves in Canada are eating themselves
out of house and home. That, at least, is what outfitters and
hunting guides are telling Parks Canada.
Banff National Park has too many wolves preying on an already
low population of ungulates, they say. One outfitter says moose,
elk, deer, sheep and even goats are almost nonexistent, compared
to what he remembers from before.
But the Rocky Mountain Outlook (April 10) also points to research
that suggests exactly the opposite – it’s the wolves
that are in danger. One wolf researcher found that 75 percent
of wolves in Canada’s Central Rocky Mountains that were
collared died from human-caused mortality. The wolves were hit
on roads or hunted or trapped, if not always in the park, too
often in areas immediately adjacent to the park.