Several rivers set run-off records

CENTRAL COLORADO – As a warm Memorial Day dissolved into memories, a succession of blazing-hot days reduced the above-average snowpack into water that thundered down the rivers around Aspen and Vail. “The snowpack is coming down all at once,” National Weather Service hydrologist Brian Avery told The Aspen Times (May 30).

This run-off may seem more thunderous than usual in part because of last year. For example, the Roaring Fork River last year peaked at 2,170 cubic feet per second at Glenwood Springs, little more than a third of the average peak of 6,150 cfs. This year the river was projected to hit 6,900 cfs. A few miles away from the Roaring Fork, the Eagle River at Gypsum had set a record flow of nearly 5,000 cfs. Farther up the valley, at Vail, the tributary creek was running 1,700 cfs, compared to the 10 cfs it sometimes runs during winter, said the Vail Daily (May 28).

Vail builds shelters for boreal toads

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. – In Breckenridge, there were yucks all around when ski area operator Vail Resorts agreed to build “artificial hibernacula” for the ailing boreal toad population as part of its mitigation for real estate development. The town planners began calling them “toad condos,” and so the story spread.

In fact, the plight of the boreal toads is something of a mystery. The toads have been disappearing, just as other amphibians around the world have been, and the cause is not entirely clear. A specific fungus has been found in toads in Colorado, as well as in Australia and Central America, but researchers don’t understand why the toads have become so vulnerable.

At Breckenridge, a population was found in wetlands of Cucumber Gulch, and biologists don’t want toads trying to cross the road when they migrate to higher elevations to hibernate. Consequently, Vail Resorts has agreed to pay $3,000 for construction of five to 10 hibernation units, reports the Summit Daily News (May 30).

Jackson home to animal telepathy

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Ever wish you could get inside the head of your dog or cat? Heidi Grengg thinks she can help. A telepathic animal communicator, Grengg listens to animals by clearing her own mind and mentally locating the thoughts, feelings and pictures in the heads of animals. The process is similar, she told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (May 21), to finding a particular radio station on the airwaves.

In the last eight years, she has asked a bison to get out of the road, listened to a chicken’s dreams and persuaded a dog to tell her his previous name.

‘Largest fireworks show’ returns

AVON, Colo. – Avon’s annual July 4 fireworks display, billed as the “largest in the Rockies,” was temporarily killed, owing to declining town revenues.

Then merchants and residents bombarded the Town Council. Asking for $20,000 in contributions from businesses, the council then revealed a plan for a scaled-down fireworks display. However, with fireworks, musicians and a laser show, the event will still cost about $110,000. For the first time in three years, it will be a sudsy evening. Coors, it seems, has upped its ante, reports the Vail Daily (May 29).

Fireplaces create cabin conundrum

TABERNASH, Colo. – Do you need a roaring, crackling fireplace to sell a “rustic,” semi-backcountry ski experience? That seems to be the question in the Winter Park area, where famous Devil’s Thumb Ranch, a cross-country ski area of great distinction, intends to build 24 cabins – if a four-bedroom structure can be described that way – to supplement its existing lodge.

Existing rules in Grand County say that solid-fuel burning devices are permitted in new single-family homes, but not in commercial projects, such as condominiums, explains the Sky-Hi News (May 22). The cabins at Devil’s Thumb Ranch will essentially be free-standing, single-family homes for rent, and hence the policy conundrum.

Tahoe sustains drive-through ban

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. – A ban on construction of drive-through restaurants, banks and what not in the Lake Tahoe Basin since 1987 will continue. Elected officials were persuaded that lifting the ban would worsen air quality, traffic and aesthetics.

One argument for lifting the ban was presented by a pharmacy that wanted to provide a drive-through for the convenience of single moms, sick people and so forth. The response to that argument was to provide a home-delivery service, reports the Tahoe Daily Tribune (May 28).

Telluride cracks down on idling cars

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Allowing your car to idle for more than 30 seconds in Telluride is now a misdemeanor. Police will issue warning tickets for the first six months before revealing the teeth of this new law. Among the incisors could be the Denver boot, a device applied to the wheels of offending vehicles to immobilize them until owners have paid overdue fines. The intent of the idling-ban is to reduce pollution, reports The Telluride Watch (May 23).

CB to broaden cloud seeding effort

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Livestock growers, water districts and others in the Crested Butte-Gunnison area have found religion.

After last year’s drought, they invested $75,000 in a cloud-seeding operation for this past winter. Whether by coincidence or by cause-effect, this past winter produced at least so-so snowstorms. Based on that turnaround, the various organizations are now planning on a bigger, better cloud-seeding operation.

Next winter, North American Weather Consultants intends to use up to 28 ground generators, compared to 18 of last winter. The generators disperse silver iodide into the wind and hence to the moisture-laden clouds. Presumably still coming is evidence that cloud seeding actually works. A report is scheduled for July, reports the Crested Butte News (May 23).

Candidate gets unusual compliment

ASPEN, Colo. – Incumbent City Councilman Tony Hershey didn’t get the Aspen Daily News endorsement in a runoff election. But the newspaper didn’t entirely dismiss his qualifications.

“Some residents don’t like his Republican politics; others just find him utterly rude,” said the newspaper. “We know Hershey to be a thoughtful and caring lifelong resident who admits he does not always keep his emotions in check.

“But we feel it is time Hershey put his knowledge and skill toward other causes in the community. Maybe he could represent developers at City Hall, a vocation many of his critics might say he began when he was voted into office four years ago.”

Rowdiness, violence plague Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler is fretting about what to do with young people from the Vancouver area who have been taking advantage of cheap off-season hotel rates and bringing increasing levels of violence to the community.

“While the resort has been dealing with the issue of rowdiness in the village for several years,” reports the Pique newsmagazine (May 30), “the problem was ratcheted up a notch this month with the seizure of a gun and live ammunition from one teen-ager and the stabbing of two young men.” In other cases, a youth was caught running with a large butcher knife, and an intoxicated man was found with a pair of lead-lined gloves.

“Two primary groups, exuberant grads and gang-like youths seem to be causing the problems,” says the newspaper. But the newspaper also finds that the “community is definitely coming together on this issue?” Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said: “We are not going to take this. We are not going to let this get out of hand.”

Nightclub proprietors, the taxi company, hotel owners and assorted public officials planned to strategize. But a staff sergeant with the local police told the publication that Whistler’s problems aren’t all that different from other towns in the region. What is troubling, he conceded, is the increase in weapons.

Deputy becomes a hero, again

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Sachse has been a hero twice this year. In Jackson, he carried celebrated journalist David Brinkley, who is now bed-ridden, from a burning home. Then, in May, he used the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge food that was blocking the airway of a fellow law officer. They had been dining at the Teton Steak House, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide (May 21).

Park City tries to woo USA rugby

PARK CITY, Utah – Park City is attempting to woo USA Rugby, which is currently based in Colorado Springs. The organization employs about 25 people and oversees 2,700 club and collegiate programs. The winning city also will host several tournaments that, according to a Park City staffer, could result in $600,000 to $800,000 in financial benefits each year.

Among Park City’s advantages is its proximity to Salt Lake City, while its chief disadvantage is that it does not have an international-caliber stadium, explains The Park Record (May 21). Cities from Seattle to Daytona Beach are competing for honor.





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