DMR taps new general manager

Durango Mountain Resort has created a new general manager position and named a former senior executive from Vermont’s Stratton Mountain to the position. Effective immediately, Bill Rock will oversee all on-site resort operations at DMR. Rock also will head up the Sales and Marketing Team and the Village Team, which includes ticket sales, guest services, retail and rentals, transportation, security and the Mountain Adventure School.

Rock commented, “I am truly excited about the future of DMR as we look to create one of the premier resort destinations in ski country.”

Rock served two years as director of sales & marketing at Bristol Mountain, N.Y., and five years withA0Intrawest-owned Stratton Mountain as director of lodging and golf.

Gary Derck, chief executive officer of DMR and Kirkwood, said: “Bill Rock’s background, enthusiasm and proven leadership skills will add tremendous value to our team. He was selected over several qualified candidates, as we had executives from a variety of hospitality and resort businesses seeking the position.”

In addition to his resort background, Rock had a distinguished military career as an Army Ranger, leading two platoons in the 82nd Airborne. He also is an avid athlete, finishing two Ironman distance triathlons as well as numerous marathons.A0

In other news, DMR and the Cascade Village Condominium Association have reached an agreement under which DMR will operate the lodging program for Cascade Village. With the move, DMR will add the 100-110 units at Cascade Village to the 175 units it currently manages at the Purgatory Village Condominium Hotel, East Rim Condominiums, Best Western Lodge, ElkPoint Townhomes and various other units throughout the resort area.

The addition of Cascade Village will increase DMR’s lodging units at or near the resort by 60 percent and will double the size of groups the resort can accommodate.
“This addition is a great step toward our goal of increasing lodging options at DMR, making it possible to attract larger groups, conferences and events,” said Director of Reservations and Travel Services Mike Elliott.A0

Partnership secures climbing access

Local rock climbers and private landowners in the Animas Valley have worked with the Bureau of Land Management to gain permanent access to the East Animas climbing area off County Road 250.

The climbing area, which includes more than 60 routes, is located on BLM land northeast of Durango and has been a popular draw for rock climbers since the mid 1970s. But until now, there’s been no legal access across private land from County Road 250 other than a handshake agreement between landowners and rock climbers.

The Durango Climbers Coalition approached the BLM about securing a legal easement nearly 10 years ago, according to Richard Speegle, Columbine Recreation Program Leader. The interest prompted the agency to consider a land acquisition, but until last year, there wasn’t a willing landowner in the mix.

The current unofficial trail crosses land owned by Anton Richter. With Richter’s consent, the BLM began an environmental assessment last year to study governmental acquisition of a 10-foot-wide, 250-foot-long easement across his property to replace the existing trail. The new trail would be farther away from his house near an adjacent landowner’s property. Neighbor Alfred Robbins, who has lived there for 62 years, and wife, Susie, also agreed to sell an easement along their property line. The BLM easement also will allow for a new parking area with space to accommodate eight to 10 cars at the far southern end of Richter’s property.

The total cost of the project is estimated at $30,000. The BLM received $14,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to buy the easements. Grants and donations from partners will foot the bill for construction of the trail realignment and new parking area. Local trails advocacy group Trails 2000 will pitch in $3,000, which includes money from the Jeff Singer Memorial Fund. Additional funding also will come in the form of a $4,000 grant from the Access Fund, a national advocacy group for climbing issues.

Lightning triggers fires near Pagosa

Beginning Tuesday, firefighters started battling two separate lightning-triggered fires north of Pagosa Springs. The fires are known as the Trail Canyon and Trail Canyon No. 2 fires and are located 16 miles north of Pagosa along the Piedra Road. The fires were detected Tuesday afternoon during a routine aerial reconnaissance of the area, and the smaller of the two blazes was contained Tuesday night. The larger fire was burning at a size of 50 acres as of Wednesday morning.

Half of the 20-person San Juan Hotshot Crew was dispatched to the scene and joined by an engine crew from the Pagosa Ranger District. Two light helicopters, one from the Ute Mountain Tribe and one from Mesa Verde, have been providing aerial support. A heavy air tanker from Grand Junction and a Type I helicopter and lead plane from Denver were expected to arrive Wednesday.A0Two additional Type I crews also have been ordered.

On Wednesday, crews were working to surround the Trail Canyon fire with a line. The fire was burning in a mixed-conifer forest.

The containment effort had been hampered by high winds, however, winds slowed Wednesday to aid firefighter efforts.


River Trails Ranch review delayed

The review of the proposed River Trails Ranch development has been delayed again, after the Durango Planning Commission put off making a decision May 28 and cancelled a next-day meeting because developer John Wessman could not attend.

River Trails Ranch is a plan to build 800 homes in a new urbanism configuration on 245 acres in the Animas Valley north of Durango. The new urbanism component would mix residential, commercial and municipal features in a dense village configuration.

On May 28, the Planning Commission heard extensive comment on the proposal and consequently had to delay a decision on recommending approval and annexation of the project to the Durango City Council.

City Planner Greg Hoch commented, “There had been hope that they wouldn’t have to go to two meetings and could do everything in one and make a decision.”

Developers Wessman and Bob Wolff had asked the commission for a decision. However, Wessman’s inability to make the meeting planned for May 29 forced a delay. Consequently, the Planning Commission will reconsider River Trails Ranch on June 17.

“I think a decision is possible, if not likely at that time,” Hoch said.

Four more lynx kittens discovered

Four more lynx kittens have been found with their mother by a Colorado Division of Wildlife tracking crew at a remote, high-elevation den in the San Juan Mountains, bringing the total number of lynx kittens to eight this spring.
“We found the lynx Saturday at about 11,000 feet in a den under a very large downed log that sheltered the kittens from rain and snow,” said Tanya Shenk, the Division’s lead lynx researcher. They were only a few days old and appeared to be in good health when briefly examined by Shenk.

For good measure, Shenk also noted two snowshoe hares – favorite prey of the lynx – as she and the crew approached the den. Three lynx pairs have now officially given birth within the core area northeast of Durango.

Division biologists hope there will be more births in 2003. This spring, radio signals from collars indicated that nine pairs of lynx were together during breeding season, offering hope that more mothers may be about to give birth.

The spring has marked the first documented reproduction since the agency’s lynx reintroduction began in 1999. At that time, the first of 96 lynx were released into the San Juan Mountains, beginning what state wildlife biologists hoped would be a restoration of a species. Prior to two weeks ago, there was no evidence of reproduction and consequently, the DOW kicked off a four-year program this spring to add another 180 lynx.






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