Butte ski area sale called off
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Purchase of Crested Butte Mountain
Resort by a Dallas-based company is off. However, some local
representatives from the Phoenix Property Co. might pursue the
purchase from a different angle. “The contract has been
terminated, but they are still in the game,” Gunnison
County Commissioner Perry Anderson told the Crested Butte News
In previous reports, the Town of Crested Butte’s thoughts
on the potential sale had been silent. In this report, Crested
Butte Mayor Linda Powers suggested endorsement of a sale. “It
is disappointing for this community to have gone to the two-year
line without scoring a touchdown,” Powers told the newspaper.
“The Town of Crested Butte very much wants the resort
sold for an infusion of money. We want a new village and convention
center (in nearby Mount Crested Butte) and, with the resources
of the present owners, we can’t make that a reality.”
Reportedly at issue was the extent of community opposition
to expansion of the ski area onto Snodgrass Mountain. That expansion
has been under consideration since at least 1982, and in the
mid-1980s the ski area got permission. That time, due to lack
of money, the ski area pulled back. Then, again in the mid-1990s,
the ski area proposed to expand there. This time, community
opposition killed it.
Ski area personnel say the expansion is key to Crested Butte
surviving in the marketplace. The resort currently has large
amounts of black-diamond skiing, but the typical visitor has
skills for green and blue-level skiing. As such, the return
rate for visitors is very low, which means a lot of advertising
to get new visitors. Meanwhile, current owners appear to have
insufficient resources to stick it out.
Source of Western haze debated
THE WEST – On June 2, skies across broad swaths of Colorado
and other parts of the West were filmy. Even in Denver, sunlight
had that eerie, orangish look of light filtered by the smoke
from forest fires.
What was going on? The answers varied broadly. “Forest
fires in Russia are most likely to blame for the soft, gray
haze hanging over Summit County,” reported the Summit
Daily News after consulting with state health officials.
Three valleys away, The Aspen Times pinpointed the cause with
more precision, noting not only the 24 Russian fires, but also
fires in California and Hawaii. It also recalled the haze in
April 2001 when the jet stream carried the residue of a massive
dust storm in Mongolia into much of the Western United States.
Relying almost exclusively on the National Weather Service,
the Vail Daily succinctly proclaimed the cause a mystery. Likewise,
The Steamboat Pilot reported that the “explanation for
haze over Steamboat is hazy.”
The take-home message: pollution knows no boundaries. We’re
all in this together.
Ranger: Maroon Bells fee demo works
ASPEN, Colo. – It doesn’t make sense everywhere,
but the national fee demonstration project works well at the
popular Maroon Bells near Aspen, says a U.S. Forest Service
“I’m not trying to do a sell-job on the entire
program, but to me, here, it’s a no-brainer,” District
Ranger Jim Upchurch told The Aspen Times (June 3). “Without
the fee demonstration program we’d be in serious trouble.”
The twin mountain peaks, which are perhaps Colorado’s
best-known icons, attract 200,000 or so visitors every year,
most of them in summer. The Forest Service gets $10 from motorists,
50 cents from bus riders. This, along with some camping fees,
nets the agency nearly $119,000 annually, enough to pay the
salaries of the Forest Service greeters and janitors, and for
some campground improvements.
Normally, when the Forest Service collects fees, it cannot
keep those revenues. In the case of the fee demo program, all
except 5 percent are given to the regional office of the Forest
Service, to be spread back across national forests in that region.
Critics charge that often the money collected covers only the
salaries of those collecting the money. In this case, says Upchurch,
it pays for much more.
Telluride mulls nonmotorized parade
TELLURIDE, Colo. – How about a Fourth of July parade
that is free of fossil fuels, suggested Hilary White, a Telluride
Town Council member. “We are too devoted to our cars.”
Council members conceded the merit of her proposal but feared
the adverse effect on retailers, who have come to expect a larger
number of Harley-Davidson bike riders. So, reports The Telluride
Watch (May 23), before embracing this idea, the council wants
to confer with retailers.
Grazing drops in Grand Teton park
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Livestock grazing has continued
to decline steadily in Grand Teton National Park. In 1950, ranchers
had rights to graze 4,230 animals. But last year, two of the
last three ranchers in the park decided to end their park grazing,
due to increasing pressures from environmentalists, predators,
tax laws and drought.
That leaves just one primary grazing lease-holder, and that
family is taking a break for at least this year, reports the
Jackson Hole News & Guide (May 28).
The ripple from this is unclear, but a previous study suggested
that if the families couldn’t graze their livestock inside
the national park, they might be forced to develop their scenic
ranches elsewhere in Jackson Hole.
Devil’s Highway becomes U.S. 491
SANTA FE, N.M. – U.S. Highway 666, known as the Devil’s
Highway, has new numbers: U.S. 491. The highway runs from New
Mexico across Colorado, through Cortez and Dove Creek, and into
In the Bible, explains The Associated Press, the Book of Revelations
says 666 is the “number of the beast,” usually interpreted
as Satan or the Antichrist, hence the highway’s nickname.
New Mexico’s top highway official had said the state didn’t
want the highway’s negative connotation, because it discouraged
tourism and economic development. Federal highway officials
Beaver Creek bans downhill bikes
BEAVER CREEK, Colo. – High speeds and steep trails will
be off-limits to mountain bikers at Beaver Creek, as resort
operators have decided that careening downhill at more than
20 mph is too threatening to hikers and slower-moving bike riders.
Also, newer and heavier mountain bikes are causing extensive
This decision rankles local bike rider Jay Lucas, who complained
to the Vail Daily (May 30) that other ski areas, most notably
Whistler, have done a better job of building trails for downhill
bikers. Prominent mountain bike leader Dawes Wilson believes
that discouraging hard-core bikers at Beaver Creek will result
in illegal pirate trails on public lands elsewhere.
Canoeist drowns in Glenwood Canyon
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – With the Colorado River running
at what may have been its peak flow this year, three canoeists
put in near the top of Glenwood Canyon. Their intent was to
canoe about 10 miles in the fast-moving, debris-laden waters.
It wasn’t a smart call. Neither was their failure to
use life vests. Just above a power plant, their canoe hit an
eddy and capsized. Of the three, one of them didn’t make
it – and he was a strong swimmer. But with water that
only a day before had been snow, and the river filled with branches,
even tree trunks, it was an atrocious place to try to survive,
noted the Aspen Daily News (June 3). One observer estimated
the water was running at 25 mph.
Steamboat faces street dilemma
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – With six variations of “meadow”
among the street names, plus a trio of bears, addresses in Steamboat
Springs can be confusing for emergency service personnel, not
to mention everybody else. Hence, Steamboat is studying a proposed
policy regarding the naming of streets.
The policy, which heavily borrows from those elsewhere, would
limit the number of streets that can use the same derivation
of a name. It asks developers to avoid using the names with
bear, willow, fox or meadow. The city also asks that streets
within a neighborhood have a consistent theme, one not used
elsewhere in the city.
Researchers to inspect Lake Tahoe bottom
LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – For the first time, researchers
intend to closely inspect the bottom of Lake Tahoe, which is
1,645 feet deep. What lies there? The Tahoe Daily Tribune (June
4) notes an old steamer 300 feet below the surface in one part
of the lake.
Costing $250,000, the expedition will have a remote-operated
vehicle equipped with a sonic device that can be use to detect
wood and metal within 1,000 feet. Researchers hope to study
fault lines in the lake, a landside of recent decades, and learn
more the movement of sediment particles.
Camp Hale may be cleaned up
RED CLIFF, Colo. – Work is continuing this summer at
Camp Hale, training site of the 10th Mountain Division, the
incubator for many key figures in the post-World War II U.S.
skiing industry. Unexploded munitions are being cleared from
a small area of the site, which was returned to the Forest Service
in 1966. This year’s project could cost $2 million.
Although locals in the Vail-Leadville area have always known
that various bullets and bombs existed in the area, it wasn’t
until an Outward Bound hiking instructor came across part of
a bomb on a peak in the area that the cleanup began. Since then,
all manner of ordnance, some duds but others not, have been
found. They range from rifle grenades to mortar shells to recoilless
rifle shells. Cleanup could take as long as 10 years, and even
then officials have no expectation that the area will be entirely
rid of munitions, notes the Vail Daily (June 6).
Also contributing to the potentially explosive situation is
that the CIA trained Tibetan guerillas in the area from 1959