Buffalo herd annoys neighborhood

GRAND LAKE, Colo. - "Where the buffalo roam" isn't just a line in a song to neighbors of Mary Baumberger, who has a small ranch among the vacation homes near Granby Reservoir. Her herd of bison seems to have roamed freely during the last two summers, to great annoyance in the neighborhood.

However, Baumberger seems to have the law on her side. Colorado is a free-range state, meaning that it's the responsibility of landowners to fence livestock out if they don't want them grazing on their property. As a practical matter, most ranchers do fence their livestock in, simply because they don't want them hit by traffic.

In this case, the situation is further muddied by the contention of the state brand inspector that bison aren't livestock, although there's at least one trade organization that insists they are. That organization promotes buffalo as a healthy alternative to beef.

At any rate, the Sky-Hi News (Aug. 28) says that officials in Grand County are trying to figure out what local laws they can conceive that will target bison, yaks or other such hobby animals of the New West without stepping on the toes of state laws established in the Old West.

Telluride enjoys banner fungi festival

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Mushroom lovers were all smiles at the 23rd annual Telluride Mushroom Festival.

"It was another of those banner years for boletes, with a bumper crop so thick you were lucky not to stumble over them no sooner that you exited your car Fresh bolete sliced, diced and saut`E9ed to perfection in red wine and olive oil, with a sprinkle of tamari and chopped garlic. Ah divine!" wrote festival coordinator Art Goodtimes in The Telluride Watch . Goodtimes also is a county commissioner, affiliated with the Green Party.

A regular at the festival is Paul Stemets, an advocate of all things fungi. He argues that the medical community has ignored the medicinal properties of mushrooms despite the broad evidence, including Alexander Fleming's discovery of the mold fungus penicillium. While the medical community has yet to pay appropriate attention to the antiviral and antibiotic properties of mushrooms, he says, the cognoscenti of the pharmaceuticals are now actively, and some secretly, looking at mushrooms for novel medicines.

Television crew scams free meals

LEADVILLE, Colo. - Businesses in resort towns are generally willing to lend a bed or serve a dinner if it means free publicity. But a video-toting trio who ate a swath through Leadville had several restaurateurs wondering.

They told the local chamber of commerce they were preparing a feature about the entrees representative of the town, with the results to be broadcast on the Travel Channel. They ate well, too, but one restaurant owner told the Leadville Chronicle (Sept. 4) that she became skeptical. The group ordered the best items on the menu, then set up a camera on a tripod and recorded a 16-year-old female eating - down to licking the plate clean. Other hosts, however, were inclined to believe the crew was legit, even after proferring $150 in free vittles.

Custody battle ends in bloodshed

PARK CITY, Utah - The story of a dispute about child custody that turned exceedingly ugly may have ended. Two of the three protagonists have died, and authorities have cleared the third individual, a developer from the Park City area.

In August, Natalie Turner, 31, who was director of the chamber of commerce at Hailey, which is near Sun Valley, ID went to the Park City area accompanied by her boyfriend, David Charles Gayler, also 31. The two seemed intent on seizing Turner's two children, ages 4 and 6, from their father, a developer in the Park City area.

What happened next depends largely upon the story told by the father and ex-husband, John Pochynok. According to the Park Record (Sept.7), Pochynok says he opened the door, expecting to see his children and was instead shot. The boyfriend, Gayler, apparently did the shooting. Somehow, the three all ended up in a car, which was met by a sheriff's deputy and a wildlife officer.

Based on reports, statements and videotapes, authorities in Utah concluded that Turner, the chamber director, got out of the car, asked the officers to shoot her and then aimed generally at them before pulling the trigger but with no result. She aimed at them and asked again, and this time the officers shot her.

The boyfriend was jailed but was found hanging from his neck by a sheet tied to a stall in a bathroom. The father of the two was reported to be at home healing his wounds. He was shot twice with a .357 handgun.

Sept. 11 flag remains atop peak

FRISCO, Colo. - After Sept. 11, a local group climbed a 12,800-foot mountain called Peak One near Frisco and planted an American flag. It has flown for the last two years, and when several locals announced plans for a procession up the mountain to replace the flag, the Forest Service applied a veto. That's the agency's principal policy - no permanent installations without special permits. Quickly, however, forest supervisor Martha Ketelle reversed the policy. "We feel it's better to let the flags stand," she told the Summit Daily News (Sept 5).

Vail aggravated by highway noise

VAIL, Colo. - Vail is making more noise about the roar from Interstate 70. Council members are talking about trying to get the speed limit through the town lowered from the existing 65 mph to 55 mph or even 45 mph, as slower moving cars and trucks create less noise. One council member is even talking about a lawsuit against the state, based on the idea that noise is infringing on the environment and property values. While the state transportation department has been building earthen berms along the highway, absence of space precludes their construction in many spots.

Vail residents have been annoyed with I-70 for decades. Putting the highway into a tunnel seems intolerably expensive. Lately, sound walls have been investigated as well as other devices, but with no clear solutions. As well, traffic volumes have grown, and cars have become larger and noisier. Some people in the town are forecasting that this will become the next big community conversation.

Logging pitched to clear up Tahoe

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. - Federal money appears to be headed toward Lake Tahoe in an attempt to thin the adjoining forests to avert large fires. With fewer fires, there will be less mud washing down from mountain slopes, thereby preserving the lake's clarity. The Tahoe Daily Tribune (Aug. 28) says that $30 million in federal funds has been promised.

Forestry consults at a recent workshop said they want broader authority to cut in forests than environmental groups ordinarily approve. For example, they want permission to cut large trees when necessary and thin fuels around streams and on steep slopes. They say they also need incentives to cut the smaller trees that are ordinarily worth little.

Area caters to backcountry skiers

BANFF, Alberta -Sunshine Village ski area already has an area, called Delirium Dive, where avalanche transceivers, shovels and buddies similarly equipped are prerequisites. Now, for those who have tamed those runs, the ski area has a new Wild West area, reports the Banff Crag & Canyon (Aug. 28). John Ross, marketing director for Sunshine Village, estimated that only 1 percent of skiers will have the necessary skills.

Vail analyzes impacts of expansion

VAIL, Colo. - Scientists are attempting to chronicle the impact to wildlife of Vail's Blue Sky Basin, the 1999-2000 expansion that was the largest ever in North America. So far, there are no startling conclusions.

Deer stuck around during construction and tree-cutting, but elk disappeared, at least in the short term. Red-backed voles decreased while golden mantle ground squirrels and chipmunks increased. Somewhat surprising, snowshoe hares have decreased.

There were no apparent conclusions reached about impacts to lynx, the iconic animal in a controversy that was capped in 1998 by an arson fire that destroyed a restaurant and other buildings atop Vail Mountain. These studies were paid for by Vail Resorts, the ski area operator, and will continue for another three years.

- compiled by Allen Best





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