Maniac puts Granby on the map

GRANBY If there's a silver lining to the story from Granby, where a manic bulldozer operator last week crunched 13 buildings before shooting himself, it would be that nobody will misspell the name of the town for a good many years to come, as new reporters for Denver newspapers tended to do.

And from strictly a mercenary perspective, the bizarre story that flashed around the globe also put Granby on the map, a valuable accessory for those hoping to sell several new projects of vacation and weekend homes near Granby. They won't have to tell people where Granby is anymore.

Located about half-way between the Winter Park ski area and Rocky Mountain National Park, Granby started out as a railroad town, but for about a half-century has been a service center and bedroom community for the resort areas.

Lately, as land prices skyrocketed hard along Interstate 70, developers have been assembling projects around Granby, hoping to appeal to the middle class from Denver and its suburbs. "Colorado as it Used to Be," some have called it.

And that is fundamentally what Granby is and has been Colorado as it used to be. The main street, called Agate Avenue, that Marvin Heemeyer bashed with his 60-ton bulldozer fortified into a 75-ton tank, has both a Chuck Wagon and a Longbranch Restaurant, as most Colorado towns once did. It also had that relic of little-box retailing, a Gambles store. All in all, the town hasn't changed much in 30 years except to become more tired looking.

The Granby newspaper is called the Sky-Hi News , and editor and publisher of the paper, Patrick Brower, was in the office trying to gather news of the berserk bulldozer when it arrived, crashing into the front of the building. Brower had sided with town officials in the zoning dispute that seems to have been the pivot for Heemeyer's many angers.

Ironically, town voters in April had rejected a badly needed streetscape beautification plan to give some lift to the downtown area. Voters said they didn't want to spend money until they had it in hand. Now, it looks like they will get some from state and federal coffers.

Runoff drips down Colorado River

KREMMLING What a year it isn't. The Colorado River as it flows through Kremmling, about 60 miles from its headwaters in Rocky Mountain National Park, was flowing at a piddling 250 cubic feet per second during the early days of June, shortly after the peak runoff.

Compare that to the big water years of the early 1980s, when the river surged with up 12,000 cfs.

The biggest part of the story is the lackluster winter and the early runoff, about a month early. The major reservoirs upstream, from Dillon to Granby, which are used to divert water to cities and farms on Colorado's Eastern Slope, are also part of the story. Those reservoirs are holding back all they can.

Resorts go after heritage tourists

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS At two separate conferences this year, first in Denver and more recently Steamboat Springs, presenters have trumpeted the economic potential of catering to tourists who might be interested in history or arts instead of sweat and luxury.

Catherine Zacher, former president of the chamber of commerce for 13 years in Santa Fe, said these cultural or heritage tourists spend 8 to 10 percent more per day than average travelers. These are not high-brows, she said, but they do want to get more meaning out of their vacations.

"Baby boomers want to go home from vacation with more than a tan," she said at the conference in Steamboat. "They are looking for life-seeing experiences, not sight-seeing experiences."

Anne Pritzlaff, a member of the President's Advisory Council on History Preservation, said historic buildings have economic value. They add authenticity to a place.

Who are these cultural or heritage tourists? Pritzland said they are 45 to 64 years old, predominantly female, and have higher-than-average levels of income. They like to visit historical places and museums, attend cultural events or festivals, and go shopping. Surveys show 62 percent stay in hotels.

Cultural tourists, noted The Steamboat Pilot , are the sorts of people who, when going to South Dakota, would not be content to visit Mount Rushmore, but instead would also want to learn about the Sioux Indians.

Cultural tourism also requires more integration of offerings. There must be a single marketing message that addresses the entire region with one compelling voice, Santa Fe's Zacher said. "There is no room for petty turf wars in marketing heritage tourism," she said. "Heritage travelers must be given a guide map to the region, not single attractions."

"If you have five communities, they can all advertise in competition to get the same tourists," Zacher said. "But if you can make sure the tourists find something in each of the five communities, you will extend their visits."

The Summit Daily News notes that while Breckenridge has always boasted of its mining history, the town lately has set out to create an artist colony within the town.

Telluride named Slow Food City

TELLURIDE By now, most people have head of the book Fast Food Nation , the film "Super Size Me," or at least heard talk of what burgers and fries are doing to our health. All this was the subject of several films shown this year at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival.

Town officials have decided to become a "Slow Food City." The internal movement is "dedicated to food appreciation and food activism; a combination of the celebration of good eating with the protection of biodiversity, preserving regional cuisines, food products, harvesting methods, production techniques, and traditional ways of life threatened with extinction by the big business of nonsustainable industrial agriculture and global fast-food culture."

Telluride Mayor John Pryor said he learned during a visit to Ecuador this spring that more rain forest is clear-cut for cattle grazing than for timber. In other words, burgers are destroying the rain forests.

Bird-feeders blamed for bear's death

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Wildlife officers are blaming a resident who left bird feeders too close to the ground with the death of a black bear.

The bear had become habituated to human food, including the bird feeders. Thus emboldened, the 120-pound bruin had become more aggressive, squeezing through a pet door of a neighbor's garage. Once inside, it scattered garbage and ripped out sheet rock and insulation. With this aggressiveness evident, the bear was killed.

The neighbors, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide , stored their garbage properly, but the feeders of birds had previously been warned that their feeders were too low to the ground.

LA to return water to Owens Valley

OWENS VALLEY, Calif. It's a story in the West that is as big as Paul Bunyan. Early in the last century, the population of Los Angeles stood at 200,000 and was poised to double. The issue was water. A mayor proposed that the city do something audacious build an aqueduct from the Owens Valley, on the far side of the Sierra Nevada.

And that's exactly what the city did. A small portion of that story is captured in the movie "Chinatown." But, even though it was a matter of willing sellers, the depletion of the water from the Owens Valley created dust bowl conditions and left a residual bitterness that continues to this day.

But several years ago, the city agreed to return water to 60 miles of the Lower Owens River, if still possibly diverting it farther downstream elsewhere. After moving more sluggishly on the project than originally agreed, state officials have pressured Los Angeles to begin moving more rapidly. A restored river, notes the Washington Post , could bring recreational crows to the Owens Valley for fishing, kayaking and bird-watching, in the process improving the torpid local economy. The recovery is projected to take seven years.

But where will LA get its water? The city currently relies on the Owens Valley for about one-third of its water.

The answer, in part, is conservation. The city now uses roughly the same amount of water as it did 20 years ago, even though its population has grown by about 700,000 residents. As part of that conservation effort, LA has enticed more than 1 million residents to install toilets designed to use less water, and city officials are giving away low-flow showerheads and even offering cash rebates to families that buy water-saving washing machines.

compiled by Allen Best





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