Mountain Village looks for faith

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. The physical setting of Mountain Village, adjacent to the ski slopes of Telluride, is heavenly. But after 11 years of existence, the town still has no church.

Two men, a pastor and a physician, have hatched a plan to change that. They envision a 7,000-square-foot architectural masterpiece that they believe can be assembled for $5 million. It would be an interfaith place of worship and also part of the town's economy, used for both conferences and weddings, reports The Telluride Watch .

Other resort towns also have interfaith chapels. For example, everyone from Roman Catholics to Mormons has shared Vail's Interfaith Chapel.

Granby dozer remains under wraps

GRANBY, Colo. At least for now, the concrete-and-steel armored bulldozer that rampaged through Granby on June 4 will not be displayed, even to raise money.

The promoter of a musical concert at nearby Winter Park had proposed displaying the bulldozer to help raise money for damages in Granby. The prevailing sentiment in Granby seems to be against doing so, and most also don't seem to like the idea of keeping it in a garage and charging admission.

"I don't want to do anything that would glorify this guy (Marvin Heemeyer, the bulldozer operator) in any way," said Glen Trainor, the undersheriff in Grand County who risked his life in an attempt to stop the bulldozer.

Some want to see the 70-ton bulldozer cut up for the estimated $4,000 to $6,000 it would yield in scrap.

Aspen dealing with bear problem

ASPEN, Colo. How bad is the bear situation in Aspen and surrounding Pitkin County? Bad enough, says state wildlife officer Kevin Wright, that "if you leave your windows or doors open, the chances of a bear entering are high."

The bruins are a savvy lot, he told The Aspen Times . One bear known as Fat Albert poked his head into a house recently while a family was eating lunch. That scared him away, but only to an adjacent house that was vacant.

Even leaving candy wrappers inside vehicles is discouraged. As well, the various governments in the area all have bear-friendly regulations that require homeowners to use bear-proof garbage containers and prohibit them from providing access to food sources, like dog food and grills.

Wright, who killed four bears last year, has two ideas, says The Times . First, people could attach bells to their screens, so they won't be surprised when a bear ambles into the house.

Another trick is to partially fill a balloon with ammonia, blow into it and tie it. Hang the balloon in an area where the bear enters and place a yummy scent on the outside of the balloon. The curious bruin will bite or claw it and the nasty ammonia will scare it away. That trick doesn't work every time, but the success rate has been high, Wright said.

Private jets also getting super-sized

BLAINE, Idaho Servings of French fries have gotten bigger, and so have houses. Why should private jets be any different?

At Friedman Memorial Airport, quarters are getting tighter, in part because of the bigger jets that people use to fly to conferences and other getaways. Sun Valley Aviation General Manager Mike Rasch said an increasing number of larger corporate jets with wider wingspans reduce available space. Two of the popular new generation Gulfstream 5 jets with 20-foot wider wingspans take the space of three Gulfstream 4 jets.

If the airport runs out of space, pilots may have to deliver their passengers and then park at Twin Falls, Boise or even conceivably their home airports. Or, the visitors could take commercial service, but then these are the likes of Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and other billionaires.

Gas drilling could come to Aspen

PITKIN COUNTY, Colo."Gas field" isn't the first phrase that comes to mind in conjunction with Aspen. But The Aspen Times reports that the first proposal to drill a natural gas well in Pitkin County in more than 40 years has been submitted to the U.S. Forest Service.

The site is about 40 miles west of Aspen, toward the end of a giant swath of hydrocarbon-rich public lands that sweep northwesterly across Colorado. If the exploration firm finds reserves that are economically feasible to produce, the Forest Service will perform another review of a broader plan to build a pipeline and other infrastructure needed for production.

The proposed well is in what is called the Wolf Creek Storage Field, which produced 12 billion cubic feet of natural gas from 1960 to 1972. More recently, the well field is used to store natural gas obtained elsewhere, then piped to customers in Aspen and other Roaring Fork Valley communities during winter months.

Film festival makes for big business

PARK CITY, Utah Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival is big business. A new government study reports that this year's 10-day festival resulted in visitors spending $41.1 million in Utah, including $29.5 million in Summit County. That produces more money for Summit County than the two Outdoor Retailer markets that are held in Utah each year.

This year, new innovations caused more people to spend time on the slopes amid the movies. But most impressive is the ink. Park City's name this past winter got mentioned in 1,900 articles written in U.S. daily and weekly publications, hitting 322 million readers and 102 million television viewers, reports The Park Record .

Truckee to upgrade its technology

TRUCKEE, Calif. Truckee is already bisected by both a transcontinental highway and a transcontinental railroad. Now, it wants to get on the information highway, but it's more expensive than was expected.

The Truckee Donner Public Utility District now is borrowing $24 million to build and operate the proposed fiber-to-user system until it becomes profitable and self-supporting. That's $7 million more than was previous projected.

Despite the increased costs, says the Sierra Sun , the district expects the broadband service to start earning more than its cost within three years, with capital expenses repaid within eight.

CB ranches becoming ranchettes

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. Nowhere in the Rockies has there been so much attention paid to preserving the pastoral landscape as in the area between Crested Butte and Gunnison.

Even so, vacation homes have been encroaching. The latest news is of 29 new homesites being carved by a project called The Reserve on East River. Lots are priced between $1.25 million and $2 million. They are 35 acres in size, the minimum amount of land under Colorado that large parcels can be subdivided into without getting specific governmental approval. The project has been in the works for three years, reports the Crested Butte News .

New cameras may reduce road kill

INVERMERE, B.C. By standards of Colorado's I-70 or Utah's I-80, the traffic on the highway between Banff and Radium Hot Springs is light, only 5,000 vehicles on a typical summer day.

Still, 22 large animals from moose to bighorn sheep have been killed this year on roads in the Kootenay National Park, and more can be expected to follow. The carnage is such that wildlife biologists attribute declining elk populations in the late 1980s and well into the 1990s to highway mortality.

To make the highways more permeable, 24 wildlife crossing structures and also fencing have been installed along the Trans-Canada Highway as it winds through Banff National park.

As well, a new system was tested during the last two years in Kootenay. The system uses infrared cameras to detect wildlife close to or on the road. The sensors can detect body heat even during rain and snow and in the dark, alerting drivers with flashing lights. The verdict on the effectiveness is still out.

Lake Tahoe attracting trail tourists

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. An increasing number of dirty, unkempt, odoriferous people are showing up in Lake Tahoe this summer hikers stopping in for a regular meal and a shower during their five-month-long attempts to cover the entire distance of the 2,750-mile long Pacific Coast Trail.

In reporting this, the Tahoe World has no hard numbers but instead anecdotal reports that at least more people are trying to become thru-hikers of the trail. Inducing the greater ambition seems to be the lighter equipment such as one-pound sleeping bags and tarps that weigh even less.

compiled by Allen Best





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