Pitkin County goes bear
ASPEN, Colo. Pitkin County authorities
have ordered that 90-gallon plastic garbage containers be replaced
by steel, bear-proof containers or bear-proof enclosures. The edict
was issued in the wake of yet more human-bear encounters in what
wildlife officials say is an unprecedented season of such
Localized freezes in
June that apparently wiped out much of the berry and acorn crops,
which are the mainstays of the diets for black bears, are cited in
explaining why so many bears are trying to get food from people in
both Summit County and in the Aspen-Snowmass area. Particularly of
concern is the absence of fear exhibited by the bears, who have
been showing up in the light of day in heavily frequented areas
The county commissioners
three years ago ordered bear-resistant plastic carts as a minimum,
but did not require the locking, steel containers. At that time,
the steel containers cost twice as much, $600, than the plastic
But the plastic carts
amount to "little picnic boxes" for bears, in the words of Jonathan
Lowsky, the county's wildlife biologist. "A big bear sits on it and
it caves in enough that he can pull out the trash," Lowsky
Because of such strong
demand for the steel containers, the price has dropped to $300, the
same as for the plastic. Lowsky said the county won't expect
immediate compliance everywhere, but good-faith efforts.
Ski area takes on global
ASPEN, Colo. The Aspen Skiing Co. has
very clearly identified global warming as the top environmental
challenge, not only for the planet but for the ski company itself.
To that end, the company is trying to reduce or at least minimize
the increases in the emissions of greenhouse gases caused by its
To that end, the company
in July began tapping a source of renewable energy in its own back
yard, the streams that cascade down the mountain slopes.
At nearby Snowmass, the
company has created the first of what it says will be several
microhydro plants. Unlike large dams, they take some of the water
out of a creek but don't block the flow. "Such systems can generate
electricity from relatively small water flows, even seasonal
streams. You don't need to build the Hoover Dam," says Auden
Schendler, the company's environmental affairs director.
The microhydro plant
uses the resort's existing snowmaking infrastructure. Water from a
snowmaking storage pond higher up the mountain is drained during
spring and summer to a 115-kilowatt turbine. The plant is projected
to make 250,000 kwh annually, or enough to power 40 homes while
preventing the emission of 500,000 pounds of carbon dioxide
annually. Schendler estimates the ski company will be able to
recoup its investment in seven years.
Paintballers target idle tennis
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. Tennis was to the
'70s what golf was to the '90s. But now, tennis courts are going
unused or, in the case of Copper Mountain, being converted into
The new sport being
embraced by a younger generation is called paintball, in which
teams of players engage in a game similar to tag but use guns
called "markers." The markers shoot balls of vegetable-based
After a new store
catering to participants opened in Frisco earlier this year, U.S.
Forest Service officials were distressed to discover that
paintballers had been shooting it up in the local forests. The
paint, said foresters, isn't all that instantly biodegradable.
Pushed to find a legitimate place for paintball battles, the
merchant approached Intrawest officials at Copper
and we're told outright not to be afraid to try new things," Robert
Stenhammer, who manages lodging at Copper, told the Summit Daily News . Two tennis courts were covered with
300 tons of sand and outfitted with a 17-foot-high fence with
Woman walks around the
VAIL, Colo. Five years ago Polly
Letofsky walked out of Vail and vowed not to return until she had
walked around the world.
On July 30, she
delivered on her promise, arriving in Vail after walking through 22
countries, wearing out 29 pairs of shoes and covering 14,124
Letofsky had dreamed of
walking around the world since she was 12 years old. The idea of
walking into and through different cultures captivated her, she
explained. And that's exactly what she did.
Along the way, she
spread culture herself. Armed with an infectious smile and
ebullient spirit, she spread the cause of breast cancer awareness,
promoting the need for mammograms and lending support to the
breast-cancer victims she encountered along the way.
Her favorite country?
Turkey, with its blend of East and West, old and new.
But now comes the hard
part. What do you do for an encore once you've done something no
woman has ever done before?
"I'm scared for you," a
man told her in Ontario last year. The man had taken a five-month
bike trip across America, but found that getting settled afterward
was the toughest time of his life. He plugged himself into his old
life, but he was a different person. He didn't belong
'Last Supper' copy ordered
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. A copy of
Leonardo Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" has been ordered removed from
the Senior Center on the South Shore of Lake Tahoe.
The building is owned by
the city, and hence the city attorney said the painting, which
depicts a scene from the Christian story, violates the First
Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. That amendment requires
separation of church and state.
City Attorney Catherine
DiCamillo said the criterion is clear: anything that can be
perceived as a government endorsement of religion and is easily
identifiable. If the artwork is displayed during a private
function, it would be allowed.
The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports that the order angered many
seniors, who wondered who reported the painting. "No one knows who
the snitch is," said one of the seniors.
Snowmass second homes want
SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. The proposal
by the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest to create a new base-area
village in Snowmass Village is headed toward a showdown and some
second-home owners want to be in the middle of the fray.
Opponents who believe
the proposal calls for buildings that are both too high and too
dense may seek a public vote if the Town Council approves the plan.
But in Snowmass Village, as in most resort towns, the nonresident
property owners have no vote unless they choose to declare the town
as their primary residence, reports the Vail Daily .
"It's difficult to comprehend that 175 people can make this
decision (to force a referendum) when second-home owners own the
most expensive real estate in the Village," said Jerry Rich, whose
primary home is in Boca Raton, Fla.
Mel Blumenthal, whose primary residence is Los Angeles, said
residents should get a vote in the local elections if they own
property there. It is, he says, a matter of fairness.
"If it wasn't for the vast number of second-home owners
providing both property tax support, transfer tax support, all of
it, we wouldn't have the kind of infrastracture that's here. Aspen
and Snowmass are too small to be able to afford world-class
hospitals, fire departments."
A recent study partially backs Blumenthal's claim. Property
taxes alone don't pay for much of a community's infrastructure, at
least in Colorado, but the economy created by vacation homes has
become the strongest economic driver in the Aspen and Vail areas,
overshadowing conventional tourism.
Only one municipality, Mountain Village, has given nonresident
property owners the right to vote.
Steamboat looks at smoking
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. The idea of a
ban on smoking in public plans has been taken up in Steamboat
Springs, although nobody is in a rush.
There has been some talk
of getting a measure on the November ballot, but then even the
anti-smoking specialists decided that would be too rushed. As
talked about initially, the ban would be limited, requiring only
that restaurants provide nonsmoking sections.
In contrast, nearly all
of Colorado's Summit County has banned smoking in indoor businesses
that cater to the public. Banff allows smoking only in rooms where
service is not provided or expected.
compiled by Allen