Bears continue to plague Aspen area

ASPEN It's been a tough year for bears in Colorado. Cold weather in June meant that few acorns and berries were available. That has resulted in hungry bears trying to break into houses as never before. It has also meant more bears being killed than ever before in the broader Aspen area as of mid-September, 10 had been killed by state wildlife officers, seven had been struck and killed by vehicles, and two were shot by private landowners.

In Redstone, a town about 30 miles west of Aspen, some residents are outraged at bears being killed. They say that two bears that were shot posed no serious threat to humans, reports The Aspen Times . Wildlife officers counter that both animals had broken into homes more than once during the summer. The real blame, they said, lies with people who leave food outside.

Meanwhile, others in the Aspen area have called for artificial feeding of bears, perhaps by setting aside food in an isolated place like the county dump. A similar arrangement was used at Yellowstone National Park in the 1950s and 1960s.

But like at Yellowstone, wildlife officials in Colorado see no good from artificial feeding. For one thing, says state wildlife officer Kevin Wright, it would take an awful lot of food adult bears, who are now feeding up to 20 hours a day while trying to put on fat reserves for hibernation, can eat up to 40 pounds a day.

Sows and cubs go to bed in mid- to late-October, while adults normally feed until mid-November. For cubs who are still scrawny as autumn comes on, the winter doesn't look good. As many as 75 percent could die during winter. For yearlings, wildlife officials estimate 40 to 50 percent in the Roaring Fork Valley could die.

Vail woman freezes her garbage

BEAVER CREEK How difficult is the bear situation in Colorado this summer? So bad that at least one resident of Beaver Creek reports keeping her trash in her freezer until trash day. Keeping it inside the garage isn't enough, as bears have routinely been breaking and entering garages.

In reporting her extreme response to a year that has been extreme for bears, the Vail Daily didn't say what kind of freezer it is. Presumably big, like the homes in the area where the greatest problems seem to be occurring, a ritzy neighborhood called Bachelor Gulch.

Meanwhile, a homeowner in that same neighborhood shot and wounded a bear that he said had charged him as he was getting into his car. The bear, said John Tietbohl, had earlier tried to get into his house. As well, security personnel had sprayed pepper spray at the bear.

These and other actions have some residents extremely distressed. "We're privileged to live among the wildlife," resident Betsy Hendrikson said. "Shooting a bear is a crime against nature."

Dillon struck by major panty heist

DILLON It was among the most unusual of burglaries, the 40 pairs of woman's underpants stolen from the Summit Thrift and Treasure, a second-hand store in Dillon. The garments were only valued at 20 cents to 79 cents each. Left untouched were a computer, cash and other far more valuable items. A far greater loss, reports the Summit Daily News , is a broken window, which will cost $200 to replace.

Bill proposes use of local wood

SACRAMENTO, Calif. You've probably noticed this. A lot of the ski towns and valleys have no end of big houses made from lots and lots of wood. Yet the strongest opposition to timber sales on public lands comes from people in those ski towns and valleys.

In California, a bill at the desk of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger challenges that sort of thinking. The bill would encourage state agencies to purchase more wood grown in California instead of being imported from countries where environmental laws are less strict. Currently, about 70 percent of wood used in California is imported.

A series of articles in the Sacramento Bee called "State of Denial" inspired the bill. The series linked California's consumption of wood and oil to environmental degradation in Canada and South America. The bill, said Bill Libby, a professor emeritus of forestry at the University of California, Berkeley, is a step in the right direction. "Wood grown in California is going to be better grown than almost anywhere else," he told the Bee .

Sierra Club California once opposed the bill but is now neutral. But logging interests in Canada, New Zealand and Chile don't like it. Also disliking it is the California Department of General Services, which buys supplies for the sate. "The bill would take the state procurement efforts in the opposite direction of the general economic trends for free and open trade in a global economy," said Doug Hoffner, the department's assistant director for legislation.

Retail trumps real estate in Aspen

ASPEN Aspen has closed the door to new offices on the ground-floor levels in its downtown area. The call for the ban arose two years ago after two retail stores, Eddie Bauer and Aspen Drug, became timeshare sales offices.

Vail first banned such offices in 1973, although some real estate offices grandfathered in still remain in its main business district, Vail Village. Other ski towns, from Park City to Crested Butte, have also talked recently about limiting the presence of real estate in retail districts, although none of these discussions have yielded specific proposals.

In Aspen, the City Council was divided on the proposal, reports The Aspen Times . Mayor Helen Klanderud argued that there had been no evidence that a ban on new offices existing ones will be grand-fathered in, as they were in Vail will help increase sales at retail stores. Others at the meeting argued essentially that real estate has become the new retail activity, but that's not necessarily bad.

Meanwhile, Aspen also nudged zoning for its downtown area to allow more density, in part to accommodate more affordable housing. However, the changes were small buildings being allowed to go up 2 feet higher or, if they're set back 15 feet, 6 feet higher.

School board children go private

SUMMIT COUNTY More and more students from Summit County are commuting daily across Vail Pass to attend Vail Mountain School, a private institution with 315 students in kindergarten through high school.

Among the 32 students from Summit County are the children of four former school board members and two current board members.

"I don't see it as a conflict," said Stuart Adams, whose daughter, a sophomore, began attending Vail Mountain School this fall. "I didn't get onto the school board to serve my daughter's best interest. I did it to serve the public's best interest."

Another Summit County parent, Tara Flanagan, said the community atmosphere at the school was a major selling point. "There are enormous amounts of positive energy flowing through the place," she said. "You have to walk in the door to see what I mean. I thought for a second that maybe I'd like to re-enroll myself in middle school, but I figured I'd have some wardrobe issues."

Christmas light ban in the works

BANFF, Alberta Everybody knows that Santa and Rudolf get seriously stale about 20 minutes after Christmas. Christmas lights aren't much better. But the twinkling white lights that began as holiday lighting now seem more generally reflective of winter. Should they be required to be removed too?

In Banff, there are some arguments for doing so. They burn energy and, in a small way, contribute to light pollution. But the Rocky Mountain Outlook , a reliable defender of environmental standards, says the twinkle, twinkle of white lights during winter should be left alone. "Let's be a little environmentally incorrect for a few dark months of the year," says the newspaper, in synch with many businesses.

Ballots to be offered in Spanish

EAGLE COUNTY Eagle County now has nearly 49,000 residents, and about 25 percent of them are Hispanic. While some come from families who have lived for several hundred years in the region, most are recent immigrants to work at Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen.

To accommodate those for whom Spanish is their first language, Eagle County this year will print ballots in Spanish, as well as English, reports the Vail Daily . County Clerk and Recorder Teak Simonton said this year will be a test to see how many Spanish-speaking people are registered voters.

compiled by Allen Best






News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index