Film depicts Telluride's early days

TELLURIDE The party-loving and idealistic baby boomers who were the first influx into the old mining town of Telluride have hit middle age and are now trying to make sense of their early years.

One such effort is "The YX Factor," a new film that chronicles Telluride in the 1970s. A big mine was still operating, but it was clearly on its way out. Still, the old-timers strongly distrusted the newcomers, who had come to ski and, more generally, create a new lifestyle.

A fulcrum in this tension between old and new was over the work of Everett Morrow, the town marshal. He was notorious for everything from unauthorized search-and-seizures to telling visitors, point blank, to get out of town. The marshal himself got booted as soon as the newcomers were able to get their slate of candidates elected to the town government.

But in compiling interviews for the film, co-producer Amy Levek tracked him down to Parachute, Colo., a one-time oil-shale town that is now basically a retirement community. "He was very different from what I expected, having heard so many stories about how much he hassled people and all," Levek tells The Telluride Watch . "He was just very sincere about doing his job, " which was, in his estimation, "to make sure the kids were OK and that drugs didn't become a problem."

Some of the early dreams were realized, such as Telluride's lovely public radio station, and others were not, such as the diminishing the role of cars. But along the way there were laughs, too, Levek says.

Eagle County Hispanic voters hidden

EAGLE COUNTY Eagle County, where Vail and Beaver Creek are located, has a large and growing Hispanic population. In 1980, it was less than 10 percent. Now, it's about 26 percent.

But the population gains appear not to translate directly into new voters. The Vail Trail reports that about 15 percent of voters in the last general election in Eagle County had Spanish surnames. There is no evidence it will surge for this election.

Given that Latinos tend to be poorer, this would seem to translate into potential gains for the Democratic Party, which tends to get the votes of poorer people. Muddling the picture is that so many Hispanics are new to the United States and unwilling to get involved in political groups. A further wrinkle is that many have no documentation of citizenship.

High country soiled by pollution

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK Air pollution has begun to poison the ecosystems in the high country of the Colorado Front Range.

Nitrogen compounds in rain and snow have more than doubled during the last 20 years, reports Denver's Rocky Mountain News . As the snow melts, runoff acidity spikes, occasionally reaching concentrations strong enough to kill young fish.

The pollution comes from both near and distant sources. Nitrogen levels began to soar in Rocky Mountain National Park beginning about 1950, and they now increase 2 percent annually.

Agriculture accounts for 21 percent of the nitrogen, scientists say. The nitrogen comes from farms, where irrigation has rapidly increased in order to grow corn and alfalfa, which are fed to cattle in feedlots. Another 34 percent of nitrogen emissions come from coal-fired power plants and other smokestack-type "point sources."

But the largest contributor of nitrogen compounds to the alpine tundra and subalpine forests are the cars and trucks from Colorado's rapidly expanding population. The urbanized corridor from Denver northward has expanded by 1 million people during the last 20 years. Scientists say vehicle emissions are responsible for 45 percent of the nitrogen.

But even if all these sources were cut in half, according to one state health official, problems would remain. "There are a lot of out-of-state sources that we need to factor into this California would be a good place to start," said Douglas Benevento, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health.

Global warming resolution passes

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Commissioners in Teton County have unanimously passed a resolution that urges residents to help reduce global warming.

The resolution does not point to any specific regulations or strategies, but one of the commissioners, Andy Schwartz, who is running for re-election on the platform of sustainability, said that perhaps the county can prohibit its employees from leaving county vehicles idling.

The resolution, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide , asks residents to educate themselves about global warming and take action. It states, "The overwhelming body of independent scientific evidence shows that global warming has been created, at least in part, by human activity and is clearly exacerbated by such activity."

Meanwhile, U.S. representatives are scheduled to meet in Jackson Hole with Chinese representatives to talk about clean air initiatives. The session is being organized by the new Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs.

Ski areas give boot to volunteers

GOLDEN, B.C. Some 20 volunteer snow hosts at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort have lost their nonpaying jobs. The resort has opted to give the jobs to ski school members.

The main reason for the shift is that if the volunteer host gets hurt while leading a tour, he or she could sue the resort because hosts are not covered by workers' compensation or insurance.

This, reports the Golden Star , has not gone over well with the volunteers, who think Kicking Horse is using the issue as an excuse. After all, they point out, Fernie and lake Louise continue to have volunteers as tour guides. The newspaper says that resort administrators plan a basic proficiency course for snow hosts but does not explain what exactly this means.

Backcountry lodge gets on the grid

CRESTED BUTTE The Irwin Mountain Lodge could get connected to the electrical grid via an 8-mile underground power line from Crested Butte.

The lodge, which is used as a base for Sno-cat skiing and as a site for weddings during summer, opened in 1974 but closed in 2002. The new owner is Archie Cox, CEO of Magnequench, which is a world leader in specialized magnet production. He plans $15 million in renovations and expansions to the lodge during the next three years, reports the Crested Butte News .

In addition to being off the grid, the lodge is accessible only by snow vehicles or foot during winter months.

Telluride feels costs of preservation

TELLURIDE Owners of private land both immediately east and west of Telluride wanted to develop, and in both cases the town has said no. Now, says Seth Cagin, publisher of The Telluride Watch , the results of those inflexible, unyielding decisions are coming home to roost.

On the east side, where the box canyon sweeps toward majestic Ingram Falls, the Idarado Mining Co. wanted to do some high-end housing development in exchange for open space dedication and affordable housing. The town said no, but now it will have to come up with millions for affordable housing and for open space preservation that it could have gotten for free.

Add to that the cost of preserving land on the west side of $25 to $50 million, another $8 million to pave the highway that leads into Telluride, water system repairs well, you get the idea. Telluride, suggests Cagin, is up the financial creek without a paddle.

Dems gain on GOP in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. Despite its environmental sympathies, don't mistake Jackson Hole for an inner-city precinct. This place is solidly Republican. They comprise 55 percent of the electorate, compared to the 24 percent who are registered Democrats and 21 percent who are independents.

But the Democrats are holding their own in new registered voters during the last four years, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide . In the last two years, Democrats have significantly outpaced Republicans.

While Jackson is basically Republican, it does sometimes cross the line in national elections as it did both times Bill Clinton ran.

Aspen and Vail agree on wind power

ASPEN It's rare that the Aspen Skiing Co. and Vail Resorts Inc. see eye to eye on anything. A ballot initiative before Colorado voters provides one of those rare opportunities.

The initiative would mandate that utility companies increase their sale of energy from renewable sources to 10 percent of their total portfolios. Generating electricity by trapping the energy of wind is currently becoming comparable with the cost of electricity generated by burning coal.

compiled by Allen Best

Both Vail Resorts and Aspen Skiing have been buying wind-generated electricity for several years. Aspen ties its support directly to the prospect of global warming. Vail is more hesitant about that link, but instead talks about clean air. Vail spends about $3 million annually in electricity and other utility costs and expects that to increase if the initiative passes, as polls suggest it will.

The third major ski company in Colorado, Intrawest, had not taken a stance as of early October.

Cloud-seeding drops off this winter

SUMMIT COUNTY Denver Water has spent $1.1 million on cloud-seeding during the last two winters, but it will not this winter. The city's utility department draws water from Winter Park and Summit County.

The Summit Daily News reports that the Breckenridge ski area is talking about paying for a cloud-seeding program. The only sure-fire cloud-seeder along the I-70 corridor is Vail, which has seeded winter clouds since 1978. Crested Butte is also being seeded this winter.

compiled by Allen Best





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index