Revelstoke ski resort takes its time

REVELSTOKE, B.C. – Last spring, the bold headlines about the new Mount Mackenzie resort complex appeared across Canada. Now, some of the locals in Revelstoke are starting to wonder when the ski lifts will appear.

Those lifts and gondola won’t show up until 2007, says Hunter Milbourn, one of two primary partners in the $680 million complex, but not to worry, the necessary work is getting done.

As of March, when the news hit, Milbourn and a partner had spent $4.2 million; today, the tab is close to $15 million, he told members of the local Rotary Club. A dozen consultants have been hired to plan the ski runs and the all-important real estate component at the base, notes theRevelstoke Times Review.

“I know people would be happier if there was more that was visible, but there has definitely been lots of progress,” Milbourn said. The town’s mayor, Mark McKee, agreed, saying that “people who still have their heads in the sand” should look at what has already been accomplished.


Bark beetles hammer Vail Mountain

VAIL – The way bark beetles are munching through the forests on the front side of Vail Mountain, they could look something like the Back Bowls in 10 to 20 years, reports theVail Daily.

Fires in the 1870s caused the great expanses of openness in the legendary Back Bowls. In the wake of the bark beetles, fires also pose a major threat to the front side of the mountain, says Cal Wettstein, the district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. “There’s potential for large, bald mountains,” he told theVail Daily.

If not fire, then many of the dead trees will rot at the base and eventually fall over, says Mark Morgan, a forest management contractor. “Either way, you’re going to have a dramatic change in the landscape. It’s the inevitability of it all at this point.”

A spokeswoman for Vail Resorts, the ski area operator, seemed to think that the devastation caused by the beetles will not be anything as bad.

Rocky Smith, of Colorado Wild, who has been monitoring forest management in Colorado for almost 25 years, agrees that fire is possible, but cautions that it is not likely. He questions whether any “treatment” of the lodgepole pine forest could have averted the beetle epidemic.


Ketchum begins to lose retail sector

KETCHUM, Idaho – Like most ski towns, Ketchum has been sliding from a tourism economy to a real-estate based economy for a couple of decades. There are almost no shops left on the town’s main street that sell things like stocking hats or other staples of the tourism trade.

And just this year, one of the town’s two remaining grocery stores closed, reflecting a down-valley migration of the more permanent residents. At the same time, construction began on two banks.

In an attempt to take stock of these changes, reports theIdaho Mountain Express, the City Council has enacted a six-month moratorium on reviewing two types of projects in the downtown areas: 1) single-family homes, or 2) any projects that include first-floor residential units.

“We want to maintain the viability of retail in the downtown,” Mayor Ed Simon said. “There’s a concern that all of the retail will go away.”


Telluride frets about downtown

TELLURIDE – Telluride continues to fret over the viability of its downtown district. While there is no compelling evidence that the downtown merchants are on the brink of despair,The Telluride Watchdoes note that a low-snow winter can push some over the edge, as can foul weather that deters attendance at the town’s various summer festivals. The newspaper notes that restaurants and retailers there account for 65 percent of municipal sales tax revenues, and the town government in turn bankrolls a large share of town activities.


Cloud seeding continues in C.B.

CRESTED BUTTE – When drought occurs, cloud-seeders are called. When the storms return, cloud-seeders start losing their jobs.

In the Gunnison Valley, where Crested Butte is located, the

storms returned last year – a 30 percent increase in snowpack. But the cloud-seeders, who claim 18 percent of that increase, will also be returning. A consortium of local governments, the ski area and ranchers are footing the $92,500 bill.

The story, according to county administrator John DeVore, seems to be that nobody is absolutely convinced that cloud-seeding works, but after several years of sub-par snow and the painful economic repercussions, nobody is willing to bet that it doesn’t work.

“I don’t know if it works or not, but I’m afraid to not fund it and then find out it had been what gave us our snow,” said one stockman.


Tahoe second homeowner murdered

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – More details are emerging about a case of road rage last summer on the highway between Truckee and Lake Tahoe that ended in the fatal stabbing of one of the drivers.

Near the turnoff to the Squaw Valley ski area, one of the drivers, Robert Ash, who was driving a sports car, passed the other car. What exactly happened on the road and soon after didn’t come out in an initial court hearing. What is known for sure is that Ash went to a bagel shop in Tahoe City. Soon after, he was stabbed to death by the other driver, Timothy Brooks.

The victim was a second-home owner. The accused murderer was staying with his parents, who have a second-home in the area. He was described by his lawyer as somebody who was a “good, young man” who “was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The defendant, who is 26, had recently graduated from college and become married. He had planned on enrolling in graduate school.


Aspen shores up sagging bed base

ASPEN – A new hotel will be opening in Aspen before Christmas, the first new hotel there in 10 years. But it won’t be the last.

The Aspen Times’ Janet Urquhart says that new lodging projects are lined up in Aspen like limos outside the Oscars. At least 10 hotel/real estate projects at the base of the ski mountain are in some stage of review or construction.

What does all this mean?

It means that Aspen’s long-eroding bed base is being shored up, although not returned to the heyday of skiing tourism. Similar to Vail and other ski towns, Aspen has lost much of its short-term lodging. A decade ago it had a “pillow count” – literally, the number of pillows where guests can lay their heads – of 10,000. Now, it has 7,300 pillows in the rentable lodging pool.

Much of the loss has been in smaller lodging properties. A decade ago, there were 73 lodging properties. Now, there are 48. Every year, the newspaper carries stories of lodges being sold and often converted into condominiums and townhomes that may or may not be rented out.


House surfs vacant lots in Frisco

FRISCO – You know the old expression “couch-surfing” to describe what some people do when homeless.The Summit Daily News reports something similar with a little old white house.

The house in Frisco has been home for 35 years to a woman described as both important and colorful. A developer bought the lot and made plans to build a duplex. Meanwhile, another real estate agent arranged to have the house moved before the bulldozers moved in.

The temporary home of the wandering house is a vacant lot owned by two sisters who are fourth-generation Frisco residents. Where the house will end up, nobody seems to know.


Cougar put down in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – A cougar was killed recently in Jackson Hole by state wildlife officials – apparently some think without proper cause.

The issue was human safety, state game warden Bill Long told theJackson Hole News & Guide. The lion had visited the ranch where rare trumpeter swans were being raised last winter, killing two swans. While wildlife researchers transplanted the cougar, trying to discourage it from being near people, it returned to the ranch and loitered – apparently unafraid of people. That’s what sealed his fate.

– compiled by Allen Best


Revelstoke ski resort takes its time

REVELSTOKE, B.C. – Last spring, the bold headlines about the new Mount Mackenzie resort complex appeared across Canada. Now, some of the locals in Revelstoke are starting to wonder when the ski lifts will appear.

Those lifts and gondola won’t show up until 2007, says Hunter Milbourn, one of two primary partners in the $680 million complex, but not to worry, the necessary work is getting done.

As of March, when the news hit, Milbourn and a partner had spent $4.2 million; today, the tab is close to $15 million, he told members of the local Rotary Club. A dozen consultants have been hired to plan the ski runs and the all-important real estate component at the base, notes theRevelstoke Times Review.

“I know people would be happier if there was more that was visible, but there has definitely been lots of progress,” Milbourn said. The town’s mayor, Mark McKee, agreed, saying that “people who still have their heads in the sand” should look at what has already been accomplished.


Bark beetles hammer Vail Mountain

VAIL – The way bark beetles are munching through the forests on the front side of Vail Mountain, they could look something like the Back Bowls in 10 to 20 years, reports theVail Daily.

Fires in the 1870s caused the great expanses of openness in the legendary Back Bowls. In the wake of the bark beetles, fires also pose a major threat to the front side of the mountain, says Cal Wettstein, the district ranger for the U.S. Forest Service. “There’s potential for large, bald mountains,” he told theVail Daily.

If not fire, then many of the dead trees will rot at the base and eventually fall over, says Mark Morgan, a forest management contractor. “Either way, you’re going to have a dramatic change in the landscape. It’s the inevitability of it all at this point.”

A spokeswoman for Vail Resorts, the ski area operator, seemed to think that the devastation caused by the beetles will not be anything as bad.

Rocky Smith, of Colorado Wild, who has been monitoring forest management in Colorado for almost 25 years, agrees that fire is possible, but cautions that it is not likely. He questions whether any “treatment” of the lodgepole pine forest could have averted the beetle epidemic.


Ketchum begins to lose retail sector

KETCHUM, Idaho – Like most ski towns, Ketchum has been sliding from a tourism economy to a real-estate based economy for a couple of decades. There are almost no shops left on the town’s main street that sell things like stocking hats or other staples of the tourism trade.

And just this year, one of the town’s two remaining grocery stores closed, reflecting a down-valley migration of the more permanent residents. At the same time, construction began on two banks.

In an attempt to take stock of these changes, reports theIdaho Mountain Express, the City Council has enacted a six-month moratorium on reviewing two types of projects in the downtown areas: 1) single-family homes, or 2) any projects that include first-floor residential units.

“We want to maintain the viability of retail in the downtown,” Mayor Ed Simon said. “There’s a concern that all of the retail will go away.”


Telluride frets about downtown

TELLURIDE – Telluride continues to fret over the viability of its downtown district. While there is no compelling evidence that the downtown merchants are on the brink of despair,The Telluride Watchdoes note that a low-snow winter can push some over the edge, as can foul weather that deters attendance at the town’s various summer festivals. The newspaper notes that restaurants and retailers there account for 65 percent of municipal sales tax revenues, and the town government in turn bankrolls a large share of town activities.


Cloud seeding continues in C.B.

CRESTED BUTTE – When drought occurs, cloud-seeders are called. When the storms return, cloud-seeders start losing their jobs.

In the Gunnison Valley, where Crested Butte is located, the storms returned last year – a 30 percent increase in snowpack. But the cloud-seeders, who claim 18 percent of that increase, will also be returning. A consortium of local governments, the ski area and ranchers are footing the $92,500 bill.

The story, according to county administrator John DeVore, seems to be that nobody is absolutely convinced that cloud-seeding works, but after several years of sub-par snow and the painful economic repercussions, nobody is willing to bet that it doesn’t work.

“I don’t know if it works or not, but I’m afraid to not fund it and then find out it had been what gave us our snow,” said one stockman.


Tahoe second homeowner murdered

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – More details are emerging about a case of road rage last summer on the highway between Truckee and Lake Tahoe that ended in the fatal stabbing of one of the drivers.

Near the turnoff to the Squaw Valley ski area, one of the drivers, Robert Ash, who was driving a sports car, passed the other car. What exactly happened on the road and soon after didn’t come out in an initial court hearing. What is known for sure is that Ash went to a bagel shop in Tahoe City. Soon after, he was stabbed to death by the other driver, Timothy Brooks.

The victim was a second-home owner. The accused murderer was staying with his parents, who have a second-home in the area. He was described by his lawyer as somebody who was a “good, young man” who “was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” The defendant, who is 26, had recently graduated from college and become married. He had planned on enrolling in graduate school.


Aspen shores up sagging bed base

ASPEN – A new hotel will be opening in Aspen before Christmas, the first new hotel there in 10 years. But it won’t be the last.

The Aspen Times’ Janet Urquhart says that new lodging projects are lined up in Aspen like limos outside the Oscars. At least 10 hotel/real estate projects at the base of the ski mountain are in some stage of review or construction.

What does all this mean?

It means that Aspen’s long-eroding bed base is being shored up, although not returned to the heyday of skiing tourism. Similar to Vail and other ski towns, Aspen has lost much of its short-term lodging. A decade ago it had a “pillow count” – literally, the number of pillows where guests can lay their heads – of 10,000. Now, it has 7,300 pillows in the rentable lodging pool.

Much of the loss has been in smaller lodging properties. A decade ago, there were 73 lodging properties. Now, there are 48. Every year, the newspaper carries stories of lodges being sold and often converted into condominiums and townhomes that may or may not be rented out.


House surfs vacant lots in Frisco

FRISCO – You know the old expression “couch-surfing” to describe what some people do when homeless.The Summit Daily News reports something similar with a little old white house.

The house in Frisco has been home for 35 years to a woman described as both important and colorful. A developer bought the lot and made plans to build a duplex. Meanwhile, another real estate agent arranged to have the house moved before the bulldozers moved in.

The temporary home of the wandering house is a vacant lot owned by two sisters who are fourth-generation Frisco residents. Where the house will end up, nobody seems to know.


Cougar put down in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – A cougar was killed recently in Jackson Hole by state wildlife officials – apparently some think without proper cause.

The issue was human safety, state game warden Bill Long told theJackson Hole News & Guide. The lion had visited the ranch where rare trumpeter swans were being raised last winter, killing two swans. While wildlife researchers transplanted the cougar, trying to discourage it from being near people, it returned to the ranch and loitered – apparently unafraid of people. That’s what sealed his fate.

– compiled by Allen Best

Commissioner returns free ski pass

PARK CITY, Utah – A Summit County commissioner has decided to return a ski pass given to her by Deer Valley. That pass is worth $1,345 if bought in early season. Although she skied with a free pass last year, the county attorney says state law forbids accepting gifts worth more than $50, reportsThe Park Record.

–compiled by Allen Best

 

In this week's issue...

June 13, 2019
Haven't got time for the pain

In the words of the great Salt-N-Pepa, let’s talk about sex (baby.) There, we said it.

June 13, 2019
Scoping begins on Silverton travel plan

The plan to bring more singletrack to Silverton is rolling forward. Last week, the Bureau of Land Management announced the beginning of a 30-day public scoping period on its proposed Silverton Area Travel Management Plan.

June 10, 2019
2019 Hardrock taps out

Snow, avi debris, high flows force cancellation