Carbon footprint grows in Telluride

TELLURIDE – Fresh news comes out of Telluride that illustrates the enormous difficulty of shrinking carbon footprints. Despite joining the Mayors Agreement on Climate Change in 2004, with the stated goal of reducing greenhouse gases by at least 15 percent by the end of 2010, a new town analysis reveals the municipality’s carbon footprint actually grew in the last year.

“We’re trending in a wrong way this year, despite a lot of really good things we’ve done,” said Karen Guglielmone, the town’s public works project manager. Tweaking, she added, isn’t getting the job done. “It’s time for some big moves.”

Compared to many places, Telluride already has made big moves. Over the last three years, it has replaced lightbulbs, turned off lights at the Town Hall and taken other measures that have reduced use of electricity by 25 percent and natural gas by 30 percent. Reduced transportation has also resulted in gains.

Still, emissions of carbon dioxide have increased. TheTelluride Watch tells of two big-ticket items. One is the wastewater treatment plant. Treating sewage easily consumes the most electricity of any town function. The refrigeration at the town’s skating rink came in a distant second.

This upward trend was not for lack of trying. Installation of a geoexchange system at the plant reduced the use of natural gas by 87 percent. But treating sewage requires electricity more than anything, and electrical use has actually increased.

Overall, the town government’s role in carbon dioxide emissions increased 3.6 percent in 2008, with electrical consumption being the largest part of the story.

Meanwhile, Aspen is trending in the opposite direction. Several years ago, the town charted it greenhouse gas emissions, including private residents and business, in addition to government. The baseline year documented was 2004.

Now, it has reported the results of a 2007 update. There has been some progress. Overall, the community’s carbon footprint has decreased 8.25 percent, city officials tellThe Aspen Times.

Much of that success is attributed to efforts by the city’s electrical utility, which has purchased wind power as part of a substantial shift away from electricity produced by burning coal and natural gas. However, emissions associated with transportation and buildings also dropped.

Curiously, Aspenites individually seem to be using more electricity, with a nearly 10 percent increase in the three-year span.

Front Range pipeline raises hackles

JACKSON, Wyo. – Three years ago, Aaron Million announced his audacious vision for water supplies along Colorado’s Front Range. In recent weeks, Wyoming residents have had their own choice of words for the idea, few of them complimentary.

As was first reported inColorado Biz Magazine in 2006, Million proposed to build a giant pipeline from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which straddles the Utah-Wyoming border, to deliver water to cities from Fort Collins to Pueblo, now home to more than 4 million people.

The core assumption for Million’s idea is that water remains available to Colorado under the 1922 compact governing the seven-state Colorado River Basin. Instead of diverting additional water from headwater streams near Winter Park, Breckenridge and Vail, he argues, it’s better to go to Flaming Gorge, which holds back the Green River.

The river originates in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, not far from Jackson Hole. However, Jackson Hole is drained by the Snake River, a tributary to the Columbia River.

Even at the outset, Million heard plenty of opposition within Colorado. But now he needs federal approval, because he intends to cross federal land with his pipeline and also because the federal government administers Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

In parallel editorials, both theJackson Hole News & Guideand theNew York Times argue that diverting water from Flaming Gorge could result in more dams upstream, with direct repercussions to wildlife as well as fishing opportunities.

“Clearly, it is time to recognize rivers for what they are,” says the newspaper in Wyoming. “Today, there is little legal right for in-stream flows, little recognition that rivers have value in and of themselves. Million’s project should be taken as a call to arms, to make such recognition a reality.”

Trophy homes planned on mine sites

KETCHUM, Idaho – An irony in the West during the last 150 years has to do with elevation. In the mining era, people made their fortunes and then headed to lower elevations. Now, peo

ple make fortunes and want to move to higher elevations.

All of this is prominently on display in a story out of Idaho’s Wood River Valley. Before the Sun Valley ski area came along, Ketchum and the Wood River Valley were centers for mining. The Triumph, Independent and North Star were among the silver mines that began operations in the 1880s and continued until after World War II.

Now, reports theIdaho Mountain Express, a developer hopes to transform the 848 acres of mining properties into an upscale neighborhood. DeNovo Properties, which is based in Chicago and Indianapolis, envisions 15 homesites. The company claims the high-end homes would also be the highest elevation residential area in the Sun Valley-Ketchum area.

The project, says the paper, has many hurdles before any of this happens. Mine shafts must be closed, hazardous materials removed, and tailings capped. Developers hope to get the property annexed into Sun Valley, the town adjacent to Ketchum.

Art Goodtimes takes up skiing at 63

TELLURIDE – With his long, graying beard and hair, a brightly knitted cap on his head, Art Goodtimes stands out in any crowd. A native of San Francisco, the son of a postal carrier ended up in Telluride 30 years ago.

Goodtimes – his given name was Arturo Bontempi – cannot easily be typecast. He regularly attends the Rainbow Family of Living Light gatherings held each summer in some mountain meadow in the West. He’s also a politician himself, a three-term commissioner in San Miguel County. Telluride itself is resolutely Democratic, although Goodtimes is formally affiliated with the Green Party. His politics, however, are strictly pragmatic. After all, he maintains his home 30 miles west of Telluride in conservative Norwood, a ranching center.

Writing in his weekly column inThe Telluride Watch, Goodtimes discloses that he is also unusual in another respect: He never skied in his first three decades in Telluride. It was, he explains, a matter of money and time.

However, he made sure his kids learned to ski. And now his youngest son, Gorio, has insisted he learn to ski, too. Goodtimes, with a re-election under his belt last November, gamely agreed, bought a six-day ski pass, and consented to be schooled by his son.

 “He liked the role reverse,” writes Goodtimes. “And he was a good teacher. Not telling me too much. Letting me find out for myself things like balance and speed and how to stop while standing on two boards racing down a slippery slope … Truth is, I loved it.”

Next year? Yes, another six-day pass, confirms Goodtimes. “After 30 years living in San Miguel County, I finally feel like a native. I can run a chainsaw and make turns.”

Steamboat forges on with upgrades

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – By next January, a new gondola should be operating at Steamboat Springs, transporting skiers and others from a more distant base area called Wildhorse Meadows. The developer of that real estate project, Resort Ventures West, has partnered with ski area operator Intrawest on the estimated cost of the $7 million gondola.

TheSteamboat Pilot & Today reports that town officials have ordered the permitting process be expedited, even if engineering details have not all been completed.

The newspaper, in an editorial, called the agreement a “dramatic” sign that local resort and government leaders have the resolution required to continue base-area improvements in the face of a deep recession. The newspaper also takes note of agreement to commit city reserves to help secure a bond issue of at least $11.2 million for public infrastructure at the base area.

Breck legend reflects on early days

BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge can trace its history to 150 years ago this summer, when prospectors swarmed over the Continental Divide to examine the Blue River for gold.

But Breckenridge was withering, slowly receding into the wilderness, when the ski area was opened in 1961. It had 17,000 skiers that year, and the first ski school superintendent was Trygve Berge, a former Norwegian Olympian.TheSummit Daily News recently interviewed Berge, who is now 77 and still skis two or three times a week. He has a ski run named for him, but it’s too easy. He prefers moguls or, when the conditions are right, the Imperial Lift, which rises to more than 12,800 feet.

– Allen Best

Townspeople in the early days of Breckenridge hated to see all the development – and some of them today are protesting future development. Still, Berge contends that Breckenridge has changed less than Aspen or Vail. Breckenridge still has families, he says, and other locals.

Park City campaign targets housing

PARK CITY, Utah – An advertising campaign in support of affordable housing has been launched in Park City. The latest poster features a supposed nurse that has found it difficult to get local housing. “She can save your life, but she can’t live next door,” the poster says.

In fact, no such nurse exists. But proponents tell thePark Record that the fictional character does reflect the situation of many firefighters, police officers, paramedics and teachers.

One of the sponsors, Julie Bernhard, of the Park City Board of Realtors, says the campaign hopes to reduce the fear of affordable housing coming into neighborhoods.

Neighbors have resisted several work-force projects in recent years. Those neighbors typically worry about more traffic, loss of open space and sometimes about the potential for depressing real estate values.

Aspen Music Festival to downsize

ASPEN – “Bigger, better and longer” has long been the norm. But the Aspen Music Festival and School is going in the other direction. Beginning next year, the festival will be a week shorter, the number of students will decrease by about 100, and a dozen or two faculty positions will be cut. Some of this down-sizing had begun several years ago, and the discussions leading to the current cropping were begun before the economic recession began, festival officials tellThe Aspen Times. But the public should not notice any difference, they add.

Condo prices drop 20 percent in Vail

VAIL – Vail Resorts has cut the asking price on condominiums in its Ritz Carlton Residences, now under construction, by 20 percent. Still, the prices remain healthy, with an average per square foot price of $1,624, reports theVail Daily. Currently, 47 units are under contract, with 24 still unsold.

– Allen Best


In this week's issue...

July 21, 2022
Wildlife success or deal with the devil?

Land swap approved in Southwest Colorado, but not without detractors

July 21, 2022
Tapping out

The latest strategy to save the San Luis Valley's shrinking aquifer: paying farmers not to farm

July 14, 2022
Hey, good environmental news

Despite SCOTUS ruling, San Juan Generating Station plans to shut down