Vail Resorts buys Kirkwood for $18M
The days of free Sierra road trips may be over for Durango skiers. Durango Mountain Resort’s California sister resort,  Kirkwood, announced Wednesday it is being acquired by Vail Resorts for $18 million. Both DMR and Kirkwood were owned by Florida-based Cobb Partners, Ltd. DMR was not part of the Vail deal and will continue to be owned by Cobb.

And while Purgatory season passholders will no longer be able to take advantage of free skiing at Kirkwood, Kirkwood passholders can ski Vail’s other Tahoe-area resorts, Heavenly and Northstar.

“We are thrilled to welcome Kirkwood into our family as our seventh world-class mountain resort. Kirkwood offers some of the most extraordinary ski terrain found anywhere in North America with high alpine trails and the most annual average snowfall in Lake Tahoe,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts. Kirkwood, known for its funky, low-key approach, lack of nightlife and steep, rugged skiing, will remain true to its roots under the Vail masthead, according to Katz. “Kirkwood represents skiing and riding at its purest, something we intend to retain and protect long into the future.”

Kirkwood CEO David Likins said it is an exciting time for the Kirkwood community including employees, guests and homeowners. “Vail is a world-class operator with the experience and resources to make Kirkwood into a premier destination for skiers and riders,” he said. “They really seem to appreciate the unique culture that makes Kirkwood special and are committed to taking the experience to the next level while embracing the mountain assets that we all love.”

The Vail acquisition includes limited development parcels in Kirkwood’s Mountain Village. Kirkwood Mountain Development will retain the majority of the area’s ski-in/ski-out real estate “development opportunities that are expected to follow on the heels of these exciting changes in the Kirkwood experience,” according to the Kirkwood web site.

DMR CEO Gary Derck did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Wednesday morning.

Food security on ‘Homegrown’ menu
Local food will be taking a seat at the head of the table this week during the fourth annual Homegrown Retreat.

Put on by Growing Partners of the Southwest, this year’s theme, “Setting the Community Table with Local, Healthy Food,” takes place Friday and Saturday at Fort Lewis College.

Featuring various workshop and lectures on topics of interest to local food producers and consumers alike, the retreat kicks off Friday night with a talk by Colorado Farm to School Liaison Andy Nowak.

The Denver chef and Slow Food advocate will speak at 7 p.m. Friday night in the Student Union Ballroom about his work bringing local food into Denver public schools. “He’s done a lot with community gardens and bringing the produce into schools and training school chefs and cooks on how to cook with whole foods,” said Rachel Landis, programs assistant with the FLC Environmental Center, which is sponsoring the event.

Landis said about 200 people are expected to attend Saturday, which includes lectures on local food security and sustainability as well as various workshops. Topics include: how to save money while increasing vitality with local wild foods; growing your own food and garden design; tips for the frugal foodie; and farming do’s and dont’s.

“The idea is to enrich the conversation about local food, everything from production to access,” she said. “The end goal is for everyone to understand the need to stay local.”

This year picks up where last year’s retreat left off, said Landis.

“We really inspired advocacy last year, but we really didn’t offer ways to take action. This year, we’re going to offer access to those action steps,” she said.

Another exciting part to this year’s retreat is the food itself: an almost entirely resourced local lunch. Landis said numerous community members came together to make the lunch possible, from growers providing food to St. Columba offering use of its kitchen, Manna Soup Kitchen donating kitchenwares and Sodexo providing catering services. “It’s an awesome community collaboration,” said Landis. “It’s the perfect example of what local food security looks like when everyone gets involved.”

Friday night’s talk by Nowak is free and open to the public. There are still a few spots left for Saturday’s retreat. Anyone unable to make either function can hear a recap on KDUR’s “Making Waves,” Thurs., March 1, at 9 a.m.

For more on the Homegrown Retreat, go to

Bike Friendly Durango gets gold fever

Durango Devo is not the only local bicycle group going for the gold. Last week, the City’s Bicycle Friendly Task Force announced it is launching a “Go for the Gold” campaign as it seeks gold-level designation as a bicycle Friendly Community. In 2008, Durango was awarded silver status by the League of American Bicyclists, which ranks communities on a scale of bronze to platinum. Recipients must seek redesignation every four years.

“Considering the improvements we’ve made in the last four years, we felt Durango has stepped up to the plate,” said task force chairwoman Mary Oswald.

The level of designation is based on the “Five Es:” engineering, encouragement, education, enforcement and evaluation. Bicycle Friendly Durango, with support from the City of Durango, has shown support for these five tenets in an effort to make bicycling safer and more accessible over the last few years.

Oswald cited several examples of this dedication, including the creation of a multi-modal department; the completion of key links and segments of the Animas River Trail; the successful on-street bike parking program on Main Avenue; and the completion of an expanded and safer bike lane on Florida Road. The community was also awarded three Safe Routes to School grants and was selected as the opening stage of the USA Pro cycling Challenge in August.

“Gold designation would signify how we are continuing to improve and progress as far as overall quality of life is concerned,” said Oswald. “Cycling is seen as one of the reasons people see this as a desirable place to live, yet we still have conflicts. This is a way to continue to address and mitigate the conflicts so  we become a safer and more accessible multi-modal community.”

Originally, the Durango group had wanted to be the first smaller-sized community to achieve gold status, but Steamboat Springs beat it to the punch. However, if chosen, Durango will still be among select company. There are only 103 communities recognized nationally as Bicycle Friendly, with only 16 at the elite gold or platinum levels. In Colorado, ranked as the 12th most bicycle friendly state, gold cities include Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and Fort Collins, with Boulder at platinum level.

The Task Force submitted the application in mid-February and expects to hear the results in May.

In the meantime, the City of Durango will be honoring those bike riders who brave the cold, snow, and ice in their daily commute with “Winter Bike to Work Day” from 7 - 9 a.m. Thurs., March 1, in front of Durango Coffee Co. Free snacks from Clif Bar and coffee and tea from Durango Coffee will be provided. The first 50 attendees will also get a long-sleeve commemorative shirt. The Coffee Co. will be home to the city’s fifth on-street bicycle corral this summer.
– Missy Votel