The right to puff ends at where?

CARBONDALE – What to some noses is the sweet aroma of burning marijuana is, to other nostrils, acrid and sickening. Given this wide band of aesthetics, should smoking of marijuana in outdoor places but on private property be restricted?

That’s one of the finer points of marijuana legalization as towns and counties in Colorado draft laws regulating sale and use of the leafy herb beginning in January. Unlike other mountain towns, Carbondale will allow the sale and growing of marijuana.

But should people be able to smoke marijuana on their back patios? What if that smoke drifts into a neighbor’s air space?

The Aspen Daily News reports that Carbondale town trustees have decided that the fewer the rules, the better. Oh, smoking of marijuana will be illegal on sidewalks, alleys and public parks, among other public places. But on your own private property, there will be no restrictions, similar to smoking of tobacco.

“I think it would be better if we deal with this as it comes up,” said Mayor Stacey Bernot at a recent meeting. “If things are getting out of hand, maybe we can address it or it can be on a neighbor-to-neighbor basis. What may be an offensive smell to me may not be to another person.”

But where can marijuana be grown? Again, the Carbondale trustees have decided against trying to conceive every possible circumstance. Growing can only be done in “enclosed, locked spaces” such as a back yard.

Gene Schilling, the police chief, said enforcement will vary based upon circumstances. A citation will be issued if, for example, a child enters a greenhouse that wasn’t locked, eats marijuana, and gets sick. A neighbor complaining about an unlocked door would yield a reminder.

He also said that he foresees police treating marijuana use much like alcohol. Currently, it’s illegal to have beer and other forms of alcohol in public spaces, such as on sidewalks or parks. In 99 percent of cases, he said, his officers just require the person to pour out the alcohol.

The same would apply to people smoking marijuana, with the exception that the new rules allow police to confiscate any marijuana.


Aspen mayor explores uphilling opportunities

ASPEN – For several decades now, more and more skiers have been freeing their heels. Freed in that way, they can climb up the ski slopes as well as ski down. Advancements in randonee gear have made that endeavor even more widely practiced.

Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron, himself an avid uphill and backcountry skier, thinks his town and the sport should have a stronger alliance. The Aspen Daily News reports that Skadron has met with executives of Scarpa, the U.S. distributor of Italian-made ski boots. He also contacted La Sportiva, another Italian manufacturer of ski mountaineering equipment, to explore how they might increase their presence in the Roaring Fork Valley.

Ideas include everything from sponsoring races and conferences, opening factories or stores in the Aspen area, or even branding their products with the Aspen name.

“My general idea was that Aspen should be at the forefront of this great enthusiasm over randonee racing,” said Skadron. “I want Aspen to help develop this ski economy.”

He envisions marketing partnerships that capitalize on Aspen’s name recognition. “What if, on every one of (Ski Trab’s) skis, it said ‘Manufactured in Italy, tested in Aspen?’” said Skadron, who is a marketer by trade.

The Daily News notes that sales of alpine-touring gear have increased in local ski shops as fitness-focused locals, many of them advancing into middle age, have latched onto the idea of getting a strong aerobic workout while skiing.

“It’s really taking off, particularly in the drier ski years,” said Bob Wade, owner of Ute Mountaineer.

Wade also said that while backcountry skiing has grown rapidly, the uphill fitness sector has been exploding. “It’s almost an even split between people who backcountry ski and people who do it for exercise,” he said. “But a big phenomenon is that a lot of these companies are really pushing the uphill fitness.”


More wildlife overpasses, underpasses on the way

INVERMERE, B.C. – From Colorado to British Columbia, efforts continue to make highways in the Rocky Mountains more permeable to wildlife.

In British Columbia, three large tunnels have been constructed under Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park. The tunnels allow elk, bear and wolves safer passage. Five kilometers of high fence have also been strung in an effort to guide the animals to the underpass. Total cost is $5 million.

With these new structures there are now wildlife overpasses or underpasses on Highway 93 in Arizona, Nevada, Montana and British Columbia.

The new structures were recommended in a 2008 report by the Western Transportation Institute of Bozeman, Mont. That study reported that wildlife-vehicle collisions could be reduced 87 percent in Kootenay and Banff national parks. In Kootenay, the proposed mitigation measures would have to prevent 53 collisions with large animals per year to break even. Based on the number of collision in recent years, the tunnels and fence would prevent 44 collisions annually.

More than just preventing roadkill, however, the devices are intended to allow wildlife populations to be linked. That’s partly the intent in adjacent Banff National Park, where 40 underpasses and overpasses have been built since the 1990s. Research indicates 150,000 animals have been recorded crossing the Trans-Canada Highway in Banff through the overpasses and underpasses.

In Colorado, a project that will ultimately yield two overpasses and five underpasses has been funded. The 10.6-mile segment of Highway 9 between Kremmling and Silverthorne has been a deadly one, for both wildlife and people. The Colorado Department of Transportation found that 16 people died in the highway segment from 1993-2012. Another 191 people were hurt. About a third of the accidents involved wildlife.

Eight-foot fences will be strung along the highway and broad shoulders will also be added and, in places, twists in the road will be smoothed. Total cost will be $46 million.

Local governments and individuals pledged $9.2 million, or 20 percent of the cost. Of that, nearly $5 million came form the owner of Blue River Ranch, south of Kremmling, who has been reported to be owner of a hedge fund.


Mitt and Ann buy back into Park City

PARK CITY, Utah – Mitt and Ann Romney, owners of a house in Park City from the mid-1990s until 2009, have returned, purchasing a home in the Deer Valley area for $8.9 million, reports The Park Record. The newspaper notes that Romney was popular in Park City from his days when he led the 2002 Winter Olympics.


Ranchers mostly OK with Banff bison plan

BANFF, Alberta – Parks Canada has released a draft plan for reintroduction of bison into Banff National Park. Talking with some ranchers in the area, the Rocky Mountain Outlook reports general support for the plan, but not without caveats.

For example, Gord Vaadeland, a third-generation rancher, said the federal parks agency must build relationships with local ranchers in the area near the park. “There’s a lot of old wounds, and before you risk creating any new wounds, you need to work on healing the old wounds,” he said.

Some of that mistrust seems to go back to the 1920s, when the federal government shipped 6,673 plains bison from Buffalo National Park. The plains bison infected the larger wood bison with bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis. The disease remains and can be spread to cattle who come into contact with the bison.


The secrets to aging gracefully beyond 60

CANMORE, Alberta – Even more than the United States, Canada has a giant population bulge in people born in the two decades after World War II. Now, for the first time in Canadian history, there are more people aged 55 to 64 than those aged 15 to 24.

What can baby boomers look forward to in their advancing years? Longer life expectancies than earlier generations. But what quality of life?

Colin Milner, founder and chief executive of the International Council of Active Aging, spoke in Canmore recently, offering tips to “increase your health span and not just your lifespan.”

The Rocky Mountain Outlook says he emphasized the need to stay active, physically, intellectually and emotionally. But diminishing energy is a fact of life. Given that reality, it’s important to allocate that reduced energy. “You need to manage your time to so you can find balance in life to regain the energy that’s being zapped for you,” he said.

He also pointed to the importance of good nutrition and continued exercise. The aging process results in the atrophying of strength. The average person loses 50 percent of strength between the ages of 37 and 70. Miller said you should strive for two to three session of strength-training a week and seek to put in 150 minutes of cardio-vascular activity each week.

Finally, it’s a matter of attitude. “Be engaged in your community and keep your emotions positive. But enjoying life is important, and that may require having a purpose,” he said.


Another record-bender for Whistler room nights

WHISTLER, B.C. – September was another record-setting month for business in Whistler. Unlike the others, this one seemed to be built on the back of expanded conventions and conferences. Group business at one prominent hotel, Chateau Whistler, accounted for 7,000 room nights alone, reports Pique Newsmagazine. Paid occupancy was 52 percent, a hair higher than the previous record for September occupancy.


Hotelier hopeful sees light at end of tunnel

KETCHUM, Idaho – Several years after getting approval for a new hotel called Bald Mountain Lodge, the owner has no firm plans to move forward. But that doesn't mean nothing will happen.

Michael Kerby, project chief executive, recently told the Ketchum City Council that the property has now been paid for and he’s actively looking for partners in building the 87-room luxury hotel. He told the council he has 21 different parties who have signed confidentiality agreements.

Kerby said he sees a thaw in the credit market. “It’s only been in the last 3 to 6 months that we’ve seen unfreezing of the iceberg with development in metropolitan areas, which is a starting point,” he said.

Steve Burnestead, a general partner in Bald Mountain Lodge, said he finally sees banks having extra money and interest in lending for larger-scale projects such as hotels.

Ketchum had approved four hotels in the months and years prior to the Great Recession, and so far no brick and mortar have resulted. None of the developers has thrown in the towel, however.

– Allen Best

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