Pot: legal to buy but where to smoke?

ASPEN – The conundrum of Colorado’s cannabis-based tourism economy is on display front and center in Aspen, where a conference geared toward marijuana-imbibers is to be held in November.
The Cannabis Grand Cru booked all 90-rooms in a hotel, in theory making it a private event. Organizers also figured that they could then get an outdoor space within the Sky Hotel complex designated for consumption.
But Aspen city officials have said no. The city allows the sale of marijuana and consumption in private places. Not so in public places. Smoking is banned in hotel rooms.
A frustrated Anthony Dittman, co-owner of Blue Sugar Productions, told the Aspen Daily News that the city code seemed to say “the city doesn’t allow brick-and-mortar, 365-day-a-year pot clubs,” he said. “It doesn’t address one-off events.”
Without a place to legally imbibe, the marijuana festival will be like “going to a Halloween party without any candy.”

Casualty in Aspen, far from war’s front

ASPEN – In wars, the casualties don’t end just because the bullets have stopped flying. The Aspen Daily news reports the death of Casey Owens, who was 22 in 2004 when a roadside bomb struck his Humvee in Iraq. He lost both his legs.
At the time, Owens had his heart set on being a career Marine, a friend said. Instead, he ended up in Aspen, where he found escape from his problems on the ski slopes. In 2012, he told CBS News that he suffered from a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. “I really don’t think I’ll ever be free. I don’t think the burden of war is ever gone,” he told CBS.
On the ski slopes, it was better – but not enough. The Daily News reports he took his own life.

Rio Grande cutthroat making comeback

TAOS, N.M. – The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service earlier this month removed the Rio Grande cutthroat trout as a candidate for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The fish, said the agency, is no longer in danger of extinction, nor will it be in the foreseeable future.
The Taos News points to projects in many parts of the Rio Grande Basin, including Comanche Creek, that have recovered. “It’s a great example of recovering a watershed that had been worked over by mining, logging, grazing and probably overfishing,” Toner Mitchell, New Mexico public land coordinator for Trout Unlimited, told the News.

Other projects include Ted Turner’s Vermejo Park ranch, where non-native species were removed and cutthroat restored. The Fish and Wildlife Service expects that restoration to eventually expand the trout’s habitat by 20 percent.

The Center of Biological Diversity, however, is not happy to see the federal agency walk away from heightened protections. “The trout is gone from 89 percent of its historic range and expected to decline further, yet still it somehow doesn’t deserve to be protected as endangered – that shows how wrongheaded this policy really is,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director.

Give me a G, give me an M, give me a W

MOAB, Utah – If you’ve been to Moab, you may have noticed the giant “G” painted on a canyon wall. The “G-spot” caught the wandering gaze of the Wall Street Journal, which reports that earlier this year somebody modified the “G” to create an “O.”
The “G” stands for Grand County, which is where Moab is located, and more specifically Grand County High School.
There are at least 400 such letters painted on mountains and hillsides in the West, usually to commemorate a local college or high school. A book has even been written about them, called Hillside Letters A to Z, by Evelyn Corning, who grew up below a huge “E” that overlooks her hometown of Escalante, Utah.
Missoula, Mont., has a giant “M” overlooking the university campus, as does Golden, the latter for the Colorado School of Mines.
The biggest one is over Gunnison, which has a “W” for what is now Western State Colorado University. It stands 420 feet high.
As for that “G” overlooking Moab, the Journal reports it has been restored, although this isn’t the first time somebody has monkeywrenched with the letter.

Glaciers continue to recede at Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. – It was a hot and dry summer in Whistler, and there was some speculation that local glaciers were shrinking at a record pace.
They shrunk, but not at a record pace, according to the reconnaissance by Whistler Naturalists. The team found the terminus of Overlord Glacier had receded about 18.5 meters (60 feet) from last year. Wedgemount Glacier also has shrunk both in area and thickness.

Steamboat rental market tightens

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Rental prices in ski towns have been rising briskly. Steamboat Springs is no exception.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today notes that last year at this time the newspaper’s classifieds had 40 rentals listed, and the going rate for a two-bedroom apartment was about $1,150 per month. This year, just six properties were listed, and the asking price on the two-bedrooms ranged from $1,400 to $1,600.

This anecdotal observation coincides with a new report of rental markets conducted by the Colorado Division of Housing. The agency finds that the median prices for one-bedroom and two-bedroom condos are the highest recorded in the decade-old survey.
Could this really be the case? One real estate broker, Ken Shoemaker, says he believes the increases only bring rental rates back to pre-recession norms. In those boom years, local employers were desperate to find employees, precisely because of the limited rental housing.
In the aftermath of the recession, plans for building new affordable housing were shelved and the city suspended its inclusionary zoning ordinance, which required residential developers to allocate 15 percent of new developments as affordable housing. Elected officials are scheduled to revisit the issue next June.

Hills alive with sounds of construction

VAIL – If still a far cry from the story in 2007, Colorado’s ski towns are becoming more alive with the sound of construction. The Denver Post reports that mountain resorts have been part of a general surge in hotel constructions. Compared to before the recession, the hotels are a little less opulent and more rooms are sold as fractionalized time-shares.

One of those projects is in Vail, where a project called Strata is replacing the razed Lionshead Inn. It is to have a mix of wholly owned and timeshare units.

Other hotels are being constructed in Basalt, where a 113-room Westin Element hotel will seek to have strong environmental credentials, and a Hampton Inn in Silverthorne. At Breckenridge, the slope-side Grand Colorado on Peak 8 is to be the first timeshare lodge in the Breckenridge Grand Vacations, a national leader in the timeshare industry.

Telluride claims more Nobel scientists

TELLURIDE – The Telluride Science Research Center has more bragging rights. Two researchers affiliated with Telluride’s summer-time program were award

ed the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, the second year in a row that scientists who have spent time at the program’s conferences have won Nobels.
Eric Betzig and William Moerner were part of a trio of scientists who are pioneers of nanoscopy, the visualization of individual molecules inside living cells.

“They can see how molecules create synapses between nerve cells in the brain; they can track proteins involving Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and Huntington’s diseases as they aggregate; they follow individual proteins in fertilized eggs as they divide into embryos,” the Academy said.

– Allen Best
More stories from mountain towns of the West can be found at mountaintownnews.net.









In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows