Around the Mountains; Steamboat ponders cause of thick haze |

Around the Mountains; Steamboat ponders cause of thick haze

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS -The haze in the Steamboat Springs area was thick enough last week that people were asking where the fire was. It wasn’t anywhere in Colorado, although there was some speculation that the opacity was the result of wild fires in California.However, a scientist at the Storm Peak Laboratory, which is maintained by Reno’s Desert Research Institute, theorized that the haze was the result of pollution and biomass aerosols from Denver and other cities along Colorado’s urbanized Front Range corridor. Ian McCubbin said he analyzed winds and weather patterns, and also air particles and aerosol concentration at Steamboat before coming up with his theory.”It’s definitely some sort of regional aerosol contribution,” he said. Aerosols are particles suspended in a gas, which can include oxygen.Grand County placing limits on outdoor firesGRAND COUNTY – Concerned about the vast amounts of dead and dying lodgepole pine trees, county commissioners in Grand County are considering regulations that would more tightly limit the kinds of outdoor fires that would be allowed. Excluded from the ban would be fires in pits or enclosed charcoal grills, or burning of water ditches for agriculture purposes.County takes hard line about privatizing landsEAGLE – Eagle County commissioners have adopted a law that takes a hard-nosed approach to potential sale or exchange of federal lands. The new rules governing lands would limit residential development to one unit per 80 acres, among other restrictions. The Vail Daily reports some heartburn on the part of federal officials, most notably the U.S. Forest Service. The Eagle Valley has been the subject of many proposed land exchanges during the last 20 years. As well, Bush administration last year identified several Forest Service parcels surrounded by private lands that it proposed to sell.Work on parsonage reveals hidden bookSILVERTON – Contractors removing shingles from the eaves of an old parsonage for the Congregational Church in Silverton found a surprise, a book called “The Writings of Armenius.”The book, published in 1853, was written by the founder of an anti-Calvinist school. “Some early pastor had this book that was rather controversial,” current pastor Cynthia Chertos told the Silverton Standard. “I would just love to know who put it up there, and why?”Last surviving veteran of WWI was born in RicoRICO – The last known World War I veteran from the United States died on Feb. 22, and it turns out he was a native of Rico, a small mining town south of Telluride. Howard Verne Ramsey was born in Rico in 1898, but moved with his family when he was 15 to Portland, Ore. The Rico Bugle says that Ramsey was in the Army’s transportation corps, owing to his ability to drive automobiles, a rare skill at the time, and put that skill to use at the front lines in France.Towns starting to adopt ‘green’ building criteriaEAGLE VALLEY – Building departments in the Eagle Valley are slowly beginning to adopt regulations intended to make homes, offices, and hotels use less energy and in other ways become more “green.”Vail still has not revised its regulations, but it has hired Dan Richardson, the first director of Aspen’s Canary Initiative, a program created in response to global warming.Downvalley at Avon, town leaders are requiring projects in an area called West Town Center to be certified at the most basic level of the Leaders in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED. At Eagle, officials are waiting for the National Association of Home Builders to release a national green building standard. But building official Bob Kohrmann is worried that addition costs will elevate the cost of housing, further exacerbating the housing pinch.That same question came up last year when Eagle County was looking to adopt green-building standards. Adam Palmer, an Eagle County planner, cites Department of Energy statistics that show an energy-efficient home, while costing marginally more at the outset, is much cheaper, because of lower utility bills.Consider a $150,000 home upgraded at a cost of about $5,000 in energy-saving features. With 90 percent of the home financed at 8 percent interest, the mortgage would be $32 per month higher, but the energy savings would be $92 per month.Durango replacing street lights that pollute dark skyDURANGO – Some 900 city streetlights in Durango are being changed out in an effort to reduce light pollution. The fixtures are being replaced over a seven-year timeframe, says the Durango Telegraph, with the newest fixtures using full cut-off lenses to reduce light broadcast to the sky and into unintended areas. Telluride chalks record number of skier daysTELLURIDE – Telluride recorded a record number of skiers last winter, 426,000, but may be hard put to match that feat next winter, no matter how much it snows.A number of projects promise to make Mountain Village, where most of the hotel beds are located for the ski area, into a construction zone. The ski area operator, Telluride Ski and Golf Co., is pushing group sales as a hedge in the reduction in bed base.Ken Stone, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, cautioned that record skier days don’t necessarily mean record profits. “You can also have more skier days and lose money if your yield isn’t good,” he explains. “Our job is to improve yield.”

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