Crested Butte mulls ski area addition |

Crested Butte mulls ski area addition

CRESTED BUTTE – Twenty-year-old plans for Crested Butte’s proposed ski area expansion onto nearby Snodgrass Mountain are now being mulled anew by local as well as federal officials.The expansion (technically, it’s a new ski area, because it’s separated by a short distance from the existing ski area) would provide 300 acres of mostly intermediate terrain. Ski area officials have identified intermediate terrain as the most pressing need to attract destination visitors and get them to return for a second year. Crested Butte officials say they have a relatively low return rate as compared to other ski areas, because there is so little diversity of terrain.However, a new group called Friends of Snodgrass have an alternate plan for Snodgrass Mountain: nothing new. Lightning strikes dirt biker near Crested ButteCRESTED BUTTE – You may have heard that you can’t get hit by lightning while driving a car – because of the insulation of the rubber tires.Actually, you can get hit by lighting while in a car – or on a motorcycle. And that’s exactly what happened when two brothers from Texas were riding their dirt bikes in the Taylor Park area near Crested Butte in early September. The brother who was not hit told police that he saw his brother go straight up and then fall back on the road. He was treated at a hospital in Gunnison, about an hour away, and then flown to Grand Junction for further treatment. The Crested Butte News did not disclose the extent of his injuries.Births at Leadville hospital come to an endLEADVILLE – Administrators at Leadville’s St. Vincent Hospital have pulled the plug after all on the hospital’s obstetric services. While the hospital, the nation’s highest, will continue to perform ultrasound and some other aspects of prenatal care, the decision effectively shifts delivery of babies from Leadville to hospitals in adjoining areas, particularly in Frisco and Vail.Whistler seeks to lessen fossil fuels dependencyWHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler’s municipal council has formally committed to an extremely expensive transitioning away from fossil fuels.A key strategy is to eventually fuel the town’s central business district, Whistler Village, with ground source heat. In this technology, which is used at scattered locations, wells are drilled deep into the ground, and the heat is extracted for use in heating of homes and businesses. All this could cost $70 million ($49 million US) and take 30 years to accomplish.The same system is to be applied to the athletes village that will be constructed for the 2010 Winter Olympics, but at much less cost – only $5 million ($4.2 million US), because it is a new development. Gases from a landfill or sewage treatment plant may also be burned in order to meet the peak demands of the village.Meanwhile, Whistler is also planning to build a major pipeline, so that natural gas can be used for heating instead of the more expensive. Town officials also plan to convert cars and trucks to engines that burn natural gas, which burns more cleanly and hence reduces emission of greenhouse gases.Just how Whistler will finance all of this conversion is not clear. Revenues have been declining as the resort has lost market traction during the last four years. Owners of vacation homes fear they will end up paying much more for energy. “We’re seen as a bottomless pit in a lot of ways,” said one condominium owner, Gary Gardner, a Seattle resident.Aspen real estate market surging toward $2 billion ASPEN – The real estate market continues to surge in Aspen and surrounding areas. The Aspen Times reports $1.35 billion in sales through August. At this rate, the Aspen area will surpass $2 billion in sales. Only twice before – in 2000 and 2004 – has the Aspen area surpassed $1 billion.Real estate agents monitoring sales also report that down-valley, Garfield County has been recording $1 million sales, reflecting the general ratcheting-up of prices.

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