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Defining mountain and ski towns

Allen Best/Special to the Daily

EDWARDS – Don’t we love lists? The best-groomed ski runs, the best places to retire, the top 10 mutual funds.

This year, Ski Magazine has another list: best ski towns for family-style success. Those so honored are Edwards; Park City, Utah; Truckee, Calif.; Bend, Ore.; Bozeman, Mont.; and Burlington, Vt.

“I didn’t know we were a ski town,” 20-year Edwards resident Dave Lach joked to the Vail Daily (Aug. 11).

He brings up a good point – what is a ski town? For that matter, what is a mountain town? All of these towns have mountains in relative proximity, but then, so does Aurora, which sprawls out onto the prairie east of Denver. On some days in Seattle, you can almost reach out and touch the rainy one, Mount Rainier.

Edwards, which isn’t officially a town, is proximate to both the pinon-and-juniper forests that most people associate with semi-desert types of environment as well as aspen trees. The nearest lifts? Two or three miles from the commercial core.

16 lynx kittens born in San Juan Mountains

CREEDE – In Colorado, a lynx reintroduction program that began in 1999 resulted in at least 16 kittens, all born this year in the San Juan Mountains relatively close to where the adult lynx had been released. The discoveries heartened state wildlife biologists, who had begun to wonder if the prey base for lynx was insufficient to support reproduction. However, they warn that many kittens are unlikely to survive to adulthood, and the success of the reintroduction program remains iffy.

To date, 129 lynx have been transplanted to Colorado after being trapped in Canada and Alaska, with another 130 to be released during the next four years. One of the key questions being asked is how compatible lynx are with ski areas and other developments of mountainous areas. So far, the evidence is all anecdotal, and even then, scant.

Starbucks will draw tourists while locals will visit locals

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – Starbucks will arrive at Tahoe City as part of a remodel of an Albertsons grocery store. There are, of course, many worries that this icon of corporate franchise America will put the bean dispensers from the four locally owned coffee shops out on the street.

But cafe owners in places where Starbucks has already arrived agree that Starbucks won’t necessarily hurt the business of the locals who cater to locals. Starbucks, they say, seems to attract tourists, who don’t know the local network, reports the Tahoe World (Aug. 21).

Mountainboarding racers do back flips at Snowmass

SNOWMASS VILLAGE – The Aspen Skiing Co. continues to play for the reputation of being friendly to extreme sports. It has hosted the Games the past two years, and recently it hosted the U.S. Open Mountainboarding Championships.

Organizers say Snowmass has the potential to become a mecca for mountainboarding. The sport, explains The Aspen Times (Aug. 21), combines skateboarding with snowboarding, meaning that when people launch off huge jumps, they land on the dirt, not on soft snow.

Ages range from 10 to 50, and most look like a cross between snowboarders (which most are) and motocross riders, says The Times.

Magazine publisher says war on fire is unwinnable

EUGENE, Ore. – Andy Stahl, publisher of Forest Magazine, says that the war against forest fires being pushed by the Bush Administration is an unwinnable war, one that since 1910 has resulted in the death of 883 firefighters, twice the number of total allied casualties in both Gulf Wars.

“It doesn’t matter how much money is spent on fighting fires or thinning forests or removing brush – fires burn when forests are dry and don’t when forest are wet,” he writes in the magazine’s fall issue. “Does the war on forest fires save homes and communities? No reason to think so. U.S. Forest Service research shows that homes burn depending on the home’s construction materials and the vegetation within 100 feet of the house.”

He concedes the war could be won – if enough money is spent and enough firefighter lives are put at risk. He says a conservative estimate of the cost for periodic “treatment” is $19 billion annually, or quadruple the current annual budget for the Forest Service.

But then again, he says, the federal government could spend $19 billion to construct huge fans on the coast of Florida to blow hurricanes back to the Caribbean. “It’s time to face reality,” he concludes.


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