Echoes of ‘Chinatown’ in Fraser Valley
FRASER – The 1974 film “Chinatown” resonates broadly in the West, but perhaps no place so urgently as Colorado’s Fraser Valley, where Winter Park is located. That film examines the machinations behind development of Los Angeles in the 1930s and that city’s reach to into the distant Owens Valley, on the far side of the Sierra Nevada, to get the necessary water.The Fraser Valley has had a similar relationship with Denver that dates to the late 1920s. Located at the very headwaters of the Colorado River, the valley exports 60 percent of its water to Denver and its suburbs. But Denver still retains rights for substantially more water and wants to exercise those property rights. The effect would be to take up to 80 percent of the valley’s water.With these parallels in mind, a group called Friends of the Fraser River recently showed “Chinatown” at a local library followed by a discussion among 40 people. While the film ends in murder, the local activists are confident of a more peaceful resolution of their disagreement with Denver.Gunnison Valley sees threats east and westCRESTED BUTTE – Water continues to be in the news in the Gunnison Valley, where Crested Butte is located. As they have now for decades, the locals continue to worry about interlopers from both the east and the west.To the east is Colorado’s Front Range urban corridor, where both farms and cities began outstripping the native water supplies 125 years ago. Whether any water in the Gunnison Valley is legally available to feed the large and growing population of the Front Range remains disputed. Just the same, locals are wary of penetration by those who may be less than resolute in their opposition.That became apparent when the top candidate for a job as manager of a local water district was the director for a Front Range district that depends upon transmountain diversions. The candidate apparently didn’t share the resident “not one drop” belief, although board members for the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy District told the Crested Butte News they are confident that the manager, if hired, will learn to espouse that philosophy.Meanwhile, to the west, the locals see threats from the down-valley states, particularly Arizona. Scott Balcomb, who represents Colorado in inter-state negotiations, recently told a gathering of Western Slope representatives that what happens downstream in Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Phoenix could ultimately affect water supplies in the ski and other mountain towns of Colorado.Jackson Hole, Pitkin County lead nation in contributionsJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – The election campaign season is well under way. Not quite half of all political campaign contributions for the November elections have already been made. And again, as in the past, Wyoming’s Teton County (i.e. Jackson Hole) heads the pack – not only among resort counties in the West, but the entire nation.Jonathan Schecther, who crunches numbers for the Jackson Hole News and Guide, reports that Teton County residents have given $39.40 per capita. No. 2 in the nation is Colorado’s Pitkin County, where Aspen/Snowmass residents have given an average per capita of $29.01.Far behind is Colorado’s Eagle County (Vail and Beaver Creek), followed by the usual suspects: Massachussetts’ Nantucket, Utah’s Summit County (Park City), Idaho’s Blaine County (Sun Valley/Ketchum), Colorado’s San Miguel County (Telluride), Colorado’s Routt County (Steamboat), and then Colorado’s Summit County (Breckenridge, etc.)Telluride studies options for saving mining iconTELLURIDE – In a sense, the history of mining is all around in Telluride. The magnificent homes and attractive storefronts are a testament to the wondrous mineral wealth that was extracted during the late-19th century.Still, a visitor to Telluride could be excused for not understanding the source of all the Victorian architecture. The icons of the industrial activity are all outside of the town and even so steadily disappearing. To that end, Telluride and San Miguel County are debating about what can be saved of the old Pandora Mill that remains at the end of the box-end canyon.A permit was issued in 2003 for demolition of the old mill, which is a “very dangerous” place, in the words of a county commissioner, Art Goodtimes. It is home to some asbestos and showing the strains of eight decades of heavy snows.Just how it can be preserved, and more importantly, on whose dime, have yet to be worked out, reports The Telluride Watch. However, the Idarado Mining Co. remains agreeable to at least study the options.Intrawest takes reins of condo-hotel in CanmoreCANMORE, Alberta – Intrawest has signed on to manage a 214-suite Solara condo-hotel in Canmore, the company’s first business proposition in Alberta. However, it’s not the first such relationship between the two. Intrawest manages 3,000 accommodations for Solara in Canada. Solara has 8,000 units worldwide. As well, Intrawest manages hotels that bear the Westin, Marriott and Hard Rock brands.Fried marmot disrupts life in Steamboat SpringsSTEAMBOAT SPRINGS – A marmot made the ultimate sacrifice recently in Steamboat Springs. The critter got past a chain-link fence and a second barrier before climbing a transformer. There, it caused a high-voltage fuse to blow, causing a loss of power for several hours in portions of Steamboat. The community seems to have survived the interruption without major consequence, reports The Steamboat Pilot.
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