Land owner, USFS duel near Telluride
TELLURIDE – Another land tempest is brewing near Telluride. There, a trailhead for those hiking up Wilson Peak and two other 14,000-foot peaks is being blocked by the owner, Rusty Nichols.Nichols has said that if he can’t get the U.S. Forest Service to give him 2,200 acres of land elsewhere in the region in exchange for his 160 acres along the trail, he will try to mine his land. The area is already heavily pocked by mining activity. Nichols told The Telluride Watch that he believes his land has $300 million to $400 million in minerals.Nichols, who lives in Texas, said he has tried to talk to land conservation organizations, the Forest Service and others for up to 20 years without interest. But a Forest Service land specialist told The Telluride Watch that Nichols’s proposed land exchange was rejected “because the values are incredibly off.”The Forest Service has previously cowed to the bluffs of landowners who threatened development if land exchanges were not engineered. After much criticism in those cases, however, the agency has been more hard-nosed.Soldiers and families hear from people in communityGLENWOOD SPRINGS – Betty Scranton is haunted by a memory of long ago, when she was young and working as a stewardess on planes that transported soldiers being sent to Vietnam. “I can remember just racing up and down the aisle, and this young man he was a redhead and real young looking kept stopping me and asking me, ‘Aren’t you afraid? Aren’t you afraid?'”She wasn’t afraid, she told the soldier, as she would immediately be returning home. “Well, I am,” said the soldier.For nearly 40 years, Scranton has wondered about him and what might have happened. That memory motivated her to make a list of all the soldiers from Aspen to Rifle, nearly 100 of them, who were dispatched to Iraq or Afghanistan. In turn, she talks to the families, to let them know that they are being thought of.Her effort is among several in Aspen and its bedroom communities that sprawl some 70 miles or more to Rifle. Another woman, in Rifle, has mailed more than 9,200 letters of support to troops in Iraq, at a cost of more than $3,200. In Aspen, groups and businesses have sent care packages to a medical unit in Iraq in which a local high school graduate is serving.Donner Party clues few & far betweenTRUCKEE, Calif. – Archaeologists have returned against this summer to the crest of the Sierra Nevada in an effort to get a better picture of the tragic tale of the Donner Party.There is, reports the Sierra Sun, little to see and little new to report at the site where the 181-member party, having been overtaken by early and deep snows, was forced to spend four months during the winter of 1846-47. Eleven members of the expedition died of starvation and cold. Whether the starved members resorted to cannibalism to survive is still a matter of speculation, the newspaper says.”We are dealing with just crumbs of artifacts,” said Julie Schablitsky, a University of Oregon archaeologist.It would seem that the only thing new established with this year’s research is where the center of the camp was. “We are very excited to find what we think is ground zero for the campground,” said Schablitsky. Archaeologists can perceive where melting snow ran off the tent of the travelers and hit the ground, leading them to the conclusion of where the center of the camp was.More compromises to wilderness proposalSUN VALLEY, Idaho – More wilderness compromises have been offered in Idaho in what some may well be calling Half-a-Loaf Wilderness.Rep. Mike Simpson is proposing another 40,000 acres immediately northeast of Ketchum and Sun Valley to be called the Hemingway Wilderness Area. Hemingway, an author, spent a portion of his life in Sun Valley.On the other hand, snowmobilers have said they couldn’t tolerate losing access to another area, called the Fourth of July basin, which Simpson had previously targeted for wilderness. So Simpson proposes to allow snowmobiles in winter, but no motorized use in summer.Ketchum Mayor Ed Simon told the Idaho Mountain Express that no one wilderness proposal will make everyone happy. “But as long as there’s a continuing dialogue, we have everything to gain and nothing to lose.”Mother-daughter hikers felled by big snowstormPARK CITY, Utah – Bones in the Uintah Mountains east of Park City have been identified as those of a mother and daughter from Georgia who apparently lost their way while hiking when a storm blew in last September.The two women, aged 39 and 48, had purchased emergency blankets and their gear, as had been advised by a ranger, but it apparently wasn’t enough as the temperatures dropped form the 50s to the low 30s and then eight inches of snow fell. Temperatures never rose above 36 degrees for almost four days.”They had gear, but not the kind of gear they needed for that storm,” said Jim Snyder, a search and rescue leader. Nothing on the scene suggests foul play was involved. The area is at about 10,000 feet in elevation.Latino group provides community interfaceJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – The 3-year-old Latino Resource Center is playing a growing role in the interface between the estimated 2,500 Latin America immigrants and the broader community in Jackson Hole.An attorney who is affiliated with the organization represents the Latinos based on a sliding scale. As well, the resource center attempts to help bridge the cultural and language gap in other ways. “If they don’t understand the laws, that puts them at a disadvantage,” Police Chief Peggy Parker told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. An estimated 14 percent of Jackson Hole’s residents last year were Latino, and only 10 percent of those Latinos were proficient in English.An offshoot of the translation program is a culturalization class that will begin soon. Called “How to Live in America,” the class will teach civil conduct. “Too often the Latinos are so busy with their work and everything else, they don’t look beyond their own families,” said Stuart Palmer, an outreach coordinator. “We want to empower them to look beyond just themselves, to start thinking community wide.”The center also offers forums on such things as banking, driving and auto insurance, domestic violence, and health. As well, special help is offered at tax time. Many Latinos have not realized they were overpaying in taxes.Duffer jogs way onto list of arcane superlativesBANFF, Alberta – A new Guinness record for continuous golfing was set at the Banff Springs Golf Course when Scott Holland played 221 straight holes. That’s the most number of golf holes ever played in 12-hour period. The previous record was 218.To achieve this superlative, the 48-year-old Holland jogged about two-thirds of the distance. The heat of the day made that difficult, but on the other hand the heat allowed the ball to fly more easily through the air. “He was crunching drives up to about 380 yards long,” a companion told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.Parks employees likely to strike at peak seasonBANFF, Alberta – The patience of Job is being required in the towns that make their livings on the tourists to Banff, Jasper and other national parks in the Canadian Rockies.The union that represents employees of Parks Canada has failed to come to an agreement with the government agency over the terms of their new contract. A strike is looking likely for early August, one of the busiest times of the year.”With campgrounds potentially closing and cordoned bike trails left unsupervised, there is likely to be a reign of lawlessness throughout the country’s most beloved playgrounds, warding off the tame family recreationalists who bring the big bucks into the valley,” observed the Rocky Mountain Outlook.”After four years of almost crippling economic turmoil caused by the aftermath of Sept.11, the SARS scare, mad cow disease, and the billows of smoke from last year’s fire suppression, it appeared that we might finally be in for a breather,” lamented the newspaper under the headline, “If it’s not one thing, it’s another.”Death toll for summer now at six in WhistlerWHISTLER, B.C. – Two more bears have been killed in Whistler this summer, bringing the toll to six for the summer.In the latest cases reported by Pique newsmagazine, a bear with a broken front leg was shot. In the second case, wildlife officers decided they needed to shoot a young female who had been aggressive toward hikers and campers. Bear aggression is different than bear assertiveness, explained Sylvia Dolson, of the JJ Whistler Bear Society. “Assertive bear behavior is when a bear finds you in its personal space and is trying to get you out,” Dolson explained. Such behavior includes expelling air loudly in a manner called “hussing,” clacking teeth, slapping the ground, stepping or lunging toward a person, or even bluff charging. The motivation is not to hurt the person, but to get the person out of the bear’s space.
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