Mountain Town Roundup
BASALT – One good environmental deed in Basalt led to another recently.The town won a contest last year to reduce plastic shopping bag use, and on Jan. 26 it reaped the fruits of that success. The town flipped the proverbial switch to a new 7.1 kilowatt photovoltaic system on Basalt Middle School.Basalt topped 30 other mountain towns in the Colorado Association of Ski Towns’ contest to eliminate use of plastic grocery bags. Collectively, they prevented an estimated 5.26 million bags from going into landfills.Winning the contest earned Basalt a $10,000 grant. Both Alpine Banks and PCL Construction contributed $5,000.The solar electric system features 33 solar panels on an upper south wall of the Basalt Middle School. Kids from two science classes at the school braved chilly temperatures to help dedicate the system. Basalt Green Team member Tripp Adams said the solar electric system was a good example of how small steps can lead to big accomplishments.He noted that the petroleum needed to produce 14 plastic grocery bags would power a car for 1 mile.Basalt town manager Bill Kane said solar electric system on the school will produce enough power to offset consumption by seven to nine single-family homes.- Aspen Times staff report
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The Routt County Sheriff’s Office is still working to identify a suspect in the Jan. 22 armed robbery at Strawberry Park Hot Springs.”Detectives are doing follow-up,” undersheriff Ray Birch said Jan 28. “Right now, we could use any and all information from the public.”They are looking for a white man from 5 feet, 10 inches to 6 feet tall with a slight build. During the robbery, the man was wearing a ski mask, a dark-colored, hip-length coat, yellow and brown camouflage pants, and gloves.According to the sheriff’s office, the man entered the check-in area at the hot springs off Routt County Road 36 just before 11 p.m. Jan. 22 with a gun and demanded cash from the lone employee on duty. After getting about $800, the man told the employee to get on the floor. The man then peppersprayed the employee and disabled the office phone before fleeing. No one was seriously hurt.Anyone with information about the robbery is asked to call Routt County Sheriff’s Office investigator Mike Curzon at (970) 870-5508 or Crime Stoppers at (970) 870-6226. People who call Crime Stoppers can remain anonymous and could earn a cash reward.- Steamboat Today staff report
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A western Colorado school district has agreed to opening the land under a high school to possible natural gas drilling.The Glenwood Springs Post Independent reports that the Garfield Re-2 school board voted last week to lease its half of the mineral rights beneath Coal Ridge High School. District officials say they don’t know who owns the rest of the minerals under the school between New Castle and Silt.District officials have been discussing possibly leasing the minerals to Antero Resources. If it drills gas, Antero has agreed not to place drilling rigs on school property or build roads and pipelines on the land.Companies can drill horizontally or at angles to reach gas without disturbing the surface directly over the targeted area.- The Associated Press
BEAVER CREEK – Beaver Creek Resort took its first official step Friday toward upgrading its fixed-grip triple-chair Rose Bowl lift to a high-speed four-seater.The resort submitted a proposal to the White River National Forest, which will now take comments from the public for the next two weeks.Don Dressler, the winter sports administrator for the U.S. Forest Service’s Eagle/Holy Cross Ranger District, said the new lift would cut the ride time from 11 minutes to five minutes. “That’s a big part of why this project is important,” Dressler said. “When you reduce the lift time, not only are you improving the overall experience for the guest, but we think we’ll get better utilization of the existing terrain there and improve skier circulation.”Beaver Creek spokeswoman Jen Brown issued a statement Friday about the proposal, saying the upgrade would improve the guest experience as well as shift density from the front side of the mountain.”A high-speed quad would provide a better experience for lower-level intermediate skiers and snowboarders and ski school through ease of use and the convenience of a high-speed quad,” Brown said. When Vail Mountain first proposed upgrading its High Noon Express chairlift, also known as Chair 5, some skiers and snowboarders welcomed the idea while others criticized the plan and said it would affect the powder conditions in the area. They claimed the powder would get “tracked out” too quickly because of the increased access.But slow lifts and world-class resorts don’t go together, Art Kelton said at the grand opening of Vail’s new high-speed Chair 5 in December. The changes, he said, are part of the natural evolution of the sport of skiing.Dressler and Tom Allender, Vail Resorts’ director of resort planning, announced in December a slew of upgrades proposed at Beaver Creek that include a new women’s downhill racecourse, snowmaking infrastructure, trail widening, a new Red Tail Camp restaurant and a new 150,000-gallon water tank and pump station, to name a few. Those upgrades specifically relate to the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships to be held at Beaver Creek, but the projects also are focused on improving the guest experience at the resort, Brown said.The new Rose Bowl lift, if approved by the Forest Service, would increase capacity from 1,600 people per hour to 2,400 people per hour. If the lift is approved, Beaver Creek officials have indicated they want to start building this summer and have the lift operational by the 2011-12 ski season.- Lauren Glendenning/Vail Daily
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Bountiful snow has made forests a mecca for snowmobiling this winter, but some of those recreating in the backcountry have not been following the rules.The U.S. Forest Service has issued several violations to snowmobilers caught riding in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area northeast of Steamboat Springs, said Kent Foster, recreation manager for the Hahn’s Peak/Bears Ears Ranger District. There also have been violations in the Sarvis Creek and Flat Tops wilderness areas.Snowmobiles, like all motorized equipment, are illegal in wilderness areas.In addition to wilderness areas, the Forest Service also is reminding people to respect the nonmotorized areas such as the west side of Rabbit Ears Pass and the area adjacent to the Dry Lake winter trailhead on Buffalo Pass.Nonmotorized boundaries are clearly marked, Foster said, so he does not think the violations are accidental.”I’ve been up there where a snowmobile track will go right past a wilderness boundary sign,” Foster said. “We have it well signed.”Violations are punishable by fines of as much as $5,000, six months in jail, and the forfeiture of snowmobiles and other items involved.- Steamboat Today staff report
TELLURIDE – Blame it on the Tetons.Jackson Hole scooped up a date on the Subaru Freeskiing World Tour, a competition series between some of the world’s best freeskiers. That decision by organizers means that the competition won’t be back in Telluride this year on the wicked slopes and shoulders of Palmyra Peak, where it’s been held the past few years.There was a disconnect between the ski resort and the event’s management company, Mountain Sports International.”It’s basically something that we were trying to work out and could not come to terms with,” said Tom Watkinson, a Telluride Ski & Golf spokesperson, in a voicemail.The event brought world-class skiers to town for about a week in the past, and featured a flurry of brilliant lines put down by men and women from the U.S. and beyond. – Matthew Beaudin/Telluride Daily Planet
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