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New ski area edging toward permit

Allen Best/Special to the Daily

SILVERTON – After three years, Aaron Brill is getting close to a permit for a new lift-served ski area in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado.

A draft environmental impact statement issued by the Bureau of Land Management calls for a maximum of 476 skiers per day at his Silverton Mountain Ski Area, along with a mix of unguided and guided skiing.

Brill owns 350 acres of old mining claims on 13,487-foot Storm Peak but needs use of 1,300 acres of public land to make the enterprise work. He had talked about limiting lift ticket prices to $25. The problem is that the terrain is so rife with avalanche potential that the Bureau of Land Management requires his skiers be guided when they’re on public land. He has operated the ski area the past two years in this way, charging $99 a person.

The Durango Telegraph (June 27) reports Brill had hoped to be allowed to offer completely unguided skiing.

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Too much is never enough

BEAVER CREEK – For many, the story of Dennis Kozlowski and Tyco best illustrates what went wrong with American corporations during the frenzied 1990s. As CEO of the company, Kozlowski earned steadily extravagant compensation and, when that wasn’t enough, began hiding the illegal reimbursements that financed his ridiculously luxurious lifestyle. He was eventually accused of pilfering $600 million from the company.

Among his many properties were three at Beaver Creek, together valued at $14 million. Among them was a mansion in Bachelor Gulch, the most exclusive and newest of Beaver Creek’s neighborhoods.

Recently, a conference was convened at the base of that exclusive neighborhood, largely a creation of Wall Street wealth, to talk about the excesses of Wall Street. The conference title: “Changing the Game: Reforming American Business.”

Panelists, reports the Vail Daily, seemed to agree it wasn’t a matter of just a few bad apples, but rather the very structure of the apple barrel. Corporate executives expected to be rewarded not just for success, but at all times. Boards of directors, in an unhealthy web of influence, went along with it. The result was a widening gap between compensation paid CEOs and wages of company workers – 50 to 1 as the decade began, 500 to 1 when the decade ended.

This triumph of hubris and greed over honesty and integrity, in the words of John Bogle, author of “What Went Wrong with Corporate America,” imperiled a healthy national and global economy. While corporate culture seems to be regaining ethics, however, business schools continue to emphasize money over morals. One speaker suggested that focusing on stock market prices, instead of customer satisfaction, was at the core of the problem.

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Steamboat bans fast bikers on downhill

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – High-speed downhill mountain biking has been banned at the Steamboat Ski Area as of July 1.

There seem to be two fundamental reasons. First, the high-speed bicycle riders are posing a threat to other bicycle riders. Second, they are creating many renegade, or illegal, trails that are causing erosion.

Many downhill bikers would like to see the resort build other trails for them to use, says John Kohnke, the mountain bike director at Steamboat, but they don’t seem to understand how much work is involved in creating a legitimate downhill trail.

“It does require thought and money and time,” said Janet Faller, a ranger for the U.S. Forest Service, on whose land the ski area is located.

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Fire danger rising in Lake Tahoe region

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Drought conditions and above-average temperatures are expected in the Tahoe area this summer, escalating fire danger. Dry weather also produced conditions ripe for fire last year, but lightning strikes were rare. This year, they are expected to be common, reports the Tahoe Daily Tribune (June 19).

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Couple follows caribou north

ARCTIC NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE, Alaska – Whatever adventure you had during mud season, you can bet that a husband-wife team of wildlife biologists from the Banff-

Canmore area can one-up you.

The couple traveled to the Yukon River, where a herd of 123,000 caribou winter. From there, the caribou spent six weeks traveling 350 miles to their summer range in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which is also the site of oil reserves that geologists estimate would power the U.S. for six months. The couple wanted to see what was at stake from the perspective of the caribou.

“We’ve forded rivers with floating ice, skied across razor-thin ice, kicked steps down avalanche slopes, braved ground blizzards, traveled with and were stalked by one of the many grizzly bears shadowing the herd,” Leanne Allison told the Rocky Mountain Outlook (June 19). For their troubles, Allison and her mate, Karsten Heuer, each lost 10 pounds and are nursing feet swollen from frostbite and hands covered with blisters.

And do the couple think the oil supply should be tapped? No surprise there. “Given what we’ve seen so far, it just doesn’t measure up,” Heuer said.

After facing Arctic Circle bugs, the couple will then return with the herd to wintering grounds. A film is expected to come out of this.


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