Mountain Town News: Booming Aspen running out of room to stash trash | SummitDaily.com

Mountain Town News: Booming Aspen running out of room to stash trash

Allen Best
Mountain Town News

ASPEN, Colo. – It's a record-breaking year in Aspen, and that's a big problem at the Pitkin County landfill. The landfill just 5 years ago was projected to have capacity to 2038. Now, the timeline has been shortened to 2025.

Cathy Hall, the solid waste manager for Pitkin County, points to the improved economy. Incoming waste has increased 71 percent since 2010, when Aspen was still feeling the effects of the Great Recession. Now, people are buying more, throwing away more, and tearing down more houses and hotels, she said at a recent meeting covered by the Aspen Times.

The Sky Hotel was demolished earlier this summer, putting as much waste in the landfill as 3,000 people normally produce in a year.

Pitkin County officials are looking at both expanding the current landfill and figuring out how to haul Aspen's refuse to landfills in other jurisdictions. But County Commissioner Steve Child wants to see more studies about what has been done elsewhere to dramatically ratchet down the waste.

“Obviously, its’ a disappointment. I’ve been doing this almost 40 years. This is a significant group of ski patrollers that represent almost 800 years of ski patrolling experience.”Michael CookVolunteer ski patrol director

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Winter Park joins new climate change compact

WINTER PARK, Colo. – Winter Park has joined the climate change action group called Compact of Colorado Communities. Launched in May with a meeting held in Aspen, the compact now consists of 35 towns, cities and counties. Included are many of the ski towns.

In joining the compact, Winter Park must make an annual contribution of $1,200, but more importantly, it must decide by September 2019 a goal or initiative that meets what is described as an "aggressive threshold." In return, the municipality will get assistance from the national Association of Climate Change Officers.

New plans for giant RV park along Colorado River

GRANBY, Colo. – Granby is usually among the first to emerge in a real estate recession and the last to leave. It now has a proposal to make lemonade of a failed real estate venture called Shorefox that was hatched just before the last real estate boom turned south.

The new proposal comes from Sun Communities, which wants to create a large, luxury RV resort along the banks of the Colorado River.

The proposal, reports the Sky Hi News, calls for 438 towed-RV campsites, plus 232 vacation villas and 341 models that seem to be some version of tiny homes.

Steamboat gets fiber-optic line, but will the boonies?

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – A $2.2 million fiber-optic line has been completed in Steamboat Springs. The carrier-neutral line will allow the local hospital, city and county governments, federal agencies, and others the ability to have the same sort of internet speeds enjoyed by most of urban America.

But what does this mean for outlying areas of Routt County, including its ranchers and small communities like Oak Creek and Yampa?

The county government suggested that what Steamboat now enjoys will become the foundation for expansion of fiber-optic speeds to outlying areas. But the chief operating office of a local technology company tells Steamboat Today he's dubious. "I find it less than forthright to say this is really the foundation on which future broadband growth is going to occur," said Jon Quinn, of Northwest Data Services.

Steamboat Today notes that a webpage can take 20 minutes to download at Hahn's Peak Village, a resort hamlet located about a half-hour north of Steamboat.

Swag comes under the microscope at Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. – Crankworx, the big mountain biking festival, has come and gone for another year at Whistler. But how much of the swag handed out by vendors was left behind, to be hauled hundreds of miles to a giant landfill along the Columbia River in southern Washington state?

Whistler Blackcomb, the mountain operator, has reduced waste from operations 71 percent since the effort began in 2000. Now, with the pledge of the new owner, Vail Resorts, it must tighten the wrench even more. The company, with what it calls its Epic Promise, has pledged to achieve something called zero waste.

At Crankworx this year, the company began requiring vendors modify the stuff they give away. "We just want to start sourcing more sustainable options: products packaged in recyclable packing, food offered in compostable containers," explained Taniell Hamilton, the waste-reduction specialist for Whistler Blackcomb.

Beyond the mountain operations, plenty of waste continues to be landfilled that could be diverted. The community altogether was diverting 55 percent of its waste from the landfill. In the last few years, that has slipped to 50 percent.

A recent audit of the garbage from Whistler Village found that 20 percent of the garbage could in fact be recycled and 51 percent could be composted. Even Twinkies will break down given the right conditions.

So why isn't Whistler composting more? For answers, Pique Newsmagazine visited Ingrid's Village Café. "The trouble is space," the newspaper reports. "Where do you collect the compost and where do you store it when you're maximizing every available square inch?" That space must be found, it concludes.

But one great challenge for ski communities altogether will be what to do with all the old skis and boots and other paraphernalia. After all, there are only so many Adirondack chairs and fences that can be manufactured from old skis. Nobody seems to have figured out how to recycle them into new skis.

Volunteer ski patrollers told it's the end of an era

PARK CITY, Utah – Volunteer ski patrollers at Park City Mountain Resort have been told their services will no longer be needed. Vail Resorts, the owner of Park City, sent an email to the 90 volunteer patrollers, inviting them to apply to be members of the professional ski patrolling staff.

"Obviously, its' a disappointment," said Michael Cook, director of the volunteers. "I've been doing this almost 40 years. This is a significant group of ski patrollers that represent almost 800 years of ski patrolling experience."

Colorado's Arapahoe Basin, which began operations in 1947, similarly informed volunteers earlier this year that henceforth ski patrolling will be entirely professional.

Why smoking continues to prevail at Lake Tahoe casinos

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Nev. – On the Nevada side of South Lake Tahoe are found many casinos. Only one of them bans smoking.

Don't expect the other smoking casinos to jump on the non-smoking bandwagon any time soon, says the Tahoe Daily Tribune. It seems to be a narrow niche market.

"It doesn't perform nearly as well as a smoking facility," says Scott Tate, who manages the non-smoking casino, Fernley Nugget, but also other casinos that still permit smoking.

But a professor of nutrition at the University of Nevada, Reno, thinks casinos should be offering healthier alternatives. Observing 18,000 gamblers, Dr. Chris Pritsos concluded that the percentage of gamblers who are smokers varied little from the overall population in the United States at the time of his survey. At Lake Tahoe, it was about 17 percent, when at Las Vegas it was 21.5 percent. In the United States altogether it was then almost 29.90 percent of the population.