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Mountain Town News: Granby annexes land to avoid cannabis sales

GRANBY — Granby, located halfway between Winter Park and the west portal to Rocky Mountain National Park, has annexed a parcel of land near the town in an effort to ensure that a cannabis store stays out.

It was a heated meeting, reports the Sky-Hi News, which also explains that Granby residents are somewhat divided about cannabis sales. In 2010, a majority of residents voted against allowing medical marijuana dispensaries. In the 2012 statewide vote, the two precincts that include Granby voted for marijuana legalization. Those two precincts, however, also included some residents outside the town.

There’s a sharp disagreement between Granby town officials and the retailer who wanted to open up the cannabis shop about whether the annexation was legal. This dispute has already arrived in court.



VAIL’S EPIC PASS A TOUGH COMPETITOR



STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Epic Pass offered by Vail Resorts is arguably the most disruptive business innovation in the ski industry so far this century. Priced at $769, it allows holders to ski or ride at 21 different resorts in the United States and Europe.

Make that 22 with the addition of Park City Mountain Resort this winter.

This fact certainly has not gone unnoticed in Steamboat Springs or, for that matter, just about any other ski area on the continent.

The question has become how do you compete with such an attractive option. Or, as

the Steamboat Pilot & Today put it, “Once they sign up, will traveling skiers ever leave the fold?”

To answer its own question, the newspaper tapped the expertise of Tim Cohee, director of the ski business and resort management program at Sierra Nevada College. His assessment is a grim one for competitors.

“As far as passes go, they are creating a product that no one can compete with,” he told the Pilot & Today’s Tom Ross. “That pass is ridiculous. It’s insane. You have the best resorts in the best market in the United States, and where it goes from here, nobody knows.”

Others have been trying, of course. Intrawest, the operator of Steamboat, has a Rocky Mountain Super Pass, good at Winter Park, also an Intrawest resort, as well as Copper Mountain, Eldora, and Crested Butte.

The Mountain Collective offers skiing privileges from Lake Louise to Mammoth, and Whistler to Snowbird, Jackson Hole to Squaw Valley to Aspen and Snowmass.

Other ski passes of smaller ski areas have also been assembled.

But Vail Resorts has also been assembling a farm team in the Midwest.

“If I’m a family of four living in Minnesota and I ski Afton (Alps, which Vail purchased in 2012), why would I not ski Vail with my Epic Pass?” said Mike Martin, associate professor of ski and snowboard business at Colorado Mountain College’s Alpine Campus.

Martin said that the mega ski passes are a means to claim more market share absent true growth in skier days. U.S. skier days first reached 50 million in the late 1970s and now have only reached a high of 60.5 million before faltering last winter back to 56.49 million.

Cohee said it’s clear to him that Rob Katz, chief executive of Vail Resorts, and his executive team set out to capture the high-end luxury market. “Strategically, they are clearly carving out the absolute top end of the business,” he said. “There are 5 to 6 million (skier) visits in that top echelon of wealthy skiers.”

In his remarks with the Steamboat paper, Cohee also said that Utah and California will “never be able to match the ski resorts of Colorado with their 3,000 feet of vertical and never-ending broad intermediate runs.”

DEER VALLEY LOOKING

AT NEW GONDOLA LINK

PARK CITY, Utah — Will Park City’s three ski areas become cheek to jowl? Vail Resorts plans to link Canyons with Park City Mountain Resort to create the largest ski area in the United States.

Deer Valley, meanwhile, has announced hopes of creating a gondola from Old Town Park City to its slopes to the south. If this occurs, the lifts for the two, competing ski areas would be just a few blocks away.

Bob Wheaton, the general manager for Deer Valley, also outlined plans for an additional 800 to 1,000 skiable acres, with at least seven and perhaps eight new lifts.

WILL AWARENESS LINGER WHEN POWDER BECKONS?

JACKSON, Wyo. — Avalanche Awareness Night in Jackson Hole last year drew 579 people, and this year it pushed 650. The Jackson Hole News&Guide reports that they heard a story of life and death.

The story was told by Alex Do, who went skiing with his friend Mike Kazanjy last Christmas in the sidecountry near Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. In other words, they left the gates and skied into area not mitigated for avalanches.

Then, disregarding everything they had heard in avalanche awareness classes, they skied a slope that posed a high risk. The friend died; Do lived.

“Why do we make decisions in the real world that we wouldn’t make in the classroom?” Do asked.

In this case, the pre-established protocol for assessing risk was altered by last-minute change of plans and a collective decision to ignore the blatant evidence of risk posed by an avalanche on a nearby peak.

Phil Leeds, owner of a local shop geared to backcountry skiers, pointed out that the story should resonate. “A lot of us have been in exactly the same situation, and we’ve been just fortunate enough not to have a big accident,” he said.

By the odds, at next year’s avalanche awareness night, there will be a new story to tell about bad decisions made by well-informed people in the backcountry. Just about every year, somebody dies from an avalanche in the Teton Range backcountry, and sometimes it’s several people. Invariably, the victims are later described as expert and knowledgeable.

NEIGHBORHOOD CAT HAS PRIMARY SCHOOL ON EDGE

GLENWOOD SPRINGS — A cat — a very big one — has been on the prowl south of Glenwood Springs. No surprise there. Glenwood has deer, and where you find deer there are probably mountain lions.

But when the lion was seen near an elementary school, officials locked the doors and notified parents, escorting some children home at day’s end themselves.

It wasn’t all bad, said Sopris Elementary Principal Kathy Whiting. “This was a great learning opportunity,” she told The Aspen Times. “We live in the mountains and we share our backyard (with wild animals).”

BETTER GET BITUMEN FLOWING FROM ALBERTA

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. — Oh, gosh, we’d better get that Keystone XL pipeline wrapped up. Petroleum is getting so terrible expensive.

At Incline Village, on the Nevada side of the state line, gas had dropped to $3.24, reports the Sierra Sun. That compares with a high of $4.27 in 2008.

This has the Sierra Sun wondering if the local stations will eventually see gas prices drop below $3.

See more mountain news at http://mountaintownnews.net.

NEW STUDY DOCUMENTS CLOUD-SEEDING EFFORTS

CHEYENNE, Wyo. — In 1946, scientists at Schenectady, N.Y., came up with the idea of seeding clouds to induce precipitation.

In the West, the technique was broadly embraced, especially after droiught in the 1950s. At Vail, the technique was first employed in 1972 and has been used every winter since 1977, and off and on at a good many other mountainous areas of Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and California.

But does it work? That’s what Wyoming decided to answer a decade ago with what turned out to be a $14 million experiment. Good science had been done in the 1960s in experiments conducted between Vail and Leadville. But a 2003 report said stronger science was needed.

The experiment set up in Wyoming used two parallel mountain ranges, the Sierra Madre and Medicine Bow, located southwest of Laramie. Clouds with the proper amount of precipitation that were cold enough and were moving in the right direction were seeded—but never over both ranges at the same time. Rather, in random fashion, one was seeded and the other was not. In that way, more than 100 storms were seeded over the course of six years.

Last week, at a meeting in Cheyenne, the results were announced. Scientists said that storms that were seeded yielded between 5 and 15 percent more snow. But in terms of total water increase in the North Platte River Basin, the results were less stellar: 0.4 to 3.7 percent.

Results seemed to change nobody’s mind. Those who were skeptical about cloud-seeding before were unimpressed, and those who believed in it before thought the results confirmed their case. What all agreed is that cloud-seeding costs relatively little money, at least in the big scheme of water.

Already, more than $1 million is spent each winter in Colorado seeding clouds above Winter Park, Crested Butte, and Telluride, among other locations.

In Wyoming this winter, 10 silver-iodide generators have been set up along the Wind River Range, south of Jackson Hole but at the headwaters of the Green River, the largest tributary to the Colorado River. In both cases, water agencies in Arizona, California and Nevada are chipping in 75 percent of the $922,000 cost.

In California, Pacific Gas and Electric seeds winter storms to produce more water, which in turn produces more electricity. Idaho Power does the same in Idaho.

Aspen hopes to join

elite club of utilities

ASPEN — Pop quiz here: What do Burlington, Vermont, Scituate, Massachusetts, and Aspen have in common?

The answer is: nothing — yet. But by the end of next year, Aspen public officials hope that their municipal utility will be able to claim 100 percent electrical generation from renewable sources.

The other two cities can already claim that distinction.

That goal was declared in Aspen’s 2005 Canary Initiative, and utility officials have been turning over all sorts of stones, most recently a program in Iowa in which landfill gas is burned to produce electricity.

Now, report the Aspen newspapers, city officials are leaning against buying the Iowa gas. It’s not because the gas isn’t clean of carbon fuel. Rather, it’s because the electricity could not be directly sent by transmission lines to Aspen. Instead, it would be used by customers in the Midwest and Aspen would still use electricity produced by coal.

The alternatives? Lots of them. Aspen is now looking at partnering with the operator of a 100-year hydroelectric project in Provo, Utah, small-scale solar, and local small-scale hydroelectric production, plus — and this is the big one — purchase of more wind power.

But as elsewhere, Aspen will need more energy next year, from whatever source, with a 1 percent projected increase in demand.

At what price can Aspen achieve its carbon-free goal? It might be another $284,000, possibly more, said William Dolan, the city’s utilities director.

The ski lifts at Aspen, alas, will still have the smudge of carbon. They are powered by electricity from Holy Cross Energy, an electrical co-op that serves about a third of Aspen. Although considered among the most progressive of utilities in Colorado and perhaps elsewhere, it still remains heavily reliant on coal-fired electricity.

PUTTING OUT FIRES WON’T BE ENOUGH

WHISTLER, B.C. — While most people in Whistler are thinking about ice and snow, others have been pondering hot summers and crispy fires.

Forest fires in British Columbia in 2003 cost the province $1.3 billion in suppression and indirect costs. A new study finds that it could get much worse yet and putting out fires isn’t the only answer.

The study concludes that fire sizes in the southern interior of the province will double in size and become more severe, even as the length of fire season grows by about a third.

In Whistler, municipal officials have adopted the FireSmart program methodology to assess fire risks of 2,500 individual homes. That assessment found much woody material to be removed. The study found 50 percent of homes at high risk and 26 percent of them are at extreme risk.

On a larger scale, thinning of forests has begun around the resort community.

See more mountain news at http://mountaintownnews.net. Contact Allen Best at allen.best@comcast.net


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