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State and West briefs

WOLF CREEK – After weather-related engineering delays, the developers of the contested ski village next to the Wolf Creek ski area have an extra year to post a multimillion-dollar bond that would help clear the way for construction.The Mineral County commissioners approved a request Wednesday from The Village at Wolf Creek to change the deadline for the bond to June 1, 2006, from next month.The developers have put up a $3 million bond and must submit a letter for credit for $15 million to $18 million more before starting construction of the project, which will include 2,100 residential units and 222,1000 square feet of commercial space near South Fork in southwestern Colorado.”This is not a negative thing and has nothing to do with the pending litigation or financial solvency of the partnership,” said Bob Honts, president and chief executive of the corporation behind the development. “Delays are just a fact of life when you are building at 10,300 feet.”Snow made it impossible for the surveyors to finish work, he added. Once the snow melts, he said it should take six to eight weeks to complete the work.Rep. John Salazar, D-Colo., wants to meet with Forest Service officials to discuss why they approved a temporary permit allowing the developers to use snowmobiles or Sno Cats to take crews to the site, according to documents obtained by The Durango Herald. He also wants to discuss the project’s impact on traffic on U.S. 160.When completed, the village could handle up to 10,500 residents, according to estimates. Critics of the plan for 288 acres of private property inside forest land contend the area is too remote and snowy for such a large-scale project. The Wolf Creek ski area, with a 11,900-foot summit, gets an average of 40 feet of snow a year.Two bodies recovered from crash site OURAY – Two bodies were recovered from a plane crash in the rugged, snow-covered mountains of southwest Colorado Thursday, but bodies of the two other people aboard the aircraft were missing.The bodies found Thursday were believed to be those of the pilot, Robert Ford, 59, of Chino, Calif., and his wife, Patricia, 57, said Ouray County Sheriff Dominic Mattivi.The bodies of their son, Richard Ford, 36, and his 4-year-old son, Matthew, have not been located. Another search will be made in two to three weeks when conditions improve, Mattivi said.”That’s all we can do right now,” he said. “We just don’t know where the other two victims are. They could be buried under 6 inches of snow or 10 feet.”Owens wants state to list protected landsDENVER – Gov. Bill Owens asked state officials on Thursday to conduct an inventory of all protected lands in Colorado, including wildlife habitat, agricultural lands and watershed areas, after expressing concern that the state does not have enough information to best protect open spaces.Owens said the information would help Great Outdoors Colorado, which uses lottery proceeds to fund park, recreation, wildlife and open space projects across the state, to make better choices on investing $48 million approved in December for the preservation of large landscapes.He said it also will help land trusts, local governments and state agencies.GOCO Executive Director John Swartout said the state currently has no idea where all of the protected lands are in the state because of a hodgepodge of acquisitions by federal, state and local governments.Swartout said land prices are rising and the state will have to make better decisions on how to spend limited resources. He said developers already know where the best properties are located.”Developers know how the game is played in this state,” he said.Hoffman considersteaching economicsBOULDER – University of Colorado President Elizabeth Hoffman could become an economics professor at the school after her resignation next month, university officials said.Hoffman, who taught economics at four universities, announced her resignation in March, saying she didn’t want questions about her leadership to distract from efforts to address controversies in academics and sports.As president, she has a tenured position in economics, making it possible for her to stay on as a professor. Hoffman leaves her job June 30.Utah rivers expected to peak on Sunday SALT LAKE CITY – Utah rivers were rising and expected to peak Sunday as hot temperatures melted mountain snowpacks.Kayakers were having fun Thursday jumping a 20-foot overflowing dam on Coal Creek, Cedar City Engineer Kit Wareham said.Flooding was in its second day on the Sevier River, which drains the mountains of central Utah. It was washing over farmers’ fields and threatening to damage irrigation diversions.”The river is completely out of its banks,” Panguitch city manager Allen Henrie said Thursday. “Every place where it normally meanders it’s just going straight over the banks.”In southern Utah, the Virgin River’s swollen north fork was eating away at a road to a 39-lot housing tract just outside Zion National Park.


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