Three bears take stroll through Aspen |

Three bears take stroll through Aspen

ASPEN – Three bears were roaming Aspen in early January, but wildlife biologists tell The Aspen Times bears occasionally come out of hibernation during winter.One roamed in Silverthorne last year, and avalanche blasting at Steamboat has occasionally flushed groggy bears from the three dens found at the ski area. Wildlife officials do not suspect warmer temperatures or that hunger aroused the bears in Aspen.More likely, the bears didn’t find a good den early enough and hunkered down for winter under a tree or shrub that may be too close to a road. The bears were expected to return to hibernation within a few days.Butte patrons asked to pitch in for open spaceCRESTED BUTTE – Operators of the Crested Butte ski area have begun asking patrons of its restaurants and retail stores for a 1 percent donation to the local open space program. Some 60 businesses in the Crested Butte area participate in the program.”Open space is a huge part of this valley and the drive for people to come here,” explained the ski company’s Ethan Mueller. He added that few other ski resorts have the open space, views and serenity that Crested Butte has. “The I-70 resorts either never had it, or lost it and will never regain it. It’s important to preserve the reasons locals came to live and guests came to visit.”Fraser and Winter Park talk about consolidationFRASER – The towns of Fraser and Winter Park, which sit cheek by jowl, are talking about consolidation. Already, they share a border and also police officers. They will soon share building inspectors. And, says the Winter Park Manifest, it would make sense for them to share land-use planning. Heck, the newspaper even foresees the day of the two sharing a name.What name would that be? Fraser is the older of the two communities, with a history dating to the post office that was established there in 1876, even if it was not incorporated until 1953. Winter Park began life as a railroad camp in the 1920s, but very quickly became something of a ski resort that, after World War II, was known as Hideaway Park. It was incorporated in 1978 and given the name Winter Park, to create a common identity with the ski area of the same name.

Telluride restored one stone at a timeTELLURIDE – Brick by brick, Telluride is being restored. The Telluride Watch tells of the town’s Nugget Building, which was originally built in 1892, at the height of the town’s mining boom. The building, located on a prominent corner in the town’s business district, is being restored in a five-year project that is described as a labor of love.More curious is the restoration of what is unremarkably called the Old Stone House. It is similarly described as a “small, square, gray-stone building.” It isn’t even a designated historic building in a town that reeks of history.Despite this lack of specialness, the house has been dismantled, brick by brick, because the mortar had elevated levels of lead, as was common in buildings of that era. Moreover, the soil beneath the building is being treated, and then the house is being reassembled in the same way.Much less frost and more heat in AspenASPEN – Temperatures taken at Aspen’s water treatment plant record a warming trend, three more frost-free weeks each year since measurements were begun in the late 1940s.In fact, the entire globe warmed by a half-degree during the 20th century. But, even if the emission of greenhouse gases were stabilized today, the planet will warm by another half-degree, reports Gerald Meehl, a senior scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research.And what if, as some believe possible, global temperatures rise 2 degrees in the next half-century? The result in Aspen, says Meehl, will be an additional three months of frost-free weather each year.Meehl is participating with Aspen, which has launched a project called the Canary Initiative. The study, which is expected in March, will attempt to estimate snowpack for future ski seasons. Aspen hopes to document its own contribution to global warming, including the fossil-fuel-guzzling ways that most of its visitors use to get there.Only four resorts do not allow boardsTAOS, N.M. – Only four ski resorts in the United States remain truly that: allowing only skis, and one of them is Taos, which is now in its 50th season.

“We see it as something that differentiates us from other ski areas,” general manager Gordon Briner said in a story distributed by the Associated Press.Of the other three ski areas, one is Vermont’s Mad River Glen, and two are in Utah: Alta and Deer Valley. Snowboarding last season accounted for 28.7 percent of national lift ticket sales.Jackson digging out from six days of snowJACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – An eight-day sequence of storms left six feet of snow in Jackson Hole. The storms caused nearby Teton Pass to close and forced the closure of the ski area’s Bridger Gondola when a tree fell on the cable line. Two avalanche deaths were reported during the sequence, one of a skier and the second of a snowmobiler.Health club building to be healthy itselfHAILEY, Idaho – A health club being built in Hailey, 10 miles west of Ketchum and Sun Valley, is taking the concept of wellness one step further. The developer intends the building itself to be healthy.The 19,000-square-foot facility will have active and passive solar heating, European “breathing walls,” non-toxic building materials and natural daylighting and ventilation, reports the Idaho Mountain Express.The building’s “claristory” windows and large overhead glass-covered atrium will let in abundant natural daylighting, thereby reducing dependence on artificial lighting. The overall effect of the natural lighting will be to create a healthier environment more conducive to working out, said architect Dale Bates.The editors of Natural Home and Garden magazine recently named Bates one of the top 10 green architects in the country for 2005.Real estate market drops in Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. – Real estate valuations dropped 2 percent at Whistler, a downward trend that is reflected in everything from houses to condos to townhomes.”Our market peaked in 2002, and it’s been basically pretty steady since then price-wise,” said Mike Wintemute, general manager of ReMax Sea to Sky Real Estate. He told Pique that he believes the flattened market was a result of fewer guests during the last two years. It had been spurting upward for a number of years.The story is very different from that in Vancouver, where assessment increases of 10 percent to 20 percent were reported. Whistler’s tourism economy has actually declined in the last four years.Rain falls on Christmas parade in WhistlerWHISTLER, B.C. – At least in early winter, Whistler is always on the margins between rain and snow. This year, with a temperature averaging one full degree warmer, rain prevailed to the very summit of Whistler-Blackcomb.Down lower, in the valley, the rain was destructive to businesses who depend on snow. “We’ve never been closed for Christmas, ever,” said Kim Wilson, owner of Blackcomb Snowmobile. Her business was closed for 10 days.Snow soon after Christmas, temperatures chilled, producing 111 centimeters (3.6 feet) of snow in a week’s time at higher elevations. Still, there are worries that this year’s rains – on top of torrential rains last year – will dampen reservations for next year, reports Pique.Those opting for the silver lining of this storm point to the great use of the family-oriented facilities that Whistler has delivered for just such occasions as well as the strong post-Christmas rebound of on-mountain use.Aspen making play for the Front Range skiersASPEN – While 20 percent of Aspen’s skiers come from foreign countries, and most of the rest come from New York and Los Angeles and other high-rent districts, the Aspen Skiing Co. isn’t above scrapping for the low-hanging fruit of the Colorado Front Range.In addition to taking out big newspaper ads bolstered by radio spots, the ski company has sent 25,000 pieces of mail to promote its last-minute lodging deals. “This is one of the biggest Front Range pushes we’ve ever done,” ski company spokesman Jeff Hanle told the Aspen Daily News.

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