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Pet Obit for Sam Maurer

The house is very lonely without the always energetic Sam. His curiosity kept him moving and hence everyone else as well. He was born a “stinker” and left for animal heaven the same. He loved being close when you would be stretched out on the couch or in bed. I’m sure is organizing things up there to suit his personality and certainly is succeeding. We all hope you bring your happiness to all your new friends, and all of your old friends miss you terribly. Too quiet without his shenanigans. Love you!! 18 years went too fast.

Engagement for Katherine “Kasha” Scott to Casey Patrick O’Keefe

Mark and Jacqueline Scott of Vail, CO announce the engagement of their daughter, Katherine “Kasha” Scott to Casey Patrick O’Keefe, son of William O’Keefe of Pocasset, MA and Joan Blake of North Attleboro, MA.
Kasha is a graduate of Cherry Creek High School, Bucknell University and University of Michigan, MBA. Kasha was co-captain of the 2014 Patriot League Championship Bucknell Women’s Golf Team and is with DaVita
Kidney Care in Denver. The future bridegroom is a graduate of Xaverian Brothers High School, Dartmouth College and University of Michigan, MBA. Casey played rugby at Dartmouth and is with Miro, an Amsterdam based technology innovator.

Vail at 60: The road to Vail’s Opening Day in 1962

The Vail Daily’s Tricia Swenson compiled the following information on the events leading up to Vail’s opening six decades ago from talks with longtime locals and from books, “Vail: Triumph of a Dream” by Pete Seibert, “Vail: Story of a Colorado Mountain Valley” by June Simonton and “The Inventors of Vail” by Dick Hauserman.

  • The primary inhabitants of the valley where Vail now sits were the Utes, a Native American tribe who called this area the Shining Mountains. Archaeologists have found arrowheads showing hunting activity and deer and elk were plentiful. The Utes moved with the seasons and dwelled in this area during the summers.
  • The Gore Range and Gore Creek got their name from Sir St. George Gore, otherwise known as Lord Gore. Although not from royalty, Gore was a wealthy baronet from Ireland who came to America for a three-year hunting outing. He lived an extravagant lifestyle and his camp supplies included a silk tent with carpet, a bathtub, and a fur-lined toilet seat.
  • John Wesley Powell, Ferdinand V. Hayden, William Henry Jackson and Thomas Moran, all associated with the Great Surveys of the American West, passed through the Gore Creek Valley between 1868 and 1879. The highest peak in the Gore Range is named for Powell.
  • Although the nearby community of Leadville was known for mining, homesteaders came to the Gore Creek Valley to farm and ranch. Many had been miners and they were looking for fresh air and to work on the land.
  • Lettuce was a popular item that grew well at 7,000 feet above sea level. Lettuce was the king crop for several years during the 1920s, but deer often ate the lettuce in the fields and the farmers didn’t know enough about soil treatment and rotating crops.
Before Vail became a ski area the Gore Creek Valley was home to sheep and cattle ranches.
Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame/Courtesy photo
  • Cattle and sheep ranches filled the Gore Creek Valley. The Kellog, Katsos, Kiahtipeses and the Hass families were just a few that lived along Gore Creek and Red Sandstone Creek. Frank and Marge Hass would welcome soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division, the Army winter warfare unit that would train at Camp Hale, to their home for a warm meal cooked by Marge. Margie’s Haas is the name of the restaurant at The Hythe Vail that pays homage to this early pioneer.
  • The soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division are credited with shaping the outdoor industry, especially the ski industry, upon their return from the battles of World War II. Over 60 ski areas like Vail, Aspen and Arapahoe Basin were founded, managed or employed 10th Mountain Division soldiers.
  • Pete Seibert was a member of the famed ski troopers of the 10th Mountain division. Earl Eaton was not in the 10th Mountain Division, but he was in the Army and served in World War II. The two are credited with starting Vail Mountain.
  • Earl Eaton grew up outside of Edwards and his family grew lettuce on 160 homesteaded acres. Eaton joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, an organization created by President Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s, to give people some work during the Depression. In the early 1940s, Eaton helped with the construction of Camp Hale.
  • Seibert was known as the “founder” and Eaton was known as the “finder.” The two met while working in Aspen and at Loveland. Eaton grew up in the Eagle River Valley and knew the area well. He was a uranium prospector in the summer and had vast knowledge of isolated Colorado terrain. He took Seibert up what is now Vail Mountain on March 19, 1957.
Earl Eaton took Pete Seibert on a trek up the mountain to show him the Back Bowls.
Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame/Courtesy photo
  • Pete Seibert grew up in New England and had always envisioned creating a ski resort. He was seriously injured in a battle in the Appenine Mountains in northern Italy during the war. He was awarded a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star but doctors said he might never walk again, and skiing was out of the question. He spent 17 months in Army hospitals after he was injured. In 1946, he went to Aspen and by 1947 he was not only walking, he was skiing and ski racing. Seibert made the U.S. Alpine Ski Team in 1950.
  • Seibert attended a French-language hotel school in Switzerland to learn about European hospitality and service. He also worked on the ski patrol in Aspen and managed Loveland Ski Area to prepare himself for building a ski area of his own one day.
  • Vail was named after Vail Pass, which was named after Charles Vail, the chief engineer of the Colorado Department of Transportation who paved numerous roads throughout the state. Some suggested it be called by the Ute name for the area, the Shining Mountains, but Seibert said the word shining reminded him of icy slopes and he didn’t want that associated with Vail. Seibert also wanted a short, one-word name like Aspen and Alta.
Earl Eaton, left, and Pete Seibert are credited with building a ski area just west of Vail Pass.
Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame/Courtesy photo
  • On May 11, 1959, Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton applied for a permit from the U.S. Forest Service for year-round recreation development in Vail. The U.S. forest service replied and denied it for the following reasons:
  1. There is no real public need for the development at this time.
  2. We have an obligation to existing area permittees, especially at Aspen, who are entitled to complete their development and be allowed to ‘get in the black’ before new areas are permitted on this forest.
  • Attorneys for Vail appealed immediately and after several months Vail was granted the permit on Sept. 9, 1959.
  • Seibert and Eaton created the fictional organization called the Transmontane Rod and Gun Club because, in an era where so many others were trying to find the next spot to build a ski area, they didn’t want their plans to be known, which may have led to a spike in land prices. The name was eventually changed to Vail Associates, Ltd.
  • In 1960, other than land, the sole assets of Vail Associates consisted of a jeep, a tin-roofed hut and an outhouse on the mountain and a little red over-the-snow vehicle called the Kristi Kat.
Earl Eaton and Pete Seibert show Bob Fowler around Vail in the Kristi Kat, an over-the-snow vehicle used to transport people around the mountain.
Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame/Courtesy photo
  • The Kristi Kat is credited with wowing prospective investors after Pete Seibert or Earl Eaton would take them up the mountain and show them their plans for Vail.
  • The first board of directors meeting was held on Jan. 9, 1960. Board members were Fritz Benedict, Dick Hauserman, Jack Tweedy, George Caulkins, Fitzhugh Scott, Pete Seibert, Harley Higbie, Bob Fowler and Gerry Hart.  
  • To raise money to develop Vail Mountain, Pete Seibert and George Caulkins, an early investor and partner in Vail, packed their bags and a movie projector and got into Caulkins’ Porsche and went across the country to solicit funds. For $10,000 each investor would get four lifetime season passes and they sweetened the offer by adding a plot of land to the deal.
  • Snow was scarce that first season, but by Christmas, a storm had rolled in and provided more snow. When early snowfall was scarce at the start of the second season, the Southern Utes were brought in to do a snow dance on Dec. 9, 1963. That season it snowed abundantly a few days after the tribe left and the area had good snow through April.
  • The Lodge at Vail and the Vail Village Inn were the first hotels built in Vail.
Bridge Street before there were parking structures.
Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame/Courtesy photo
  • Pete Seibert called upon his former coworkers in Aspen to come to help him with Vail’s Ski School. Morrie Shepard and Rod Slifer took the job with Shepard becoming the director of Vail Ski School and Slifer becoming the assistant ski school director as well as a real estate agent in the growing town. A one-day class lesson cost $6.50.
  • Vail Mountain opened on Dec. 15, 1962. The first day, the lifts spun for free, but lift tickets were $5 that season. The ski area had three lifts operating on that day: the four-person gondola from the base, a lift that went from Mid-Vail to the top of the mountain, and one lift in the Back Bowls.

Avon to host fireworks show over Martin Luther King holiday weekend

The town of Avon will be launching the fireworks originally scheduled for its Salute to the USA on July 3 over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend.

Fireworks in Avon is set for Saturday, Jan. 14, 2023, at Harry A. Nottingham Park. Beginning at 5:30 p.m., guests will be treated to free hot chocolate while supplies last, followed by a fireworks display at 6 p.m.

“The town of Avon is honored to provide the community with an opportunity to enjoy what has become a beloved experience of 10,000 shells exploding in the night sky over Nottingham Park,” said Danita Dempsey, the culture, arts and special events manager for the town.

For those 21 years of age and older, with a state-issued ID, there will also be hot cocoa with free peppermint schnapps while supplies last.  

This is a plastic-free event. No pets are allowed, drone and other unmanned aerial vehicles are prohibited, and no smoking or personal fireworks will be allowed on the property. The use of public transportation is encouraged, as well as walking or riding a bike to the park. Avon’s winter bus schedule offers multiple options to get you to and from Avon Station and within walking distance to Nottingham Park. Free parking is also available.

For more information, visit Avon.org/events or contact Dempsey at ddempsey@avon.org or 970-748-4065.

Engagement for Jacqueline Nickel and Nicholas Miller

John Nickel and Jennifer Baker of Glenwood Springs, Colorado are elated to announce the engagement of their daughter Jacqueline Nickel to Nicholas Miller, son of Clayton and Krista Miller of Manassas, Virginia. Jacqueline is a Glenwood Springs native and is thrilled to have been able to return home and work as an eye doctor at 20/20 Eyecare after graduating and receiving her Doctor of Optometry degree from IAUPR School of Optometry. Nicholas graduated from George Mason University and came to Colorado for its outdoor adventures and is an avid snowboarder and dirt biker enthusiast. A June wedding is planned.

Happy Birthday for Charlotte Bluebird Hilley

The big TWO! We are so proud of the little feisty, funny and smart girl you’ve become. You are a force to be reckoned with and we are thankful you chose us to be your family! XOXO, Mama, Daddy & Louie

Wedding for Pete and Ariel

Enjoying their new lives in not so single tree. Congratulations on a beautiful marriage

Pet Obit for Jake Morton

Jake lived a long and happy life. He was loved by many and he knew it. He had lots of friends and we would like to express our appreciation and gratitude to all those who made his experience of life a joyous one. Thank you so much!

Special Event for DeAnne Mitchell Helms

Please join us to celebrate the life of DeAnne Mitchell Helms.

We will gather to share our favorite stories and remember our wonderful wife, mother, aunt and friend, who passed away last December.

Bring your stories, your beverage of choice, and we’ll share a toast to DeAnne. Saturday, September 3rd, 1:00 p.m., at the home of Tom & DeAnne, 676-3 Grand Ave, Eagle.

Don’t call it a ‘drought’: Climate scientist Brad Udall views Colorado River crisis as the beginning of aridification

The generous monsoon season along the Upper Basin of the Colorado River has been a relief to those who remember recent summers suffocated by wildfire smoke in the American West. But according to Brad Udall, senior water and climate research scientist at Colorado State University’s Colorado Water Institute and former director of the Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado Boulder, the relief we’re feeling now is a sign of bigger problems for years to come.

“Next year’s runoff will be really interesting to see what happens, it will be a test of this theory of depleted soil moisture,” Udall told a packed room at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center on Aug. 19. The theory he referenced examines how the recent precipitation affects the trending drought conditions, drying reservoirs and the lowering state of the Colorado River, which is the primary source of water for over 40 million people spread across seven Western states, over thirty Native American tribes and into Mexico.

Udall’s relationship with the Colorado River goes deeper than just the focus of his studies. He grew up along its banks and worked as a river guide in his earlier years. He also comes from a long lineage of family members who have been influential in the river’s management for more than a century. His father, former congressman Mo Udall, fought to channel river water to Arizona. His uncle, Stewart Udall, was the former Secretary of the Interior who opened the Glen Canyon Dam. And his great great grandfather, John D. Lee, established Lees Ferry in Arizona. “Udalls are, in fact, Lees,” he told the crowd.

With a litany of charts, peer-reviewed studies and side-by-side chronological photographs of depleting reservoirs, Udall’s presentation, titled, “Colorado River Crisis: A Collision of 19th Century Water Law, 20th Century Infrastructure and a 21st Century Population Growth and Climate Change,” broke down the intricacies of the compact that draws the water rights between these states, while establishing the environmental agitators that have formed, and grown, since the compact was agreed upon in 1922.

Brad Udall presents “Colorado River Crisis: A Collision of 19th Century Water Law, 20th Century Infrastructure and a 21st Century Population Growth and Climate Change,” to a packed room at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens Education Center on Friday, Aug. 19, 2022.
Sean Naylor/Vail Daily

No longer calling it a ‘drought’

Merriam-Webster defines “drought” as “a period of dryness especially when prolonged.” According to Udall, we are beyond treating the Colorado River crisis as something that will soon pass, or ever will.

“This isn’t a drought, it’s something else,” he said. “Myself and other scientists are trying to use a different term: Aridification.”

Aridification is defined as “the gradual change of a region from a wetter to a drier climate.” According to Udall, it also means “declining snowpacks, it’s earlier runoff, it’s a shorter winter, it’s more rain, less snow, it’s higher temps. It’s drying soils, it’s severe fires, it’s forest mortality, it’s a warm, thirsty atmosphere.”

The atmosphere, and the role it plays in our water cycle, is part of the reason for Udall’s skepticism throughout a rainy August.

Kelly Anderson shows how dry one of his fields is, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Maricopa, Ariz. Anderson grows specialty crops for the flower industry and leases land to alfalfa farmers whose crops feed cattle at nearby dairy farms. He knows what’s at stake as states dither over cuts and expects about half of the area will go unplanted next year, after farmers in the region lose all access to the river.
Matt York/AP

“This atmosphere, as it warms up it actually wants to hold more moisture. That’s part of also the driving force of why these soils are drier,” Udall said.

Enter rising temperatures, which make soil harder, plants thirstier and standing water evaporate more quickly, and the formula for runoff becomes offset. According to Udall, not only does a hotter climate affect the return we get from our water cycle, but it also explains why flooding can still occur, and even be exacerbated, in drought-stricken areas.

“This warm, thirsty atmosphere is why we get more floods, because when the atmosphere sets up to generate rainfall, it actually has more water vapor in it,” he said.

The extra water vapor is also problematic when calculating snow runoff, which is another issue state climatologists have been trying to decode in the face of shorter winters. “I want to talk about 85 percent of snowpack turning into 30 percent of runoff,” Udall said. “You’d think 85 percent snowpack would turn into 85 percent runoff or 60 percent, it doesn’t anymore … when the snow goes to melt, more of it goes into the atmosphere than runs off into the river.”

“Early season runoff is more nourishing and summer precipitation dries up quickly,” he added, “which is why low runoff in March and April isn’t remedied enough by summer precipitation, though it does help with the next year’s runoff.”

A bathtub ring of light minerals shows the high water line of Lake Mead near water intakes on the Arizona side of Hoover Dam at the Lake Mead National Recreation Area on June 26, 2022, near Boulder City, Nev. Las Vegas and Phoenix may be forced to ration water or restrict growth. Farmers may confront painful decisions about which crops to stop planting. Those are a few of the dire consequences that could result if states, cities and farms cannot agree on how to cut the amount of water they draw from the Colorado River.
John Locher/AP

According to Udall, as temperatures rise and aridification evolves, the region will see its deserts grow as its most important river shrinks. “The world’s deserts are about 30 degrees north or 30 degrees south of the equator, this is a known aspect of how our climate system works,” he said. “Basically, we get high pressure that descends over thirty degrees latitude. What we think happens is when the climate warms, that high pressure actually moves upward, so in our case, the desert just to the south of us is moving our way.”

Every trend moving ‘in the wrong direction’

As Udall showed a chart outlining precipitation levels over previous decades, showing its decline in the last 22 years, the occasional sprinkles of rainfall occurring outside during the presentation seemed even less significant.

“2018’s the worst year for Upper Basin precipitation since 1895, 2020 is in the bottom 10, 2021 in the bottom 20 … all these years are really in the low bottoms,” he said. “So, the whole precipitation regime shifted down.”

Udall then factored in the rising temperatures. “Up 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1970 … and importantly, not a single year after 1999 is below the 20th-century average, and we will not see a year below the 20th-century average ever again.”

These two trends of low precipitation and high temperatures make the situation along the Colorado River more critical than ever.

“If you took the worst period in the 20th century, the worst 22-year period, if it had only repeated, instead of the 22 years we last got, our reservoirs would be 55% percent full, not 27%. It would be of concern, but it wouldn’t be the crisis that it is,” he said.

While history has repeated itself before, Udall’s presentation suggested to not bet on it. “We’ve got to anticipate flows even lower than what we’ve seen the last 22 years. We didn’t put a number on it, we just said a ‘reasonable worst-case future,’” he said.

‘Let’s see some experiments’

As the water supply from the Colorado River diminishes, the demand continues to grow. Population growth has not only filled the major cities that depend on the river’s water, it has also spurred the rise of new cities along its basin, further complicating the debates over how the water is allocated. “We now need to think about how to turn some of this back … we have no control over the supply, so we have to dial back demand,” Udall said.

While Udall maintains that Colorado has been exemplary in managing its water allocations with heightened efforts in engineering and overall communication, there are lessons to be learned with the innovations that are happening across the basin as a whole.

Water from the Colorado River diverted through the Central Arizona Project fills an irrigation canal, Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Maricopa, Ariz. The river quenches the thirst of 40 million people across the American West and in Mexico. It sustains a $15 billion-a-year agricultural industry.
Matt York/AP

One crowd member asked about the desalination efforts in California, and Udall acknowledged desalination as “part of the solution, but it’s a tiny part of the solution,” citing efforts from Australia in past decades that have come with their own respective challenges, one of the largest being cost. “Ag(riculture) will never be able to afford it,” he said.

Udall then pointed to the reintroduction of beavers in some places as another potential part of the solution. “There has been some interest in reintroducing beavers to places in the High Country to get these wetlands in place where you store water, and you get these sponges that slowly release water later in the year … whether that would work I don’t know, but it’s another idea along the same lines,” he said.

As for switching to crops that use less water, that, too, comes with its own hurdles. “Crop switching is actually pretty complicated, it needs new agronomic knowledge, new production and marketing, new labor and equipment … you need a collective of people in the same area growing new stuff,” Udall said.

Udall gave mention to Arizona’s use of aqueducts and Las Vegas’ innovative water recycling system, while maintaining those conservation efforts, and a more conscious use of water consumption in our daily lives, are still the best ways to buy more time.

“I just feel like we need to get demand off this system and I’m not sure how to do it with the resources we have,” he said.

A view from the top

Colorado’s Upper basin position will give Coloradans an advantageous view of what works, and what doesn’t work, as lower basin states face more urgent scenarios in years to come.

While speaking to a ski-town crowd, Udall was conscious to address what this crisis means for our favorite winter activity and the industry that surrounds it.

“Here’s the good news for people that live in Colorado: so it’s higher and colder in the mid-continent,” he said. “If you had a ski area in the Sierras right now, when it wants to rain in the winter I’d be worried. Anywhere where you have a maritime climate that’s close to the ocean and it was previously 31 (average degrees) in winter and now its 33, you’ve got a huge problem. Colorado is higher, drier and colder and will remain that way. So these ski areas will do better than ski areas anywhere else. It’s raining in the winter here too — and it shouldn’t be ­— so it’s good news and bad news.”

People make fast work of the fresh powder in China Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 in Vail.
Chris Dillmann | cdillmann@vaildaily.com

Udall also has a heightened sense of faith in how Colorado is managing its situation. “In general, Colorado of all the Western states has its act together more than any other state. Why is that? Because our water rights system is slightly different, and for better or worse, we put in place a system that has a whole set of separate water rights codes and attorneys that specifically practice in water and engineers that specifically practice in water … so we have records and data and court decrees, we know where our water is used, who owns it, how it’s used … and in that is a system that at least gives us the data to make good decisions.”

 “More than any other state, we are better off … but it’s still not great.”

Colorado River Crisis: A Collision of 19th Century Water Law, 20th Century Infrastructure and a 21st Centur… by Vail Daily on Scribd