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Around your region

Sarah L. Stewart
photo by Kristin AndersonJohnie's Garden employee Kate Eppinger arranges vines to give them room to grow while at work in Minturn. Johnie's Garden has a large selection of plants and flowers that are acclimated to cold weather and will survive outside even if it snows.

Vail The bears are back in town.Three bear sightings were reported in Vail last week, proving that their hibernation is over. One bear, estimated at about 100 pounds, was seen on Geneva Drive in West Vail. Two days later, another bear was spotted on Geneva Drive, busting into two latched, wildlife resistant trash cans. A third bear sighting was reported east of Donovan Pavilion, but a policeman chased it into the woods above the Matternhorn neighborhood.When people start seeing them, thats when we know theyre out and about, said Randy Hampton, spokesman for the Division of Wildlife. Precautions include using bear-resistant trash cans, which are required by Vail law, keeping outdoor grills clean and hanging birdfeeders out of reach of bears.Wildlife officials are hopeful that this winters plentiful snow and moist spring could lead to better conditions for bears search for natural food sources.Were optimistic, Hampton said. We have the factors right now that could lead to a good year for bears, but its too early to really tell.

Vail Local athletes could have a strong presence on the U.S. Ski Team next year.Five of the 48 skiers nominated for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association 2008-2009 alpine team are from the Vail Valley.Former Ski Club Vail athlete and last years overall World Cup Champion Lindsey Vonn was nominated to the womens A team.Sarah Schleper, the former Ski Club Vail athlete who took the past two years off due to a knee injury and the birth of her first child, was given a discretionary nomination for the B team.Julia Littman, the former Ski Club Vail athlete who went down with a knee injury early last season, was given a nomination to the C team.Ski & Snowboard Club Vails Will Gregorak and Iced Out Racings Hunter Schleper were nominated to the mens development team.

Eagle County Some of the largest employers in the county are starting to wonder if they can continue increasing workers salaries and benefits enough to lure and retain a limited labor pool.Because of a shrinking workforce and the rising costs of living in the area, base salaries and benefits have been going up at least 5 percent each year, said John Power, human resources director for the Town of Vail.The question is, Can that be sustained over a period of years? Were trying to figure out what its all going to cost, he said.Eagle County, the school district, the hospital and the town of Vail are all discussing the problem and planning for the future.County Commissioner Arn Menconi said something is going give, either in salaries or number of employees, and employers could start poaching employees from each other. An organization cant have both more people and rising salaries, he said.

Eagle-Vail County planners looking into the future of Eagle-Vail. The county is considering affordable, higher density homes and a mix of commercial and professional buildings in Eagle-Vail, County Commissioner Arn Menconi said.New development could make the area more pedestrian friendly and possibly include a rail system using the existing tracks that run through the valley, Community Development Director Keith Montag said. The Eagle-Vail Metro District is funding a study by the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit organization specializing in land use, to study the residential area and golf course.

Summit County Reservoirs in the Colorado River Basin are expected to fill in the next few months, thanks to heavy snowfall this winter and spring.Denver Water is preparing for too much of a good thing, with peak runoff predictions causing officials to drop the level of the Dillon Reservoir earlier than usual by diverting water to other places around the state.The increased runoff is good news for rafters and kayakers downstream of the reservoir.

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Denver The combination of pine beetle-killed trees and a forecasted dry, windy summer has officials preparing for what could be a bad wildfire season, the Associated Press reported. About 1.5 million acres of lodgepole pines in northern Colorado have been killed by bark beetles and 334,000 acres of aspens are dying or in decline. State forest officials said that cutting trees and using controlled fires to reduce the debris and other fuels is increasingly important. Wildfires around the state, in Ordway and El Paso County, have already burned nearly two dozen homes and claimed several lives.

Westminster Democrats Joan Fitz-Gerald and Jared Polis will appear on the August primary ballot to replace Colorado congressman Mark Udall, forcing Will Shafroth to try to petition his way onto the ballot, the Associated Press reported. Former state Sen. Joan Fitz-Gerald will have the top line on the ballot over Polis after getting 60.1 percent of the vote at the 2nd Congressional District Assembly and Convention Saturday. Polis got 39.9 percent of the vote. Udall is running for U.S. Senate.

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