Bad news for bears |

Bad news for bears

Sarah L. Stewart
Kristin AndersonA hummingbird pauses while eating from a feeder that overlooks Sweetwater Lake.

Vail Two black bears have been killed by vehicles in recent weeks on Interstate 70 around Vail, authorities said. Colorado State Trooper Kevin Hamill, who has dealt with both incidents, hopes people will slow down and look out for bears in Dowd Junction, where they often cross the interstate and U.S. Highway 6 from dusk until dawn, he said.Though the bear population isnt suffering now, bears getting killed by cars or having to be put down after they get into residents garbage cans may have a cumulative effect, said Julia Kintsch, program director for the Southern Rockies Ecosystem Project.If we keep having these conflicts, over time … that could have consequences, she said.One solution to the problem, a multi-million dollar bridge that bears, deer and elk could cross near the summit of Vail Pass, lacks funding, officials said. One-and-a-half miles of fencing would extend from the bridge on both sides to funnel animals toward the bridge to cross the interstate.At this point no dollars and no commitment has been made to build it, said Peter Kozinski of the Colorado Department of Transportation.

Vail Two Vail notables earned a spot in Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fames class of 2008 last week.Bill Jensen, the former boss of Vail Mountain, and the late Merrill Hastings, a ski magazine publisher who lived in Bond until his death last month, are two of five inductees to the hall of fame, located in Vail Village.Jensen, who began his career as a lift operator at Californias Mammoth Mountain, had been in charge of Vail Mountain until earlier this year when he left to become the CEO of Vail Resorts top competitor, Intrawest, which owns Copper Mountain, Steamboat Springs and Whistler.Hastings was a member of the Armys 10th Mountain Division, which trained at Camp Hale near Red Cliff, and helped build Arapahoe Basin. In 1948 he started the publication that became Skiing magazine. The class of 2008, which also includes Paul T. Bailey, Chuck Ferries and Knox T. Williams, will be honored at the 32nd annual Colorado Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame Induction Gala on Oct. 18 at Denver Marriott City Center. Also at the ceremony, Lindsey Kildow Vonn will be the recipient of the Competitor of the Year Award. Vonn, a former Vail Ski Club racer, won the womens World Cup title in 2008.

Vail New cameras could take some of the guesswork out of navigating Vail Pass during the winter.This summer, Colorado Department of Transportation crews are installing a new fiberoptic system on the stretch of Interstate 70, which will let drivers see conditions on the entire pass online. CDOT plans to install the cameras to go with the system and additional message boards later, spokesman Bob Wilson said.The new camera system will allow drivers to visit CDOTs Web site to see better online images of the road and more up-to-date messages on the conditions.At least 10 cameras would be needed to see the entire pass, and right now there are only three at the top, Wilson said.With access to the Internet, youll actually be able to see whats happening on the pass, Wilson said. Then people can make the judgment call of whether they want to drive it.The project to install the lines, cameras and message boards from Frisco to East Vail will cost $5.7 million. The eventual goal is to install enough cameras to view I-70 from Denver to Grand Junction.

Tennessee Pass A proposed new backcountry hut near Tennessee Pass has been rejected in order to protect endangered lynx that live in the area.The 10th Mountain Division Hut Association plans would have put two new buildings for backcountry trips in Jones Gulch, which is owned by the U.S. Forest Service. The area is between Camp Hale and Ski Cooper and home to endangered Canada lynx as well as elk.However, findings from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service showed that a hut in Jones Gulch, or anywhere on the Vail Pass area, would hurt the ability of lynx to thrive there, said the Hut Associations Executive Director Ben Dodge. For now, any plans for new huts on Vail Pass area will be on hold until more studies are done on the lynx impact.This decision was made because it seems most wise and reflective of strong stewardship values to gather more information on the ability of Canada lynx to thrive in the general area before adding more activity, Dodge said. Its a fairly important decision for us to step away from this project. Its involving the greater Vail Pass area, not just for this hut.

Eagle County Single-family homes with backyards and fences got high marks from the countys teachers in a recent poll conducted by the school district to help figure out its place in the affordable housing puzzle.The survey showed that 72 percent of the 280 employees polled are after their own homes, preferring the school district help them with financing and down payments rather than supporting large developments of low-cost apartments and condos.There is a strong desire to have some kind of assistance with securing loans and money, said Andrej Birjulin, director of research and evaluation for the school district.Deed-restricted homes were also popular more than 25 percent of the participants said theyd like to see deed-restricted properties, either townhomes, duplexes, condominiums or single-family homes, with the latter being the most popular.Edwards was the most popular town to live in, but Eagle and Gypsum were also popular among the staff.

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