Big dumps |

Big dumps

Sarah L. Stewart
Theo Stroomerphoto by Theo Stroomer

Vail – It just keeps on coming.

The valley got several more feet of snow this week, bringing Vail’s total snowfall on the year to 260 inches and Beaver Creek to 269 inches.

As of Tuesday, Vail had received 34 inches in the previous week and had a mid-mountain base of 60 inches; Beaver Creek had 33 inches in the previous week and a 70-inch mid-mountain base.

Breckenridge – Conservationists are locked in debate with the Breckenridge Ski Area over the resort’s proposed plan to expand its ski terrain to Peak 6. The resort already stretches four peaks, Peak 7 through Peak 10.

“Some people think Breckenridge is already big enough,” said Roger Poirer, winter sports ranger for the White River National Forest.

Environmentalists are concerned that the expansion would impact wildlife such the lynx, and backcountry skiers fear an intrusion into the peace and quiet of Peak 6.

The resort says the expansion, which would include construction of about 67 acres of developed trail skiing and about 285 acres of lift-served skiing above treeline, is necessary to make intermediate trails and lifts less busy at peak times.

Vail – Chain-up areas along Interstate 70 might become sock-up areas, if a new traction technology takes off.

Autosock, a fabric covering that fits over a tire and provides traction, could eliminate a lot of the headache truckers face when chain restrictions are in place.

In tests, the Autosock proved at least as effective as traditional chains at combating icy and snowy roads. And they take about five minutes to install, as opposed to the 30 to 45 minutes chains can take, which slows traffic along I-70 and puts truckers at risk.

Grand Junction – Wildlife experts may expand big-game feeding operations from the west-central part of the state to help deer and other large animals survive a harsh, snowy winter, according to the Associated Press.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife began a feeding program in the Gunnison Basin last month targeting deer, which have more trouble breaking through snow to reach food sources.

Plans are in place to expand the feeding to Steamboat Springs and Eagle, if necessary.

“We are ready to feed on a moment’s notice. But we don’t want to intervene too quickly,” said Steve Yamashita, the division’s assistant northwest regional manager. “If you intervene too soon and prevent the natural processes, you can unnaturally overinflate populations and aid the spread of disease.”

Denver – The Mile High City welcomed a barrage of presidential hopefuls and their supporters in the week leading up to the state’s Feb. 5 caucus. Barack Obama, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Ron Paul and Mitt Romney all cruised through the capital city on their whirlwind tour of the country leading up to Super Tuesday, when 22 states selected their nominees.

Vail – The building boom continues.

The town issued $496 million worth of construction permits in 2007, setting a record for the fifth straight year.

“The No. 1 comment is ‘(Vail) needed it. It’s great. It’s beautiful,'” said Rayla Kundolf, manager of Masters Gallery in Vail Village. “The new projects alone brought a wonderful ambiance to the town.”

Projects included in the record year were Solaris, the Four Seasons, Manor Vail and the Ritz-Carlton Residences. Next year should bring the start of projects at the Timberline Lodge (the condo-hotel replacement for the Roost Lodge), Fogata (on the site of the Lionshead Inn), the Rucksack on Bridge Street, the Landmark Townhomes in Lionshead and the Cornerstone Building in Cascade Village.

“To remain a world-class resort, we needed improvements to our town,” said Kim Newbury, a Vail councilwoman.

Grand Junction – Ski resorts across Colorado are responding to complaints of rude on-slope behavior by providing incentives to skiers and riders to be more polite, the Associated Press reported.

Winter Park, near Denver, has an advanced terrain park that is only accessible to riders who watch a 15-minute video on safety and civility.

Cursing, littering and unsafe riding are common problems at resorts, causing some areas to use measures such as safety classes and confiscated passes to punish repeat or egregious offenders.

“Everybody needs to understand that this is a public place,” said Ryen Malinchak, Breckenridge ski-safety manager, “and there are all kinds of people out there with all kinds of morals and ethics.”

Denver – The record snow Colorado has seen this winter promises to bring an above-average spring runoff for many areas of the state, the Associated Press reported this week.

The Rio Grande watershed in Southern Colorado has a snowpack double the 30-year average, federal officials reported, guaranteeing a big runoff this spring. The statewide snowpack is 134 percent of average. Even before the runoff begins, reservoirs are at 99 percent of average and 105 percent of last year ” good news for farmers, ranchers and water managers.

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