Housing costs soar outside ski towns | VailDaily.com

Housing costs soar outside ski towns

Allen Best

“Prices: Up, up and away,’ said the headline. “Locals are being priced out of the housing market,” the article said. Sounds like most every ski town you know, right?Wrong. The headline ran in the Daily Times in Farmington, N.M., which is more than an hour from any ski area or national park. Instead of tourism or even second-home development, the town is fueled by energy exploration. The newspaper traced the rise in prices to low interest rates that make everybody want to buy a house or two, plus purchasers who have migrated southward from the even pricier digs in Durango, located an hour’s drive to the north.Leisure a mandate, not an optionGUNNISON – Colorado’s system of water law, like that in most states of the West, was drawn up during the Mining Era. The principle was that to own water, you had to put it to use. Nobody during the 19th century may have conceived that water, left in the creeks and rivers, would be a beneficial use. That has changed during the last 30 years. First water law was amended to allow filing of water rights for minimum water levels to protect fish and other aquatic life. More recently, ski resorts and other towns have been creating whitewater parks and then filing for rights to water to flow through them.For ski towns, it’s an economic proposition. Although they may not spend much money themselves, kayakers add color to places like Breckenridge, Vail, and Steamboat Springs. This makes ski towns more attractive places for summer vacations.Just how much water is needed to make whitewater parks function properly is currently being disputed in Colorado. But standing back and taking a long view is Patricia Limerick, a historian from the University of Colorado, who says this current debate would befuddle settlers who saw recreation as idle fun, not something that could shape water allocation.”I think it’s a testament to how leisure consumption has become not just an option but a mandate in these times,” she told The Denver Post. Vail, Colorado

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