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Silverton study moving slowly

Bob Berwyn

Aaron Brill, founder of the Silverton Mountain &quotextreme&quot ski area, is facing some slow-going in his efforts to win approval for a full-fledged ski operation, the Denver Post reports. Brill operates one lift on private land and leads guided tours to adjacent public terrain.Both the price tag and the timeline for a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Environmental Impact statement have expanded significantly in the past few months. According to the Post, it may take another year to complete the study. Some Silverton residents are impatient and want the BLM to permit expanded operations on the mountain because of the anticipated seasonal economic boost.The BLM says it’s taking a methodical approach because the final decision will determine the use of the land for decades to come. Among the issues being studied most extensively is the avalanche hazard in the notoriously unstable San Juan snowpack.Right now, the single-lift ski area provides access for a very limited number of skiers a day. It’s currently one of only two areas still open for business in the state, along with Arapahoe Basin (see story page 7).Snowbird season extendedCatching some late-season storms, Utah’s Snowbird ski area has announced it will stay open on weekends at least through Memorial Day. The Wasatch Mountain resort has picked up more than two feet of snow this month already, with continued unsettled weather in the forecast.Tickets are going for $25, with lifts operating from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Snowbird’s late-season skiing and snowboarding is not for beginners. Only advanced terrain is available from the Little Cloud chairlift.Crested Butte sale in the works?The Crested Butte News reports that the Gunnison County commissioners and other local officials recently met with prospective buyers of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.According to the News, the meetings were held at the request of the hopeful buyers, two related Texas-based property companies known as Lincoln Property Company and Phoenix Property Company. The sale price is rumored to be around $63 million.Some county officials told the News they believe the prospective buyers have the financial wherewithal to give the resort the boost it needs to remain competitive in the ski industry. According to the News, Crested Butte Mountain Resort President and CEO John Norton says that it’s possible that the announcement of the sale of the resort could come as early as this July.Colorado resorts, hotels join forcesColorado Ski Country USA and the Colorado Hotel and Lodging Association recently announced that the two organizations are joining forces to produce the official 2003-04 Colorado Winter Vacation Planner.The magazine-format advertising piece will be distributed in key Colorado destination markets, at the Colorado Welcome Centers, at the major fall and winter consumer ski and vacation shows and at Denver International Airport on Concourse B. It will promote Colorado’s 24 ski resorts and 550 lodging properties throughout the state.&quotWe could not be more pleased with this partnership. The Colorado Winter Vacation Planner allows us to create a perfect alliance with a very important component of our business, the lodging industry,&quot said Rob Perlman, President and CEO of Colorado Ski Country USA. &quotOur distribution is targeted to get the guide in the hands of our core destination customers and it will be the definitive source for Colorado’s winter visitors.&quotGOCO grant for BC groupThe Wolf Creek Task Force, a group aiming to mitigate conflicts between motorized and non-motorized users at Wolf Creek Pass has scored a $9,720 GOCO grant.Based on the collaborative model of the Vail Pass Task Force, the Backcountry Skiers Allilance joined with a group of volunteers representing all user groups on Wolf Creek Pass to address the user conflicts that were degrading the overall recreational experience.The group is working with federal land managers to develop a winter recreation plan for the area, with an eye toward improving signage, education and enforcement. Extensive data collected during the past winter should help the process move along.New science school draws flakAccording to the Jackson Hole News and Guide, a recent decision by the Teton County commissioners to approve a new campus for the Teton Science School is raising some eyebrows. The school is dedicated to environmental education, but some critics say the new site is located in sensitive wildlife habitat. The 16-acre parcel is completely within the county’s natural resource overlay and scenic resource overlay, as well as in crucial winter range for both mule deer and elk, the News and Guide reports.The new campus will offer residential education programs for teachers and students from around the region.Supporters said at a recent public hearing that the school is a good steward of natural resources. A spokesman said the school &quotwill be in harmony with the wildlife they are encroaching on.&quotGranby Reservoir to remain lowThe Grand County Sunday Daily Tribune reports that, despite an above-average snowpack in the upper Colorado River Basin, the outlook for Granby Reservoir the state’s second-largest reservoir after Blue Mesa is not good.Currently, Granby Reservoir is at about 7 percent of its capacity, down about 81 feet. Officials said last time the reservoir was this low was following the drought years of 1977 and 1978. Granby is slowly filling with spring runoff, but is not expected to fill completely.Locals may have grown accustomed to seeing Granby stay full during a spell of wet years in the early 1990s, but officials said it’s not common for the reservoir to be completely full for several years in a row.Scenic highway projects get boostFederal funds could help pay for part of a scenic byway project in Grand Country, the Grand County Daily Tribune reports. Altogether, Colorado’s Scenic & Historic Byways program will receive $577,000 in federal funding for the projects along 11 of the state’s 24 byways during the 2003 federal fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.Grand County’s portion of the federal funding is $65,184, according to the Daily Tribune. That money will be used to pay for the &quotColorado River Headwaters Byway Interpretation&quot project, which will develop and improve interpretive information for the along highways 34 and 40 in the Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling areas. Another $100,000 was awarded for improvements to an interpretive center on Mount Evans.Mammoth follows up with restricted passesSoon after selling out its $399 early bird season passes, California’s Mammoth Mountain announced that it plans to offer several other pass options beginning in September. An unrestricted adult season pass will go for $1,200. According to the Mammoth Times that’s the same price as the last few years and $600 less than five years ago, when the unrestricted pass cost $1,800.The significant new offering is a Monday-Friday restricted weekday season pass for Mammoth for $500.According to the Mammoth Times, Mammoth Mountain communications manager Joani Lynch, said, &quotYes, people are disappointed they didn’t buy in time. And we sympathize. But the fact is we do not have anymore Value Passes.&quot– compiled by Bob Berwyn


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