Mountain News: Avalanche victim widow sues Intrawest 

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Aspen does have a hostel, but the proprietor says that "our phones aren't ringing off the hook," according to the Daily News. One theory is that prices that seem to low for Aspen cast a suspicion on the quality of the product.

Adopted earlier this year, the Aspen Area Community Plan specifies the goal of beefing up the lower end of the market to help attract the next generation. Among the proposals to be examined in coming months is whether the city should donate or sell some of its land to a developer of affordable lodging, or provide zoning bonuses.

Hot and dry, Colorado remains on edge of fire

RED CLIFF, Colo. — From the deck of his office, Jim Lamont can look down on the Eagle River, normally swollen in late May with melted snow from along the Continental Divide.

Water normally crowds the top of a large boulder in the river. This year, the water has been near the base, about a metre lower, says Lamont, who is the executive director of the Vail Homeowners Association. Vail is 13 kilometres away from Red Cliff, although the slopes of the Vail ski area are but three kilometres away.

On most creeks and rivers originating in the Colorado Rockies, peak runoff shuffled past this year, barely noticed. Snowfall last year was among the lowest in the last century, and spring arrived early, almost hot. March in Colorado was the third warmest, with records dating to 1895, and tied with one another year for the driest on record. April was the fourth warmest on record.

The Eagle River, near where it flows into the Colorado River 45 miles downstream from Lamont's office in Red Cliff, is forecast to flow at only 43 per cent of average. More broadly, the Colorado River basin at less than 50 per cent.

The last time Colorado suffered so severely from drought was 2002. That year, three major fires erupted on June 10, one of them the Missionary Fire near Durango. This year, by some measures, the drought is even worse. Plus, millions of trees have died since 2002 as the result of beetle epidemics.

While scientists debate how much the beetle kill elevates the risk of wildfire, several fires in the foothills west of Denver and other Front Range communities since March have escalated apprehensions. In one fire, three people were killed.

More wary of the potential for wildfire than he was in 2002, Lamont says this year he has moved his prized photographs and important documents to Vail.

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