Mountain News: Curiosity may have killed the black bear 

click to flip through (2) CURIOSITY KILLED THE BEAR A black bear was shot and killed in Idaho last week after startling a group of campers.
  • CURIOSITY KILLED THE BEAR A black bear was shot and killed in Idaho last week after startling a group of campers.

STANLEY, Idaho — Curiosity killed the cat, and it may have also been the undoing of a black bear in Idaho.

The Idaho Mountain Express tells of a trio of hunters who had been rafting down the Middle Fork of the Salmon in search of bighorn sheep. They were sleeping in the River of No Return Wilderness Area one night when one of the three men awoke to feel something pulling on his hair. He felt blood. Then he heard breathing.

The 29-year-old man frantically reached for his .357-magnum pistol, but could not find it. When the bear fell backwards and sat down, another of the hunters fired a gun loaded with birdshot into the bear's chest and neck.

The bear scrambled up a nearby tree. Bad decision. The hunters killed it.

Injuries to the man's head required no stitches, but they did show marks of canines both top and bottom.

A predatory attack? Not likely, says Jon Rachael, a state wildlife manager in Idaho. Perhaps the bear had become conditioned to people by finding food around them. Or, just possibly, the bear was curious about the hunter's head and was trying to figure out what it was.

Aspen and Abetone are now sister cities

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen is getting to have a large, extended family. The newest sister-city is Abetone, Italy. Earlier this year, a delegation from Aspen went to Abetone to say "hi" and so forth. Last week, a group from Abetone stopped by Aspen.

This sister-city relationship was forged by Steve Skadron, the mayor of Aspen, who has an interest in encouraging an economy in Aspen that revolves around backcountry athleticism, such as in the design of ski boots and so forth. Abetone has some of those folks, as well.

Aspen now has sister cities in Japan, Argentina, France, New Zealand, Germany and Switzerland.

Another brick in the Aspen malls

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen has started thinking about where it can get its next ton of bricks for occasional use in its two downtown pedestrian malls.

In the early 1970s, the pedestrian malls were created, replacing streets. The bricks, 500,000 of them, came from St. Louis, where they had been manufactured around 1900. More than 60 per cent of the bricks were used to create the malls. Since then, reserve bricks have been needed here and there to replace the broken bricks.

Now, just 20,000 remain, which will suffice for the needs of the next three to five years. After that? Aspen's historical preservation office advises buying bricks that are "sympathetic" to the originals, but not necessarily replicas.

Pot-preneuers offer the goods in Summit

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — OK, cannabis can now be purchased legally in Colorado. But how do you ingest it?

Smoking, of whatever substance, remains strictly verboten in most hotels and other lodging properties. It's a no-no in public.

The Denver Post, in its Cannabist section, reports a variety of entrepreneurs have created a variety of mood-altering opportunities for visitors to Summit County. One of them is at the Breck Haus, a four-bedroom, two-bath in Breckenridge that is priced on Airbnb at $420 per night and $300 in the off-season.

"A loaded Sky Glass bong awaits on the living room table for an immediate smoke to help you get settled," the Post explains. Also: ashtrays, a Volcano Vaporizer, and a dab rig.

As for tobacco use? Only outdoors.

Construction picks up, but still lagging 2007

PARK CITY, Utah — It seems like forever since the construction crews were this busy in Park City. As measured by building permits, construction had surpassed $100 million for the year as of August, a pace slightly ahead of last year.

But the construction pace remains a shadow of its boom-boom, rah-rah years from 2004-2007, reports The Park Record. The record for building permits was set in 2007, and that was just a scotch shy of $300 million.

Ski area livened up Durango's economy

DURANGO, Colo. — One of the founders of the Purgatory ski area has died. Raymond Twomey Duncan had moved to Durango in 1958 and founded an oil company. A few years later he noticed that the local youth ski team, while winning awards, had no good place to ski locally.

The result was a ski area, and several names were suggested: Hermosa, Columbia, and Purgatory, all relating to local geography. The latter was chosen, because it was spicier.

"The impact of Purgatory on Durango was greater than providing a place to ski," notes The Durango Herald. "Durango's tourist season essentially lasted from Memorial Day to Labour Day before 1965, so the addition of five months of revenues ramped up all kinds of businesses. Having a ski area nearby also turned out to be a good recruiting tool, both for students and faculty, for Fort Lewis College.

Tech leg needed to create sturdy stool

JACKSON, Wyo. — Wyoming has a three-legged stool for an economy. It needs a fourth leg on that stool, says Bob Grady.

Grady is a partner in a private equity firm called Gryphon Investors and also has his finger in national politics, telling the Jackson Hole News&Guide that he's "quite friendly" with about half the Republican candidates for president.

Wyoming, he says, needs to diversify its economy, as Gov. Matt Mead proposes to do.

"If we want to take advantage of the tremendous energy wealth that's been generated to prepare ourselves for the next couple decades, and if we want to give Wyoming students another pathway to have other careers when they come back to Wyoming, we need some additional legs to the stool. "He (Mead) always says that in Wyoming energy is the biggest employer, tourism is second, agriculture is the third big industry. He would like technology to be the fourth leg of the stool."

How is that possible? Wyoming is remote, Grady acknowledges, but he thinks that the investment in a 100-gigabyte fiber loop around Wyoming has addressed that remoteness.

Another mine spill, same old arguments

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. — If not for the spill of contaminated water from the Gold King Mine near Silverton in early August, last week's spill from a mine above Crested Butte might not have been noticed.

The spill from the Standard Mine was small, 2,000 gallons compared to the three million gallons that turned the Animas River in Durango mustard orange. Too, nobody appeared to be terribly concerned about the spill at Crested Butte, even though the contaminated water got into Coal Creek, which flows through the middle of Crested Butte and is in fact the town's primary source of drinking water. The impact was described by town officials as "negligible."

But U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents both areas in Congress, saw a disturbing trend. Both spills had been caused by contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency. Republicans — including Tipton, who was elected with strong Tea Party support — have been attacking the EPA as an out-of-control federal agency that needs to be reined in.

In the Animas River Valley, debate continues about how to best address long-term pollution from the Gold King and other abandoned mines. The spill in August was colourful and dramatic, but the same amount of pollution gets discharged from the mines every 10 days.

In a recent editorial, The Durango Herald pointed out that while there are disagreements about the best way to get there, nobody disputes the need for a permanent water-treatment facility that captures drainage from the four worst-offending mines, including Gold King.

"That facility will be costly — to build, and then to operate and maintain in perpetuity — and the conversation should now shift to how to pay for it," says the Herald.

The EPA would provide funding, if the site were designated under the U.S. government's superfund program. But Silverton and San Juan County have resisted such a designation for the last decade, and Tipton, in testimony before a Congressional committee, recently explained why: "Designating Silverton a Superfund site could severely damage the town's reputation and prove costly to the local economy."

No more plastic water bottles sold at festivals

KETCHUM, Idaho – Take a plastic bottle of water to a festival in Ketchum? You bet. But buy a bottle of water there? Not a chance.

The city council in Ketchum, located at the base of the Sun Valley ski area, has banned sale and distribution of single-use plastic water battles at city events and on city property.

In doing so, Ketchum follows actions in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Chicago. All prohibit the use of tax dollars to purchase bottled water. Fourteen national parks also ban the sale of bottled water.

In talking with the Idaho Mountain Express, Ketchum Mayor Nina Jonas stressed the high quality of Ketchum's water. It comes from streams, with the only chemical added being the federally managed chloride.

Housing and climate targeted

PARK CITY, Utah — Transportation is already a top-tier issue for Park City's elected officials. Affordable housing is joining transportation, and climate change may also.

The Park Record reports that the city council has established a blue-ribbon commission to explore policies needed to support affordable housing.

The city is also considering elevating energy and climate change to the same top tier among issues. Comments from a variety of city council members indicate strong support for doing so.

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