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BANFF, Alta.—Whatever was he thinking? Obviously, the 35-year-old man from Saskatchewan was not thinking of getting a $4,000 fine when he got out of a red pickup truck in Banff National Park and began shouting at a young grizzly bear.

Two nearby photographers who had been observing the grizzly for some time captured what happened. Devin Mitsuing shouted at the bear and threw rocks for five or 10 minutes, then adopted a boxing stance before charging the bear, which fled.

He and companions were later found in British Columbia, at the Radium Hot Springs, too inebriated to be allowed to drive. To compound things, when his day in court came, he failed to show.

Prosecutors, said the Rocky Mountain Outlook, had charged him with disturbing wildlife in a national park. Jeremy Newton, the prosecutor, also said that not only did the man from Saskatchewan put himself in danger, but he put every other person who comes across this bear in danger in the future.

Lodging but without the staffing needs of a hotel

JACKSON, Wyo.—Here comes yet another high-end resort project, this time along a ski run at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

The 134,000-square-foot property is to be "highly amenitized," said Rob DesLauriers, who is representing the owner of the property. He has developed two previous lodging properties at the base of the ski area. The plan is for indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa area, plus a restaurant open to the general public.

Building a luxury residential project was more appealing than a hotel, he said, because it requires less staff in a seasonal economy.

Getting people to ski areas on the congested highways

TRUCKEE, Calif.—Transportation officials in California may seek to reduce congestion on Highway 89 between Squaw Valley-Alpine Meadows and Interstate 80 at Truckee by putting the highway's shoulders to work.

The plan, reported the Sierra Sun, would involve allowing buses to use highway shoulders on three kilometres of the most congested segments. The buses would ferry passengers who have left their cars at park-and-ride lots.

In Colorado, something similar is at work. Already, Interstate 70 has been reconfigured between Denver and Summit County to allow motorists willing to pay tolls to gain access at congested times, so far limited to weekends. This is for east-bound lanes.

Work has recently begun on reconfiguring the highway in its west-bound lanes to achieve the same purpose. In effect, two lanes are being expanded to three lanes.

Along with this, Colorado has been expanding its popular purple-and-black Bustang bus routes. Several buses—plush and with WiFi—already ply I-70. Bustangs will go specifically to Loveland and Arapahoe Basin ski areas beginning this winter, and Copper Mountain has shown interest, The Denver Post reported.

A tale of two economies, one better than the other

KETCHUM, Colo.—Again comes a report of two economies in a mountain resort valley, this time from the Ketchum-Sun Valley area.

"We have two types of residents," said David Patrie, outreach director for Sun Valley Economic Development, in a recent public briefing.

"We have those who derive income from outside the county. They could be trust-funders, or they could work remotely for Google. Our economy works pretty well for those folks. Then we've got people who depend on Blaine County to make a living. It's not working as well for them."

The big, overview numbers look healthy. It's in the weeds where the problem becomes apparent, and precisely so in the real estate market.

"Juiced by outside money, home prices rose much faster than local wealth," the Idaho Mountain Express explained. "The strain is showing in the labor market. Companies can't find workers at wages they can pay, and workers can't find a place to live—let alone one they can afford."

About 16 per cent of people in Blaine County are uninsured. That's higher than the state and national averages, said the Express, and higher than in the counties where Aspen, Jackson Hole, Park City, Steamboat Springs, and Breckenridge are located.

Big affordable housing project moves forward

EAGLE, Colo.—Eagle's elected officials have approved the first draft of what the Vail Daily described as the largest real estate development in the last decade. Of the 500 units in The Reserve at Hockett Gulch, 400 are to be one- and two-bedroom rental units. Some of those units will be deed restricted, available for rental only to those to those who work in Eagle County an average of 30 hours a week. The project plans call for significant density, about 16 units per acre.

A tale of two economies, one better than the other

KETCHUM, Colo.—Again comes a report of two economies in a mountain resort valley, this time from the Ketchum-Sun Valley area.

"We have two types of residents," said David Patrie, outreach director for Sun Valley Economic Development, in a recent public briefing.

"We have those who derive income from outside the county. They could be trust-funders, or they could work remotely for Google. Our economy works pretty well for those folks. Then we've got people who depend on Blaine County to make a living. It's not working as well for them."

The big, overview numbers look healthy. It's in the weeds where the problem becomes apparent, and precisely so in the real estate market.

"Juiced by outside money, home prices rose much faster than local wealth," the Idaho Mountain Express explained. "The strain is showing in the labor market. Companies can't find workers at wages they can pay, and workers can't find a place to live—let alone one they can afford."

About 16 per cent of people in Blaine County are uninsured. That's higher than the state and national averages, said the Express, and higher than in the counties where Aspen, Jackson Hole, Park City, Steamboat Springs, and Breckenridge are located.

Lodging but without the staffing needs of a hotel

JACKSON, Wyo.—Comes yet another high-end resort project, this time along a ski run at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.

The 134,000-square-foot property is to be "highly amenitized," said Rob DesLauriers, who is representing the owner of the property. He has developed two previous lodging properties at the base of the ski area. The plan is for indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa area, plus a restaurant open to the general public.

Building a luxury residential project was more appealing than a hotel, he said, because it requires less staff in a seasonal economy.

Big affordable housing project moves forward

EAGLE, Colo.—Eagle's elected officials have approved the first draft of what the Vail Daily described as the largest real estate development in the last decade. Of the 500 units in The Reserve at Hockett Gulch, 400 are to be one- and two-bedroom rental units. Some of those units will be deed restricted, available for rental only to those to those who work in Eagle County an average of 30 hours a week. The project plans call for significant density, about 16 units per acre.

Aspen leaves late to change, does this break new ground?

VAIL, Colo.— It's a queer autumn so far in Colorado's high country. The aspen leaves that nearly everywhere have started their dazzle by mid-September almost uniformly retain the deeper green of summer chlorophyll.

"It's kind of shocking to me," said Crested Butte Mayor Jim Schmidt, who observed the fall turning in Crested Butte since 1978.

Schmidt tells visitors to expect peak colours in Crested Butte between Sept. 20 and 26. On Monday, he reported by telephone, yellow was almost entirely absent.

The colour shift normally occurs a week or two earlier in Summit County than in Vail, where I lived from 1985 to 1998. In a Facebook post on Sunday, I joked that we went to the edge of the Earth in search of yellowing aspen. My joke was an allusion to the Grand Mesa, where a road goes to a point called Lands End. There, at an elevation of 3,200 metres, you can look down almost 1,800 m to the valley below.

There we did see a lone yellowing aspen tree.

Acquaintances responded to my Facebook post with observations of columbine in full bloom in early September, one at 4,000 m near Telluride and another at 3,700 m near Vail.

Aspen do not turn uniformly. From my experience, they began turning 10 days to two weeks earlier in the Winter Park area than in Vail, which is much warmer. But at Vail, in my memory, the colour shift was well underway by mid-September, peaking late in the month. For me, peak means there's still some green. I like my bananas that way, too. Early in Vail this week, the aspen forests were like bananas still on the boat.

Climate is rife with the noise of weather, with sometimes wide swings from year to year. "Average" never perfunctorily falls on a date or number. That said, we know the edges of summer have been expanding in Colorado and elsewhere. In Gunnison, retired geology professor Bruce Bartelson has been curating local temperature records. Growing season has expanded in Gunnison to 80 days lately, up from 67 days before. Most notable have been the rising night-time minimum temperatures.

In Aspen, Jim Kravitz was cautious. He's the director of the naturalist programs at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. "I'm not going to speak boldly and say we've broken new ground," he said when I called him about what he's seeing.

Kravitz does not have deep records in of aspen changing in their namesake town. He has been taking photographs in the last eight years for comparison. He has also spoken with those who have been in Aspen a long time. They tell him that the late colour change is unusual but not unique.

Many things influence when and how aspen leaves change, he pointed out, including both temperatures and moisture but also genetic variability and light. Spring hung on late this year, and then late summer was exceptionally dry.

What ensures the transformation are clear, bright days, and cold nights. They could come soon, producing change to produce the peak colours by the last weekend in September. "I'm thinking it will happen quick," he said.

Will David Moffat's rails ever reach Park City area?

CRAIG, Colo.—David Moffat never lived to see his rails stretch all the way from Denver to Salt Lake City. Now comes a proposal that would get them closer, putting the railroads within 169 kilometres of Park City.

Moffat was a banker whose fingers were everywhere in Denver as well as in the mining camps upon which the young city depended. From the earliest days Denver wanted a direct link to Salt Lake City and then California.

In 1861, just three years after the first gold strike, boosters had retained the mountain man Jim Bridger to identify a route across the steep wall of mountains. He took them across Berthoud Pass and past what later became the base of the Winter Park ski area, more or less the route of what is now U.S. 40.

For his railroad, Moffat instead chose an even higher notch in the Continental Divide, 3,535-metres Rollins Pass. The rails reached Steamboat Springs in 1908, but to go farther Moffat needed more money. He was in New York City in 1911, trying to scrounge the money to do so, when he died.

Two years later, the railroads reached Craig, and in 1928 a tunnel under the Continental Divide was completed, delivering passengers to within 90 metres of the ski lifts of what in 1938 became the Winter Park ski area. Trains were crucial to the early days of both the Winter Park and Steamboat ski areas.

Now comes a plan for furthering the rails westward from Craig. The Craig Daily Press reported that the Rio Grande Pacific Corporation has filed notice of its intention to extend the rail line 298 kilometres west to Myton, Utah. If this happens, that puts the rails 169 kilometres short of Park City.

Two routes are being considered, the lesser one costing US$5 billion.

The Seven County Infrastructure Coalition in Utah has filed notice with a federal agency that it seeks to ship crude oil, gilsonite, coal, and other mineral and agriculture products out of the Uinta Basin. Trains could also import fracturing sand, proppant, and other items needed for oil and gas production within the basin. This is southwest of Dinosaur National Monument.

A campaign contribution?

ASPEN, Colo.—Vice President Mike Pence this summer visited Aspen to raise money for the Trump-Pence re-election campaign. Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo figured he needed to provide security, but because it was a private event, not public, the Trump campaigned needed to pay: US$18,175.

The Trump campaign didn't seem to think so, so two Republicans who happened in to be in Aspen and heard about the stink quickly wrote checks for US$9,000 each.

But is that a campaign contribution or something else. Digging deep, The Aspen Times' Rick Carroll can do no more than shrug his shoulders. "As is typical in party politics, one camp believes the payments were in-kind political contributions, while the other argues they were not."

DiSalvo and another local sheriff, Lou Vallario, of Garfield County, also expressed frustration in 2016 when Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee, made a swing through Aspen to raise money for her campaign after flying into the airport at Rifle, 113 kilometres to the west.

As China says no thanks, recycling options narrow

ASPEN, Colo.—So much for good intentions. Paper and plastic no longer can be recycled at Aspen's recycling centre.

The problem seems to be a glut of such materials now that China has said it doesn't want to deal with the offal of America's affluence.

"The vast majority of plastics must be transported overseas to be recycled, and those markets have become saturated since China is no longer a viable market," a memo to the city council said.

Material recovery facilities—the name for the middlemen in this waste stream—must therefore store the paper and plastic or dump it into landfills.

Where will the Aspen recycling centre take yard waste, household metals, glass bottles, and corrugated cardboard. Also, household batteries and textiles, including clothing and shoes.

Latest discovery in Burgess shales

LAKE LOUISE, Alta.—After all these years of giving, the Burgess shales of the Rocky Mountains continue to produce new and interesting fossils. The latest, reported the Rocky Mountain Outlook, is a species described as a pair of large, egg-shaped eyes and a multi-tool head with long walking legs.

The scorpion-like creature also has several pairs of limbs that could sense, grasp, crush, cut, and chew.

This find occurred in the Marble Canyon excavation site on the British Columbia side of the Continental Divide, but relatively near Banff. The shales are famous for the exceptional preservation of the soft parts of fossils from 508 million years ago.

When Truckee's natural ice was valued commodity

TRUCKEE, Calif.—Before it became a way-station on Interstate 80 and a gateway to Lake Tahoe, Truckee was a railroad town whose products included delivery of ice.

Writing in the Sierra Sun, Judy DePuy of the Truckee-Donner Historical and Railroad Societies explained that Truckee got uncommonly cold but received far less snow than on Donner Summit, just a few kilometres away. Snow acts as an insulator, and the absence of snow produced higher quality of ice.

The ice was then shipped to the mines around Virginia City, where temperatures soared to 125 degrees in the rock. "After working for 14 minutes, miners would be allowed ice water to keep their body temperatures down, as much as 95 pounds of ice were allocated to each miner every day."

Truckee's "Mountain Ice" was also exported to San Francisco and Sacramento, and it was also used in production of lager beer. In time, the fruits and vegetables of California's Central Valley were chilled with the Truckee ice before export to distant markets.

The ice business in Truckee peaked between 1880 and 1900, and the final ice harvest occurred during the winter of 1926-27. By then, artificial methods of producing ice had been discovered.

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