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Steamboat jumping on plastic

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Boulders roll, law doesn’t

GUNNISON, Colo. — Mountain towns in Colorado, as well as others, have been busily trying to add to their all-around appeal – as well as their economies – by building whitewater parks that appeal to kayakers. But doing so involves more than manoeuvring boulders in the creek. To ensure water remains in the creek involves lawyers, and legal manoeuvring always costs money.

For example, Gunnison town officials report spending $300,000 to build the park, but the legal bill has hit $500,000, says The Denver Post.

Part of the reason for the high cost is that laws governing allocation of Colorado water originally did not see recreation as a beneficial use. Although they have been modified in recent decades, both farmers and cities fear the revisions will harm their interests.

Biomass problems heat up

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Interest is growing in Colorado and other states in the West about an evolving technology that converts trees and other vegetation into heat, electricity and other useful commodities.

Epidemics of bark beetles that, in Colorado, surpass even the previous epidemics of the 1970s and 1980s, are spurring the interest.

One potential biomass project is in Colorado’s Summit County, where the county commissioners want to invest $2 million into a plant that will burn wood chips to heat county offices as well as a hospital now under construction. The goal, in addition to reducing heating costs, is to find a way to deal with the beetle-kill trees and reduce the threat of forest fires, said Steve Hill, special projects manager for Summit County.

"Our study showed it looked feasible from a technical as well as an economic viewpoint," he told the Vail Daily.

The Vail Daily also reports interest in other places. For example, plans are afoot to heat a middle school in Leadville. It is being talked about in Grand County, where the Winter Park and Grand Lake areas are among the hardest hit in Colorado by pine beetles.

However, the Summit Daily News reports that the bio-mass project in Nederland, located west of Boulder, is a royal bio-mess. The town’s administrator, Jim Stevens, said the town, after three years, is ready to get out.

"It’s the third year into this thing, and now, it’s like, let’s just cut our losses," he told the newspaper. "We’re going back to a natural gas boiler."

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