Mountain News 

Much ado about who goes where

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - Ski towns are like family, but as in many families, plenty of bickering goes on.

Take Crested Butte. Everybody loves the b.c. - the backcountry, that is. But as has been occurring now for 15 years or more, some skiers and snowboarders are buying snowmobiles to eliminate the sweat and get dibs on the choice backcountry slopes.

One local skier recently complained about planning to ski the Slate River, north of Crested Butte, and encountering seven snowmobiles while strapping skins onto her skis.

"I almost threw up from the smell. I turned around and left," said Melanie Rees.

"My opinion - turns should be earned. If you don't want to earn them, ride lifts. I don't understand how anyone could consider themselves to be an environmentalist if they use snowmobiles," she said.

In Crested Butte a decade ago, there was also some public squabbling as skiers complained about snowshoers messing up their trails.

Now, in Park City comes news of grousing among users of an area called Round Valley. The open-space areas have a groomed track, and slow skiers are being annoyed by fast skiers, and some skiers are cranky about people walking, reports The Park Record .

And then there are the dog-walkers, and everybody gets annoyed by those who don't pick up their dogs' doo. Much ado about nothing? Not with hundreds of dogs running around on any given day.


Time for new environmentalism ?

ASPEN, Colo. - How much of an emergency is the climate? That's the question at hundreds of sites across the West now as renewable energy projects bump up against environmental considerations.

Consider Aspen, which began operating a hydro plant in 1893, becoming one of the first cities to have electrified streetlights. Then, in 1958, it abandoned the small hydroelectric plant on Castle Creek, as power produced by coal-fired plants and the big dams of the West was slightly cheaper.

Several years ago, city officials began pushing to reinstall a plant. The 1.2-megawatt plant would deliver about eight per cent of the power supplied by the city's utility department. Stated another way, it would deliver about one-sixth of all the power used by the Aspen Skiing Co. to run its four ski areas, including lodges and restaurants.

But it hasn't been easy. Most thorny have been objections from people with homes along Castle Creek, whose waters would be diverted to generate the electricity, before being released downstream. Some local environmentalists warn of damage to fish.

Writing in The Aspen Times , energy and climate activists Randy Udall and Auden Schendler argue that the threat has been overblown. "We are not talking about Glen Canyon Dam here or mountain top mining," they said. "This run-of-the-river project has been studied nigh unto exhaustion, and the robust conclusion is that it's environmentally sound."

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