Mountain News 

Development fees may be cut

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. - The national debate about how to stimulate the economy is playing out in Mammoth Lakes, where town officials are considering whether to further cut fees assessed on new development in order to nudge the carpenters, masons and others back to work.

Four types of fees are on the table, reports The Sheet , and some of them have already been curtailed. The cuts parallel those in broader Mono County.

Condominiums that were selling for $1,000 a square foot just three or four years ago are now selling for $400 per square foot. And the construction price is $450 a square foot, a local real estate agent said.

But will slashing government fees alone put the construction industry back to work? That's the big question, and at least one city council member questions whether these are the right carrots to dangle. "Are the fees the tipping point? Builders I have spoken with say yes, but I want a firmer handle (on the idea)," said Rick Wood.


Improved trails draw bikers

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo. - The slopes of Snowmass are alive with mountain bikers this year, the result of a stepped-up development of mountain bike trails.

At the end of the last ski season, the Aspen Skiing Co., the operator of Snowmass, got approval from the Forest Service to build several new mountain biking trails.

Gravity Logic, the company that designed Whistler's mountain bike terrain park, was hired to design the trails. The same firm is designing expanded offerings on the slopes of Steamboat.

Snow still blocking roads

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - Going into August, some of the more formidable snowbanks on mountain roads of the West still block roads.

"If you've witnessed more August snow than what we have in 2011, you've been around for a very long time," writes Tom Ross in Steamboat Today . He's been around Steamboat since about 1978.

Ross reported water levels are now just falling and that some creeks in the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness Area can be forded safely, while snow continues to crowd some high-country lakes.

The road across Buffalo Pass remained blocked by two snowbanks going into August. Located north of Steamboat, the snow-measuring site there perennially has Colorado's deepest snowpack.

From Crested Butte, the road to the old mining town of Schofield is usually blocked well into July. This year, entering the second week of August, it's still blocked.

Dad saves daughter from cougar


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