By Allen Best
Drug cops don’t trust locals
ASPEN, Colo. – The CIA didn’t quite trust the Pakistani Army, and neither did the drug agents confide in the Aspen cops before they swooped in to make a big cocaine bust.
Aspen, and particularly Pitkin County, has long been known as a place where cops were willing to look the other way. Former Sheriff Bob Braudis clearly looked the other way when his buddy and neighbor, the late writer Hunter S. Thompson, ingested, and he also was clear that he had no intention of enforcing state and federal drug laws to the letter.
In this case, drug agents said they didn’t trust sharing their plans to bust five Aspen residents involved in a major smuggling ring with the local law-enforcement agencies.
“Frankly, based on our investigation, we had revealed close ties between the current sheriff and several of the targets who were arrested,” said Jim Schrant, the Drug Enforcement Administration special agent.
The Aspen Times noted that two of the five defendants had together contributed $175 of the total $40,000 the sheriff collected for his campaign.
Sheet observation: And that doesn’t provide immunity?
DiSalvo described them as “acquaintances” and nothing more. He likened the relationships to that of Sheriff Andy Griffith, of the 1960s TV fame, knowing Ernest T. Bass and Otis, the Mayberry town drunk.
“In Aspen, I think there’s 2 degrees of separation between most people, 3 degrees tops,” he said. “It’s inevitable that a good guy is going to cross paths with bad people every once in a while.”
In Denver, media also noted that most of the suspects were in their 60s.
Sow attack danger overstated
CANMORE, Alberta – Ask Mammoth’s Wildlife Expert Steve Searles and he’ll tell you that by most measures, attacks by black bears aimed at humans are exceedingly rare. But, according to bear expert Stephen Herrero, contrary to popular accounts, male black bears were involved in 92 percent of the 59 fatal predatory incidents studied in North America between 1990 and 2009.
Herrero’s research was published in the Journal of Wildlife Management.
“That most fatal black bear attacks were predatory and were carried out by one bear shows that females with young are not the most dangerous black bears,” Herrero told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.
“Females select habitat and behave to support security. On the other hand, male black bears typically have large home ranges, exposing those bears to more risks because of more potential for interactions with people.”
Herrero said a key question is why black bears don’t attack people more often. A 100-pound black bear is a “pretty good match” for a 200-pound human, he noted.
“The ones that have tried have come up against a much more aggressive species: homo sapiens,” he said. “Any bears that have this tendency have been eliminated from the population.”
Air operator looks internationally
GYPSUM, Colo. – For many years, there have been hopes that the Eagle County Regional Airport —better known as Vail/Eagle to pilots — will become an international airport. But while a customs agent working part-time handled 400 private and charter flights last year, the cost of an expanded customs operation was estimated at $5 million annually.
But now it appears that the cost of a full-fledged customs station would only cost $2.5 to $3 million, according to the Vail Daily. The potential market consists primarily of private and charter flights from Canada and Mexico. Paul Gordon, general manager of the Vail Valley Jet Center, reports ambitions to have the full-service customs facility in place by the time that Beaver Creek hosts the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships.
Vail skiers income at $200,000+
BROOMFIELD, Colo. – How important is good snow to a ski area? Important enough that ski companies like Vail Resorts invest heavily in snowmaking, but ultimately the economy matters much more, says chief executive Rob Katz.
Vail made $807 million in resort revenue, which includes lift tickets, ski lessons, lodging, dining and other revenue streams, compared to $71 million in real estate, in 2010, reports the Vail Daily, citing a presentation by Katz and chief financial officer Jeff Jones.
Katz also pointed to the success of the season pass sales, most famously the Epic Pass. Lift ticket sales accounted for 35 percent of revenues in 2010.
More than one-third of that shows up before most of the ski season has occurred, according to the report, thus mitigating the risk of poor snow.
For Vail Resorts altogether, average household income of guests exceeds $200,000, and at Beaver Creek it exceeds $300,000.
Even broader across the ski industry, only 19 percent of skiers report household income at or above $200,000.
Katz presents Vail’s six ski areas – four in Colorado, and two in California – as being among a “very limited set of high-end destination ski resorts” in North America.
Quinoa does well at high altitude
OURAY, Colo. – The idea of growing quinoa seems to be catching a buzz in the high country of Colorado. In November, when Gov.-elect John Hickenlooper held meetings around the state about economic development, one suggestion at a meeting in Frisco was to foster the growth of quinoa in nearby areas.
Now, the same idea is being discussed in the Ouray-Telluride area. The Telluride Watch reports that an informal group of growers last year tried growing the grain from Peru at various locations.
Their results: quinoa (KEEN-wa) does best at elevations of between 7,000 and 9,000 feet, because it prefers cooler temperatures. At 90, it’s just too hot. But on a 9,000-foot mesa above Telluride, it did very well indeed.
Paid parking causing heartburn
WHISTLER, B.C. – Paid parking in lots that were previously free has been causing heartburn aplenty in Whistler. Municipal officials have set the daily rate at $13.50, hoping to raise money to pay for the land.
Pique Newsmagazine reports a Facebook page devoted to opposition that now has 750 friends. Among those opposed is the local chamber of commerce, which cites the depressed global economy and other grievances for why such parking rates are unjustified.