By Allen Best
John Denver peak on Mt. Sopris?
CARBONDALE, Colo. – Mt. Sopris, although far from the highest peak in Colorado, is one of its most sublime. There’s a neat symmetry to its broad shoulders, and the 7,000 feet of vertical relief from the valley floor makes it seem much higher than its 12,965-foot elevation, 668th highest in Colorado.
College professor J.P. McDaniel thinks a portion of the twin-summited mountain should be named after late singer John Denver, who died in 1997.
“I didn’t want just any mountain,” said J.P. McDaniel, a college professor who has a doctorate in ecopsychology, which seeks to link ecology and psychology. She told the Aspen Times that Sopris is a fitting mountain not just because of its beauty and magnificence, but also because it overlooks 1,000 acres the singer helped preserve.
In 1972, Denver composed his signature song, “Rocky Mountain High,” at a lake located on a shoulder of the mountain.
Sopris has two summits at identical elevations a half-mile apart. McDaniel proposes to name just the eastern summit after Denver. The website for proponents of the change is www.johndenver.com.
Chinese in Vail schools
AVON, Colo. – In August, 100 students at Battle Mountain High School are scheduled to begin lessons in Mandarin, the official language of the People’s Republic of China.
A branch of the Chinese government called the Confucius Institute sponsors Mandarin instruction in American schools and colleges. The cost of the teacher at Battle Mountain will run $60,000, when both salary and benefits are tabulated. The Chinese government picks up the largest share, reports the Vail Daily.
Another local school, Eagle Valley High School, expects 60 students to study Chinese when instruction begins next year.
Greenhouse feasibility study
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – The locovore food movement continues to perk along, its adherents convinced we must abandon our chemically intensive production of food that is then shipped an average of 1,300 miles to consumer.
Two groups, Planet Yampa and Community Agriculture Alliance, have won a $50,000 federal grant to study whether it would be feasible to build 12 greenhouses in the Steamboat Springs-Craig area. The vision is to use hydroponics, or water-growing techniques, powered by clean energy sources, to produce fruits and vegetables.
All of this is at elevations of 6,000 to 7,000 feet.
Pagosa studies geothermal
PAGOSA SPRINGS, Colo. – A study has been authorized to better understand the extent of the geothermal resource at Pagosa Springs. The hot water is already tapped for use in an outdoor pool and spa, The Springs Resort, and to heat a portion of the downtown district.
The new study, funded by $30,000 from Pagosa Springs and Archuleta County, seeks to better understand whether there’s enough hot water underground to heat greenhouses, grow fish, and perhaps expand the existing space-heating system, reports the Pagosa Sun.
Banff to hop on bikes
BANFF, Alberta – The town council in Banff has thrown its support behind a new road cycling event in Banff National Park planned for next year. GranFondo Canada hosts similar road rides at Whistler and, this year, in Kananaskis Country. The proposed race would cover 145 kilometres and would attract 1,500 riders in its first year, building to upwards of 5,000, organizers say.
Bikers, dogs barred from trail
BANFF, Alberta – Dogs and mountain bikers are banned this summer from a shoreline trail along Lake Minnewanka, located in Banff National Park.
Hikers will still be allowed, but this year they will be required to take bear spray. They had previously been required to travel in tightly-spaced groups no smaller than four people.
Provoking the new restrictions were three or four surprise grizzly bear encounters with cyclists in the past few years, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook. All involved female bears with cubs.
Why ban mountain bikers altogether while leaving hikers continued freedom? Steve Michel, the human-wildlife conflict specialist at Banff, explained that bicycles travel more rapidly than hikers, thus elevating the potential for a surprise encounter.
What will replace pine forests?
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – There’s been little talk lately about the bark beetle epidemic that is expected to kill up to 90 percent of lodgepole pine forests in Colorado. Maybe that’s because people are accustomed to the sight of rusty red and then gray forests.
But what will come next? Since the epidemic began in1996, “next” is already arriving in many places of northern Colorado, in the area around Winter Park, Summit County and Vail.
And the answer, says Ph.D. candidate Kristen Pelz of Colorado State University, is that there is no one thing. She arrives at that vague answer after having studied the transitions after a bark beetle epidemic in the early 1980s in Colorado.
“Understanding the future forest condition has a lot of variables on whether the seed germinates and whether trees grow,” she said recently at a luncheon covered by the Summit Daily News. “There’s not a simple answer.”
In some areas, meadows have formed where lodgepole pine forests once were. Other areas have seen conifers.
The bottom line: more diversity in species once this outbreak calms, trees are removed or the dead trees simply fall down, as is now starting to occur.
Also pertinent may be wildfire. While there’s no more danger of fire now with the standing dead trees than there is with a green forest, that will change as the trees fall. If the deadfall burns, the intense heat could potentially sterilize the soil or make it hydrophobic, meaning not much will grow for a long time. But even if there is no fire, the thicket of logs could prevent much from happening.
Aspen sales accelerate
ASPEN, Colo. – Aspen’s real estate market continues to recover, especially at the high end. That said, those properties that are moving typically are discounted 10 to 15 percent, some as much as 20 percent.
Andrew Ernemann of B.J. Adams & Co. tells The Aspen Times that one of every four sales of single-family homes in Aspen so far this year has been for $10 million or more. He reports a 51 percent increase in transactions during the first half of this year and a 44 percent increase in dollar volume as compared with the first half of 2010.
Sales activity at Snowmass Village, a few miles away, lags that of Aspen by 6 to 12 months, Ernemann estimated.
A further lag effect is noted farther away in Basalt. The rate of foreclosures this year there and in Carbondale and Glenwood Springs is nearly at the same pace as last year, the Times reports.
Snow slows outdoorsmen
JACKSON, Wyo. – If much less so than in June, rivers remain high and the high mountains still patched with expanses of snow. And that’s a problem for any number of outfitters and guides who rely upon a different seasonal sequence.
“For us being a fishing business, people aren’t walking in the store if they can’t fish,” said Rob Parkins, guide at Westbank Anglers, to the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
From Colorado comes the same complaint. “A lot of guys are working on their golf game,” said Dave Johnson, who owns the Crystal Fly Shop in Carbondale, west of Aspen.
The Aspen Times reports that snow and high-water of creeks may preclude hikes on high-country trails for several more weeks.
For the motorized crowd, life is no better. Forest Service Rangers say many roads contain snow, water or mud, and often all three.
For rafters, it’s a mixed bag. In Wyoming, a rafting guide says tourists have been canceling trips because boats have been capsizing.