By Allen Best
Anglers like Ike
FRASER, Colo. – Segments of highway get named after people. Why not rivers?
That’s the intention in the Fraser Valley, which includes the Winter Park ski area. It’s the closest valley of the water-rich Colorado River accessible to metropolitan Denver, which is located on the more arid lee side of the Rocky Mountains. Beginning in 1936, Denver began diverting water – and it hopes to tap even more, up to 80 percent of the river’s annual flows.
Local fishing groups continue to object. As part of their campaign, they now propose to name a two-mile segment of the Fraser River after former U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower. It would be called the Eisenhower Memorial Reach.
“These are presidential waters, plain and simple,” says Kirk Klancke, from the local chapter of Trout Unlimited.
Eisenhower fished the Fraser River and tributary creeks from 1952 to 1955, before he suffered a heart attack. Because his wife, Mamie, was originally from Denver, they vacationed there.
The designation, if approved by the Colorado General Assembly, would “draw attention to the fact that the Fraser River is a pristine environment, pristine enough to have drawn the leader of the free world back in the ‘50s,” Klancke told the Sky-Hi News.
Cow carcasses conundrum
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – What now, dead cows? That’s the question the Forest Service is being asked as it considers the plight of frozen cattle that were found in a cabin near treeline, adjacent to the Conundrum Hot Springs.
At 11,200-feet in elevation, Conundrum is said to be the highest-elevation hot springs in North America. It’s 9 miles from Crested Butte and about the same distance from a trail originating on the outskirts of Aspen. In March, two cadets from the U.S. Air Force Academy snowshoed into the springs and found six dead cows. A Forest Service team that got to the site last week found several more.
The working hypothesis is that the cattle wandered away last fall from a herd grazing above Crested Butte and took shelter in the cabin from an early storm. Somehow, the door closed, and the cattle couldn’t figure how to get out.
As people start trekking into the hot springs, the cattle will be moldering, creating a sanitation issue. Plus, there’s a strong possibility that black bears, an omnivorous species, will be drawn to the putrid smells for easy meals.
Because the cabin is remote and within a designated wilderness area, there’s no easy way to remove the carcasses. Scott Snelson, the district ranger for the Forest Service in Aspen, told National Public Radio last week that options include creating a big bonfire or exploding the cabin and its contents.
Corporate travel on rise
AVON, Colo. – Corporate and business travelers are returning to the resorts of the Vail and Beaver Creek area in greater numbers, reports the Vail Daily.
“Not only are the corporate meetings coming back, but so are the incentive trips, the corporate rewards,” said Bob Trotter, general manager of the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa.
That hotel opened just as the financial meltdown was occurring in 2008. For the first few years, group business was split between corporate travel and social affairs such as weddings. Now corporate gatherings have edged to 60 percent of all group sales.
The Vail Valley Partnership reports a 14 percent increase in corporate travel year over year.
Charges filed in dog-killing case
WHISTLER, B.C. – Two years after he killed an estimated 54 sled dogs that he could no longer keep, Bob Fawcett has been charged with animal cruelty by provincial officials in British Columbia.
Fawcett was general manager and part owner of a Whistler-based dog-sled touring company. In April 2010, following the Winter Olympics, when business was lighter than had been hoped, Fawcett told the other owners that he had to kill the dogs because of quality of life issues.
He then killed the dogs in a macabre two-day session. He had tried, although perhaps not very hard, to get the dogs adopted.
Months later, he sought, and obtained, government aide for a disabling case of post-traumatic stress.
Owners of sled dogs in British Columbia are allowed to kill unneeded dogs, a process euphemistically called “cull.” In this case, all were healthy. Permissible is killing by a veterinarian or, if no vet is available, then by a single shot fired away from all other animals.
The Vancouver Sun relates that Fawcett, in a posting on a website for people suffering post-traumatic stress disorder, described how the panicked animals were shot or had their throats slit before being dumped in a mass grave. In his application for workers’ compensation he stated that he had to wrestle the dogs to ground then put his foot on their necks and shoot them execution style. He sometimes shot the dogs as they were running away.
Fawcett said he was complying with an order from owners of the sled-dog touring operation. The owner has denied that allegation.
As a result of the case, new regulations were adopted. Sled-dog operators can continue to kill healthy dogs, but only after efforts have been made to find homes, reports Whistler’s Pique.
Bracing for drought
GRANBY, Colo. – Records continue to topple at the headwaters of the Colorado River and its tributaries, as The Colorado River Basin has its lowest snowpack recorded in the last 45 years.
On Lake Granby, a reservoir near the river headwaters created for transmountain diversion, the ice had cleared by April 10. That’s earlier than even the warmer, droughtier years of the last decade, 2002 and 2004 being the most memorable.
Aspen has approved regulations that, if the drought persists into summer, will allow city officials to impose surcharges of 175 to 200 percent on customers who continue to use high volumes of water.
The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that Routt County commissioners have banned open fires, including the smoking of cigarettes in the open, except in special circumstances.
Average temperatures in the Vail area during March were 4 to 6 degrees higher than average, launching the spring snowmelt a month early.
So far this year, weather is tracking as even hotter and drier than 2002. That year ended up as one of the driest in centuries, helping draw down Lake Powell to levels form which it hasn’t fully recovered.
Last year was phenomenally wet, so reservoirs are full in Colorado and the soil remains more saturated than was the case in 2002.
Composting toilets in Aspen
ASPEN, Colo. – What do you do when you have the need for 40,000 to 50,000 trips to the bathroom each year at a very public location?
At Aspen’s Rio Grande Park, the answer lies in composting toilets. They will cost $400,000, enough to raise eyebrows even in Aspen. But that’s no more than laying a new sewage line.
Human waste shrinks to 20 percent of the original volume, thanks to bacteria used in the composting process. The vaults can be pumped just once every 12 to 14 months, producing a product that can be sold to landscapers.