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Mountain News: Brittle and artificial, like Whistler?



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Free access once again

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Although people tend to think of Colorado’s highest mountains as all being public lands, that’s hardly the case. Several of the 14,000-foot peaks are privately owned, while at others the trails commonly used to reach the peaks are on private land.

Such was the case in a trio of 14ers near Telluride, where a landowner had blocked access for the last several years across his 220 acres, which happens to include the popular Silver Pick Trail that accesses Mount Wilson, El Diente and Wilson Peak. Last year he charged hikers $100 to cross the property, but had shut off access entirely this summer.

The quandary was resolved when a consortium of interests led by the Trust for Public Land purchased the property. The Telluride Foundation, which contributed $150,000, had valued the property at $3 million, or $136,000 an acre.

The owner, Rusty Nichols had tried to get the Forest Service to trade him more easily developed land, but the Forest Service — which had been loudly criticized for being too generous in previous land exchanges near Telluride — firmly said no. Nichols had also talked about resuming mining operations on the land, but had no local authority to do so.


Officer upset about killing bruins

ASPEN, Colo. – A game warden, forced to kill a bear after it had repeatedly broken into a school near Aspen, was not in the least bit happy about the deed. “I have been turned into the executioner,” he told The Aspen Times.

This is the second bear killed this summer by the state wildlife officer, Kevin Wright, although it is not expected to be the last.

He maintains that bears are breaking into buildings around Aspen because they have come to associate humans with food — a dangerous connection in a year in which the natural food sources are not present. “People need to take some responsibility for where they live.”

Aspen and neighbouring Snowmass were among the first towns in Colorado to insist that people place their garbage in bear-proof containers. However, there have been questions as to how well the laws have been enforced.

Whether the school in this particular incident had any responsibility was not clear. The director of the last 24 years, Becky Helmus, said the school has long had bear-proof garbage containers, and staff and students are careful about food and garbage.