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Mountain News: Canary chirps but none too loudly

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Meanwhile, work is now starting on a project that will lessen but not eliminate an existing bottleneck. Widening of the Twin Tunnels, located 30 miles west of Denver, near the town of Idaho Springs, had been estimated to cost $60 million. The project is now being budgeted for $100 million.

Snow crummy, but sales just fine

ASPEN, Colo. — Snow was crummy last winter in Colorado, including at Snowmass, the Aspen Skiing Co.'s primary property. But guess what, the ski company still managed to increase revenue.

Because the ski company uses U.S. Forest Service land, it is required to pay fees based on those revenues. The Aspen Daily News reports that the company paid $1.2 million in fees for revenue derived last summer and winter. That's the most in the last seven years, surpassing even a year of epic snow storms.

Dave Perry, the senior vice president of the mountain division for Aspen Skiing, told the newspaper that the revenue increase can be attributed to strong destination visitor numbers. In turn, there was strong revenue from ski school and on-mountain restaurant operations.

Across the 11 ski areas in the White River National Forest, which also includes Vail and Breckenridge, ski areas paid the Forest Service $12.5 million for operations last winter and summer. Skier numbers were down — but revenues were not.

The moral of the story: snow matters, but it's not everything.

Colorado River-front property to stay open

EAGLE, Colo. — Thanks to the gambling instincts of Coloradans, the public will have more places along the Colorado River to get their feet wet without infringing on private property.

With a $3.9 million grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, the agency that allocates lottery proceeds, Eagle County Open Space purchased a conservation easement on a 1,000 acre ranch that straddles the Colorado River. This is northeast of Glenwood Canyon, or an hour's drive from Vail.

Along with another acquisition, 3.7 miles of Colorado River frontage will be protected, according to a press release from Eagle County.

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