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MOUNTAIN NEWS: Crested Butte plans to charge skinners

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The diversion proposed by Denver would boost its take of water from the Fraser Valley to 80 per cent. But for that to happen, the city needs more storage, to be achieved with expansion of Gross Reservoir, west of Boulder, a college town in the Denver metro area.

Boulder County commissioners, who must give the dam expansion a permit, refused last week, pending a decision on exactly what Denver will do to mitigate the impacts of its added diversions from the Winter Park area.

"We hear you loud and clear about the Western Slope and the issues with the Colorado River," said Cindy Domenico, chair of the Boulder County commissioners.

Of course, Boulder County gets much of its water from the Western Slope, too.

The final resolution of this story will likely be told when terms of mitigation for this project are announced by the federal permitting agency, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Regulating chopper use in Aspen-Snowmass area

ASPEN, Colo. — Pitkin County commissioners are mulling how to regulate use of helicopters for commercial flying in unincorporated areas.

The Aspen Times reports that commissioners are looking at a simple process for permitting of low-impact photo shoots and film products. County planners estimate that four or five such shoots occur annually.

For now, at least, the commissioners aren't touching regulations that would govern the use of drones for use in photographing real estate being marketed for sale.

BIOMASS PLANTS STILL A TOUGH NUT IN WEST

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Using biomass to create electricity has proven very difficult in mountain towns of the West. Despite the enormous numbers of dead and drying trees, commercial developers have found obstacles at every turn.

In the Tahoe Basin, Placer County has been working for several years to develop the Cabin Creek Biomass Energy Facility. The facility, if completed, would draw wood from a 48-kilometre radius to create two megawatts of electricity.

The U.S. Forest Service supports the project, arguing that it would reduce the wood in the forests, thereby lessening the risk of major wildfires.

But not so fast, says the Center for Biological Diversity. "Our main concerns have to do with proper accounting of greenhouse gas emissions from biomass combustion," says senior staff attorney Kevin Bundy.

"We need to get away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible — but a lot of recent science is showing that biomass power generation can be very intensive in terms of greenhouse gas pollution," he adds. "My interest is primarily in trying to ensure that biomass carbon accounting is done as accurately as possible so that local communities can make informed decisions rather than just rely on potentially inaccurate assumptions."