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MOUNTAIN NEWS: Crested Butte plans to charge skinners

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To the environmental camp, this represented a victory. To the developer and the regional regulatory agency, it showed they did most everything right, with nothing that can't now be fixed.

When should the lost be billed for rescues?

JACKSON, Wyo. — The state representative from Jackson Hole in the Wyoming Legislature has introduced a bill that would allow county governments to charge search and rescue victims.

Jim Whalen, the sheriff of Teton County, told the Jackson Hole News&Guide that, if granted the authority, he would use it sparingly.

"We don't want people to not call because they're worried about getting a bill. We don't want people to wait until the 11th hour to call because they're worried about the cost," he said.

Mostly, he sympathizes with the victims of his department's rescues. "In between 90 and 95 per cent of cases, stuff just happens, and people just legitimately need help. It seems to me the ones we're hoping to target are those who throw caution to the wind," he said.

Spurring the proposed legislation was a case last winter in which a group of snowmobilers needed to be rescued. The circumstances of the rescue were not reported, but Whalen clearly believes they deserved to get dunned for the cost, which he estimated was $13,000.

"I don't want them to think they could come up here and do any old thing they wanted because we'd come and get them," he told the News&Guide. "Rescuers do risk their lives every time they go out."

Sucking sounds gets louder at Winter Park

WINTER PARK, Colo. — Denver Water continues its efforts to expand diversion of water from the Fraser Valley, where Winter Park is located. Given the long history of transmountain diversions in Colorado, it will likely succeed in its ambitions to build a larger straw. Still to be revealed are the terms.

Diversions from the valley began in 1936, about the time that organized skiing began at Winter Park, and by one account they now take 60 per cent of the native flows of the Fraser River, a tributary to the Colorado River. Together, with diversions from the Breckenridge area, they allowed Denver and its suburbs to grow rapidly after World War II.

But the drought of 2002, by various measurements the worst in several hundred years, exposed the limitations of Denver's existing water-delivery system. Denver and its customers, altogether 1.1 million people, reduced water use by an average 30 per cent, but still some areas of metro Denver nearly went dry.

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