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Mountain News: Goodtimes takes up skiing at 63

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Out-of-box pipeline panned

JACKSON, Wyo. - Three years ago, Aaron Million announced his audacious out-of-the-box vision for water supplies along Colorado's Front Range. In recent weeks, Wyoming residents have had their own choice of words for the idea, few of them complimentary.

As was first reported in Colorado Biz Magazine in 2006, Million proposed to build a giant pipeline from the Flaming Gorge Reservoir, which straddles the Utah-Wyoming border, to deliver water to cities from Fort Collins to Pueblo, a corridor now home to more than 4 million people.

The core assumption for Million's idea is that water remains available to Colorado under the 1922 compact governing the seven-state Colorado River Basin. Instead of diverting additional water from headwater streams near Winter Park, Breckenridge, and Vail, he argues, it's better to go to Flaming Gorge, which holds back the Green River.

The river originates in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, not far from Jackson Hole. However, Jackson Hole is drained by the Snake River, a tributary to the Columbia River.

Even at the outset, Million heard plenty of opposition from within Colorado. But now he needs federal government approval, both because he intends to cross federal land with his pipeline and also because the federal government administers Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

In parallel editorials, both the Jackson Hole News & Guide and the New York Times argue that diverting water from Flaming Gorge Reservoir could result in more dams upstream on the Green River, with direct repercussions to wildlife as well as fishing opportunities.

"Clearly, it is time to recognize rivers for what they are," says the newspaper in Wyoming. "Today, there is little legal right for in-stream flows, little recognition that rivers have value in and of themselves. Million's project should be taken as a call to arms, to make such recognition a reality."

High-end project stakes claim

KETCHUM, Idaho - An irony in the West during the last 150 years has to do with elevation. In the mining era, people made their fortunes and then headed to lower elevations. Now, people make fortunes and want to move to higher elevations.

All of this is prominently on display in a story out of Idaho's Wood River Valley. Before the Sun Valley ski area came along, Ketchum and the Wood River Valley were a centre for mines. The Triumph, Independent and North Star were among the silver mines that began operations in the 1880s and continued until after World War II.

Now, reports the Idaho Mountain Express, a developer hopes to transform the 848-acres of mining properties into an upscale neighbourhood. DeNovo Properties, which is based in Chicago and Indianapolis, envisions 15 home sites. The company claims the high-end homes would also be the highest elevation residential area in the Sun Valley-Ketchum area.

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