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Mountain News: Solitude ski area embraced



PARK CITY, Utah — Two ski areas on the flanks of the Wasatch Range now have common ownership. Deer Valley, located on the east side of the range, has now formally purchased Solitude Mountain Resort, located on the west side.

Deer Valley general manager Bob Wheaton tells the Park Record that his company plans to invest $6 to $7 million into upgrades at Solitude, most of that in a high-speed detachable quad that will replace a fixed-grip two-seater.

Solitude already had a shared ski pass with Brighton, and that arrangement will continue. Now, however, the pass will be expanded to include Deer Valley.

Mt. Bachelor has first fatality in seven years

BEND, Ore. — A Bend man died after hitting a tree on Mt. Bachelor, the first fatality at Bachelor in seven years. The victim was wearing a helmet, as had most of the victims who died at Bachelor since the turn of the century, noted the Bend Bulletin.

The newspaper cited a report last October of the National Ski Areas Association that an average of 39 people have died while skiing or snowboarding at ski areas in the United States from 2004 to 2014.

Post-legal pot: Not much has changed

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — With well more than a year of recreational marijuana sales, Colorado continues to be in the national spotlight regarding what Gov. John Hickenlooper called this great social experiment.

Karn Stiegelmeier, a Summit County commissioner, tells the Summit Daily News that relatively little has changed for most people.

"People want to know what's happening (and) what's going on. Once you talk to them for awhile or they actually come visit, they say, 'It's really not that different. It's not that big of a deal. People were doing this 30 years ago and it's not overwhelming.'"

That's also the impression of Shannon Haynes, the police chief in Breckenridge. "I think there's a big misconception on the part of guests," she said. "They have this perception that everybody in Colorado is smoking weed, and if you come to Breck, you'll stand out on Blue River Plaza and every person will have a joint in their hand."

That's not how it is, she went on to say. "We've allowed the folks who want to come here and partake in a legal way that doesn't interfere with the folks who don't."

She did note, however, a spike in emergency room visits by people who ingested too much THC in the form of edibles.

But the local officials also told the Summit DailyNews that they thought Colorado should proceed cautiously.

"In one year's time, I don't think we have still found all the trip wires," said Wendy Wolfe, a councilwoman in Breckenridge. I think the business model itself will undergo changes... I think that gives us all the reason to continue going slowly, keep thinking about this."

One of the thorniest issues, several of the officials said, was defining what is public. Cannabis cannot be consumed in public. "What if it's right next to somebody else's deck who doesn't want that smoke?" said Stiegelmeier.

But, added another official, that's true for a lot of things.

Cloud-seeders make pitches for funding

HAILEY, Idaho — If not the whole answer to snow-short winters, might cloud-seeding at least help on the margins?

That's the argument being made in both Idaho and Nevada during recent weeks.

In Hailey, representatives of Idaho Power Co., an electrical utility, and a local irrigation ditch company made the case for a new cloud-seeding program to induce snow in the mountains about 48 kilometres west of Ketchum and Sun Valley.

"This is not a cure for drought, but part of a long-term water management plan," said Shaun Parkinson, from Idaho Power. The company would help to generate more electricity at dams if, as the company expects, snowfall could be augmented by 10 per cent. The company already seeds clouds in the Payette River Basin between Boise and McCall.

The Big Wood Canal Co. says that adding 100,000 acre-feet of water to the mountain snowpack would double the days that irrigating water would be available to farmers in the Snake River Plain downstream from Sun Valley.

The irrigators and the power company called the meeting at Hailey, located 32 kilometres downstream from the ski slopes, because they want to get $180,000 in local funding for the program.