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Mountain News: Tourism must adapt

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Fire potential pondered

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. – Summit County residents continue to talk about what it’s like to be living cheek by jowl with nature, specifically the trees that are fast dying as the result of a fungus borne by bark beetles.

Research by economist Mike Retzlaff suggests that a big fire in the wildland-urban interface could destroy so many homes that local water and sanitation districts, which depend primarily on sales tax, could go out of business.

The study, notes the Summit Daily News, is being used to argue for greater federal funding, to thin and remove trees in the interface areas. The argument is that it will be much less expensive to spend money for forest treatments in advance than enormous expenses in the wake of a fire.

But Jonathan Bradley, a firefighter from a local fire district, recently was engaged in fighting fires in California. He says that Summit County would benefit from restrictions on what kind of building will be allowed near forested areas. He also notes that those buildings in California that survived were those that used less flammable materials.

 

A-Basin has lots of new

ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colo. – Arapahoe Basin is among the oldest ski areas in Colorado. Located near Loveland Pass, about 65 miles west of Denver, it was opened in 1946 and remained relatively little changed for most of the next 60 years.

But after being sold first to Vail Resorts and then Dundee Realty about 10 years ago, changes have started coming rapidly. There’s a new parking lot, a new quad lift, a new mid-mountain restaurant and, on the far side of the mountain, a new expansion area called Montezuma Bowl, soon to open.

There’s also new snowmaking, which several times allowed Arapahoe Basin to be the first to open and the last to close (at least in Colorado). Skier numbers are also flying high now, but general manager Alan Henceroth tells the Summit Daily News that the ski area will seem less crowded than before, due to the greater dispersion.

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