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Talk softly and carry a small housing stick

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Only in building does the pace seem to be slower. Building permits issued by county government are up, but the dollar volume down by more than half. Construction expected at Vail may well change that. Plans call for $1 billion in redevelopment to get launched this summer.

Understanding present requires context of past

DURANGO, Colo. — Durango is known as one of those beautiful places in the West. Its history, though, is of ugly industrialization.

"The town emerged from the smoke of smelters, the dirt of the farms, and the danger and dust of the mines," notes Jonathan Thompson, writing in the Silverton Standard.

Not much of all this remains, and the towns’ railroad legacy is also threatened, he says, despite continued operation of the tourist steam locomotive. But it would be a mistake to let this smudged past be covered entirely, he argues.

"What is sad is that so many vestiges of these older times have been erased so thoroughly. Having a sense of what a place is requires knowing from whence that place came. And such knowledge is boosted by physical reminders – symbols of what life once was. The freight cars that straddle the business district of Durango are some of the few such symbols remaining in that town."

Expert warns of inferno

CANMORE, Alberta — A wildfire expert says Canmore is an inferno waiting to happen unless significant measures are taken.

The outbreak of wildfire in Canmore’s peripheral areas is "a matter of when, not if," says Stew Walkinshaw, fire manager for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, a provincial agency.

"We need to plan upfront," Wakinshaw told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. He said residents must embrace fireproof methods wholly by removing trees from their backyards, using stucco instead of cedar siding, and by other methods.

The town’s mayor, Glen Craig, said he was aware of Canmore’s exposure to fire risk long before last year’s nearby blazes, but he said the provincial government is the only one able to absorb the cost.

As well, there seems to be some dispute about wildlife habitat. Developers say provincial biologists object to their efforts to remove vegetation. However, Chris Ollenberg, manager of land development for Three Sisters, a huge project being planned, said developers have learned to use golf courses as fire breaks.