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Stars aligning for record winter in Colorado

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One footnote on Beaver Creek is this: It was the most recent major ski resort built on federal lands in the United States, at least until last year. There were small ski resorts built on private and even federal lands, but no major resorts. Idaho’s Tamarack opened last year with some dimensions of a major resort. It is located on state lands.

More ‘backcountry light’ sought

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — The Keystone ski area continues to expand what is being called the "backcountry light" ski experience.

Last winter Keystone began ferrying customers by Sno-cat into two bowls, called Erickson and Bergman, that are located above timberline. As a business proposition, it’s paying off for Keystone. Demand is not high, but neither is the cost.

Keystone wants to expand on the concept, adding 276 more acres of above-timberline terrain farther to the south on Bear and Independence mountains. This provides skiing around the top of Jones Gulch.

Chuck Tolton, Keystone’s director of mountain operations, told the Summit Daily News that he does not foresee erecting lifts to service this above-timberline bowl skiing for at least five to seven years. There is, he said, insufficient business to justify the cost.

In this above-timberline expansion, Keystone is inching toward what has been talked about for more than 30 years. Keystone, when it opened in 1972, had hoped to build a major downhill course on Independence Mountain for the Olympics that were to be held in 1976. (Vail Associates, as noted above, had different ideas). In more recent years, Keystone has talked about expanding into Jones Gulch.

However, Jones Gulch is considered a wildlife corridor, potentially of great value to Canada lynx that now frequent the area. While federal wildlife and land officials are still not certain about just how important the corridor is for lynx, Keystone is skirting the issue by staying high, above the trees. "We had very carefully drawn a boundary," Tolton told the Daily News.

Rich Newton, the district ranger for the forest Service told the newspaper that early discussions with biologists suggest no outstanding concern about impacts to lynx.

The newspaper further reports the Forest Service may make a decision that could allow skiing yet this winter.

Aspen pledges action

ASPEN, Colo. — Aspen’s city government has joined the Aspen Skiing Co. – as well as the Ford Motor Co., the city of Chicago and the state of New Mexico, among others – in committing to reducing the greenhouse gases it creates.

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