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“It’s not that they weren’t concerned, but the language didn’t have that high-anxiety element to it,” said Courtney Flint, an assistant professor in the department of natural resources and environmental sciences. “Vail residents would say, ‘At least we have our aspen.’”
But the shock may yet be coming, based on what she has seen elsewhere. She has studied Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, where 90 per cent of the forest was destroyed by beetles. She found a strongly emotional response — as has also been found elsewhere in Colorado, particularly.
“Many places in Colorado, we’re moving from the shock to the grief,” she told the Vail Daily, alluding particularly to Grand County. Those changes take a lot of energy, a lot of emotion. Colorado communities are strongly tied to their forests.”
She reported that in Walden, a small town located in Colorado’s North Park, residents see the beetle epidemic as an opportunity to revive the beleaguered economy with wood-salvaging and biomass projects. “While they’re worried about fires there, they are seeing it as an opportunity — not a sentiment I heard in Vail,” she told the Vail Daily.
So far, Vail residents have given a big kudos to the Forest Service and town officials for mitigation efforts.
Steamboat has ‘real jobs’
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Are there good-paying “real” jobs in mountain towns other than hawking real estate and slathering masonry around river rocks?
In Steamboat Springs there are. One of the newer companies, SmartWool, a brand name for comfortable wool socks, was founded in 1994. The actual assembly of socks is done off-shore, but the business is operated in Steamboat, where 52 employees are located.
Mark Bryden, company president, partly credits a 25 per cent increase in sales last year to the enthusiasm and talent of new employees. Those employees, drawn from Nike and other corporations, wanted career advancement while also pursuing the outdoor lifestyle implied in the company’s core product line.
“Our heritage — who we are and what we’re about as a company — is intertwined with this location,” he told the Steamboat Pilot & Today.
The company was sold in 2005 to The Timberline, a Fortune 500 company, whose international distribution network has also aided sales.
Steamboat’s mountain lifestyle also explains the location of TIC, also called The Industrial Company. Founded in Steamboat Springs in 1974, the company initially built condominiums and pipelines but now has operations in 28 states and offices in two foreign countries.