Mountain News roundup: ‘Caddyshack’ in Telluride?

Town officials in Telluride are battling a prairie dog colony that's expanding out from its native territory in the Valley Floor open space parcel.

New visitor center planned at Mesa Verde, wolf woes in Wyoming and more

Caddyshack in Telluride?
Prairie dogs are the talk of the town in Telluride, as a colony living in the town’s prized 570-acre Valley Floor open space parcel has outgrown its habitat and is spreading out. But town officials said they don’t want the critters expanding into new habitat, so they’ve hired a wildlife expert to live-trap the animals and bring them back to their home stomping grounds, according to the Telluride Daily Planet.

The town’s management plan for the parcel calls for the mammals to be restricted to their original 23-acre colony. The fate of the prairie dogs apparently was a controversial topic as the plan for the open space parcel was being put together last year. And based on the number of comments on the Daily Planet story, it still is, as many residents weighed in with their thoughts on the subject.

Town officials, meanwhile, must be aware that they’re taking on a Sisyphean task. What they’re hoping for long-term is that some predators move into the neighborhood to keep the population in check. Read the story and the comments here.

More the roundup after the break …

Telluride real estate up
Along with the prairie dogs, the Telluride real estate market is also expanding, the Daily Planet reported. Sales in May 2010 climbed 155 percent from last year, from 11 transactions to 28. The value of the transactions also jumped correspondingly, from $12.7 million in May 2009 to $33.7 million this year.

One Telluride broker, perhaps trying to paint his local market in the best possible light, said Telluride and Steamboat Springs seem to be recovering faster than other parts of Colorado. That same Realtor, however, acknowledged that Telluride home prices in general are down 20 to 40 percent from the peak years of 2006 and 2007. Read the Daily Planet story here.

Big names at Aspen Festival of Ideas
Sandra Day O’Connor, Bill Gates and Alan Greenspan are among the luminaries gathering this week in Aspen. The Aspen Daily News reports that local police will be enlisted in a mutual aid effort to help keep everyone safe.

The Aspen Ideas Festival, in its sixth year, is an exploration of some of the most important ideas and pressing issues the world faces, according to the Daily News. Presented by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic magazine, the festival strives to highlight the ideas of experts at the forefront of their fields and of leaders whose actions are changing the world. Read more …

Also in Aspen, wildlife officials said reports of encounters between humans and bears are on the rise, but not to the level of last year, one of the worst on record. Last week, a bear tried to break into a home on Red mountain by clawing at the windows. Another bear rummaging through tents in the Castle Creek area forced the U.S. Forest Service to close down some dispersed camping areas. Another Aspen bear was relocated to the Buena Vista area. Read more …

New visitor center at Mesa Verde
The National Park Service, like all federal agencies, loves nothing more than a shiny new visitor center, and that’s what’s in the works at Mesa Verde National Park. Even with a huge maintenance backlog for trails and other basic facilities, the park service isn’t shying away from spending $22 million on the new Mesa Verde facility, according to the Durango Herald.

The project is being funded with stimulus dollars and the facility will be 100 percent green, according to the Herald. The new center is much closer to the park entrance, and will include a curatorial facility to house the park’s archaeological artifact collection. According to the Herald, the park service hopes interactive features available at the visitors center will increase the average visit to the park from one to two or three days, boosting the amount of time tourists spend in the area. Construction of the center is expected to be completed in 2012. Read the Durango Herald story here.

Expensive taser action
The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that a man subdued with a Taser during a traffic stop in April plans to sue the town for $1 million. The stop resulted in misdemeanor charges that were later dismissed.
Meek’s lawsuit had not been filed in 9th District Court as of Tuesday.

The man’s attorney claims he was Tasered more than 10 times, with six police officers on the scene.

Police officers said the Taser darts didn’t penetrate the man’s clothing, and that his total exposure to the Taser was only two to four seconds. Most of the incident was taped by video cameras in the police vehicle. Read the full story in the New & Guide here.

Wyoming wolf pack exterminated

The Jackson Hole News & Guide also reports that federal agents wiped out a wolf pack and part of a second, including 10 pups after members of the packs had killed livestock in area. In all, 16 wolves were killed after they killed three calves on private property and a lamb. The killing spurred protests from the Defenders of Wildlife in Boise, Idaho.

Federal wildlife officials said the loss of the wolves won’t impact the overall population in the state. Because the effort to restore the predator to the world’s first national park and surrounding areas has been so successful, they are now spreading out to colonize areas with marginal wildlife prey. The officials said the original recovery plan included the killing of pups from packs that prey on livestock. They said plan is part of the trust made with the public in exchange for living with wolves. Some conservation groups advocate non-lethal methods of controlling predation, but federal biologists said that, in some situations, killing the wolves is the only realistic option. More here …

Steamboat sales tax woes continue

Steamboat Today reports that sales tax collections in May were down about 7.6 percent from the previous year, with a 5 percent decline for the year to-date. The city had budgeted for a 10 percent decline, so the numbers didn’t hurt too much, the paper reported in its July 1 edition. Drops in revenues on lodging and amenities accounted for the biggest chunk of the decline. Read more …

Freshies down under!
Skiing may be over for now in Colorado, but there are still plenty of spots around the globe where turns are being made, first and foremost Down Under, where resorts in Australia and New Zealand are reporting cold temperatures and fresh snow. Apparently winter hasn’t kicked into high gear in South America yet, where some of the resorts in the Andes are reporting marginal conditions. And the snow also looks good at some of the glacier ski areas in the Alps, including the slopes around the Matterhorn, near Zermatt. Get the full global ski report, including several video reports, from PlanetSki.


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