Mountain Town News | AspenTimes.com

Mountain Town News

Compiled by Allen BestAspen Times Weekly

Coyotes bit three children in Canmore last year. To prevent nipping this winter, wildlife officials intend to live-trap coyotes suspected of harassing people or preying on pets.Coyotes which are just moving through the town, snagging a few rabbits along the way, will be left alone, fish and wildlife officer Dave Dickson told the Rocky Mountain Outlook.Why the coyotes bit the children was never determined. None had rabies. One theory is that the coyotes bit the kids because they were making noise, the same as dogs will sometimes do. Coyotes and dogs, after all, are cousins.To reduce the potential for incidents, parents are asked to accompany their young children to bus stops, particularly those in wooded areas.The coyotes are drawn to Canmore because of the rabbits, but also the garbage hauled out of canisters by ravens. While there are no more than a dozen coyotes in the town now, up to 50 are expected by January.Also seen in Canmore recently was a cougar. Dickson believes the cougar was drawn by deer, which in turn were drawn by salt licks placed by residents who may not have realized that deer draw the big cats. Two years ago, an emaciated cougar killed two dogs in Canmore.

Expectations continue in Telluride of a hard winter, with real estate development and sales shuddering to a near stop and tourism acting like it has a tummy ache.Bookings are down 25 percent from last winter, a stellar season. The more apt comparison, says The Telluride Watch, is the 10 to 12 percent drop of the longer-term average.The bleak prospects have some lodges cutting rates, 10 percent at one lodge and another willing to discount by 30 percent. Such discounts do seem to be having some effect, says Scott McQuade, chief executive officer of the Telluride Tourism Board. When people do call, its much easier to close the deals and get them to come here, he said.In common with other ski areas, Telluride has allocated extra money to advertising its charms to Phoenix, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, cities within a days drive or less. The real-estate market, which has become the dominant economic driver since the early 1990s, is a tougher nut to crack. Real estate sales were down 51 percent for the year through October as measured by dollar volume. Possibly more severe yet is the drop in construction. Nobody is walking in the door for a construction loan, said Tim Cannon, president of the Bank of Telluride.Bankers tell the newspaper that they have tightened their lending criteria. So far, however, none has foreclosed on any properties. Andrew Karow, president of the local Alpine Bank, said hes optimistic that the ski resorts of Colorados Western Slope will be more resilient than other areas. Well experience far fewer foreclosures than Denver, Las Vegas or Phoenix.But conditions may worsen. We will get to the point, maybe a year out, when a lot of projects are underwater, said Tricia Maxon, president of Community Bank. Its happening in other places, where the value of the property is less than the amount of the loan. Will that happen here? I think thats probable.Already, many in the real-estate trades are scouting other jobs. Not many are to be had. The lesson here, says Seth Cagin, publisher of The Watch, is that the aphorism about high-end resort towns being recession proof has been proven wrong.

The body counts from the shriveled economy continue in resort-anchored mountain valleys.In Jackson Hole, architect John Carney reports cutting a quarter of his workforce. Its been brutal. We went from being as busy as Ive ever been to losing six major projects, he told the Jackson Hole News&Guide.Another major firm, Hawtin Jorgensen Architects, reported no layoffs yet. But this economic downturn seems to cut wider and deeper than others in the past 40 years, says co-owner Bruce Hawtin. Many of our clients come from out of state, and if things arent going well there, then they wont go well here.The upside of the downside is that agencies that sometimes have a hard time finding warm bodies for service-sector jobs are having no problems this year. The local bus agency, called START, had to turn away applicants, for a change, a familiar story in ski towns this winter.Job listings are another barometer of the times. A year ago the newspaper had 121 individual classified ads seeking employees. Last week, there were only 40.

San Miguel Power Association is among the 44 rural electrical co-operatives in Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, and Wyoming that together form Tri-State Generation and Transmission. Tri-State has been under fire for several years because of its plans to build two coal-fired power plants in Kansas, a move that critics and some members say is financially risky and environmentally a disaster.So what do members of San Miguel Power who live in the Telluride, Silverton and Ouray area think about their options? According to a recent survey, there is a definite split. While nearly three quarters hope for renewable energy, little more than half appear willing to pay more to achieve that goal. About half say they favor nuclear energy. Whether that is any cheaper is still unclear.Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at allen.best@comcast.net.

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