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Man, woman found dead in Snowmass hot tub were from out of town; autopsy pending

Two visitors, a man and woman in their 30s, were found dead in a Snowmass Village condo complex hot tub Wednesday morning, authorities said. Foul play is not suspected.

The names of the victims were being withheld Wednesday night pending notification of their relatives. The man was 31 years old and the woman 32. Both were from out of state, authorities said. 

An autopsy will be performed Thursday to determine the manner of the deaths. It will be two to three weeks, however, before toxicology test results are available, which could provide insight into the cause of the deaths, said Dr. Steven Ayers, Pitkin County coroner. 

There was no evidence of foul play or struggle and police have eliminated murder-suicide as a possibility, said Snowmass Village Police Chief Brian Olson.

“We’ve ruled that out,” he said. “There’s nothing at the scene that would lead us to believe that happened.”

The man and woman appeared to have been deceased for approximately three and a half days, according to Olson and Ayers. 

“They were from out of town and renting a place,” Olson said. 

The hot tub where they found is located outside and private, Olson said. 

It is located in a somewhat secluded area and it was not until Wednesday morning that someone reported a deceased person in the hot tub to Snowmass police. Snowmass Village Police and Roaring Fork Fire Rescue arrived at the scene at approximately 8:12 a.m. 

“Upon arrival, emergency personnel discovered two deceased persons in the private outdoor hot tub,” said a press release from Snowmass police. 

Longtime Snowmass on-mountain staple gets new name for new ski season

With the inauspicious ending to last season because of the pandemic shutdown, it also meant a sudden end to the more than 40-year legacy of Gywn’s High Alpine restaurant, Snowmass Resort’s popular mid-mountain haunt.

In an announcement Thursday touting improvements and changes for the upcoming season, word is out on the new name for the revamped establishment.

The space, which is located at the top of the Alpine Springs lift, will now be known as the High Alpine and Alpin Room restaurants. (The High Alpine lift, which was moved in 2015, is just below the restaurant.)

The formal dining area has been renamed the Alpin Room and “pays homage to the ski culture of the Alps and introduces a new menu that draws influence from the great mountain dining traditions of the French, Swiss and Austrian Alps,” according to a release sent from Snowmass Tourism. It will be open for breakfast and lunch (9 a.m. to 3 p.m.).

The bulk of the space, including the large outdoor deck and indoor seating, is called High Alpine and will continue “the tradition of market-style food and beverage options.”

In 1979, Gwyn Knowlton and George Gordon opened their on-mountain restaurant, and in 2018 Aspen Skiing Co. decided not to renew its lease contract with the family.

After the pandemic hit, the family ­— including daughter Whitney ­— had an impromptu food drive and gave away the food they were not able to serve for the end of the season.

Opening day at Snowmass and Aspen Mountain is scheduled for Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 26.

Photos: Balloon-filled bluebird skies Saturday for the 45th Snowmass Balloon Festival

Mother Nature had quiet the rebound Saturday morning for the 45th annual Snowmass Balloon Festival.

Bluebird skies, a slight chill in the air and barely a breeze greeted the pilots as they took off from Town Park to soar over Snowmass Village. After Friday’s liftoff was canceled because of low clouds and winds, Saturday could not have been any more different.

Hundreds of people lined Brush Creek Road and surrounded the golf course as balloons started taking off just as the sun came over Sky Mountain and floated for hours above the valley.

There is another liftoff Sunday morning, and reservations to park on Brush Creek Road are full. But onlookers can find spots around the town park but just cannot go onto the field this year.

Snowmass History: ‘High Country Summer,’ 1979

“High Country Summer,” touted The Aspen Times in summer 1979. “It may be late summer down here in the valley, but up in the high country spring is barely ended — and winter is fast on its way. So now it is time to head for hills.” Pictured is a hiker about halfway to Capitol Lake, an 8-mile trek from the trailhead in the Campground area, an old cow camp, to the base of the peak.

“The five-hour hike to the lake is just one of many such expeditions that beckon now that the mountains are free of snow and perhaps even carpeted with wild flowers in the brief, brief high country summer.”

Snowmass art show focuses on quarantine, isolation experiences

Over the past five months, a lot has and hasn’t happened as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Events and gatherings have been canceled, many people have spent more time at home and on screens, social justice issues have been brought to the national stage and everyone has been impacted in their own way amid the global crisis.

But what do all of these things and not-things, emotions and experiences look like? On Sunday, roughly 40 artists tried to show Snowmass residents exactly that at the “What’s in Your Queue?” art show in Base Village.

The show, curated and organized by Teal Wilson of Straight Line Studio, aimed to portray the new habits and self-reflection artists in Aspen and across the country have experienced during quarantine, featuring a variety of pieces with written descriptions explaining what inspired each work.

“For me, it sucked to wake up everyday and see the same kitchen, the same food, the same routine,” said Wilson, Snowmass local and gallery manager for Straight Line Studio. “I really wanted to see what (quarantine/isolation) looked like for other people, what they were seeing when they looked out their window.”

From Aspen and Carbondale to Kansas City and Albuquerque, Wilson said she reached out to artists she’s worked with and for over the years in late May to see if they’d be up for creating quarantine-inspired art for a Snowmass exhibition.

She said the response she received was overwhelmingly positive, with most of the artists agreeing to participate in the larger, collective project.

“So many artists I reached out to were really excited to be a part of this bigger thing, which meant so much to me. I think we all needed this,” Wilson said.

“We are all social beings and need that sort of call and response. … I think seeing these pieces on display brings a sort of brightness and light and is a reminder that we’re not alone.”

At the part-indoor, part-outdoor show Sunday afternoon, attendees were able to see artist reflections of domesticity and looking more inward for inspiration; depictions and symbols of anxiety and depression, growth and change; and a large, black-and-white “billboard of emotions and observations” felt during the pandemic by Taylor West of New York City.

West, who was a few years behind Wilson at the Kansas City Art Institute in Missouri, said she’s been a “fan girl” of Wilson and her work for a while. So when Wilson reached out to ask if she’d be up for being part of the Snowmass art show, West said she was extremely excited and is proud of the piece she created for it.

“This piece really allowed me to slow down, express things I haven’t been able to express because I haven’t spent this much time alone,” West said. “This piece really means a lot to me, more than they have in the past because I just feel more like myself.”

West said at first she felt weird about creating such a personal piece — a collage of sketches and paintings and meaningful words — during a time so focused on broader societal issues like the public health crisis and re-energized Black Lives Matter movement.

However, West said she’s experienced a lot of change in herself since the quarantine began — she’s been sober for more than six months after struggling with alcoholism for more than six years, has learned to be comfortable with herself alone and is creating more of her own art —and she felt to not create a piece that reflects these changes wouldn’t be genuine.

As things start to move into the “new normal,” West said she’s determined to stay sober while still socializing and supporting her friends. She also plans to open up an artistic space in New York City that integrates social justice and art, as well as gives more artists a voice.

“I want to take all of the things I’ve learned and make something myself,” West said of her experience working for various artists and galleries in New York. “Making this work during quarantine has made me know that I have to keep making my own work, making something bigger than these companies that I’m working for. … I really want to make something from the ground up.”

Similar to West, Clarity Fornell, an Aspen native and weaver for Aspen Hatter, said she’s also realized the importance of self-reflection and creating artistic pieces beyond those for work during this more isolated era.

Fornell, who attended the Savannah College of Art and Design and has worked with fiber arts for 15 years, said that weaving repetitively has always been both relaxing and a good way for her to listen and absorb information.

During the local stay-at-home period, Fornell said spending time weaving and crocheting helped her through and solidified the importance of taking the time to create.

“I’ve taken an 100 percent dive into art for a while, but I’ve realized that I need to make time for creating more fine art in my life, to give space for that experience and learning,” Fornell said. “Even if I don’t show each piece, the act of making them is so important for me.”

Fornell said for “What’s In Your Queue?” she created an “infinity box” of woven flowers, symbolizing growth and change. In the artist card accompanying her piece, she likened the care plants and flowers need to grow and succeed to the efforts needed to make change in America, urging readers to not give up on promoting and creating their own positive impact and change.

Walking through the show Sunday, Fornell said she was blown away by the variety of artwork and how bold each piece was, grateful to be experiencing them in person.

“This is one of the first shows there’s been in months, and in Aspen people want to see feelings and experiences, they really want that,” Fornell said. “I feel like this show was done in such a nice, safe way and really highlights a lot of great work from artists that aren’t just local.”

For Wilson and Kelly Peters, owner of Straight Line Studio, Sunday’s show aimed to bring people together in a safe way and to help attendees find connection with local and national artists who may be experiencing some of the same things they are.

The Snowmass-based artists contributed work to the show as well and said that while “What’s In Your Queue?” was a one-day-only event, they intend to create a virtual gallery with all of the pieces for people to explore further.

“I think this really gives people something to relate to and shares different stories in a visual way,” Peters said.

“I’m really proud of Teal and all of the work she put into to this to bring all of these different artists together … it’s an exciting thing to be a part of and an exciting thing to share.”

mvincent@aspentimes.com

Snowmass News Briefs: Cidermass postponed; Snowmass Wine and Golf Festival announced; art show in Base Village Sunday

Snowmass Cidermass postponed to September 2021

The third annual Snowmass Cidermass will be postponed until September 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis, organizers announced Wednesday.

The daylong hard cider tasting event on the Snowmass Mall was shaping up to be one of the best yet with more vendors booked by February than all of those with tables last year, according to organizer Reed Lewis, owner of the Daly Bottle Shop, Grain Fine Food and 81615 T-shirts and Gifts in Snowmass.

However, Lewis said because of the uncertainty around what group sizes will be allowed by the Pitkin County public health order in September, and because Cidermass attendees will need to take their masks off to taste each hard cider, he doesn’t feel hosting the cider festival is smart.

“It’s a bummer but I know it’s the right thing to do,” Lewis said. “We won’t know until about the week before if we’ll be able to have enough people (attend) to make it worth it, and having people taking their masks off to drink is just asking for trouble … so we’re just asking everyone to keep their excitement for next year.”

Last year, roughly 350 to 400 people came out for Cidermass, and the event raised around $500 for the Snowmass Community Fund, Lewis said.

This year’s Snowmass Cidermass was scheduled to take place on Sept. 12 and joins the Snowmass Rendezvous Craft Beer Festival and Heritage Fire as the most recent larger event cancellations in Snowmass.

Lewis said although Cidermass won’t go on this year, he keeps many of the ciders from its vendors on the shelves at the Daly Bottle Shop for purchase.

Snowmass Wine Festival to be hosted as golf tournament this summer

The Snowmass Wine Festival will look different this year in an attempt to promote social distancing amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to a Tuesday news release, the annual Rotary Club of Snowmass Village event — now dubbed the Snowmass Wine and Golf Festival — will be put on Thursday, Sept. 3, as a day of golf competition and wine and food tasting at the Snowmass Club course.

Participants, who can golf in groups of four, will be able to compete for prizes like best combined score, closest to the hole and long drive for men and women while “safely cruising from wine tasting to golf tee,” the release says.

This summer’s event also will feature an online auction, which will open a few days before the tournament with distancing-appropriate items like private house concerts with local musicians, rafting adventures and vacation stays from Aspen to Old Cape Cod, the news release says.

“The Snowmass Wine and Golf Festival will carry on our tradition of great wine and important community support, but this year will feature our favorite vintners like Duckhorn and Rombauer in a more spacious outdoor setting throughout the golf course,” says Travis Elliott, president of the Rotary Club of Snowmass Village, in a prepared statement. Elliott is also the assistant Snowmass town manager.

The adapted fundraising event aims to serve as a socially distanced, fun day for all participants, and to continue to raise money for local and international charities and for scholarships for local Roaring Fork Valley students. In 2019, the Snowmass Wine Festival set a fundraising record of $125,000 that was distributed to organizations like Challenge Aspen, Aspen Hope Center, HomeCare Hospice, Roaring Fork Conservancy and YouthZone. Snowmass Rotary also was able to allocate $10,000 in April to help jump start a COVID-19 relief food distribution for Snowmass area residents.

Sponsorships for this year’s Snowmass Wine and Golf Festival are available and provide numerous opportunities to connect with event patrons including recognition on our websites, newspaper ads, posters and social media pages. To register for the festival or for more information, visit www.snowmasswinefestival.com.

First snowmass drive-in concert tonight

The first drive-in concert at Snowmass Town Park is tonight. Each month, Snowmass plans to host a live band people can “drive-in” to attend, listening in on their car radios to the FM broadcast.

This month’s concert is Trae Pierce and the T-Stones, defined as a “hard-edged funk and hip-hop mixed with rock and blues” band, according to its website. Pierce is a world-class bassist and four-time Grammy Award winner.

There will be limited parking and reservations are required, though it is free to register and attend the drive-in concert. Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed and attendees must stay inside their cars and within their designated parking space. For more information and a link to register, visit gosnowmass.com.

Snowmass Base Village art show Sunday

From 3 to 7 p.m. Sunday, locals and visitors can check out Base Village’s first socially distanced art show of the summer, “What’s In Your Queue?”

Hosted by Straight Line Studio, the show is centered on the idea of what occupies our time during solidarity and quarantine — what do you line up for yourself to get through?

The show will feature work from local and national artists and will take place in the rink area and in The Collective hall. There will be drinks by moxiBar, food by mix6 and live music by Kelbi. For more information, visit straightlinestudiollc.com.

Snowmass continues to strive for collaboration, community support during COVID-19

Over the past week, Snowmass Village event organizers have debuted several new weekly activities aimed at helping boost economic and social vitality in town.

And from the Artisan Market on July 10 to Social Saturdays and Movies Under the Stars the next day, these new activities seem to be off to a good start, according to Julie Hardman, special events manager with Snowmass Tourism.

“Overall it was busy up there, people have been milling around and the restaurants had action so that’s great to see,” Hardman said of last weekend. “We’re continuing to make adjustments as needed and are keeping things fluid, but hopefully people appreciated the activations we had.”

On top of the new offerings, Hardman said this weekend the town is hosting its first Snowmass Summer Drive-in Series movie Thursday and Friday on a big screen in the main Snowmass Town Park parking lot.

The free movie will start both nights around 9 p.m. (delayed from 8 p.m. as previously scheduled due to sunset timing), and aims to not just be “one event,” but a way to encourage people to spend the whole evening or day socially distanced and out in the village, maybe checking out the Snowmass Bike Park in the afternoon or grabbing a bite to eat before heading down to the show, Hardman said. People will even be able to order food to-go to bring or have delivered to the drive-in events, she said.

For Hardman, this multi-purpose aspect of each activity and event this summer highlights Snowmass Tourism’s larger summer events goal of creating safe, socially distanced ways for locals and visitors to get out in the community, all while supporting the town economy and various businesses.

However, Hardman said in order to reach this goal and for these new weekly events and activations to be as effective as they hope, event organizers are relying on the support and participation of all local businesses and merchants arguably more than ever.

“We’re trying to communicate with our stakeholders and ask them to meet us half way,” Hardman said, noting that means staying open later on nights when there is an activity or event in their area of the town and/or offering specials or discounts on those nights.

“We want to find out what helps, what we can do differently, and how we can all work together to make these activations a draw for people.”

On July 9, Hardman touched on this drive to collaborate with Snowmass business owners and this summer’s planned events during the monthly (and now virtual) Tourism Talk stakeholder meeting.

During the roughly hour-long talk, Mark Scheller, group sales director, talked about the status of group sales; Virginia McNellis, marketing director, talked about the town’s current marketing and social media strategies; and Rose Abello, tourism director of Snowmass Tourism, talked about what “travel sentiment” trends are being reported on a national level, and how the town and its tourism department continues to shift and adapt as the COVID-19 crisis continues to evolve.

Abello showed that according to the most recent findings of a tracking study of American travelers being conducted by Longwoods International, 76% of travelers planning to travel in the next six months will change their travel plans due to the coronavirus, with 45% canceling their trips completely and 40% reducing their travel plans.

The nationwide study data/traveler sentiments are released every other week, Abello said, and correlate with what’s happening with the COVID-19 crisis.

On the local level, the average paid lodging occupancy in Snowmass over the month of June was at 16.8%, down from 50.8% last year, according to the most recent reservations activity data collected by DestiMetrics.

However, Abello said many lodge owners are reporting more last-minute bookings and longer lengths of stays at their properties, and that June finished better than most people anticipated.

Abello also said the “Love a Local” campaign has been relatively successful so far, with 35 Snowmass businesses having registered to be a part of the voucher program and 231 vouchers turned into the town as of July 9.

“A huge component of the Love a Local program is the voucher component, but we really believe this is an opportunity where if you’re a visitor and you didn’t get a voucher and don’t know anything about a voucher, it still resonates,” Abello said of the campaign.

But while the Love a Local campaign is the town’s main effort to bring money into the village economy and support local business, it’s not the only one. The Part-Time Resident Advisory Board is heading a “Save Snowmass Village Restaurants” fundraising campaign — with $33,120 of the $150,000 goal raised as of July 14 — and many Aspen-Snowmass locals have $65 of free money to spend in different parts of town, with the both the Romero Group’s and Snowmass Base Village’s local voucher programs as well.

Snowmass Base Village sent out $20 vouchers just before the Fourth of July weekend to the same list of Aspen-Snowmass area residents as the Love a Local campaign. The vouchers can be used at any Snowmass Base Village business and are valid through July 31, said Andy Gunion, managing partner for East West Partners in Snowmass.

Gunion said the goal of the “Base Village bucks” voucher program is to compliment the Love a Local campaign and a way to assist Base Village tenants specifically, allowing them to turn the vouchers in either for a check that matches the total voucher amount collected, or to receive that total amount as a discount on their rent.

“We know this is not a normal summer and wanted to think of another way to support our tenants that wasn’t just abating their rents,” Gunion said, which East West Partners has been doing since April.

“We also have some new businesses in Base Village and felt this was a good way to encourage people to come check them out and to provide more revenue to businesses overall.”

While there isn’t much hard June or July economic data yet, both Abello and Town Manager Clint Kinney said anecdotally they’ve heard this summer amid the pandemic has been going relatively well and in many ways better than expected.

However, Kinney emphasized that there still are some local businesses and merchants who are struggling, which the town recognizes.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if there are good ideas someone has that they want us to consider, please give us a call,” Kinney said. “We don’t pretend to know everything and feel it’s important to continue to come up with good ideas.”

Although there is still uncertainty around what the next few months of the COVID-19 crisis may bring, overall Mayor Markey Butler said she feels the town and its residents have already come up with some really good ideas for economic recovery, and is proud of the community for its support of one another during the COVID-19 crisis.

“It’s been inspiring to me to see the compliance we have here in Snowmass Village, the respect for one another, social distancing, … so it’s wonderful to see,” Butler said at the July 13 Town Council work session. “Our community here has really stepped up to the plate and I’m really proud of everything our community has done.”

mvincent@aspentimes.com

Taster’s owner taking second bite into Snowmass Center, plans to open diner this summer

Taster’s pizzeria is taking another slice of the Snowmass Center.

The owner of the popular Italian food eatery that has had the corner spot in the center for the past 19 years is planning to take over an additional 1,300 square feet in the space that was home to another locals’ hangout for Snowmass residents, The Village Tavern.

The Tavern, formerly the Mountain Bayou among other eateries through the years, will not reopen, Jordan Sarick, principal of Eastwood Developments and its Eastwood Snowmass Investors affiliate, said Friday.

That offseason change allowed the owners of Taster’s to expand his footprint and menu. The two locations will bookend Sundance Liquor & Gifts store, and Taster’s owner Stacy Forster said Friday it all “kind of come to pass fairly quickly so I’m still working on concept and names. I’ve got to get in there and clean it first.”

Forster said the new place will maintain a diner feel and this summer will only be open for breakfast and lunch. If he can “get all the legal stuff in order” he would like to open for the Fourth of July weekend.

He plans to incorporate dinner and the full bar for the next winter season. That in turn will help him when the Snowmass Town Center undergoes its major renovation.

The Snowmass Center is under review for a massive remodel and expansion. The second location “will give them flexibility around construction and help them stay open during construction,” Sarick said.

Forster is no stranger to construction issues. He had to close his Aspen location at Rio Grande Place in August after more than 10 years because of the city of Aspen’s construction for its new office building.

“My thinking is that when we move into the new Snowmass Center, we’ll have bigger space, bigger full bar, and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Forster said. “It will almost be a merging of the two ideas. This is giving me a lead up to that, and dealing with menu items and seeing what works.”

On May 18, Snowmass Town Council finished its preliminary review of the proposed Town Center redevelopment. That allows Eastwood to move ahead with prepping and submitting its final development application. Sarick said Friday they are not sure on a time frame for the final submission.

“Right now, everyone has pencils down and is working away,” Sarick said. “There is a lot of work but everyone is really excited. It’s an exciting project. These days, for us to have lots of work, and lots of exciting work to shape the future of the village, is a great thing.”

Since the Town Center opened, the space that Forster is taking over has been Pour La France, then Wildcat Café, then Spencer’s, then Village Tavern, then Mountain Bayou and back to Village Tavern, according to a town officials.

Taster’s, which opened in Snowmass in June 2001, is one of the very few Snowmass restaurants that stayed open in some fashion during the early weeks of the pandemic and has remained open. Forster said Friday it wasn’t hard to stay open because they are primarily set up for take-out and delivery anyway.

“At the time … I was thinking about our family’s income and the employees’ income,” he said. “But then I quickly realized the locals were really appreciative to have a place to go and something open and it is nice to be a part of that.”

dkrause@aspentimes.com

Snowmass History: Closing day at Snowmass, 1974

Calendar notes by Jim Snobble, Snowmass General Manager, in “The Story of Snowmass” book by Paul Anderson and Catherine Lutz remind us of closing day at Snowmass on April 14, 1974.

“…and again, unbelievably enough, another record breaker by quite a margin despite a very poor start from late opening because of thin snow until Christmas but once snow came, so did the crowds & it turned out to be a fantastic year with very few big problems despite early scary warm spell, superb closing snow conditions with deep bases (115” on Burn, 93” on Knob). As always, am terribly tired at end, but sad to see it over.”

Snowmass Town Council discusses COVID-19 response, wildlife management, JAS Labor Day Experience at work session

At a virtual work session April 13, Snowmass Town Council discussed and gave direction to town staff on a handful of topics, including the town’s COVID-19 response, wildlife management of area bears, elk and mountain lions, and Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ request to explore Buttermilk as a future venue option for its Labor Day Experience festival. Here’s the recap:

SNOWMASS COVID-19 RESPONSE

At a 3 p.m. Pitkin County Board of Health special meeting April 13, the board issued an advisory recommending residents wear masks in essential businesses and other areas where it’s harder to practice social distancing.

A few hours later, Markey Butler, county public health board chair and Snowmass mayor, posed to council and town staff the question of how the village should ensure all residents have access to cloth face masks and what more it can do to support the community.

“The question becomes one of if we as a town need to put some dollars toward this because I think of those who are no longer working and $3 is $3 and $5 is $5,” Butler said.

After some discussion around potentially purchasing masks for village residents from others in the Roaring Fork Valley who are making them, council decided to keep an eye on essential businesses this week to see how many people were wearing masks, indicating to staff and council members what the need may be. Town Council plans to continue its mask discussion at a regular meeting in the near future.

Council also encouraged residents to look at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information on face masks, including how to make your own, and to check out the Roaring Fork Swap Facebook page, where Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk said people are selling homemade masks at reasonable prices.

Beyond helping locals get cloth masks, council also asked town staff to prepare an emergency ordinance for its April 20 regular meeting that would appropriate more funds for COVID-19 relief.

Town Council members also wanted staff to gather data on how the $100,000 the town’s contributed so far to Pitkin County’s COVID-19 relief fund has been utilized and how many Snowmass Village residents have applied for the relief funds.

“I think we need more money to help the community,” Councilman Tom Goode said. “I think we need to keep the community as number one right now, whatever that takes.”

CPW BRIEFS COUNCIL ON BEAR, ELK AND MOUNTAIN LION MANAGEMENT

Snowmass police are going to work more closely with Colorado Parks and Wildlife this summer to handle area black bears that exhibit bad behavior.

As explained to Town Council April 13, Police Chief Brian Olson said a “bad bear” is one that gets habituated to foraging for human food, breaking into homes, cars and digging through trash to find it, potentially putting people in danger.

Olson said Snowmass got “beat up pretty bad” with bears breaking into homes last year, and that dealing with bad bears opens up the opportunity for “good bears,” or those who practice natural foraging habits, to flourish.

“Snowmass is not changing a thing really, all of our officers participate in bear hazing and trying to move bears along when they’re not behaving,” Olson said. “We are going to reach out more to parks and wildlife just to supplement what we do and make sure we have enough staff.”

Snowmass police are also expanding their own wildlife management outreach this year, with plans to get more permanent messaging on ways property managers, visitors, part-time and full-time residents can help keep bears from accessing human food.

Last week, a bad bear broke into a village home and ate a loaf of bread. Snowmass police were able to get it out of the home and notified CPW, which trapped the bear and euthanized it.

“The bear that we caught a couple of days ago came out of hibernation and the first thing he did was went and broke into two houses,” Tesch said. “We’re still seeing conflicts on the rise, so hopefully if we’re more proactive in our response and get out there sooner we can eliminate some of these habituated problem bears that in the long run will lessen our conflicts all around.”

At the April 13 work session, Kurtis Tesch, district wildlife manager with CPW for the Aspen-Snowmass area, echoed Olson’s sentiments on needing to get a better handle on the area’s problem black bears.

That’s why he said CPW is pursuing a three-year bear management plan for the upper Roaring Fork Valley.

CPW hopes to host a bear summit later this year to discuss the proposed bear management plan and collaborate with local municipalities, counties and U.S. Forest Service officials, but it may not come to fruition until next year due to the COVID-19 crisis.

“We want to all get on the same page of how we’re managing bears in the area,” Tesch said. “The main focus will be to eliminate the conflicts that we’re having and to increase our communication with each other to work more together as a team.”

Tesch also updated council on CPW’s six-year population study of the area’s Avalanche Creek elk herd, noting that 40 pregnant females were captured and collared this year to help with research and tracking.

“We’re into our second year of a six-year study, everything is going as well as expected but there’s no real data to share at this point but hopefully we’ll get some really good results,” Tesch said.

CPW is also launching a new statewide mountain lion management plan, Tesch said, which creates larger hunting boundaries and hopefully helps to stabilize the mountain lion population.

Tesch does not anticipate the change will have a significant impact on Snowmass Village or bring a large influx of hunters to the area.

JAS TO EXPLORE BUTTERMILK AS 2021 LABOR DAY EXPERIENCE VENUE

Snowmass Town Council members Monday expressed consensus on allowing Jazz Aspen Snowmass to explore the base of Buttermilk Ski Area as a potential 2021 Labor Day Experience venue. Read the full story HERE.