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No evidence of bear attack at Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Colorado wildlife officials say evidence does not support a woman’s claim that she was attacked by a black bear while hiking with her dog at a state park northwest of Denver.

Jason Clay, a spokesman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, says officers responded to a report of an injured woman at Golden Gate Canyon State Park on Wednesday but soon determined that no bear attack occurred.

He declined to discuss the woman’s injuries, saying only that they were not consistent with being attacked by a bear or by any other animal. The woman, whose name has not been released, was taken to a hospital in Denver.

Even though there is no evidence of an attack, Clay said hikers should be aware that bears are more active as fall begins because they are trying to eat up to 20,000 calories a day in preparation for winter hibernation.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park is about 20 miles northwest of downtown Denver.

Holy Cross makes clean energy pledge

The electric co-op that provides power to Pitkin, Garfield and Eagle counties officially committed Wednesday to use clean, renewable energy sources for 70 percent of its power supply by 2030.

In addition, Holy Cross Energy pledged to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions associated with its current power supply by a corresponding 70 percent by 2030, while at the same time not increasing the cost of energy for customers, according to a statement Wednesday.

"I'm thrilled to hear they're moving forward with this, … to change electrification so it's much cleaner," said Mona Newton, director of the Community Office for Resource Efficiency in Aspen. "It's great to have this co-op thinking so progressively."

The utility's board of directors officially adopted the new goals — called "SeventyThirty" — at a meeting Wednesday in Glenwood Springs.

"With today's announcement, HCE is leading the responsible transition to a clean energy future," Bryan Hannegan, the co-op's president and CEO, said in the statement. "Thanks to advances in technology and changes in energy markets, we have the opportunity to bring on new renewable energy resources at costs comparable to our existing supply."

Holy Cross plans to "increase its purchases of renewable energy while reducing its dependence on coal-fired generation," the statement says.

Holy Cross currently receives 39 percent of its power from renewable sources, including biomass, coal mine waste methane and solar and hydro-power facilities, according to the statement.

CORE takes the fees collected from property owners who consume large amounts of energy in Aspen and Pitkin County and turns them into grants and advice that enable clean energy for local projects. The fees are collected through the Renewable Energy Mitigation Program established in the 1999 Aspen-Pitkin County Energy Conservation Code.

Newton, who attended the Rocky Mountain Utility Exchange Conference on Wednesday at the Aspen Institute, said Holy Cross' announcement puts the utility at the forefront of clean energy.

"Holy Cross is a leader, absolutely," she said.

And, despite the Trump administration's emphasis on coal power and rolling back Obama-era clean energy goals, other companies and utilities in Colorado are following Holy Cross' lead, Newton said.

For example, Xcel Energy recently received permission to close two Pueblo-area coal-fire power plants, which the company plans to replace with wind and solar energy, she said. Utilities are finding clean energy to be an economic boon, Newton said.

That's because people attracted to the option of clean energy means more customers for the utility, she said. Also, technology to generate solar and wind power is becoming less expensive and new methods of storage to combat the intermittency problems caused by green energy are coming online, she said.

"They may not be environmentalists, but they see it as an economic opportunity," Newton said.

One aspect of Holy Cross' plan Newton emphasized was its desire to build renewable energy projects in the communities it serves. The utility recently began a partnership with the Aspen Consolidated Sanitation District and a private company to try and build a 33-acre, 5-megawatt solar farm in Woody Creek.

If built, the project could be isolated to specifically support Pitkin County, she said.

Such efforts also fight climate change, which could be a reason for more frost-free days in the high country and more intense, drought-caused wildfires, Newton said.

"Customers are asking for (clean energy)," she said. "It will require all of us to participate."


SKI Magazine names Aspen-Snowmass inaugural ‘resort of the year’ in west

Aspen-Snowmass is the No. 1 ski "resort of the year" in the West, according to SKI Magazine.

SKI Magazine will unveil its debut "Resorts of the Year" issue in October, with categories featuring "Best in the West" and "Best in the East." Smugglers' Notch in Vermont is ranked the top ski resort of the East.

These two resorts garnered editor and reader praise for offering skiers the best overall vacation experiences, according to a statement from SKI Magazine.

"With its variety of terrain across four resorts, family-friendly offerings and virtually unmatched dining, lodging and apres in the vibrant town of Aspen, Aspen Snowmass delivers the whole package," SKI Magazine content director Samantha Berman said in the statement. "Add to that the resort management's forward-thinking attitude toward the environment and its inclusion in the industry-changing Ikon Pass, and we feel that Aspen-Snowmass is the destination generating the most buzz going into this season."

Berman said the inaugural issue was developed based around the question, "Where should I ski this winter?"

"Our audience is hungry for insights and intel," she said. "They want to plan vacations and craft experiences to remember for years to come."

SKI Magazine's Resorts of the Year edition will hit newsstands Tuesday.

On the Trail: Relishing the dog days of summer in Aspen

The end-of-summer countdown begins. As of this writing, there were less than 72 hours of summer left. I hope everyone is enjoying the last of the dog days of summer as much as I am.

Aspen in September is the nectar, my fellow offseason friends. There is nothing better than the first couple of weeks of this month — with Colorado bluebird skies set against the backdrop of the vibrant fall colors. The bonus, of course, is a lot more elbow room on the trails and an abundant availability of tee times.

It is my favorite time of year because of how glorious the weather is and the crowds are gone.

There was a Saturday morning back in August when I knew I was too late getting on one of my go-to hikes, either Hunter Creek or Smuggler.

It was 10 a.m. when I drove by the Hunter Creek trailhead and saw a line of families gearing up for their big day outing. I kept going and headed toward Smuggler.

I should have known to abort the plan when I couldn't get a parking spot in the lower lot. But I needed a quick workout so finally squeezed in and started my ascent.

That was a big mistake. Besides the hordes of Texans, New Yorkers and Floridians, I was in the middle of a mountain bike race, so dozens of cyclists were crowding around me. I tried to share the trail but I had to get out of there.

I ran for the hills on the south side of town and found my oasis on the Ajax Trail and then onto Summer Road where I ran into a total of two people.

I don't mind tourists and visitors, I just don't want to hike with mass quantities of them, or be on the hole behind them at the golf course.

That's why I cherish these quiet days when we get to take in the solitude we've been craving all summer.

It's been a tradition of mine to take a day off in the middle of the week and enjoy one of my last perfect summer days. This year I decided to go off the beaten path, which for me is past the roundabout.

A friend and I went to hike the Rim Trail. I used to jam up the trail to the yin yang (Spiral Point) all the time when I worked at the Snowmass Sun.

At the time, the office was in the Snowmass Center and I would access the trail right outside the southwest side of the building.

So almost 20 years later, I thought I'd pick it up there again. Sure, the landscape has changed with the Town Hall building but I figured the natural environment had remained the same.

So I dragged my friend up there, followed a cat-track ribbon of dirt up the hill hoping the single-track would reveal itself. It finally did but it only led behind a housing complex before ending.

I felt as though I was in the twilight zone, swearing up and down that the damn trail behind the Snowmass Center led to the yin yang. "I used to do this all of the time!" I proclaimed to my doubting and somewhat annoyed hiking buddy.

We double-backed and went with her suggestion to actually start from the trailhead up Divide Road. It was then that I felt like the tourist.

If anyone from the 1900s can recall an access point to Rim Trail from behind the Snowmass Center, please let me know so I can prove my point and stop thinking the onset of dementia is here.

In the meantime, I'll stay within my comfort zone, which doesn't extend beyond the city golf course and a few valleys where the trailheads are marked and there are no people.

Get out there before summer passes us by. Happy trails!


Bear attack reported near Golden at state park; one person injured

Colorado wildlife officials are investigating a report of a bear attack that injured a person Wednesday on a trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park outside Golden.

Deputies with the Gilpin County Sheriff's Office responded about 1:20 p.m. to the Coyote Trail in the park to a report of a bear attack, said Cherokee Black, the agency's spokeswoman. The trailhead is near Colorado 46 and Mountain Base Road. She said a person was injured, but had few other details.

"I know they were injured, but I don't know the extent of the injuries," Black said.

The report came in about 1 p.m. Wednesday, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokesman Jason Clay said as he drove to the park about 14 miles northwest of Golden. He couldn't immediately confirm what injuries occurred.

For more on this story, go to denverpost.com.

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Thousands of dollars stolen at Run Rabbit Run race in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Run Rabbit Run racers were not the only ones to pull a fast one Saturday.

Thousands of dollars in cash were stolen from the race’s merchandise tent, money that race organizers had planned to give to nonprofits.

As Race Director Paul Sachs was announcing the awards ceremony at Steamboat Resort, volunteers realized the cash bag had gone missing from the tent where organizers were selling race merchandise. Sachs said the volunteer working the merchandise tent looked one way, turned back around and found the bag was gone.

Sachs said there is no way to know for sure how much cash was taken, but he estimated it was somewhere between $4,000 and $5,000.

That money was intended for numerous nonprofit organizations that helped put on the race. Volunteers from a number of organizations volunteer at aid stations and serve in other roles during the race. In return, race organizers donate profits from registration fees and merchandise sales to the nonprofits. These organizations include youth sports organizations, early childhood learning centers and scout troops.

“We put this on for the runners, and we give everything else to charity,” Sachs said. “It’s money that’s not going to be available for the charities that we donate to.”

Sachs interrupted the awards presentation with an announcement asking the crowd for tips, but nobody had seen what happened. After the audience heard about the theft, several people wrote checks to the organizations Run Rabbit Run planned to support.

"It was very disheartening,” Sachs said. “We hope somebody might do the right thing and let us know if they know what happened."

Between donations and the money generated by registration fees, Sachs said the race will still be able to give about $35,000 to $40,000 to nonprofits as well as donations of food to youth organizations and clothing to LiftUp of Routt County.

Revenue from registration fees also allowed the race to pay out about $62,000 in prizes to runners.

Without any suspects, Steamboat Springs Police Department Sgt. Rich Brown said the police are investigating a crime with no leads. The amount of cash stolen would carry felony level charges if prosecuted.

Anyone with information about the incident should contact the Steamboat Police Department at 970-879-4344 or Routt County Communications at 970-879-1144.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email ehasenbeck@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

Pitkin joins forces with four other counties to urge local legislators to restore Forest Service district funding

With one of the worst wildfire seasons in state and national memory continuing to unfold into the fall, local legislators in northwest Colorado are pleading federal representatives to push Congress on restoring funding for U.S. Forest Service districts with forestland in their counties.

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments (NWCCOG) sent Sen. Michael Bennett, Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Jared Polis and Rep. Scott Tipton a letter last month, urging the Colorado delegation to put pressure on the rest of Congress to restore funding that has been slashed over the past few decades.

The council represents five counties — Garfield, Jackson, Eagle, Summit and Pitkin — and the cities of Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs. Among the signatories to this letter were Summit’s own commissioners Karn Stiegelmeier and Dan Gibbs, as well as Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula, Frisco Mayor Gary Wilkinson and Dillon Mayor Carolyn Skowyra.

The USFS funding cuts have coincided with worsening wildfire seasons and drought, with increasing amounts of local, state and federal resources being incinerated in wildfires every year. Fires have also shifted a large amount of resources away from important USFS duties like forest management and seasonal ranger patrols, which are meant to prevent forest fires.

“The escalating cost of fighting fire has imperiled the operational effectiveness of the USFS in recent years,” the letter said, “and impaired the organization’s ability to manage the national forests as premier public assets and multi-use natural resources.”

Aside from fires, national forests have to also deal with a huge increase in visitors every year. White River National Forest, for example, sees 15 million visitors a year, making it the most visited national forest in the country. Back in 2008, the WRNF had seven full-time seasonal employees, but has only a single full-time seasonal ranger this year. The funding for the district has been decimated from $270,000 in 2008 to $40,000 in 2018.

“It is distressing that the #1 most visited National Forest in the nation, which sends $24 million in revenues from skier area fees annually to the federal government, can only afford to fund one seasonal ranger to manage one of the busiest recreation programs in the country,” the letter said.

The letter points out how local towns and counties have been spending their own money to pay for federal employees to work the forests due to a lack of federal funds. Summit County and local towns raised $135,000 this year to pay for a four-person team of seasonal forest rangers and overtime for trained sheriff’s deputies on dispersed campsite patrols. As successful as that venture was, the letter states that this “bake sale” approach to funding forest service rangers is unsustainable.

“These communities will always be good neighbors (to the forest service), but as markets rise and fall, it cannot be said for certain whether such financial capacity will continue,” the letter said.

The letter ends by imploring Colorado’s federal representatives to advocate with the congressional appropriations to restore funding to five key management areas — the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, the Pike and San Isabel National Forest, the Gunnison National Forest and the White River National Forest. The letter also urges the Colorado delegation to consider amending or replacing the Ski Area Retention Bill with a broader solution, as it is not enough to keep up with the increasing demands on local resources.

“These lands are enjoyed by people from across the country,” the letter said.

“A well-funded Forest Service is a federal responsibility.”

Carbondale’s True Nature hosts events about gender awareness

True Nature Healing Arts in Carbondale is hosting a pair of events this week and over the weekend around gender issues and coming of age.

This Thursday, the studio at the corner of North Third Street and Colorado Avenue hosts free community event called "Gender Diversity" in the newly completed kiva.

"It will begin with a documentary and then move to a panel discussion," explained owner Deva Shantay in a statement.

The documentary is from National Geographic with Katie Couric, called "Gender Revolution." It discusses the different genders such as trans, cis, non-binary and intersex.

"It's a wonderful introduction to learning about gender," Shantay said. "We will then transition to a panel discussion where I will have seven individuals sitting on the panel who all have experience in one way or another in this field. It will be an incredible thought-provoking educational event."

Donations from the Thursday event will raise money for a camp at True Nature this Friday through Sunday, called "This is Me: A Gathering for Families with Transgender Children in the Rocky Mountains."

"This is an intimate camp experience for families with transgender children to come together, interact, learn and grow," Shantay said.

Partners include Carbondale Arts, which will have the Roseybell makerspace bus on hand, and Smiling Goat Ranch.

Valley Life for All: Meet Camy Britt, who is conquering her fears

Editor's note: The Aspen Times, in conjunction with Valley Life For All, is presenting a monthly series of profiles about people in our community who have different abilities. Twenty-seven percent of Americans experience some disability. One hundred percent are a part of our community. Each has a story.

Camy Britt is able to conquer most fears. She likes to ride her bike and hike. She is the vice-chair of the Valley Life for All Board of Directors. Her voice will change you.

Camy was born with a chromosomal syndrome that results in developmental and emotional delays in some areas. The biggest challenge for Camy is the huge peaks and valleys in what she can do. We can all relate to the challenge of facing our own fears that she talks about in her story. Camy gives us a good pep talk about how to overcome our own challenges.

Here is Camy's story, in her own words:

I got invited to a Halloween party when I was 7. I wasn't sure I wanted to go because I had this feeling someone was saying, "No, it's unacceptable." But really, my friend was the one who invited me. I knew it wasn't just someone saying, "OK, this is the party, you have to go to." I was able to say, "I'm not going to be shy. I'm not going to be fearful. It's all going to be OK."

My friend taught me a couple of tricks. The first trick was to tell myself this is something you don't need to be fearful of because she is the one inviting you, not yourself. The other trick was not to be as shy because it is the same as fearful. To just be comfortable in that type of situation is something that some people need to conquer.

The party was actually a great time because all my friends were there. They were able to see that I wasn't shy. I wasn't fearful of being there. I really thank this person for inviting me because she taught me to face my fears and to be able to socialize. She taught me to become a really good person and also to be a really good friend to other people. It also taught me not to be so fearful of my own fears and be able to conquer them and say, "I can do this!" without being so fearful. She and I are still friends today.

Recently, I was at the pool, and I looked at the slide and said, "Are my feelings going to be fearful going down the slide?" But no, I was actually able to conquer that fear and say, "It's not going to be scary. It's going to be very easy. You're not going to drown or anything."

I want to pass along to people to say to yourself, "I can get over this and not be so fearful." Realize if there is someone out there who is shy and be able to say, "It's OK, you can overcome your fear."

Local nonprofit Valley Life for All is working to build inclusive communities where people of all abilities belong and contribute. We want to hear your voice. Request a training or join the conversation at http://www.valleylifeforall.org or #voicability4all.

On the Job: Exodus from Labor Day Experience VIP area unruly at best

Weeks later, I keep reliving it in my head: the VIP-pocalypse the night of the evacuation of the Jazz Aspen Snowmass Labor Day Experience Lionel Richie concert.

I like to think that I see the good in most people, but that night — that night — some of the worst traits of humanity were unveiled (at least over in the VIP shuttle area).

First off, Lionel Richie, what the hell? Announcing an evacuation due to lightning and then running off the stage? You instilled panic in an audience filled with thousands of people when everyone needed to remain calm to evacuate the Snowmass venue. Aren't crooners supposed to be pretty slow-paced and relaxed?

Secondly, nothing like some rain to bring these VIP or "very important people" down to the level of us common folk. Watching the line for the VIP shuttle when the downpour started and people were frantically trying to get into the CME vans or find shelter reminded me of a scene from the movie "Titanic." The boats were filled with the upper class with room to spare but no one would budge to create space to save lives, or, in this case, just stay dry. Vans filled immediately and drivers had to close the shuttle van doors while reassuring people more shuttles were on the way. Some of the VIP guests were completely aghast their demands weren't being met. Guess what? We're all humans and we're all stuck in this situation together, you aren't any more special than the person next to you.

I happened to be photographing the concerts that night and since The Aspen Times is a sponsor, I had a VIP parking pass available to me. I made it into a shuttle relatively quick because I left the concert early after I filed my photos and was in line before the masses arrived. I sat in my seat grateful my camera equipment remained dry. Unfortunately, the evacuation plan, or somewhat lack of plan, for the JAS concerts led to mega traffic jams where shuttles were gridlocked in front of the lines of wet concert attendees desperately wanting a ride. People were clawing at the shuttle vans amid the downpour. I feel like I lived through a zombie apocalypse in my shuttle seat that night. A woman opened our shuttle door and pleaded with the people in my shuttle to give up their seats for her and her two frightened children. I was wedged in the very back corner of our shuttle completely ashamed no one would give up their seat. From what I saw, gentlemen don't exist in VIP when it rains. I felt guilty not getting out, but I had camera gear and needed to protect my livelihood. But I cannot get the visual out of my head of the men sitting by the door sheepishly looking away from this woman and her children. Another woman banged on the driver's window, which he rolled down, and reamed him out about people cutting her in line and him accepting them in the shuttle.

VIP, please check the weather forecast and pack the appropriate attire. A fur coat in the rain won't do you much good (which I saw) and if you do get caught in the rain, remain human and just get a little wet.

You still could've been dancing (in the rain) "All Night Long." Shout out to the shuttle drivers and security that night — you endured a lot.