In Brief: APCHA pilots rightsizing program; lion put down after swatting girl near Buena Vista |

In Brief: APCHA pilots rightsizing program; lion put down after swatting girl near Buena Vista

The Theatre Aspen Middle School Production of Harriet the Spy premiered to a full house on Thursday at the Aspen High School Black Box Theatre. The play runs through Sunday. Tickets:
Sam Feuguson/Courtesy photo

The Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority announced Thursday it is launching a home rightsizing pilot program for those living in deed-restricted housing who want to swap units based on need.

The program, which will launch on Monday, May 15, is strictly voluntary. It allows for the purchase and sale of deed-restricted properties between two owners as co-applicants to increase the number of bedrooms available to a qualified owner of a smaller property and decrease the number of bedrooms available to the owner of a larger property.

The APCHA Board decided that it is in the best interests of the affordable-housing program to authorize a program to determine if it would improve maximum utilization of deed-restricted ownership units by matching household sizes and bedroom numbers to reflect the changes that occur in family size over time.

“Based on a survey conducted in 2022 of owners in the APCHA program, we believe there is interest,” said Matthew Gillen, executive director of APCHA. “The goal of rightsizing is to maximize all of the bedrooms in APCHA’s deed-restricted units. We hope it’s successful because if it is, we are housing more people and utilizing a taxpayer-based program at greater efficiency.”

Rightsizing means the voluntary purchase and sale of deed restricted properties between two owners as co-applicants for the purpose of increasing the number of bedrooms available to a qualified owner of a smaller property and decreasing the number of bedrooms available to the owner of a larger property.

APCHA will not identify or match co-applicants. APCHA will review applications for rightsizing on a first-come, first-serve basis. No more than five will be approved without further APCHA Board approval. Applications that are within the Aspen Village Subdivision or the Lazy Glen Subdivision are exempt from this limitation.

Applications for a rightsizing swap will be available on a Google form on the APCHA website, The form,, will go live on Monday, May 15.

All transactions approved in the Rightsizing Pilot Program are exempt from the requirements for listing a property for sale, bid submissions, and the lottery process.

An applicant may qualify for a new unit that is the same as the currently owned unit or one category above or below such unit. For example, the owner of a category 3 unit may qualify for a swap to obtain a category 2, 3, or 4 unit.

To determine occupancy, a buyer who is upsizing must include all dependents who are 16 years old or younger as of the date of closing. A buyer who is downsizing must include all dependents who are 19 years old or younger as of the date of closing.

Mountain lion swaps girl in face, euthanized

BUENA VISTA — Colorado Parks and Wildlife reported on Thursday that officers euthanized a young mountain lion after it swatted an 11-year-old girl, leaving a puncture wound on her face on Wednesday evening.

According to CPW: The girl was attacked when she entered the family chicken coop to check on her chickens. She found one dead on the ground. When she opened the wooden hen house, the mountain lion was inside and swatted her in the face. CPW wildlife officers responded to the house, in a rural area southeast of Buena Vista, to find the small, sub-adult mountain lion still in the wire mesh coop. 

They quickly euthanized it, and its remains were sent to a CPW animal health lab in Fort Collins for examination. It was a young female that weighed about 30 pounds and appeared in good body condition, they said.

The girl was treated for a small puncture to her cheek and released at a Chaffee County hospital.

“This was a small mountain lion probably just looking for an easy meal in the chicken coop,” said Sean Shepherd, area wildlife manager based in Salida. “The victim likely surprised the lion. It probably felt threatened, and it swatted at her as she entered.”

He believes it was a defensive swat by the mountain lion and not a stalking-type of attack because the animal did not pursue the girl. Either way, he said, CPW takes such incidents very seriously, and officers responded aggressively to protect human health and safety.

“Mountain lion attacks are rare, but we can’t take any chances when any predator makes contact with a human,” Shepherd said. “And we need to know if there was anything else going on with this lion, such as rabies, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, or some other infection that may have influenced its behavior. So it must be euthanized and tested.”

He called it an unfortunate coincidence that CPW responded to another mountain lion attack in March in nearby Nathrop. In that incident, a man soaking in an in-ground hot tub was clawed in the head by a mountain lion. 

“Both of these incidents are highly unusual,” he said. “I do not believe there is a pattern here. These were unfortunate coincidences. Nothing more.”

CPW encourages residents to report mountain lion sightings or activity near their homes by calling their local CPW office or by calling Colorado State Patrol after business hours.

Prior to these two mountain lion incidents in Chaffee County, there had not been a mountain lion attack on a human in Colorado since Feb. 27, 2022.

Road between Gateway and Naturita expected to stay open

Highway 141 between Naturita and Gateway is expected to remain open Friday and throughout the weekend. Future safety closures may be needed as runoff levels continue to fluctuate, Colorado Department of Transportation officials said.

A safety closure is no longer necessary with cooling temperature trends projected to continue throughout the weekend, they said, as the Dolores and San Miguel rivers are not reaching the significant run-off levels predicted earlier this week. 

CDOT said it will continue to monitor the river levels and the bridge structure at Roc Creek for the remainder of the peak flow season. Future closures may be required depending on warming temperatures and fluctuating run-off levels, officials warned.  

Check for current road closures and conditions.

Bill aims to raise pay, benefits for wildland firefighters

U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse, D-Lafayette, co-chair of the Bipartisan Wildfire Caucus and ranking member of the House Subcommittee on Federal Lands, and Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colorado, introduced legislation to overhaul federal firefighter pay and benefits bolstering recruitment, retention, and well-being.

The legislation, Tim’s Act, is named in honor of Tim Hart, a smokejumper from Cody, Wyoming, who lost his life May 24, 2021, while battling the Eicks Fire in New Mexico. The bill is co-led by U.S. Rep. Katie Porter D-California, in the House.

Tim’s Act would increase base pay, improve deployment pay, support enhanced pay management oversight, and boost firefighter physical and mental well-being by ensuring firefighters receive paid rest and recuperation leave, Neguse said. Tim’s Act also aims to address many challenges that have plagued the wildland firefighter workforce for decades, he added.

“Wildland firefighters work long hours in harsh conditions to keep our communities safe,” said Porter. “But low pay, poor housing, and inadequate physical- and mental-health benefits, combined with worsening fire seasons, are pushing more and more talented wildland firefighters out of the workforce. Congress should have our firefighters’ backs, which is why I’m proud to reintroduce Tim’s Act with Rep. Neguse.”