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News in Brief

Private plane performs belly landing at airportA small private plane with landing gear troubles performed a successful crash landing Saturday at the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport, according to Aspen Deputy Fire Chief Rick Balentine.Dave Vorkenhagen piloted the single-engine Piper to a belly landing at approximately 4:30 p.m. He was not injured, but the runway at Sardy Field was closed for a short time. Flights had resumed their normal schedule by 6 p.m.Time change for Land Use Code meeting The final public meeting of the Pitkin County Land Use Code rewrite review will begin earlier than originally scheduled to accommodate final details of the review.The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 28 from 1 to 7 p.m. in the county commissioners’ meeting room at 530 East Main St. in Aspen, on the ground floor behind the Clerk and Recorder’s office.For more information log on to http://www.aspenpitkin.com/depts/7/plan_ landuse.cfm or call 920-5200.Pitco ranked No. 3 for ‘quality of life’Pitkin County ranked third in the nation for “quality of life” in a study conducted by the American City Business Journals, according to a statement issued by Pitkin County on Friday.Twenty statistical indicators were used to rate the quality of life in 3,141 counties and independent cities in the United States, the county stated. Topping the list is Los Alamos, N.M., home of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, which developed the first atomic bomb during World War II.In second place is Olmsted, Minn., which includes the city of Rochester, home of the famed Mayo Clinic. According to American City Business Journals, affluence plays a role in the rankings, which reward counties whose residents have large incomes, big homes and college degrees. High scores are also given for qualities not directly related to earning power, such as property taxes, new housing units and home value.Douglas County, Co., is in fourth place in the study. Douglas County is located between Denver and Colorado Springs. According to a recent report by the U.S. Census Bureau, it has the distinction of being the third-fastest-growing county in America.Forest Service approves resort’s expansion planCOPPER MOUNTAIN, Colo. (AP) – After six years of study, the U.S. Forest Service has approved an expansion plan that includes more snowmaking, more trails and a new chairlift for this Intrawest Corp. resort.”I’m excited about the new skiing and snowboarding opportunities and the efforts to bring resort infrastructure into a better balance with current use levels,” said Rick Newton, the district forest ranger in Dillon. “The mountain needed ways to update distribution and circulation of their guests.”The company isn’t ready yet to say when the expansion project will begin, said Gary Rodgers, Copper’s general manager.The most controversial part of the expansion would be a new Tucker Mountain lift, which would serve an area now only available part of the season by snowcat.Colorado Wild says the lift is unnecessary and could harm habitat of the rare Canada lynx.The new Tucker Mountain lift has been eagerly anticipated by some powder hounds and loyal Copper skiers. But the watchdog environmental group Colorado Wild criticized the lift , saying it was as an unnecessary expansion that could harm the rare lynx that have been reintroduced to the Colorado mountains in recent years.The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said the expansion could harm 103 acres of forest frequented by lynx in the winter. The Forest Service says the animals will be able to use the area when skiers aren’t around and can hide when slopes are crowded.White River National Forest ecologist Keith Gietzentanner said the goal is to make sure the threatened cats can get through the ski terrain to areas where there is plenty of food.Lynx regular transit the area, according to tracking data.


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