Su Lum: Slumming | AspenTimes.com
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Su Lum: Slumming

Su Lum
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

I just finished watching the PBS special, “Ice Age Death Trap,” about the discovery of massive amounts of prehistoric bones in 2010 during an excavation for a reservoir at Snowmass. To say that it was a disappointment would be an understatement.

The entire focus of the program – entirely speculative – was on what happened to cause the death of all the mastodons, mammoths, sloths, camelops and huge bison that were unearthed in a hurried dig that brought 4,000 bones to the surface in six weeks.

Various theories were advanced including avalanche, earthquake and even human intervention. The latter was admittedly far-fetched (humans were yet to arrive on the scene) and would be as revolutionary as the discovery that the world was round and revolved around the sun.

Snowmass (Village, town of, at-Aspen) has fallen upon about as low a time as a ski resort can fall to. The proposed wonderful “Base Village” is a huge hole (speaking of excavations) with its proposed hotels and time-shares in various states of bankruptcy and receivership.

Add a bad snow year and you have a resort in deep trouble.

Then voila, out of the blue, an amazing discovery was unearthed by the operator of an earth-moving machine while digging out the site for the Ziegler Reservoir. The rest, as they say, would be history. Instead, “the rest” was a frenzied dig followed by the filling of the reservoir.

My question is, “Why didn’t Snowmass call an immediate halt to the reservoir and concentrate instead on the historic dig?” I have never understood this. The discovery of those bones and their continuing efforts to find more bones and more clues to the mystery could put Snowmass on the map without dependence upon snowfall.

Does Snowmass need a reservoir – that particular reservoir? I don’t keep up with Snowmass news, but I never heard that they were running out of water, creating the huge emergency of the rush to dig the ancient bones in a mere 50 days. Why not put it on hold until the dig was properly completed, or forever.

The way it played out, Snowmass – Snowmastodon – was handed the golden goose on a silver platter and promptly buried it. Surely there were legal land-use reasons but we know those can be overcome.

If there had been a public outcry that might have done the trick but I didn’t hear a peep, certainly not a scream.

The people in the film did not complain, they only repeated that they had never had to excavate so quickly and had only scratched the surface of what’s down there.

They probably didn’t dare rock the boat when it was easier to get what they could salvage and take the party line that the bones will all be safe and sound under the water.

In other words, wait until saner minds prevail, the reservoir is drained and they can go back and do it properly.


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