Friday, September 30, 2005

Wellington-Oro Mine Clean-up

After years of negotiations and multiple environmental studies, a Canadian company this week started treating acid-tinged water oozing out of the abandoned Wellington-Oro Mine in French Gulch in Breckenridge.

BioteQ, a Vancouver, B.C.-based company, was chosen in June as the preferred technology provider for the cleanup and started setting up operations at the Wellington-Oro site this past weekend. The pilot treatment plant will only be in operation for a few weeks, but if the test results meet expectations, construction of a permanent $1.2 million treatment facility could begin as soon as next spring, according to Brian Lorch, a resource specialist with the Summit County Open Space and Trails Department.

Treatment of the mine drainage is part of the larger cleanup issues surrounding the entire B&B open space deal, to be jointly funded by the town of Breckenridge and Summit County. BioteQ has offered to pay the cost of construction and one year of operation up front, with no money down from local governments, to make sure the treatment meets objectives.

The goal is to meet the water quality standards set during years of talks between local, state and federal water quality officials.The acid mine drainage from the Wellington-Oro contributes significant levels of cadmium and zinc to the waters of French Gulch and, in turn, the Blue River, impairing the aquatic ecosystem downstream. The goal of the treatment is to clean the water to where the Blue can support a self-sustaining brown trout fishery below its confluence with French Gulch. Treating the acid mine drainage at the site is also one element of the complex 1,800-acre open space deal for the old B&B mining lands in the vicinity of the Wellington-Oro.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Colorado Gets New Ski Area

The state is getting its 25th full-scale ski area high in the San Juan Mountains .

Silverton Mountain has received a permit from the Bureau of Land Management to operate over 1,300 acres — all expert-level terrain — with up to 475 skiers a day. The area has been open for four winters but only for guided skiing.

“It’s still going to feel, even with unguided skiers, uncrowded and vast,” said owner Aaron Brill.“Five hundred skiers a day is smaller than the smallest days at other ski areas.”

The BLM, after three years of review, granted Brill a permit Tuesday for 40 years. The public has 30 days to appeal the decision. It has one lift, but almost nothing in the way of amenities at its base. There’s no grooming and no snowmaking. The area receives an average of 400 inches of snow a year. With its steepest runs approaching 55 degrees, there’s typically no turning back.

The first unguided skiing will have to wait until April because the mountain’s terrain crosses snowpacks particularly vulnerable to slides. Brill wants to make sure his avalanche-clearing work is satisfactory before allowing snowriders out on their own.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Silverthrone RE/MAX Office Remodel Complete

RE/MAX Properties of the Summit has finished the remodel of its Silverthorne office.

The office is located along Highway 9 near the Interstate 70 exchange.

In addition to design elements meant to lend a more "mountainesque exterior," the new building is nearly double the size of the original office.

By expanding into the space previously occupied by Breeze Ski Rentals, The Silverthorne RE/MAX office now contains nearly 5,000 square feet, and has added 10 private office suites.

Company officials said they were pleased to finally get rid of the building dubbed, "The Ugliest Building with the Best Location in Summit County."

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Cyanide Heap-Leach Mining Redux

A three-judge panel will review District Judge David Lass's ruling that Summit County does not have the authority to regulate cyanide heap-leach mining.

As reported here a month or so ago the Judge ruled the county does not have the authority to regulate this mining process.

Cyanide heap-leach mining is a process through which mining companies extract gold from piles of low-grade crushed ore by drenching it with the cyanide solvent.

The appeal, filed with the Colorado Court of Appeals Sept. 19, stems from a lawsuit filed by the Colorado Mining Association against Summit County in March 2004 that challenged newly enacted county mining regulations. Judge Lass ruled that the county could not enact a ban on mining using cyanide-leaching processes because under state law, that regulatory power rests with the Colorado Mine Land Reclamation Board. Several other counties have enacted similar bans, and the Colorado Mining Association saw potential threats to existing and future mining activities. The Summit County case could be precedent-setting for the rest of the state.

The Sierra Club and the grassroots Alliance for Responsible Mining joined in the defense against the mining industry's challenge and will continue to be party to the case.

"Summit County hopes this appeal will restore the proper balance of power between the state and local governments in mining regulation that it believes state statutes and prior case law dictate," the county attorney's office stated in a press release.

"The county appreciates the district court's stated support for the county's 'well-intentioned attempts to protect its valued environmental interests,'" said County Commissioner Bob French. "However, we believe the Colorado Mining Association's preemption arguments do not allow for the proper exercise of important land-use powers provided to county governments by law."

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Wildfire Near Breckenridge is Under Control

Local and State fire districts and U.S. Forest Service are mopping up and performing clean-up from the wildfire that flared up yesterday near Summit High School, now named the Ophir Mountain Fire and urge the public to avoid the area of the fire for the remainder of the year.

The Forest Service is actively addressing the danger of falling trees within the burn area.

"However we are asking the public to stay out of the burn area for the foreseeable future due to the many hazards left behind from a wildfire, " said Rick Newton, Dillon District Ranger.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, however preliminary findings have indicated the fire to be human caused. U.S. Forest Service and local fire investigators will continue to investigate.

The fire burned approximately 16 acres.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Wildfire Breaks Out Near Breckenridge

A wildfire broke out near Summit High School yesterday afternoon. Summit High is located approximately 5 miles north of Breckenridge. Shortly after the fire was reported at about 2:40 p.m., black, billowing smoke engulfed the area near Swan Mountain Road.

The flames ignited a patch of pine trees about one-quarter of a mile above the high school, and quickly crept over the ridge and burned within 200 yards of the high school, said Lake Dillon Fire Authority public information officer Rachel Flood.

At its worst point, the fire threatened up to 50 homes, five of which were in imminent danger of being destroyed. A Forest Service slurry bomber flew in from Grand Junction and helped contain the fire.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated. A power outage was reported in the area about 20 minutes before the fire calls began coming in.

Monday, September 19, 2005

A-Basin Gets Facelift

The look of Arapahoe Basin's base area is changing for the first time in three decades with a new $1 million rental and repair shop.

The new building will be about 7,500 square feet (three times larger than the old building) and will house a rental and repair shop, restrooms, public waiting area and several caretaker apartments. The old facility was a fixture at the base area for much of the ski area's 59-year-old history, and was torn down shortly after the ski area closed last season.

The final product will resemble the base's other two green and white A-frame-style buildings, including the main lodge and the ski patrol building.

The new building is expected to be finished and open for business around the first of the year. Also new this year, A-Basin plans to step up the number of live music acts performing in the bar and offer soup and other snacks at the summit building.

The ski area is hoping to add 400 more acres of skiable terrain with an expansion into Montezuma Bowl, although the addition into the popular backcountry area isn't expected until the 2006-2007 season at the earliest.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Breckenridge Historic District Getting Tough

The uncertain distinction between "historic" and "just old" in Breckenridge is getting a lot of attention.

In a case that has received national attention, Randy Kilgore who in the past has been named local contractor of the year for his historic preservation work, was convicted of illegally demolishing a portion of a 122-year-old house.

"The town of Breckenridge has one of the largest historic districts in Colorado and takes very seriously the responsibility of preserving this community's historic past which is anchored by historic structures," said town spokesperson Kim DiLallo.

Kilgore argued that the portion of the venerable J.W. Evans house that he tore down was not historic, but a 1040s add-on, and that he was cited only because town inspectors moved too slowly to confirm that fact before the debris was hauled away.

Kilgore, whose wife, Janet Sutterley, is an architect who sits on the town's historic-preservation commission, contends he left messages with the building department for three days before hauling off the old material. When enforcement officers did show up, they found the entire rear historic structure missing, according to a written report, and later issued a "red tag," stopping work for over 2 months.

Although officials conceded the kitchen that was torn down was not as old as the rest of the house, they still took the case to court.

Municipal judge Buck Allen ultimately suspended the 10-day jail sentence for Kilgore but fined him $1,000.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Golf Tournament to Benefit Lake Dillon Preschool

The Lake Dillon Preschool 2005 Fall Classic Golf Tournament is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 25, at the Keystone Ranch Golf Course.

The tournament will start with a 10 a.m. shotgun "scramble" tournament with celebrity host Matt Renoux.

The cost is $100 per player, or $360 for a foursome, which includes green fees and cart rental, practice balls and goody bag, contests and prizes, apr├ęs reception and a silent auction.

Registration deadline is Saturday. For details and registration forms, please contact Lake Dillon Preschool at (970) 468-1606.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Ski Season less than a Month Away?

Believe it or not, we're probably less than a month away from the first ski resorts opening. Last year Loveland opened on October 15. That's getting the diehards excited.

When reminded of how close we are to last year’s opening date Loveland’s Mark Abrahamson laughed.

“No wonder I can’t sleep at night and my stomach hurts and I’ve got a headache — because I’ve gotta get the snowmaking fired up!” he said, chuckling but not kidding.

Abrahamson runs Loveland’s snowmaking operations. Loveland has opened first five straight years, and 17 of the last 23. (Arapahoe Basin opened Oct. 22 last year, a week after its neighbor on the Continental Divide.)

According to Abrahamson, Loveland’s guns should be making snow within the next seven days. 28 degrees is the ideal temperature to make snow and during this past week the nightime temperatures have been in the 30s. The forecast calls for low temperatures to remain in the 30s for the next 10 days. And at 12,000 feet that means temperatures in the 20s.

The traditional battle for the first resort to open is usually between Loveland and Arapaho Basin.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Winter is Close at Hand in Breckenridge

The low last night was 35 degrees at my house. It spit snow off and on all day yesterday.

The top of Peak 9 had a dusting of snow on it this morning - above 12,000 feet.

A friend from Fairplay said they had snow in town last night.I

t has snowed and rained off and on most of the day today - yet we had sunshine as well.

Yes, winter is close at hand in the Rocky Mountains.

It's 44 degrees outside now (5:15 p.m.) and a fine, cold mist is falling.

The aspen trees are beginning to turn a brilliant gold and red in color.

Yes, winter is close at hand in Breckenridge.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Local Film Maker Seeks Music

The filming of "Did I Say Thousand Island?" by local director Patti DiVita ended on Aug. 28.

She is now editing hours of footage and finding the perfect music to accompany the Summit County-set romantic comedy about restaurant life.

"We got it made! We got it done, and no one got paid anything for it. I t's amazing how everyone really pulled together," she said. "That's a minor miracle in itself."

DiVita, who set a vigorous three-week filming schedule, said she hopes to have a rough-cut of the film ready in about a week because of upcoming film festival deadlines.

She's seeking local bands and musicians to submit music to provide the movie's soundtrack.

"Some of the people in the movie really want to be actors; and in the same vein of wanting to propel their dreams, I'd like to do that with musicians as well," she said.

DiVita said she wants a wide variety of music, but nothing too heavy."I don't think this movie is geared toward the 18- to 25-year-olds," she said.

"There's a lot of dialogue. It's more mellow. I don't want music that's head-banging."

She said she's also interested in including contemporary tunes and some classic rock.

"There's a great range of emotions in the movie, and I would like the range of music to be the same," she said.DiVita was originally interested in including some '70s tunes from bands like Led Zeppelin; however, she soon realized that would run up a bill totaling thousands of dollars.

She pointed out that, like the actors who volunteered their time, musicians will have to donate their music to the film at no cost.

"For now, they would just have the opportunity to get their music in a movie," she said. "It's all unknowns just trying to get exposure."

Interested musicians should contact DiVita as soon as possible at (303) 818-6177 or leftviewproductions@

Monday, September 12, 2005

Ford National V-8 Car Meet in Keystone

The weeklong Western National V-8 Ford Car Meet started today in Keystone.

Nearly 220 registered participants are signed up, with more drive-ins expected for the gathering, which will be run under the direction of National Chief Judge Waymon Brownlee.

All cars present will be 1932-1953 Ford, Lincoln or Mercury models, judged on the accuracy of the owner's restoration to the car or truck's condition when it rolled out of Henry Ford's factory. Owners who earn 950 points out of the possible 1,000 win the Dearborn Award, the highest honor at such an event, where cars are not compared against one another but against the standard of the Ford Company.

This Wednesday the cars will be lined up in Tenderfoot Parking Lot at Keystone and judged from roughly 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spectators are welcome, as long as they don't touch the cars or interfere with the judges.

There will 10 to 12 classes spanning 21 years of cars, with perhaps five to 10 cars in each class. There can be multiple Dearborns awarded per class, or none at all.

A separate class of vehicles not considered for Dearborns will be the touring class, cars from the '32 to '53 era that have been modified from their original states.

Thursday and Friday the cars will tour Summit County, going from Keystone to Leadville, Montezuma, Breckenridge, Frisco, and Dillon. At five consecutive stops on Friday owners will pick up a playing card to form a Poker hand. Those with the best hands will be awarded prizes at Friday's banquet, where Dearborn winners will also be recognized.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Breckenridge Ranks No. 7 on Ski Magazine List

Breckenridge again made the top 10 in Ski Magazines top ski resorts.

The readers of Ski Magazine ranked Breckenridge number 7 overall. Although that is a drop of one position from last year when it was rated number 6.

Deer Valley, Utah, supplanted Vail as the No. 1 ski resort among readers of SKI Magazine.

Vail received the runner-up position, besting five Colorado resorts in the top 10.

"Statistically, the drop is fairly insignificant," said Greg Ditrinco, executive editor for SKI. "You can't really point to one area they fell precipitously."

Vail ranked in the top spot three of the last four years, and six times in the past decade. But the resort's success can be an enemy, said Greg Ditrinco, executive editor for SKI.

Summit's other resorts, Copper Mountain, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin, failed to make the top 10.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

11th Annual Breckenridge Oktoberfest Celebration

Breckenridge's annual Oktoberfest is next weekend - September 16 - 18.

The street party will take place in the 100 and 200 blocks of south Main Street from 11 a.m. - 6 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. - 5 p.m. on Sunday.

The Brewmaster's Dinner on Friday night is hosted by Paulaner Bier and the Swiss Haven restaurant and will take place at Swiss Haven - 325 S. Main Street. For tickets call the Swiss Haven restaurant at 970-453-6969.

The party kicks off on Saturday with a performance by the Summit Concert Band from 11 a.m. - Noon. Followed by the ceremonial keg tapping at the music stage. Live music all weekend long featuring T.A.G. (Those Austrian Guys, led by Peter Krainz).

The Team Summit Ski Swap will be held at the RiverWalk Center during the weekend, as well.

The annual Oktoberfest 5k Run and Walk will take place at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Authentic German beers provided by Paulaner Bier and a variety of traditional and creative food will be available at street fair prices.

Additional information is available at 970-453-6018.

Friday, September 09, 2005


Grab your steins! Don your dirndls! The annual September tradition of Oktoberfest is back in town.

This Saturday, Frisco Main Street will be brimming with beer, bratwurst and Bavarian culture for the fourth annual Frisco Oktoberfest.

Aromas of Landjager summer sausage and herbed spatzle will fill the air, as the Edelweiss Schulplatters grace the streets with traditional Bavarian dancing. And Sunday, the festivities continue at Copper Mountain's Burning Stones Plaza and Keystone's River Run Plaza.

"Traditionally, an Oktoberfest is a celebration of a Bavarian wedding," Suzanne Burke, special events coordinator for the town of Frisco, said of this weekend's movable feast. "Obviously we have no connection to that. Here it's a mountain-town tradition of celebrating our mountain lifestyle. Ours is centered around beers and brats. We drink, and we do the chicken dance. That's what we do."

Breckenridge's Oktoberfest will be held later this month.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Breckenridge Festival of Film

The 25th annual Breckenridge Festival of Film began today and runs through Sunday at various locations, including the Speakeasy Movie Theatre, Breckenridge Theatre, Breckenridge Town Hall videoamphitheatre, Maggie Pond and Summit High School.

The festival features independent films, premieres, a kids' film and GLBT films. A new program of films created by Summit High School students will also be shown this year.Guests and celebrities like JoBeth Williams ("Poltergeist," "Big Chill" and "Into the Fire," premiering at the festival), Connie Nielsen ("Gladiator," "Great Raid"), director/producer David Semel ("Dawson's Creek," NBC's "House"), festival host Jeffrey Lyons (syndicated WNBC-TV film critic) and Ben Lyons (MTV's "Your Film Show") will be making appearances throughout the weekend at forums and panel discussions.

The festival's 25th anniversary Gala will take place at 6 p.m. today at the Top of the World Restaurant at the Lodge and Spa in Breckenridge. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online at, at the Riverwalk Center box office by calling (970) 547-3100 or at the door. The evening will include appetizers, dinner, wine, dessert and dancing.

The Smirnoff Martini Smash will take place Saturday evening in honor of the festival at 9 p.m. at Salt Creek. Cost is $10 and includes a selection of complimentary food and martinis and dancing. For more information about the festival, visit

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Weed Control in Summit County

The number of invasive, noxious weeds so common to our area has been knocked down a notch this summer.

"We've gotten a lot of work done," said Lisa Taylor, who heads the Summit County Weed Program, a local group charged by the Board of County Commissioners to control invasive species of noxious weeds from inhabiting native areas around Summit County. When even small weed infestations are left unchecked, they can spread like biological wildfire, plaguing lands that may never recover from the arrival of an invasive species.

The weed control season is coming to a close as summer starts to wane - weed control is concentrated from May through September.

Taylor's group is finishing up a season spent spraying from one end of the county to the other. According to Taylor, her group completed two "treatments" on all of the county's major roads. Some of the more traveled corridors that got the full treatment this season were along Highway 9 from the Grand County line to the town of Silverthorne, along Highway 6 from the town of Dillon to the top of Loveland Pass, on the roadside between the towns of Frisco and Breckenridge and on the south end of the county from Breckenridge to the top of Hoosier Pass.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Summit County 4-H Club Helping Displaced Animals

Though human tragedy is the dominant concern among the thousands of aid workers along the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the situation of displaced animals is the focus of several local organizations.

Summit County 4-H members are raising funds for pets endangered by the hurricane.

They will be collecting donations and goods through Friday from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at Safeway in Frisco. Leashes, pet food, litter bags and food bowls are all welcome at the 4-H table, and will be shipped to Mississippi and Louisiana after the collection period is over.

Monetary donations will be sent to the Veterinary Memorial Foundation in Baton Rouge, La., the main local animal rescue group working in the disaster area.

Larger professional organizations are also getting involved. The Denver branch of the American Humane Association deployed its Animal Emergency Services rescue rig to the Gulf Coast last week, loaded with pet food and supplies. The mobile unit can serve as both a veterinary clinic and a temporary shelter for endangered animals.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Intrawest and Copper Mountain

Top Intrawest executives will provide an overview of a new development plan for the Copper Mountain village at the annual state-of-the-resort meeting today, outlining a 15-year vision aimed at ensuring the long-term sustainability of the resort.

“Last July was not a great time for us,” said Intrawest regional vice president Joe Whitehouse, referring to county commissioners’ denial of a previous plan that ended a long and bruising planning process.

Among the main issues were concerns over parking and a density increase that ran against the grain of Summit County’s stated intent to prevent up-zoning and cap development at currently approved levels, while allowing exceptions for affordable housing and transferred development rights.

A proposed gondola through the village was also a contentious point. Whitehouse said resort officials spent the past year reflecting on what makes a community and what makes a sustainable resort, and worked closely with major stakeholders, including employees, merchants, homeowners and the nearby town of Frisco to reshape the proposal.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Ski Pass Frenzy Starts Today

Vail Resorts will offer last springs' prices in Summit County next weekend, in Denver this weekend and online through Monday.

Copper Mountain and Winter Park start selling passes at preseason prices today.

Loveland Ski Area is offering its unrestricted season passes, four packs, the midweek pass, three class pass and frequent user card today.

Vail Resorts offerings include: The Colorado Pass, which offers unlimited days at Keystone, Breckenridge and A-Basin and 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek for $349. The Buddy Pass offers unlimited skiing at Breckenridge, Keystone and A-Basin for $309. Beginning September 6, prices will increase by $20 for every pass. For more information about pass sales, contact the Colorado Sales Office at 303-504-5870.

The Rocky Mountain Super Pass offers unlimited access to Copper Mountain and Winter Park and is on sale for $329. Winter Park only passes are $259 and Copper Mountain only passes are $279. Passes can be purchased at

Loveland's unrestricted pass is on sale for $139. These passes can be purchased at Prices are good through November 21.