A few recent stories and essays

The news briefly from mountain towns  From Whistler to Taos, a weekly recap of news from mountain resort towns of the North American West. Continue reading →

Remembering when all of Colorado seemed to be on fire Fifteen years ago, three major forest fires were roaring in Colorado, making even city streets feel like a dystopian sci-fi movie. I remember a Sunday hiking up a mountain above Camp Hale, seeing the smoke of two of the three fires than raging. From an airplane, then-governor Bill Owens saw even more, returning to Denver to report, “It looks like all of Colorado is burning today.” In the 15 years since that summer of fire, what have we learned? Continue reading 

Sort-of normal spring runoff in an abnormal year Colorado’s Yampa River peaked in mid-May and the same looked to have happened in Idaho’s Wood River. But generally, peak runoff is happening now, in early June. Continue reading →

Why the push to allow pollution and waste? What a loopy cause for Republicans in Congress to get behind: the right to pollute and waste a valuable resource. That was the crux issue of the methane debate. Continue reading →

Wildlife overpasses in Colorado yield fewer carcasses Wildlife biologists have found far fewer deer carcasses after two overpasses and several underpasses were installed in Highway 9 in Colorado. Elsewhere in Western states, underpasses and overpasses are being pursued as a way of keeping hoofs off hoods, wildlife out of ditches and people out of hospitals. Continue reading

Why the push to allow pollution and waste? What a loopy cause for Republicans in Congress to get behind: the right to pollute and waste a valuable resource. That was the crux issue of the methane debate. Continue reading

How can coal communities cushion the landing? Coal communities have shed jobs for more than a century. More are certain to be lost as the fuel loses favor because of cheaper natural gas and renewables. But coal communities have been shedding jobs for more than a century. What lessons form the past should they draw upon? Continue reading

Chasing ice and chasing climate solutions in Colorado Local climate action or higher-level policy advocacy? It’s a familiar argument, and it came up at Aspen as the Compact of Colorado Communities was launched. Continue reading

Remembering but not honoring Confederate war leaders As statues honoring Confederate leaders go down in New Orleans, the question lingers even in places like Aspen: What do our statues say about us? Continue reading

Why Aspen thinks we need another climate change group What’s lacking in the Colorado climate story? Aspen’s city government believes it’s a network geared toward assisting internal change in local communities. Continue reading 

The warming Arctic and our weird weather here The big winter in California—and, before that, four years of not much snow? The big and repeated snows in Boston several years ago? They, along with … Continue reading

Apartment developer aims for new, energy-smart way Developer Brice Leconte says he aims to revolutionize how apartments are made in the United States, and that goal has him partnering in research with NREL. One of his strategies will be to bring gaming theory to energy use. Continue reading

Authenticity in towns draws people and jobs Consultant Clark Anderson tells coal-reliant communities that creating places where people want to live is even more important than providing jobs. He points to Carbondale, Colo., as a shining example of what others should hope to achieve. Continue reading

The fracture lines over how to cushion the retirement of coal plants to dependent  communities in Colorado  A bill that would cushion closed coal plants encounters fractures in the Colorado Legislature, both along party lines but also among environmentalists. Continue reading

Squaw tinkers with extreme ski season  California’s Squaw Valley plays with an improbable ski season. And one climate scientist say this record precipitation is partly the result of global warming. Continue reading

How Trump galvanized one community’s renewable energy goal While President Donald Trump vows to bring back coal, South Lake Tahoe is pushing in the opposite direction: It wants 100% renewables and deep decarbonization. In articulating that goal, it joins a growing number of municipalities, including several in Colorado and Utah, who think it’s possible to make deep cuts in carbon. Continue reading

What to expect in our mountain forests as the climate warms Warming temperatures have already made Rocky Mountain forests more vulnerable to disturbances, but the changes have only begun. The general trend described by Tony Cheng, director of the Colorado Forest Restoration Institute, is of a longer fire season, now beginning some years in March. Fires have been burning hotter. Even now, 15 years after the Hayman Fire of 2002, the largest fire in Colorado’s recorded history, which also occurred in the foothills southwest of Denver, lands have been slow to regenerate. Continue reading

Who gains as the ski industry gets a second big whale? Last week’s ski industry announcements by Aspen Skiing and KSL Capital Partners have implications from the Atlantic to the Pacific, both in Canada and the U.S. Continue reading

Will Trump cut Amtrak service to ski towns? If the Trump administration has its way, Amtrak will lose subsidies for its long-distance routes. At least two of those Amtrak trains roll through ski country. Continue reading

The steady progression of C02 at Colorado’s Niwot Ridge Colorado’s Niwot Ridge is one of the world’s best sites for measuring the alarming progression of carbon dioxide accumulations in the atmosphere. Continue reading

The fallacy of Trump’s vow to restore the coal economy  With coal miners at his side, President Donald Trump last week signed an executive order that seeks to undo the … Continue reading

The coming disruptions of self-driving electric cars Having made a career out of creating disruptive technology of his own, Rutt Bridges surveys the technological disruption of self-driving and electric cars. Continue reading

Denver’s very interesting smart city laboratories Under the heading of smart city, Denver has much research underway that will inform homes of the future, how they connect to the grid, and even how we travel. Continue reading

Why electrical utilities will soon be very different Roof-top solar collectors may soon more than double in efficiency, but there are many other changes underway in how we produce and consume electricity Continue reading →

What Donald Trump can’t reverse about clean energy Trump may try to reverse climate change policies, but one president can do only so much, says Bill Ritter, Colorado’s former governor. He cites state and local clean energy policies, including those supported by Republican governors. Continue reading →

Building climate bridges, not walls Instead of hurling the epithet “climate denier” across the wall, the climate change movement needs to more assiduously build bridges to middle America. We must find  commonalities under the tent of red, white and blue patriotism. Stress America’s exceptionalism. The United States should lead this global transformation in energy innovation. That will make a great America even greater. Continue reading →

Global warming and a cold morning in Colorado Colder even than a banker’s heart: a 61-below morning in Colorado by Allen Best Cold temperatures of early January had me digging deep into my dresser drawers for long johns. I’ve rarely worn them since the late 1990s, when I … Continue reading →

What we can learn from California’s energy experience California had many laws and programs to reduce the footprint of greenhouse gas emissions from its economy, and some have worked better than others. All are worth studying. Continue reading

Remembering the Rockies rambles of Jack Kerouac When Jack Kerouac and his companions were traipsing across North America after World War II, there were no interstate highways. Those traveling from … Continue reading →

Unexpected warmth inside shrinking Athabasca Glacier In bowels of shrinking Athabasca Glacier, the air was eerily warm JASPER, Alberta — If you drive north from Lake Louise for an hour and a half, you will come to the Columbia Icefields, a sprawl of glaciers along the Continental … Continue reading →

What Colorado town will be stand-in for Aspen in 1970? A movie is to be made about Hunter Thompson’s 1970 campaign to become Pitkin County sheriff on the Freak Party ticket. What Colorado town today most closely resembles Aspen then? Continue reading →

Grand Lake was integrated into Colorado’s largest transmountain diversion project in the 1940s. Photo/Grand Lake Chamber of Commerce

Getting clarity at Grand Lake on a murky water problem When it approved federal funding for the Colorado-Big Thompson project in 1937, Congress specified that the scenic  attraction of Grand Lake not be sullied. Almost immediately after transmountain diversions began in 1953, locals complained of murky water. Now, at last, efforts are being made to restore the clarity of Colorado’s deepest and largest natural lakes.  Solutions, though, have been elusive. Continue reading →

jeff-lukas-slide-againThe slow, snowless start to ski season Many ski areas in Colorado this year postponed opening until after Thanksgiving. Weather is inherently variable, and ski areas have overcome that variability in snow by investments in snowmaking. But conventional snowmaking still requires cold temperatures. A new report paints a broad picture of warming. Continue reading →

Existential threats in the Colorado River Basin From 3The plug called Hoover Dam has created an impressive body of water from the air, even after 16 years of reduced flows. September 2016/Allen Best8,000 feet in a jet, Hoover Dam looks to be  a remarkable achievement. The giant plug in the Colorado River about 30 miles outside Las Vegas, the cause
of the swathes of blue in the tan desert landscape, stands as a testament to 20th century American ingenuity, stubbornness, and political will. 
From the crest of the dam, the achievement looks more flawed. Lake Mead has dropped 130 feet since 2000, when it was full. It’s now at 37 percent of capacity and declining rapidly enough to capture the full attention of water managers from Los Angeles to Denver. Continue reading →

The 2012 debate in Nebraska about the Keystone XL In May 2012, Nebraska was stewing about whether to support the Keystone XL pipeline across the state. I traveled there to talk with people in small-town libraries, cafes, and a cow pastures along the Niobrara River. Continue reading

slide_03_soldiers_marchingRestoring the Eagle River in Camp Hale Work could begin in 2018 in restoring the Eagle River at Camp Hale, the training site for the 10th Mountain Division, to something more closely resembling the twisting, meandering river that existed before 1942. Until then, the Eagle River will more resemble an irrigation ditch than a free-flowing river in a mountain valley. Continue reading →

fraser-river-kirk-klancke-photo-by-trout-unlimited-reducedAn alchemy of water in the Colorado River headwaters A decade ago, Kirk Klancke had hard, cold feelings about Denver Water. Now, he’s enthusiastic about the agency that is responsible for diverting so much of the native water in creeks of the Fraser Valley. His changed feelings are a result of Learning by Doing, an adaptive management programs that seeks to do more with less. Continue reading →

Tesla beats electric path to ski towns Tesla is creating a “gallery” in Aspen this winter and installing fast-charging stations in out-of-the-way but high-end places. Electric car infrastructure is also being installed in Jackson Hole “The future (of electric vehicles) is almost unstoppable at this point,” says Michael Ogburn, director of operations at EdgePower, a company of cloud-based energy management systems for larger commercial users. “This is all happening in the middle of low gas prices.” Continue reading →

pricecreekanimalovercrossingvergBig year for wildlife overpasses in West It’s been a big year for wildlife overpasses in the West, but the most ambitious project of them all may be at Snoqualmie Pass,about an hour east of Seattle. Tony Clevenger of the Western Transportation Institute calls the Snoqualmie project “by far the most ecologically comprehensive mitigation project I’m aware of in North America and likely the world.”  Continue reading →

Big mountaijackson-from-snow-kingns and wealth canyons in Jackson Hole The sky-piercing Teton Range defines Jackson Hole, but all people seem to be talking about is the great chasm of wealth. It is, by one statistical definition, the wealthiest place in the United States. Weekly, the debate goes on about how to create more of a middle between the wealthy and the struggling.  Continue reading →

Citizens’ Climate Lobby building carbon tax bridges Citizens’ Climate Lobby members like Andrew Zeiler of Durango have been trying to build bridges to advance a carbon tax, which members prefer to call carbon fee and dividend. Continue reading →

Battery storage, microgrids and grid resiliency Is battery storage where the cost of solar PV was before prices began tumbling. If so, it could allow much deeper penetration of renewables into the electrical grid. Xcel Energy is trying to get ahead of that curve. Continue reading →

Insights on net-zero energy homes in Colorado Architects explain challenge and successes of net-zero energy home building in Colorado and what is needed to replicate these successes. Continue reading →

Hemingway purloined antlers returned to Ketchum at last Hunter Thompson traveled to Idaho in 1964 to investigate what had drawn Ernest Hemingway to Ketchum. Leaving, he took with him a bit of Hemingway memorabilia, the writer’s elk antlers. Continue reading →

Making snow illustrates need for carbon tax A California ski resort summer snowmaking fanned outrage by climate change activists. Should it? Why not let the carbon tax decide what’s outrageous? Continue reading →

Pier and Lake Tahoe and distant shore downsizedWarming evidence in latest report of Lake Tahoe Lake Tahoe has warmed recently as never before, slowing recent gains in improved lake clarity and illustrating remarkably rapid environmental change. Continue reading →

Climate change a factor in Vail Resorts swallowing Whistler Vail Resorts swallows the biggest fish in the sea of North American skiing, and here’s why the deal works for both fo them. One angle is climate change, as representatives conceded when they announced the impendign deal in early August. Continue reading →

Colorado starts preparing for return of wolves Colorado wildlife officials have started taState parks wolf imagelking about when, instead of whether, wolves will recolonize the state—and warned hunters that it’s illegal to kill wolves as the species is listed for protection under the Endangered Species  Act. What a difference from 2004. Continue reading

Retrofitting dams in the West for hydroelectric Granby Dam is among several in the West with hydroelectric retrofits. Why not Jackson Lake Dam in Grand Teton National Park? After all, it’s already built. It could provide much of the  electricity needed by the nearby town of Jackson. Continue reading →

American Seregeti image‘The American Serengeti’ of Dan Flores In “American Serengeti: The Last Big Animals of the Great Plains,” Dan Flores richly details the demise of the great herds once found on the Great Plains and argues compellingly for at least a partial restoration comparable to a Yellowstone. Continue reading →

Crumbling remains of the mining town of Gilman can be seen form U.s. 24 south of Minturn. Photo/Allen Best

The money trail from Battle Mountain in Colorado Sale of old mining claims on Battle Mountain, near Vail, have been parlayed into a new, private ski area in the San Juans called the Cimarron Mountain Club. But the real estate project near Vail still struggles to move forward. Continue reading →

Roiling, roaring runoff of mountain water The exqsite roar of roiling water in mountain creeks and rivers by Allen Best It’s that exquisite time of year in the Rocky Mountains when winter dissolves into summer and snow into water, roiling and roaring in the annual runoff … Continue reading →

When hot becomes a killer Adapting to climate change might be easier if those changes announced themselves by rapping on your door and thrusting business cards into your hand. Continue reading →

While reservoirs by definition rise and fall, the story at Lake Mead this century, shown here in December 2015, has been mostly that of falling. Photo/Allen Best

The causes of Lake Mead’s expanding bathtub ring Drought has been blamed for declining water levels in Lake Mead and other Colorado River reservoirs, but Brad Udall also points to increased evaporation and transpiration resulting from rising temperatures. Continue reading →

Ski Town Showdown and the Georgetown Energy Prize With the $5 million Georgetown Energy Prize on the line, Aspen and Park City have become neck-and-neck competitors—but also collaborators. Continue reading →

Noise, noise noise Helicopter and Harleys create a roar in Glacier, but go to Nevada for some quiet. And measuring the loudness of concerts in Telluride. Continue reading →

Communicating cars on I-70 C-DOT is putting together the communications pieces that will eventually allow cars on I-70 and I-25 to talk to each other, improving safety and expanding highway capacity. Continue reading →

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar go for a spin near Standley Lake moments after the ceremonial snipping of the ribbon. Photo/Robert Mansheim, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Rocky Mountain Greenway’s neighborhoods to nature With Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar wheeling down a path, another segment of the Rocky Mountain Greenway was opened Saturday. It seeks to connect neighborhoods to nature. But what nature? Continue reading →

Butt out, feds, Colorado’s new water law says The “message” that Colorado legislators sent the federal government about water was approved unanimously, but below the veneer remains strong disagreements. Continue reading →

Ancient WyomingKirk Johnson’s best place on Earth  The Smithsonian’s Kirk Johnson says Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin is the best place on Earth to understand the history of our planet. He tells why in the new book he has authored. But his family history is plenty interesting, too. Continue reading

What solar needs to penetrate more deeply in Colorado Solar numbers are starting to add up in Colorado, part of a now fast-moving transition in energy paradigms. But the solar sector sees significant challenges. Continue reading

8 Gore Creek with sunlight again reduced

Vail takes aim at pollution in Gore Creek Vail’s Gore Creek looks pristine, but bug counters tell a different story  by Allen Best Gore Creek originates in splishes and splashes among tussocks of grass in the eponymously named range of 13,000-foot peaks in north-central Colorado. There, the water … Continue reading →

The future of Colorado coal townsCoal It Keeps Our LIghts On reduced  Craig and other Colorado coal towns have made a good living during the last 35 years. But as for their futures, that’s a bit murkier. But does Salida offer a viable role model for how to transition to a new career? Continue reading →

Why Carbondale’s carbon tax failed Why voters left the C02 in Carbondale by Allen Best It wasn’t even close. Voters in Carbondale, one of the most progressive towns in Colorado said no, absolutely not, to a proposed carbon tax. The vote on April 5 was … Continue reading →

Downtown Denver downsizedWill Denver’s future reservoirs lie underfoot? Denver continues to explore its subterranean aquifers to see if they can be used for storage as Colorado’s largest municipal water provide faces the uncertainties posed by climate change and population growth.
Continue reading

The Damocles sword hanging over Crested Buttecrested butte colorfully In Crested Butte, new hope after 40 years that the potential for mining of a molybdenum ore body in nearby Mt. Emmons can be retired. The circumstances are complex, the details yet to be worked out. Continue reading →

When will the Henderson Mine shut down? A year ago, Freeport-McMoRan officials warned local officials in Colorado to expect that the Henderson Mine would close within 10 years. Then, they shortened it to five. What will local towns and counties do once the tax revenues subside? Continue reading →

Risign temps and skiingWhich ski areas might actually gain as a result of rising temperatures? It’s not all doom and gloom for ski areas or snow, at least not in the next few decades. But as temperatures increase in both day adn night, especially those ski areas at lower elevations  will face struggles. Here’s the in’s and out’s with some of the best minds applied to the viability of skiing in the near future — and the more dismal view in the long term.  Continue reading →

Tram-02 best shotJackson Hole soaring on its 50th birthday Just why is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort punching so vigorously above its weight on its 50th birthday? It might something to do with some time-honored principles of the ski business. Continue reading →

Lake Powell tied at the turbines to ski lifts Upcoming studies seek to get a firmer grip on how much water can be developed in the Colorado River headwaters without imperiling production of electricity at Glen Canyon Dam.

SouthwestDryingMap reducedDrought in Colorado River Basin best explained by temperatures You must invoke temperature to explain the current Colorado River drought, says the Colorado Water institute’s Brad Udall about the intersection of water and global warming. Continue reading  And also, a new study finds reduced precipitation in the American Southwest in the last several decades to accompany rising temperatures. But the big picture of water remains to be painted. Continue reading →

Climate change politics after Paris deconstructed The politics of climate change and energy, both national and international, were sorted out in a delightful panel discussion at the University of Colorado Boulder. And then there was some bluster, too. Continue reading

Why the Clean Air Act didn’t clean up the air In 1970, Congress grandfathered existing coal-fired power plants from requirements of the Clean Power Plan. Some of them have been poisoning our skies ever since Continue reading

TCrested Butte avalanche reducedhe statistics of this winter’s tragic avalanches January was a horrible month for deadly avalanches in the North American West, but the most important statistics are those that describe slope gradients.

Mountain lions cause scare in Coloradomountain lion, photo Kevin Russell, Division of Wildlife, reduced The shadows of Colorado mountain towns have become more suspect this winter since dogs in Vail, Steamboat Springs, and other towns have been killed by the big cats variously called mountain lions, cougars, and pumas. Continue reading

Colorado Climate Future Coalition being formed Mountain town and counties have been among those solicited to join a new organization called the Colorado Climate Future Coalition. Organizers say the group would seek to create a collective voice for advocacy to advance the climate-action goals of local governments.
Continue reading

Ski area water rights on forest lands In late December, the U.S. Forest Service announced a compromise with the ski industry in their feud over water rights. Both sides gave ground, but just as interesting was who didn’t get deeply involved. Continue reading 

John Fcolorados-yampa-river-book-coverielder and the Yampa River Landscape photographer John Fielder was in Denver recently to show his lovely photographs of the Yampa River. Originating in Colorado’s Flat Top Mountains, below a razor-thin ridge  called the Devil’s Causeway, it flows 40 miles to Steamboat Springs and then, amid the sandstone spires of Dinosaur National Park, merges with the Green River.  It’s a notable river for its history and relative absence of dams, but it’s not without a few problems, too. Continue reading →

Niwot Ridge photo 6 reducedColorado’s vanishing glaciers Colorado has few glaciers, and they’re small. Soon, they will likely vanish, say researchers after observing the decline of ice in Arikaree Glacier. The glacier in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains might vanish within 20 years, says Mark Williams, of the Univeristy of Colorado’s Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research.  Continue reading →

Carbondale’s proposed carbon tax If residents approve in April, the former coal-mining town of Carbondale, Colo., will become one of the first U.S. municipalities to adopt a carbon tax. The revenue would be used to make homes and businesses more energy efficient and, perhaps, renewable energy and cutting-edge energy innovations.  Continue

Colorado’s legislative green agenda Colorado legislators have a limited appetite for an ambitious green agenda this session, but expect bills about drilling and the Clean Power Plan. Also expect to see bills that work around the edges of carbon reduction, such as a bill to make it easier to claim credits for Continue reading →

Road after Paris climate agreement In a session called the Road after Paris, four Coloradans told inside stories from the climate change negotiations but agreed that the hard work now returns to state and local governments. Some of the inside perspectives of being close to the negotiating table in Paris.

Top 10 stChinese and scarves downsizedories of 2015 From Chinese in Yellowstone to Durango’s discolored river and Whistler’s shrinking glacier, 10 big stories in mountain resort towns of the West in 2015 and why they mattered. 

Self-driving cars on I-70 Road X represents the Colorado Department of Transportation’s intentions to be at the forefront of accommodating self-driving cars, and data sources are being set up along I-70 for eventual car-to-car communication.

San Luis Valley, northern partMaurice Strong’s big ideas Maurice Strong made a fortune in oil, put together the first major climate change conference—and tried to pipe water from the San Luis Valley to Denver.He died just before the Paris climate change meeting in November 2015.

Bottom of Colorado’s water barrel After almost 150 years of yoking its rivers with dams, canals and other water infrastructures, Colorado is substantially out of raw water to develop. If it doesn’t have an empty water bucket, the bottom is visible. Continue reading →

Ski industry raises climate change voice Even Aspen and Vail have found common ground in a new, unified approach by the ski industry and its partners, one that emphasizes solutions, not the worrisome warnings of climate scientists. Continue reading →

Idea of carbon tax gets respectful audience The idea of a market-based solutions to greenhouse gas emissions espoused by former congressman Bob Inglis resonates even in carbon-heavy Wyoming.

Utah ski areas and the Clean Power Plan How Utah ski areas and the outdoor recreation industry persuaded Utah’s governor to agree to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Continue reading →

Xcel Energy and other utilities of the future Xcel Energy came up often as former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and other speakers discussed the need for regulatory reform to create utilities of the future. Continue reading

Stop the PipelineRural Nebraska, Keystone, and the Paris climate talks How conservative grassroots Nebraska towns combined with big-green groups to block the Keystone XL pipeline. President Barack Obama said he sustained the veto to have credibility at the Paris climate talks later this month. Continue reading

Craig Station stacks, RR cars and hoists reducedSki town newspaper scoffs at Clean Power Plan Steamboat Springs is an island in a sea of coal mining in northwest Colorado, and the local newspaper has decided to sing  the coal industry tune when it comes to the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The plan, says the editorial, is just not good for Colorado. Continue reading

Rising temperatures, receding Colorado River reservoirs Declining reservoir levels in the Colorado River Basin have been blamed on drought since 2000, but water researcher Doug Kenney argues that it’s only third in the list of suspects, behind rising temperatures and growing populations. Continue reading

South Canal churning water 2 reducedA small Colorado pivot in our great national energy transition Should electrical co-operative providers be allowed to produce more than 5 percent of their electrical from local and mostly renewable sources? A Colorado case has implications for our great national energy transition. Continue reading 

Who will pay a $30 toll for just 13 miles on Colorado’s I-70? A toll lane on Colorado’s I-70 will debut in December, saving drivers up to 30 minutes on the weekend crawl back to Denver. But will anybody pay the maximum $30 toll? Continue reading →

Bumble bee Christine CarsonClimate change on high Colorado peaks Bumble bees above timberline on three Colorado mountains have adapted to warming nighttime temperatures by having shorter tongues, better able to extract nectar from a variety of wildflowers. Confused? Well read on about this unusual twist of climate change. Continue reading →

A no-no to plastic water bottles Recycling rates have dropped, and plastic water bottles overflow the trash bins. Ketchum, Idaho, has joined other towns in saying no to sale and distribution of the bottled water. Continue reading →

White HSeaLevelRise051315ouse beach-front property Immutable laws of physics govern our warming climate, but as humans we have free will, says climate scientist Jim White, a self-described evangelical Christian. The climate crisis can be solved, he says, but that’s just a training exercise for the much greater challenge facing civilization.Continue reading →

Water runs through Colorado’s Climate Action Plan Colorado’s updated climate acton plan has far more to brag about than the first iteration, issued in late 2007, but unlike some other states and local jurisdictions does not declare specific greenhouse reduction goals. Why is that? Continue reading →

Wolf Creek ski chairs and dead spruce downsizedWhy can’t the spruce  be a little more orderly? Like the lodgepole pine of northern Colorado, spruce trees in southern Colorado have been dying in massive numbers. Will spruce succeed spruce—or as the climate warms will some other form of vegetation take their place? And just how much good will a little thinning here and there do? Continue reading →

photo at dedication Enos Mills, FO Stanley 1915 Courtesy Rocky Mountain National Park smaller sizeWhat makes Rocky Mountain National Park so special? September was the 100th anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park, and it’s a good thing that prospectors could not find anything more valuable than the thin deposits of metal at Lulu City. Continue reading →

Aspen Electric joins the most exclusive of clubs  Aspen Electric has joined the most elite of clubs, utilities with 100 percent renewable portfolios. It joins salt-of-the-earth Greensburg, Kan., and earthy progressive Burlington, Vt. But a great many other municipalities have started down the same path. Continue reading →

Comanche power plants 1, 2 & 3 Christmas 2014 No. 2Pricing carbon emissions in Canada and the United States British Columbia has a tax on carbon emissions, and it seems to have worked well there. Howough a cap-and-trade system or, as Citizens Climate Lobby advocates, a “carbon fee and dividend?” Continue reading →

Howard Geller’s energy efficiency broccoli Howard Geller preaches the gospel of energy efficiency, which is a little like trying to sell the virtues of broccoli. In Colorado, and other states of the Southwest, he’s having some success. Continue reading →

Presidential wannabes in ski towns Presidential candidates were in Aspen and Jackson Hole this year to press the flesh — and Aspen July 4th 2005 street scenepass the campaign donation hat. They visit Park City, too. But they rarely show up in Vail or Beaver Creek. Why not? Continue reading →

The Unwelcome Stranger Called Climate Change Changes in the climate are being observed all around. The most recent decade had twice as many record highs as record lows. But how do we adapt to those inevitable changes locally? Here’s some thinking from around the United States. Continue reading →

West Vail

Longer, hotter summers explained lodgepole epidemic A Colorado researcher says the lodgepole pine epidemic was caused less by the lack of cold snaps and more by the longer warm season, which allowed the beetles to proliferate with two generations per year. Continue reading →

RMBL sign downsizedElbows collide in Crested Butte semi-backcountry The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory can best be understood as a 1,000-acre island of scientific research in a sea of public lands. Lately, those public lands have been getting busy. Not everyone is happy about that. Continue reading →

Our energy of the future: flexible, decentralized, and diverse Instead of energy-on-demand we’ll have energy-just-in-time is how one speaker in Denver described the energy system of the future. Others talked about different storage methods, more distributed energy, and greater diversity of sources. Continue reading →

Colorado River Dubeque Canyon, May 2008 Photo/Allen BestWhy so few water markets in the West? Most of our energy sources, particularly fossil fuels, require great amounts of energy. A speaker from Western Resource Advocates paints the bigger picture in this water-energy nexus. Continue reading →

Negro Bill Canyon stays just that Moab again debates whether “Negro Bill Canyon” does a disservice to the memory of cattleman William Grandstaff. Some say “Negro” is just a stand-in for an older, racially charged word. Continue reading →

5th-aveTony Seba’s startling view of market disruptions Tony Seba has a dramatic way of showing powerful market disruption caused by new technology, business models or both. And we’re on the cusp of something similar in energy, he says. Continue reading →

Mountain towns speak about coal Mountain towns were among those talking as the U.S. Department of Interior held listening sessions about its coal-leasing program on Tuesday afternoon in metropolitan Denver. Continue reading →

B00-300-506Letting water flow down the Yampa to Lake Powell Irrigation at Colorado’s Carpenter Ranch along the Yampa River was suspended this year July 1, part of a pilot program in the Colorado River Basin intended to create greater flexibility in water in anticipation of drought. Continue reading →

wirth_2014The climate optimism of Tim Wirth At the American Renewable Energy Day conference, an upbeat Tim Wirth predicted great success at the Paris climate change negotiations in Paris during December, but said he sees two major questions beyond Paris. Continue reading

Animas and angst and the mine pollution Mustard-colored water in the Animas River of southwestern Colorado illustrates more than anything else the long gestation time of many environmental disasters. Continue reading →

Colorado forum reviews pope’s encyclical A panel of various faiths and spiritualities talked with former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter about the messages in the papal letter titled, “On Care of our Common Home.” The pope was talking about more than just global warming, Ritter said. Continue reading →

IMG_8798Climate change and the civil rights movement President Barack Obama announced details of the Clean Power Plan 50 years to the week after the Voting Rights Act was passed by Congress. There have been similarities between the climate and civil rights movements, but differences, too. Continue reading →

Vail ends free plastic grocery bags Free throw-away plastic bags are no longer being distributed by Vail’s two grocery stores, and paper bags will cost 10 cents each. Town officials intend to later institute a ban on free plastic sacks at other retail stores. Whistler is eyeing changes to force more recycling and composting. Continue reading →

Game changers and other shifts in electrical services Solar and wind soon will be competitive with fossil fuels without need of subsidies. They’re being integrated into existing systems at volumes thought impossible a decade ago. And the future is so incredibly bright—if only we get the new public policy right for electrical utilities. Continue reading →

Whistler Blackcomb will begin making snow on Horstman Glacier after commercial operations end next week. Photo/Michael Overbeck.

Can snowmaking stabilize shrinking glacier? Whistler Blackcomb begins making snow next week to shore up the withering Horstman Glacier. Whistler has actually been getting more snow. But summers have been torrid. Continue reading →

Vail’s caution about cannabis While Aspen and Telluride allow cannabis retail stores in prime locations, others want to keep them at bay. Vail looks to keep them entirely out of town. It’s a matter of the municipal brand. Continue reading →

Lightning deaths by stateAnatomy of lightning strikes A newlywed killed by lightning on Mount Yale fit a pattern. It was early afternoon and she and her new husband were above treeline. But lightning is not entirely predictable, as another party climbing a 14,000-foot peak in Colorado discovered. Continue reading →

Rolling a jointColorado’s petri dish of marijuana legalization Last winter I spent time sorting through the story of legalization of cannabis for recreational use around the United States, but especially in Colorado. See story here: July 2015 Cannabis in Planning 

Symbols in the aftermath of Charleston Many big ideas were on the agenda of the Aspen Ideas Festival, but several discussions touched on the power of symbols in the wake of the Charleston terrorist attack. Continue reading →

Colorado's Ridgway Dam, between Montrose and Ouray, was completed in 1987 but without hydroelectric turbines. The murkiness of voluntary RECs Credit Telluride with busting its butt to decarbonize municipal and eventually community functions. But did purchase of $18,250 worth of RECs from the Ridgway hydroelectric unit really achieve it? Continue reading →

The fossil fuels divestment campaign Clean energy is called the economic opportunity of our generation. So why is the fossil fuels divestment campaign necessary? Continue reading →

Can cloud-seeding ride to the rescue? Can’t technology save us from the hard edges of aridity in the American Southwest? In the case of cloud-seeding, the answer seems to be no, a well-funded and extensive experiment in Wyoming suggests. Continue reading →

6.17.2015 Homestake looking downstreamRain chaser for intense Colorado runoff If winter was so-so except for its exceptional heat, peak runoff in Colorado rivers last week was nonetheless a sight to behold. Continue reading →

The impasse at Wolf Creek Colorado’s mountain landscape is littered with ski-related real-estate projects that have mostly been abandoned. The Village at Wolf Creek somehow keeps kicking on. Whether it should is another matter. Continue reading →

Tahoe utility divests of coal power Liberty Utiltiies, which serves the Lake Tahoe Basin, has announced an agreement to eliminate power from a coal-fired power plant in Nevada from its portfolio. Solar power will replace it, and at lower cost Continue reading 

Mountain towns and coal taxes Worried about global warming impacts, mountain towns of the Rocky Mountains have joined an effort that seeks to revise federal collections of royalties on coal mining operations. Continue reading →

Cleaning out the historical closet I like that we preserve history. But sometimes , as with old ditches, old flags for disreputable causes, and the color of shingles, I’m confused about what we’re trying to preserve and why. Continue reading →

image001Warming winters and shifting mountain resort economies The severe drought afflicting the Sierra Nevada will inevitably end, as droughts have before. But warmer temperatures? Probably not. How do ski resorts create economies based on winter rain? Continue reading →

British Columbia skiing and climate change The ski industry trade association in British Columbia recently convened a meeting to share insights about how to develop ski areas with climate change in mind. Continue reading →

Reflections on the shooting of a long-ago friend by a police officer Danny Smith chided me for smoking and, unlike me, graduated from college on time. But one night, confronted by a cop, he bolted into a backyard and never emerged. Like the man who fled a policeman in South Carolina. Continue reading →

Runoff two months earlier in Sun Valley by 2070 Snowpack in the Wood River Valley, where Sun Valley is located, currently peaks on about April 1. But as temperatures rise and winters shorten, say climate scientists, the peak snowpack could occur in February by 2070. Continue reading →

Winding coal0001Solar PV moves briskly, but about the drilling revolution… Stanford University’s Sally Benson talks about what drove the great success of solar, the exciting promise of battery storage, the uneven progress of carbon capture and storage, and the concept of net energy, which finds that wind energy produces far more than is required in front-end inputs. Continue reading →

Vail to offer organic skis, snowboards With organic and natural food at its 40 on-mountain restaurants, Vail Resorts now will expand its offerings to include sale and rental of organic skis and snowboards branded under the name Naturally Corny. Continue reading →

Just add water and the Colorado River Reservoirs on the Colorado River continue to drop after another so-so snow year, pointing to the need for new water management principles from eastern Colorado to the river’s delta in Mexico. Continue reading →

Rainy day attractions at ski areas With ski areas skunked in a fourth winter of drought, newspapers from Sacramento to Reno have started examining how ski-anchored mountain resorts might shift their attractions to be less reliant on snow. The short answer is that they’ve been trying for a long time, and it just ain’t easy. Continue reading →


Last drops of the Eagle River At the headwaters of the Eagle River, above Vail and Minturn, nearly all of the water is spoken for. But exactly how the water will be stored, released and diverted is still an open debate as water providers plan for hotter, longer summers in the 21st century. Continue reading →

A conversation about utilities of the future Regulation of investor-owned utilities in Colorado and elsewhere is “so 20th century,” in the words of a Colorado legislator. Max Tyler proposes a deep examination of regulatory reform. His bill passed its first test on a party-line vote. Continue reading → Silver Cliff Family Dollar

Family Dollar over Abiquiú Family Dollar some time ago rose over Hernández, New Mexico, the small town made famous by photographer Ansel Adams. Will it soon also rise over Abiquiú, the town made famous by the painter Georgia O’Keeffe? Continue reading →


The limbo of Purgatory The story of North America is usually told as one of westward expansion. That’s an incomplete telling, however, and a recent news story about the renaming of a ski area north of Durango serves as a reminder. Continue reading →

Thinning snow for skiing and melting Arctic ice While snow-short Mt. Baker Ski Area struggles to reopen in Washington state, the implications of melting ice in the Arctic was discussed at the Vail Global Energy Forum. Continue reading →


Selma’s conflicted signs about non-violence The story I found in Selma during January was one balled up in threads of race, economics and history. But what riveted me most was at the  Brown Chapel.  In front stands a monument to Martin Luther King and the strategy of non-violence. On the front doors is a very different message. Continue reading

Granby Dam reduced

Putting the electric harness on old damsWith strong financial and other incentives from state and federal governments, several dams in the West   have or soon will be retrofitted with electrical turbines. Colorado is the best example of how to milk additional benefits from bigger dams. Continue reading →

Aspen’s renewable milestone in 2015 Aspen, the municipality, put its mind to shifting its electrical portfolio to 100 percent renewables—and guess what, it’s about to get there and without costing an arm and a leg. The effort began int he 1980s but was accelerated by the adoption a decade ago of the Canary Initiative. Continue reading → The Massachusetts town of Scituate has achieved 100 percnet reneables for municipal and school needs through a solar farm and wind turbine, seen above. Burlington, Vt., has achieved even more, hitting 100 percent of the entire city. At least one California city appears to be close. Photo/City of Scituate

Towns powered by 100 percent renewables Just a handful of towns and cities have been able to achieve 100 percent renewables. Devastated by a tornado, tiny Greensburg, Kan., was the first. Aspen Electric may join this elite group later this year. Continue reading →

A new climate vulnerability study notes that increasing temperature will stress Colorado airports that need cooler temperatures to gain loft. Photo/Allen best How global warming makes flying more expensive Ski season has often been cited as a key vulnerability in Colorado of global warming. But a new study about climate change vulnerabilities explores some new corners, including the effect on airplanes flying from DIA and other high-elevation airports. Continue reading →

Climate change or just bad luck? Most climate scientists have long warned that you can’t point to any single weather event, drought or heat wave as evidence of human-caused climate change. But some people argue we expect too much proof for something so risky. Continue reading →

Go Lindsey

Calculating the return on ski racing in Vail Valley It cost the Vail Valley Foundation and associated entities $59 million to host the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships (offset by $36 million in revenues from television broadcasts). Was it worth it? Continue reading

Pinching the aquifer piggy banks With our expansive pumping of aquifers in California, Colorado and elsewhere, we have been depleting resources created during geologic timescales in the course of human lifetimes. Continue reading →

Vail’s ambivalence about I-70 I-70 has always been a mixed blessing for Vail, Colorado. Now comes a proposal for a sound wall on a portion of the highway, but not all residents think the reduced noise would be worth it. Continue reading →

Diverting the rot from Aspen Food accounts for 40 percent of waste, as measured by weight, dumped into landfills nationally, and in Aspen and Pitkin County, diverting that waste into composting could extend the local landfill’s life and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading →

Photo by Heather Rousseau

Snowmastodon’s past and our future The Colorado town of Snowmass Village is trying to figure out what to do with its legacy of mastodons, mammoths and other extinct species unearthed from a reservoir site. This trove from the past is very much about our own species moving forward. Continue reading 

Bucking for the $5 million energy efficiency prize With $5 million dangling in prize money, 50 U.S. communities — including some in mountain towns — are calculating how they can reduce energy use with strategies that can be adopted elsewhere and into the future. Continue reading

Bradley 183.9

Cheap oil gums up our political arguments Most of us like cheap oil immensely, but it has gummed up our political arguments about Keystone pipeline, energy independence, and peak oil. Continue reading →

Fact or fiction on Selma story The movie “Selma” mostly got it right but took some small but also big liberties in an attempt to create tension and drama. How much liberty is tolerable in storytelling? Continue reading →

Main Street Breckenridge

Exiled from Main Street in Breckenridge Why did slightly counter-cultural Breckenridge boot cannabis off Main Street and into the “green-light district?” Most other Colorado mountain towns have also been wary. But Telluride, embraced retail marijuana in the downtown shopping district, gaining financially with no particular problems.


Purloining our groundwater savings accounts Groundwater is being pumped at unsustainable rates across the United States. But solutions are not universal — and, in fact, some make the argument more well-pumping needs to be done along Colorado’s South Platte River. Continue reading →

crude oil

Darth Vader and white knights of oil and gas Oil and gas drillers hurt themselves badly by resisting transparency, but the risk must be viewed within a broader matrix of considerations, speakers at a risk analysis conference seemed to agree. Continue reading →

Kemmerer pow0001

Utilities of the future Less coal, more renewables, plus more storage — that’s our energy story of the future. But a panel of speakers in Denver largely agreed that a new business model will be necessary for our utilities for them to accomplish what we want them to do. Continue reading →

Ira Kaye Kassel, a volunteer, sifts through material for small bones and other materials.

Climatic hip-swinging at Snowmass Even as they hoisted giant mastodon bones over their shoulders, scientists gathered at 9,000 feet in Snowmass suspected the greatest value of the site would be what it could tell us about changing climates at high elevations. Read on…

Sand Creek healing No. 2 reducedRemembering Sand Creek’s men of peace The Sand Creek Massacre poses so many questions. Could American settlement occurred without these and the other grisly killings? What does it tell us about our wars today, our fears and hatreds? When revenge and punishment are the only answers, what does that gain us. And to me, is also asks of us how we honor the peacemakers, not just the warriors? See more.

China climate pact a good step not a swindle Kutscher-lefthand from Martin Chuck Kutscher’s PowerPoint presentation to the Colorado Renewable Energy Society about climate change was a 90-minute roller coaster of hope and despair, rich detail and brimming with quick-summary charts on everything from sea-level rise to wind-turbine heights. Continue reading →

Colorado gets to first base with its water plan Russ George spoke like a proud father, and in a way he was as the Colorado Water Conservation Board approved the draft of a state water plan. But allocation of what is arguably Colorado’s most precious resource remains the subject of contentious if generally civil debate. Continue reading →

rmiic-8 Rethinking energy in small office buildings Rocky Mountain Institute rethinks energy in small office buildings and hopes to be a model for small office buildings across the United States. One clue: Having air four feet above your head that stays at 68 to 72 degrees really isn’t necessary. Continue reading →

Why ski towns can benefit from a carbon fee Local good deeds in energy efficiency and renewable energy, although commendable and important, can never been enough as long as it’s free, absolutely free, to pollute the atmosphere. We need a national and ultimately an international fee imposed on carbon emissions. Continue reading → Ryan Loflin in his pioneering field of hemp near Springfield . 2013 photo/Allen Best

Hemp: the answer for whatever ails you Can industrial hemp be one answer to the slow-motion train wreck of Ogallala aquifer depletion in eastern Colorado? That is the argument made by native son Michael Bowman. Continue reading →

GM’s skin in the electric car game General Motors rep Hal Lenox makes the case that his company is now very much in the chase for alternative fuel vehicles, including a soon-to-be-released Chevy Volt. Continue reading →

Colorado River

Reslicing the Colorado River Colorado River expert Eric Kuhn lays out the big picture of one of the world’s hardest-working rivers—and wonders if we aren’t already seeing the evidence of a changing climate. Continue reading →

Whole Foods bottled waterEating local, but drinking global The locavore movement has caught on, emphasizing local origins of meat and other food. But when it comes to water, inverse logic seems to prevail at high-end groceres. Has the time come for a locagua movement? See more.

After a century, small hydro arrives to irrigation canals For a century, there was talk but nothing more of harnessing the power of falling water on the irrigation infrastructure east of Montrose, Colo. Now, two turbines are at work in producing electricity, and two more are planned. See more 

(Some, but not all) farmers like EPA Clean Water definitions Rocky Mountain Farmers Union articulates why it thinks that proposed revisions to the Clear Water Act definitions will be a good thing for farmers—and everybody else. Of course, not everybody agrees, especially Republicans. Continue reading → –

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A couple degrees hotter and what do you get?  Colorado has become hotter overall in the last several decades, and can expect to get at least 2 degrees warmer by mid-century. That makes Denver more like Pueblo. What else does it make? Continue reading 

Colorado Green downsized

Wind energy’s triumphs and challenges in Colorado Wind energy in Colorado has picked up bragging rights in the last decades, and more gains are very possible as a result of the EPA’s Clean Power Plant and technological improvements. But there are challenges, too. Continue reading  Craig plants downsized

A Colorado coal town and EPA jitters About 40 years ago, the town of Craig, located in northwestern Colorado, hitched its wagon to coal. Now, it’s jittery about exactly what that might mean as the nation reviews the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. See more.

Ski expansion in time of drought Drought in California? Taking the long view, Starwood-financed Mammoth picks up two ski areas to produce a Cali4nia season pass to challenge, at least in Southern California, the Vail Resorts Epic Pass. Continue reading

main-map-large-2 Good intentions, bad information on the Colorado With Lake Mead rapidly drawing to a time when it can no longer provide the water committed to California, Arizona and Nevada, Brad Udall examines the thinking of politicians and policymakers in authorizing the Central Arizona Project in 1968. Continue reading →

Pornography, cannabis & drilling operations “It ain’t broke, so don’t fix it,” one speaker told the Colorado’s Oil and Gas Task Force. But too many people believe it is broken for the task force to stay the course. Among the prickly questions the task force will have to address is why local governments have more say about pornography and cannabis operations than they do about  drilling. See more. Energy tanksHayman fire 2012 reduced

Forests are forever? Don’t count on it Fire  and insect epidemics have dramatically reshaped some forests in the Rocky Mountains in recent years. Buckle up, because the changes are almost certain to accelerate. That’s the bottom line of a new report called “Rocky Mountain Forests at Risk.”

Unusual number of red-heads in Colorado The turning of the aspen leaves this year in northern Colorado has been exceptional, especially with so much red and gold. Why? Even tree experts are hard-pressed to explain the cause of this splendor.Hotel Madeline

Recovering real estate market only goes so far It seems like forever-ago from the darkest moments of the recessionary night when mountain real estate was a dreadful business. THings are now starting to perk up in Telluride. But resort developers say sales still aren’t storng enough to justify much in the way of new  construction. See more.

St. Vrain Creek fenceHuman fingerprints on that showerhead? Remember the big floods of 2013 in Colorado? (How could you not?) There was much speculation about the unprecedented rainfall in certain areas being evidence of global warming.  Was it? 

What Coloradans and Kiwis have in common  Colorado and New Zealand are alike in ways other than they both have tall mountains, according to a report issued by Environment Colorado. Read more

Mountain towns compete for $5 million energy prize Park City/Summit County, Aspen, and Jackson Hole are among three mountain communities vying for the $5 million in prize money offered by Georgetown University’s Energy Prize, which is intended to accelerate energy efficiency in residential and government buildings. Read more Katharine Hayhoe 2

Quips, grins and the serious stuff of climate change The enduring appeal of Katharine Hayhoe is that she talks about the serious stuff of climate change with giggles, grins and wisecracks . She also has a razor-sharp intellect that distills why we cannot afford to dawdle. Continue readingTrappers LakeThe cradle of wilderness and Denver’s recreational fan One seed for the concept of wilderness can be traced to Trappers Lake, where Arthur Carhart was dispatched to survey a road in 1919. But Carhart was really most interested in the democratization of public lands and broad access of recreation. Continue reading →

Elk Ave colbalCrested Butte’s spat about beer and brands You have to wonder if Crested Butte would have gotten this worked up if the brewer of Fat Tire had rented its main street for a party. Or Pabst. But it was Bud Light that painted the town blue. Continue reading → Tom Steyer

Billionaires, big problems and big thinkers  Discussion of a carbon tax was one strong theme at this year’s American Renewable Energy Day conference in Aspen, and the need for institutional reform was another. But like most conferences, there was a lot of stone-skipping, too. Continue reading →

Vail looks beyond Baby Boomers   For almost four hours on a July morning , Vail Town Council members sat through a monster PowerPoint that consisted of roughly 150 slides rich with data about mountain resorts, demographic trends, even projected effects of global warming on temperatures and snow in Colorado. They made no decision, but the elected officials clearly realize that as a community they cannot sit still. See more. Vail Meadow Drive July 2014Ted Turner

Ted Turner howls with the wolves in Aspen      Ted Turner was on the stage in Aspen recently to hear the accolades for his achievements, and one of them is how he assembled big blocks of land in the West and made peace with the natives. See more.

Jackson Hole’s new demographic wrinkle The dust has settled from the recession in Jackson Hole, and economist Jonathan Schechter says much about the valley’s business looks familiar. But he detects something new: the increase in people working in the professional services. See more.

Chinese tourists in mountain towns     Chinese are becoming a familiar sight in Jackson Hole this summer. In Colorado mountain towns, not so much. But tourism officials in many mountain resorts keep on eye on the Chinese as they gain the liberty and wealth that enables them to travel abroad. See more.

Kit Carson, hero or villain in Taos? Taos is arguing again about whether to remember Kit Carson favorably on the name of a park. In Colorado, we could have the same arguments about the individuals after whom some of our most prominent geographic features are named. But look too deeply, and all of our heroes are like to have flaws. See more. IMG_7465

Carrots, sticks and conserving water     As Colorado continues its conversation about deeper cuts in residential water use, a legislative committee hears loud and clear from towns and cities that they see a limited state role. It matters because the state expects to nearly double in population in the next 35 years with virtually all of its water spoken for. See more.

Bone on bone in the Colorado River   

The broader story about the Colorado River is about a narrowing razor’s edge between supply and demand. Now, instead of cooperating to build things, states are getting together to help conserve water, a fundamental paradigm shift. See more…

An opportunity for rural electrical co-operatives  

center pivot sprinklerMichael Bowman says  there was ever an argument for a transition to a 21st-century energy infrastructure, look no further than our current challenges with the economies that have been built on the backs of the Colorado River. See more…

A role for American exceptionalism  

This idea that we should do nothing about power plant emissions because we can’t immediately solve the problem by ourselves is a gloomy one. What happened to good old American exceptionalism and the idea that American can be a leader in the world? See more…

Pagosa Springs hopes to get into hot water

Pagosa water feeaturePagosa Springs has enough hot water for bathing, but is there sufficient hot water available to produce electricity, warm 10 acres of greenhouses, and deliver heat to 600 homes? See more…

Can Crested Butte pull if off?  

Can Crested Butte really find the dimes and quarters to build a top-end performing arts center at a cost of more than $20 million. The community has more money then you might think, boosters insist. –See more…

Immigration policy and resort towns  Former mayor Mick Ireland says the question for Aspen is, in simplest terms, whether national policy will treat our Mexican and South America work force as Irish and Italians were treated or the way Chinese were treated for generations, singled out for exclusion and kept in the shadows.  See more…

EPA testimony always earnest, sometimes eloquent Hundreds testified in support of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, many of them eloquently so, but perhaps the most interesting comments came from those with their wagons hitched to fossil fuels.This is likely to be the nexus of the conversation in coming months. See more.

Bald Mountain cornice min reduced

Risky addictions I understood the immediate risk of remaining after dark on those steep slopes, when the soft snow had become hard ice for the night. But putting tar into my lungs was only a vague and distant risk. It seems to me there are parallels with civilization’s perilous dependency on pushing carbon into the atmosphere. See more.

Voting where your heart is, not where you live Home may be where the heart is, as the adage goes. But where you vote is where you conduct most of your affairs, explains a district attorney after looking into allegations of fraudulent voting in the mountain town of Montezuma. See more.

crude oil_1David vs. Goliath in Colorado’s drilling controversy In Colorado’s intensifying debate about oil and natural gas drilling, each side has claimed to be David going into battle against a carpet-bagging Goliath. But in the early numbers, it’s clear to see more stones in one of the sling shots.

Tools for imagining local climate changes  To make global climate change more local and personal, Dr. Brian Enquist and his partners are developing ways to allow viewers to see effects of warming temperatures on their local forests. See more about what they can envision in the Aspen area.

Eagle 20070001Teensy, tiny and other small towns of the West  The newspaper described the Colorado town of Eagle as “tiny.” I was mystified by that description. And then it called Casper, Wyo., a place of 50,000 people, a “small town? What makes a town tiny or small,  big or gargantuan?  Or, for that matter, itty-bitty?

The case for a tax on carbon emissions 

We can’t wait for the last iota of evidence on climate change, and we need to accelerate action by adopting a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Ski towns should be at the forefront of this advocacy.

Telluride Medical Bud Co.Notes from the cannabis frontier Vail remains on the sidelines, Aspen rejected a new tax, governor frets about THC dangers on young minds. These and other notes about cannabis from Colorado’s mountains towns.

Our obesity mess  Unhealthy food may be cheap, but it isn’t free. Former Aspen mayor Mick Ireland analyzes the obesity mess in the United States. And where is the most remote place in the lower United States as defined by distance from a McDonald’s? See about driving far for fast-food.

Tornadoes in the mountains 

A tornado in early June that swirled across Colorado’s South Park was rare enough that it got significant attention. In Oklahoma? Hardly anyone would notice. But more significant twisters have sometimes occurred in mountainous areas such as near Aspen and especially at Yellowstone.  See the story.

colorado Springs coal plantAspen’s role in new climate policy In 2006, the Aspen Skiing Co. filed an amicus brief in support of Massachusetts in its effort to force the EPA to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The outcome of that case is finally unfolding in new regulations governing coal-fired power plants.

And the winner in Park City is… 

It was easy to slap around Powdr Corp. for its gigantic clerical blunder. And it’s easy to see that Talisker and Vail Resorts nailed a big win. But the biggest winner is…

Trolling for flaws on I-70 financing 

 A new study examining potential revenues from tolls on I-70 casts doubts about the financial feasibility of a new tunnel adjacent to the Eisenhower/Johnson tunnels in Colorado. See what people are saying.

Standup surfer, SalidaEvolving FIBArk, changing Salida

Salida held its annual FIBArk boat races again recently, a tradition dating to 1949. But both the boat races and Salida have evolved over the years. See how.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGranby’s wounds 10 years 

The Colorado mountain town of Granby on June 4 remembered, but did not celebrate, the day that it was in the national spotlight. Even now, wounds remain from Marvin Heemeyer’s strange and terrible revenge on his neighbors. See more about the wounds that remain.

Forward looking in rural Colorado 

Michael Bowman, a fifth-generation resident of Colorado’s Yuma County, argues that restoring  economic growth in rural Colorado will occur exactly when it embraces its interdependence within the state’s  diverse economy. See more in Secession of rural Colorado, the sequel.

The dark side of paradise

Alma's Only Bar downsizedPeople who live in mountain towns tend to view their towns as exceptional places. In many ways they are. But great expectations can turn sour, even poisonous when the internal geography of the human soul just does not match up to the physical geography. An essay from 2009 reflecting on three acts of violence in Colorado mountain towns.

Essential community glue

For more than 30 years, Don Colcord has been the pharmacist in Nucla, Colo.. He’s kind and funny and, by all accounts, an essential glue to the community. He was celebrated in a 2011 profile in the New Yorker. In May, he appeared in Telluride to speak after a short film about his work was shown. He’s Jimmy Stewart in “A Wonderful Life” — but, it’s clear, that it’s not always an easy role.

Highest grocery store in the chain

In May, Whole Foods opened a store in Frisco. At more than 9,000 feet, it’s the highest of the stores more than 300 stores. Frisco officials, meanwhile, are happily contemplating where the $950,000 in annual tax revenues can be used.

Broken people, broken environments

Mountainfilm and new Sheridan reducedBroken people and broken environments were one of the many themes at Mountainfilm in Telluride this year. One film made the argument to broken river ecosystems was to break up the dams on the Snake and other rivers. But how do you mend broken people such as those flocking to the Bakken fields of North Dakota. That that was the more difficult question.

A milestone at Denver’s Union Station 

AmtrakA milestone for Denver and perhaps Colorado as the bus concourse opens at Union Station. But an even bigger milestone will be in two years, when commuter trains start service to DIA and to Arvada/Wheat Ridge. Mark Smith, a a founding principal of East West Partners, says that experience may nudge Coloradans over time into being even more accepting of rail-based transportation.

Establishing a new ethos for water

Maroon Creek, Aspen 2012A new water normal in mountain towns Breckenridge intends to crimp the habits of some of its water customers, helping create a new normal for water use. Vail started doing so after the drought of 2002—but in outdoor irrigation, not indoors.

Aspen’s conserved water bucket

And Aspen two decades ago realized that continuing the old ways of water use would be monstrously expensive. From a peak of 516 gallons per capita, use in Aspen has declined to 164 last year.

Unnatural acts in Colorado 

Exactly how much of water from Colorado’s Western Slope gets diverted across the Continental Divide? 10 percent? 20 percent? 90 percent? And the answer is…

The trouble with lawns

Green fields June 2012 Should residential developers  be required to sharply limit the amount of water, say to 15 percent of a lot size? That’s the prickly question a legislative committee will take up this summer as Colorado continues its prolonged discussion about how to accommodate a population expected to double by mid-century with water supplies that might, if anything, decline.

Gen X takes helm in Eagle  Eagle’s newest town trustees are all relatively new to the town, in their 40s, and share a common vision of the town as a destination, not a bedroom, and as a mecca for mountain bikers.

Low-flow toilets in Colorado  Major hardware stores already carry WaterSense-certified toilets and other fixtures, but a bill sent to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper would mandate that only those fixtures be sold both wholesale and retail beginning in September 2016.

Big potatoes sell efficiency in Texas The evidence from the Texas city of San Antonio suggests major savings for water, but there, it took a big potato to sell some people.

Acclerating green building in Colorado. A panel at a recent conference in Denver talked about LEEd-certified buildings, net-zero buildings, and what may accelerate the pace of energy reduction from our building sector.

Jamestown struggles to its knees. Nearly destroyed by water, a Colorado mountain town now needs water service to entice the return of the 80% of residents who are now living elsewhere.

ForestFlyer higher rez

ForestFlying into summer Vail Mountain was the test case for application of new federal law that allows expanded use of ski areas during summer.  Vail Resorts explains what was involved in its thinking as it considered how to best use this new authority. And yes, it did go to Disneyland, but also the Alps, to contemplate how best to engage v isitors between and during activities. As it operates on private land, Park City Mountain Resort began installing ziplines, an alpine coaster and other non-skiing activities early in the last decade. Whitefish Mountain Resort also has been high-flying for some time. But Jackson Hole’s Snow King Resort hopes to add some oomph into its summers in order to help survive its flagging winters.


Butte on the slide in Jackson Hole But this isn’t the first time that hillsides in mountain towns of the West have slumped and gushed mud. And reviewing the history of the Rocky Mountains, Spenser Havlick says that communities need to provide room for flooding rivers the way they have for avalanche paths.

Limits proposed on public-private partnerships  In a bill that could affect I-70, State Sen. Matt Jones proposes to restrict public-private partnerships to 35 years and to mandate increased transparency. And Southwest Energy Efficiency Project study finds managed toll lanes an efficient way to address congestion on I-70 and other highways.

Piling on the renewables in Telluride  In 2009, the mayor of Telluride committed to an ambitious goal of dramatically reducing the role of fossil fuels in municipal operations. Solar panels for affordable housing units is the latest step toward that goal. But sometimes it’s two steps forward and it’s back you go, to borrow the line from Mary Chapin Carpenter, a frequent performer at Telluride Bluegrass.

A wanton waste of energy? Good business sense? Or both? Stores commonly leave open their doors on the cold, cold days of winter. And summer when the air conditioner is cranking, it’s the same story. A look into the thinking at two mountain towns that thought about telling merchants what to do — but didn’t. And the science that supports that decision.

open doors

Lessons of Ludlow Massacre, 100 years later  Our stories of the West are of horned bison and brown cows, frothy rivers and untamed wilderness, tended gardens and pastoral landscapes. Our art celebrates individual prospectors, brave trailblazers, lonely cowboys, stoic Indians. We overlook our industrial lunch-pail moorings. The massacre at Ludlow was one outcome of that process of industrialization. 77 years after we took leave of our senses To justify making cannabis illegal, strange and disturbing reasoning was used by do-gooding drug crusaders. You don’t need to imbibe in leafy, herbaceous substances to be muddle-headed. 4/20 a state holiday in Colorado?  Emboldened by their success in making marijuana legal, cannabis activists are leading a drive to ask voters to amend the state constitution an official state holiday. Meanwhile, Christo continues with his plans to put a plastic toupee atop Bald Mountain, near Vail. (Yes, you probably should read the rest of this). The Fraser River carries very little water in late summer, although Denver’s planned increase in diversions wouldn’t change that as the water would be skimmed from the three runoff months of May through July. Photo/Story Group

How can less be more for the Fraser River?  An agreement struck between Grand County, Trout Unlimited, and Denver Water is loaded with promises fro adaptive management of the Fraser River and its tributaries that the architects of the plan say will lead to better aquatic health. It’s a strange alchemy, this idea that less can actually yield more.

Why George Schulz thinks we can breathe a sigh of relief Now 93, George Shultz takes small steps but paints big pictures. Again this year, at the third annual Vail Global Energy Forum, he was the star. He talked about the gift of natural gas and the need to decentralize our energy supply infrastructure. Tim Wirth

Three principles of climate change politics Former U.S. Senator Tim Wirth helped bring international attention to the real risk of climate change in 1988 at hearings he staged with  James Hansen, mopping his brow, on a hot day in  Washington.  Wirth admits he wasn’t above a little skullduggery to heighten the drama. But he says that a carbon tax—regarded by most economists as the only way we can get the kind of change in energy systems started that are needed—could come within five years.

Gypsum biomass plantProducing electricity from forest debris  Colorado now has a major biomass plant at Gypsum, with another one planned at Pagosa Springs and more yet possible along the Front Range. This could help reduce wildfire potential in wildland-urban interface. But how carbon neutral are such plants

Breckenridge expects that it can gain $1 million in revenues this year from cannabis sales, and most of those taxes will be paid by visitors. Who says there’s no such thing as marijuana tourism? Does the climate crisis need a technological breakthrough or something else? Auden Schendler makes the argument that what is needed most is acting on knowledge that we already have.  The civil rights was galvanized by ordinary people.

The climate crisis now needs its own Rosa Parks. How global warming is helping Whistler Blackcomb And why the changing climate could destroy the ski area operations in the long. The view of mountain manager Arthur Da Jong.

Savages, stalkers and sports mascots Another school debates whether it’s appropriate to use “Redskins” as a mascot. Truth be gold, mascots would be better if creative and original. Some are.

U.S. 36

The Koch brothers, Colorado Democrats and other conspiracies. While the conspiracy theory trotted out to explain plans for tolled express lanes for U.S. 36 between Denver and Boulder were quickly deflated, there are probably good questions to be asked about public-private partnerships. But haven’t those questions already been asked?

Bus rapid transit in the Rockies The $46 million VelociRFTA  has a fleet of natural gas buses and WiFi capability to make the commute  between Glenwood Springs and Aspen more pleasurable. Directors think the new BRT system will boost ridership 20 to 30 percent.

Aspen has something to brag about. It has reduced its municipal carbon footprint well ahead of the deadline specified in its 2005 climate change manifesto, the Canary Initiative. The footprint has shrunk 30.7 percent. But for the community as a whole, the 6 percent decrease is really no better than the United States at large.

Loveland Pass avalanche site

Again comes news of skiers and ‘boarders, young and strong, knowledgeable about avalanches, equipped with transceivers, shovels and other gear of survival – all of this woefully insufficient when faced with the wildly seductive snows of the Teton Range. It’s a common story in the Rocky Mountains, one told again and again, as the snowy torrents take their  toll of avalanche fatalities.

Aircraft Tails EGE

Eagle County Regional Airport has 195,000 available incoming  seats this year, second only to Aspen among mountain resort destinations of the West. Could things be better? Some people in the Vail Valley seem to think so, and they’re out to create a beefier funding platform for direct flights, winter and summer.

Veritcal Harvest alternativeConstruction of  Vertical Harvest is expected to get started later this year.Jobs for developmentally disabled adults and tomatoes, lettuce and other veggies on a year round basis. What’s not to like about the vertical greenhouse being planned adjacent to a parking garage in downtown Jackson, Wyo.

Beetle kill reduce Vail and the wildlife risk to homes If potential for fire was always theoretically evident in Vail, first the bark beetle epidemic and then the fires along Colorado’s Front Range have made that potential less abstract. New mapping by fire chief Mark Miller finds that 42 percent of homes are at high risk of wildfire.

Sizzling statistics: resort valleys in 2013 in numbers Mountain towns of the West, those with ski runs in the background, speak more or less the same language. And sometimes they have numbers that echo. Here are some statistics I gleaned during the last year.


Nast: the mountain and the Claus  Cartoonist Thomas Nast created our image of Santa Claus and our symbols for Democrats and Republicans. A mountain in Colorado bears his name.

Slide090Peering into the global resource precipice Since Thomas Malthus, people have worried that natural  resources cannot support growing human populations. If those fears have always been proven unfounded, the  presentation by Vince Matthews remains  disconcerting. For instance, half of all oil used by humans have been used since 1986.

Oil and gas from different sides of the drilling rig Why has the oil-and-gas industry in Colorado resisted regulation of drilling? And what part of concerns by local communities are legitimate? As an attorney on both sides of the drilling fence since 1972, Howard Boigon shared his observations on what he called “the latest reel in a long-running movie” in a presentation at the FrackingSense 2.0 series sponsored by the Center of the American West.

 Who drove down U.S. greenhouse emissions? U.S. greenhouse gas emissions as of 2012 had fallen to the lowest levels since 1994. Who’s should take credit? That was one of the sparring points as panelists dissected the President’s Climate Action Plan at a Davis Graham & Stubbs breakfast energy forum.

And what if it doesn’t snow?After two more dry years in the Colorado River Basin, water managers started worrying about a third dry winter — and too little water in Lake Powell to generate electricity at Glen Canyon Dam. That would have far-reaching ripples— or even waves.

After two more dry years in the Colorado River Basin, water managers started worrying about a third dry winter — and too little water in Lake Powell to generate electricity at Glen Canyon Dam. That would have far-reaching ripples— or even waves.

Winding coal downsizedThe end of cheap coal While it has often been said the United States has 200 years of coal, the easily recovered coal is about gone — with huge implications for the power grid, says climate activist Leslie Glustrom. She calculates only 20 years of surface mining at the Powder River Basin.

In an effort to dampen community greenhouse gas emissions, Snowmass Village adopted the new iterations of codes for green building and energy efficiency. The codes are comparable to the LEED gold standard.

ElkCamp001_full Jeremy SwansonThe Aspen Skiing Co. now strives for at least LEED gold on its buildings, including Elk Camp, the mid-mountain restaurant at Snowmass. But  David Corbin, the vice president for planning, admits frustrations. “I wonder if our buildings shouldn’t be dumber and have less sophisticated controls and maybe we should instead be working harder on our basic building envelopes.” Sandpoint, Idaho, was first in the nation to apply for a federal license for hydroelectric production under new law signed by President Barack Obama in2 013, but a small project near Silverton is the first in Colorado.Ed Quillen wrote columns for 26 years in The Denver Post, and 100 of them from 1999 to his death have now been issued in an anthology


“Deeper in the Heart of the Rockies.” He did his homework, was always entertaining, and ultimately was a truth-teller. All of this was evident at readings held in Salida, Colo., and in Boulder, Colo., in early November.

Scott Sampson

Scott Sampson, a curator of dinosaurs, aims directly at the current challenges of climate change and species extinction in arguing for place-based education that occurs outside, in nature. We need to be rethinking about “renaturing” or even “rewilding” our cities, he says.Will we someday be levitating up and down I-70?

Small Station cam 2 final

new study favors meg-lev for high-speed trains in the mountains, but high-speed steel-wheeled trains for the Front Range between Pueblo and Fort Collins. But where’s the moola? The  Golden-Breckenridge train would cost $5.5 billion, and a Front Range train $14 billion.

Snowmastadon update Paleontologists were yanking the bones of mammoths, mastodons and other now-extinct species form the site at Snowmass. Three years later, they’re now in their research laboratories, trying to figure out how the climate form 75,000 to 135,000 can tell us about our own.

Severe weather expert Roger Pielke Jr. says the International Panel on Climate Change would better fulfill its mission of synthesizing science and informing policy makers if it wasn’t so bulky and, at this point, defensive. A case in point is the 2007 report’s session about severe weather.

Resilience in the face of severe weather Park City, Utah, has joined the ICLEI program for cities that seek to adapt to the more severe weather predicted for the future as a result of global warming.

Ski towns and a carbon tax  Telluride, Mountain Village and San Miguel County voters will decide whether to enact a tax on electric bills that one county commissioner describes as being somewhat close to a carbon tax. A thought leader in Jackson Hole also is talking about something that smells like a carbon tax. But throughout the United States, such taxes are nearly existent.

Whistler, global warming, and the balloon payment Peak to Peak gondola copyWarming temperatures have benefited Whistler Blackcomb, producing more snow since the 1990s. The ski area has added resilience through addition of its popular Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Meanwhile, the ski company has grown revenues while decreasing its carbon footprint. But there’s a balloon payment due, and Arthur De Jong fully realizes it.

A new generation of Rosa Parks Climate change activist Auden Schendler has sifted through the arguments and strategies for change needed to confront the magnitude  of the challenge with our continued polluting of the atmosphere. But this challenge, he says, is even more difficult than the civil rights movement of which Parks, by refusing to give up her bus seat in Montgomery, Alabama, was an icon.

Objection is part of Christo’s art The artist Christo was in Colorado several times Over the River croppedrecently to explain his controversial Over the River project on the Arkansas River. Although insisting he’s no masochist, he said he and his late wife, Jeanne-Claude, considered controversy to be part of the art, and as such art that is publicly and broadly accessible.

Want to make a meteorologist squirm? Ask for hard numbers immediately after a flood or big rainfall, such as drenched large parts of northern Colorado in September. But weird weather is nothing new.

McKibben in Tellruide 2

Redefining what is radical Bill McKibben came through Denver this week, signing copies of his new book, “Oil and Money” and laying out his argument for why universities should divest from holdings in fossil fuel industries.  His goal: to create power to force carbon dioxide-emitting sectors to agree to a carbon tax that starts creating meaningful change.

To bike trails

The link between thin air and longevity Mountain counties in West rank among highest in country for longevity, physical activity and absence of obesity. Still, there’s some uncertainty about how much is causation and how much is merecorrelation. A study from the University of Washington helps pose some of these questions.

Dallas at noon, skiing at dusk? Probably not the best idea, according to new study from the Alps that found that those who moderated their travel to higher altitudes suffered fewer heart attacks when engaging in strenuous activity

St. Vrain Creek fence

Gleaning lessons from the floods What did the Colorado floods of 2013 teach us? We have a hard time looking back, let alone looking into a future that probably doesn’t resemble the past.

Weather at the edges Is the effect of global warming evident in our weather? Most of the time no, say climate scientists. But some say it can be detected in the extremes, as storms gain more punch.

Rethinking our buildings In 2005, the U.S. governmentDenver 20090001projected a sharply increasing demand for energy that would be met by as many as 1,900 new power plants, most of them burning coal. Ed Mazria formed Architecture 2030 and issued a challenge to architects, designers and engineers to figure out how to create buildings that use less energy. In a speech in Denver, he reported great success and even greater opportunity as the world rapidly expands and renovates its built environment during the next 20 years.

Car in St. Vrain CreekColorado’s 2013 floods in context  This year’s floods may have been the result of a 1,000-year rain event, and in terms of sheer damage, this may be the most expensive flooding ever. But by other measuring sticks, the Big Thompson flood of 1976 was far worse. I was there.

Dillion Dam and shouts of the past The 50th anniversary of the completion of Dillion Dam was celebrated on Sunday with various splish-splash recreational activities. But the reservoir is a vital storage vessel for 1.3 million people in metropolitan Denver. And it didn’t occur without a lot of legal shouting.

New laws make small hydro easier Ouray overviewThe federal permitting process governing conversion of existing dams, irrigation dams and even city water mains  to hydroelectric production was painfully slow and expensive. Thanks to two new laws, the process will become much simpler for places like Ouray, Colo., and Basalt, Colo. By some estimates, there could be hundreds and perhaps thousands of megawatts of clean energy to be had. And Basalt, Colo., retrofitted its water system to produce electricity, but the federal permitting process wasn’t easy. Another rig on dark night

T. Boone Pickens and natural gas The energy billionaire was in Aspen recently for the American Renewable Energy day conference. “You’ll have to put up with natural gas for 100 years,” he said. This, he says, is a very, very good thing.

Razor’s edge on the Colorado River A new report by the Lake MeadBureau of Reclamation about reduced releases from  Lake Powell only reinforces traditional themes for the Colorado River. Patricia Mulroy of Las Vegas, the bull’s eye for this narrowing gap, calls for more cooperation, not competition. But Stanford’s Buzz Thompson suggests it’s also time to reconsider policies governing population growth in the Southwest. Aspen wooden flume downsized

Aspen’s troubled hydroelectric project With a bold vision contained in 2005’s Canary Initiative and a seeming mandate from voters, Aspen city leaders plunged ahead with efforts to shrink the city’s carbon footprint by recreating the hydroelectric system that had delivered nearly all the electricity between 1893 and1958. Now, the turbines sit in storage.

Why electric cars deserve subsidies In Colorado, electric cars remain relatively scarce, little more than 1,5000 as of April, although that does not include hybrids. But federal, state and local governments believe that  electrified vehicles will play a much bigger role in reducing ground-level ozone and greenhouse gas emissions. Waldo Canyon hillside

Hot summers, forest fires, and discerning climate change from natural variability We crave simple lines of cause and effect, black and white, winners and losers. This story has nuance. It’s difficult to distill these uncertainties of giant risk in the distant future in a story about today’s weather or this summer’s corn crop.

Randy Udall and the energy that made us all gods Randy Udall offered a dark view of civilization’s future, but didn’t scowl; he smiled. He was fun, even sparkling in a rough-hewn sort of way, and always, always interesting.

Elephants in the Rockies mastodon tibiaEarthquakes, people no longer considered prime suspects in deaths of mastodons and mammoths at Snowmass, but scientists continue to think it’s a superlative window into Ice Age climate changes.

Going forward in Aspen while looking back Aspen has a tendency to look over its shoulder. How could it not? Several locals recently grappled with how to move forward and what about the past deserves to be kept.

Tim DeChrist0001_2Telluride’s lesser-of-evils energy discussion Before he went to federal prison, Tim DeChristopher wanted to argue that disrupting federal mineral auction in Utah was the lesser of evils. At Mountainfilm this year,  there were several lesser-of-two evils arguments.