2022 in review: The top 9 most-read Sky-Hi News stories

Editor’s note: The following are the 10 most read stories that were published from Jan. 1 to Dec. 28 on the Sky-Hi News website.

1. Record-breaking brook trout caught in Grand County’s Monarch Lake — July 29

Colorado Parks and Wildlife released information today that will make Grand County proud: That is, Tim Daniel, of Granby, broke the longest-standing fish record in the state when he caught a 23-and- 1/4-inch-long brook trout that weighed 7.84 pounds, in Monarch Lake on May 23.

Parks and Wildlife aquatic biologist Jon Ewert inspected the fish the day it was caught. Its girth was 15 and 3/8 inches.

When officials first asked Daniels where he was fishing and what he used to catch the record brookie, he said, “In the water with a hook.”

2. Coloradans will now automatically be charged $29 for a state parks pass when they register their cars — March 12

Colorado’s Parks and Wildlife Commission on Wednesday approved a $29 price for the new Keep Colorado Wild Pass. The pass, which will be part of every vehicle registration in the state unless drivers choose to opt out, could generate more than $54 million a year for Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s 43 state parks.

“A historic day,” commission chairwoman Carrie Hauser said after the unanimous vote approving the $29 price tag.

The Keep Colorado Wild Pass was created in 2021 with legislation intended to increase revenue for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Starting in 2023, license plate renewals will include an annual state parks pass, with an option to not pay the $29 fee if drivers choose. The agency, which does not use taxpayer dollars, says the extra revenue will help manage record visitation, which hit 17 million individual visits in 2020, up from 14.7 million in 2019 and 12.3 million in 2011.

3. Illinois woman dies in Adams Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park — May 20

A woman died in Rocky Mountain National Park on Thursday afternoon after she fell into Adams Falls. The Grand County Coroner’s Office identified the 21-year-old Virginia, Illinois, native as Lydia Davidsmeier.

The waterfall sits on the west side of the park and is accessed via the East Inlet Trail. Grand County and Grand Lake emergency services aided the National Park Service after Davidsmeier’s body was discovered Thursday evening.

The National Park Service reminded visitors in their press release to be careful around streams, rivers and waterfalls, where rocks can be slippery and currents can be powerful.

4. Epic crowds are colliding with epic labor shortages at ski areas — Jan. 2

Alex Kaufman thought it would be an amusing website. Something to poke fun at the largest resort operator in North America.

So he bought for $12 last March, just as Vail Resorts announced a plan to slash the price of its popular Epic Pass by 20%.

“I thought ‘Oh, this could become a thing. This could be a situation,'” said Kaufman, who worked in the ski industry and at resorts in New England, Oregon and Colorado for 20 years.

It has become a situation. The EpicLiftLines Instagram page has grown into a nationwide vent for thousands of resort workers, most of them, he said, employed by Vail Resorts, which owns 34 ski areas in 14 states and Canada. The website gets thousands of clicks a day. The EpicLiftLines Instagram handle has more than 15,000 followers, even though Kaufman made only a handful of posts. Kaufman this fall started getting dozens of direct messages a day. Last week, he said the account was getting “a thousand every day.”

5. Local woman dies in Sunday night car crash — June 20

A two-car crash four miles east of Hot Sulphur Springs on U.S. Highway 40 caused one fatality and other injuries Sunday night, according to a Grand County Sheriff’s Office Facebook post. The Grand County Coroner’s Office identified the deceased as Rebecca Wilie, 34, of Kremmling.

The crash closed Highway 40 between Hot Sulphur Springs and Colorado Highway 125 for over two hours. 

Colorado State Patrol responded to the crash with the Grand County Sheriff’s Office, Grand County emergency medical services and Hot Sulphur Spring/Parshal Fire Department. 

6. Crews respond to house fire, explosion in Grand Lake — April 5

Grand Lake Fire Department crews responded to a house fire on County Road 4454 in Grand Lake on Tuesday, April 5, which, according to a neighbor, started at approximately 7:20 a.m.

Jules Zane, who lives behind the house, said his wife was making breakfast when she saw flames coming out some of the house’s windows. A few moments later, they heard an explosion that appeared to come from inside the house. Zane said the house burned “extremely fast” and by the time Grand Lake FD arrived, it was a three-story fire.

Crews from Grand Lake Fire, Grand Fire and the Grand County Sheriff’s Department fought the fire in winds that snapped trees and created a power outage from Winter Park to Grand Lake, according to Mountain Parks Electric.

7. Avian Flu declared disaster emergency in Colorado — Oct. 8

Gov. Jared Polis has issued an Executive Order declaring a state of disaster emergency due to the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza rising among birds in Colorado. The emergency declaration will allow state agencies to coordinate together to mitigate the spread of the disease.

Also known as H5N1 or the avian flu, the disease affects both wild and domestic birds. It has a mortality rate of over 90%.

“Cases of Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza are on the rise again across the country as migratory birds start their seasonal movement south. Right now, it’s critical that Colorado’s backyard and commercial poultry flock owners keep up the biosecurity measures they have been implementing since the beginning of the outbreak this spring,” said Colorado State Veterinarian Dr. Maggie Baldwin. 

8. Lake Powell dangerously close to dropping too low, Grand County may suffer as a result — April 28

For the first time in history, Lake Powell has dipped below 3,525 feet. This man-made reservoir provides water and power to the southwest. The reservoir’s normal capacity is 3,700 feet. And experts agree that its current level is the “alarm bell” signaling agencies to act to save the lake. The crisis is so imminent that on April 8, the U.S. Department of the Interior issued an emergency request to Arizona, Nevada and California, asking them to reduce their water deliveries to prevent Lake Powell from dropping to too dangerous a level. The states agreed to the proposed cutbacks on April 22.

If the lake does drop lower than 3,490 feet, it is uncertain how much water, if any, will be delivered to the communities that rely on it. Lake Powell doesn’t only supply water to millions of Americans, it also provides power through turbines at the Glen Canyon Dam. Below 3,490 feet, the dam will not be able to provide hydropower. All Colorado Basin states receive power from the dam.

9. Bode Miller, Andy Wirth kill plans for ski academy at Granby Ranch — Oct. 12

Less than a year after Olympian Bode Miller announced he was going to open the first-ever Bode Miller Ski Academy at Granby Ranch Resort in Grand County, he and business partner Andy Wirth reported Sunday, Oct. 9, that they have terminated the deal.

Wirth and Miller made a splash when they unveiled plans for the academy in December 2021. They said they saw the values of a ski academy prioritizing academics and athletic development, including for those who may not be able to afford it, according to a Sky-Hi news story announcing the academy.

The school would have been a boon for promising ski racers of all economic backgrounds, as it would always have, according to Wirth, “scholarships in the neighborhood of 25% of the student body.”

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