News in brief

Aspen, chamber solicit community feedback ahead of COVID winter planning

Plans for a winter season amid a pandemic are forthcoming, according to city officials.

The City of Aspen and Aspen Chamber Resort Association, or ACRA, are hosting two virtual town hall meetings to get feedback from the community — especially in assessing how the summer went in Aspen with COVID mitigation and recovery efforts. A summary will then be presented to the Aspen City Council on Oct. 12, with the hope of helping guide future council priorities and policies with an undercurrent of constituent feedback.

Aspen Mayor Torre welcomed the discussion.

“As we plan for the coming winter, we want to listen to our community about what was successful and what needs refining — to see how we can continue the positive elements already implemented and adapt for winter needs to support economic and social recovery in Aspen,” he said in a statement. “Our staff has already been engaged with winter planning efforts, and the feedback will add greatly to the conversation.”

For anyone interested in participating, a survey is posted at www.aspencommunityvoice.com. The results will be used to guide the conversations for the town hall meetings. Those interested in filling out the survey should do so as soon as possible, but no later than September 29, according to a release from the city.

Registration to attend the town hall sessions is also on www.aspencommunityvoice.com, which will include a big-picture summary of local and regional trends, as well as a review of pre-meeting survey results. While the themes for discussion will be shaped by survey results, some likely categories will include workforce challenges, COVID mitigation efforts and outdoor business opportunities.

Pitkin County fire restrictions to be lessened on Friday

Pitkin County Sheriff Joe DiSalvo will rescind Stage 2 fire restrictions effective 12:01 a.m. Friday. Rather, the reinstated Stage 1 fire restrictions will be in effect and remain so until further notice.

But that doesn’t mean the public shouldn’t still be on alert for fire danger.

“The prolonged period of hot, dry weather this summer has been unprecedented,” DiSalvo said in a statement. “We remain in extreme drought conditions, and although we received rain and snow recently, the risk of fire in our community is still very high. We all must abide by these restrictions, without fail.”

Land management officials from the U.S. Forest Service for the White River National Forest and Bureau of Land Management are implementing their own similar restrictions.

"We follow scientific data to make decisions regarding fire restrictions,” Valerie MacDonald, Pitkin County emergency manager, said. “While the data supports the sheriff's decision to roll back fire restrictions to Stage 1, the public must understand that fire season is not over. We are still in extreme drought. Live fuel moisture levels are near historic lows, the National Weather Service forecasts the rebound of hot and dry weather, we have numerous active fires in the stat, and available resources are drawn down. Ninety percent of wildfires are human caused, and we need everyone to continue to use extreme caution with fire.”

All residents and visitors who violate these fire restrictions will face criminal penalties, which include fines of $500 for the first offense, $750 for the second offense and $1000 for the third, as well as possible jail time.