Letter: Punish the poachers | PostIndependent.com

Letter: Punish the poachers

I am writing in reference to the article that appeared July 13 “Roan Plateau elk poacher to pay $5,000.”

One why are Bingham and Scheer still working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service? They both should have been canned on the spot. They also should have paid the $5,000 to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, as well as Fitsimmons, since the others were accomplices.

Being a “public servant” the public should know what their punishment is/was.

There shouldn’t be any discussion about any of them not receiving a five-year suspension on their hunting and fishing licenses. Just do it.

All four of you “gentlemen” make me sick. Too bad you couldn’t have spent some jail time also.

Good job on the investigation CPW, and a reminder to the public to always call in the poachers.

Sonya L. Doyal

Rifle

Defense questions Matthew Ogden interrogation

Attempting to suppress statements Matthew Ogden made following his newborn’s death, defense attorneys argued Friday that investigators neglected Ogden having a psychological meltdown as they questioned him.

Ogden is accused of killing his month-old daughter, Sarah, in June 2015 during an episode when his wife stated she saw him violently shaking their daughter.

His wife, Phyllis “Amy” Wyatt, told police that Ogden then took Sarah into the next room where she heard pounding and thumping sounds.

Sarah’s cause of death would be determined as a fractured skull, hemorrhaging to her brain and lacerations to her liver.

Attorneys questioned several investigators in the case Thursday and Friday during a motions hearing, which often touched upon Ogden’s mental state during interviews with law enforcement.

The defense said that investigators exploited Ogden’s mental health problems, creating a coercive situation to elicit incriminating statements during questioning.

Ogden told investigators during the interviews that he suffers from multiple mental health issues, including schizoaffective disorder, anxiety, seizures, obsessive-compulsive disorder, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, said public defender Kori Zapletal.

The defendant also hears voices in his head, one of which is named George, Ogden told investigators during those interviews.

Lisa Miller, chief investigator for the district attorney’s office, who conducted some of the interviews two days after Sarah’s death, testified in the hearing Friday.

Before Miller spoke with Ogden, she and the other officers who’d previously interviewed him talked about Ogden’s mental state.

Miller said that she and the other officers believed he “was playing a game.” They didn’t believe that his mental issues were interfering with his ability to think clearly and respond to interview questions.

“Not one of us present believed that,” Miller testified.

They believed Ogden was taking advantage of his mental health issues to maneuver out of the questions.

In prior interviews, Ogden had become upset enough to vomit or gag into a trash can, said Zapletal.

And though Ogden had already been talking to investigators, Miller would reveal to him that they knew Sarah’s death was non-natural.

Miller testified that she started the interview with a firm approach, letting Ogden know it was time for a serious conversation.

“I explained that I would be asking hard questions that would probably upset him,” she testified.

In a recording of the interview, Ogden could be heard saying he was “fighting off seizures.”

Multiple times in the interviews Ogden said he couldn’t handle it, that he was freaking out, and suggested that he wanted to leave, said Zapletal.

Asked why she didn’t halt the interviews at these points, Miller said, “because he was clearly handling it.”

Despite him becoming emotionally distraught and animated at points, Ogden was able to understand what he was being told and answer clearly, said Miller.

Prosecutors keyed in on the numerous scenarios Ogden supplied as explanations for Sarah’s death.

If it happened it was an accident, Ogden could be heard saying in a recording. He suggested that Sarah sustained her head injury by hitting her head on the window sill, or that the dog might have knocked her off the bed.

“I’d die before I hurt one of my children. I would never hurt my baby,” he told Miller.

During the motions hearing on Thursday attorneys also questioned a Parachute police officer who interviewed Ogden.

Under questioning by Zapletal, the officer testified that he did not inquire about whether Ogden had taken his medication that day.

The defense also argued that Ogden’s statements must be suppressed because they occurred before he was Mirandized.

Each of the investigators questioned Thursday and Friday also repeatedly said, along with the prosecutors, that Ogden was not under arrest during these interviews. He was always free to go and was consistently reminded that he was not under arrest.

Deputy District Attorney Matthew Barrett repeated, along with each investigator on the stand, that Ogden did in fact leave the building multiple times without being restrained.

“I’m out of here. I can’t handle this. You’re accusing me of things,” Ogden could be heard saying on a recording as he left the room.

But Ogden never said that he wanted a lawyer or was refusing to cooperate, Barrett confirmed with Miller.

Among numerous other motions, the defense also motioned for a change of venue, citing the heavy media attention on the case and an inflamed community over the nature of the case.

Defense attorneys are also trying to suppress evidence seized from Ogden’s apartment and a forensic download of his cellphone.

Another motions hearing is scheduled for Aug. 15, and Ogden’s trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 26.

Like in Garfield County’s most recent murder trial, Barrett recommended the court call at least 600 potential jurors for the trial.

Youth Corps: Trail blazers of Garfield County

Hikers are goal-oriented people. Setting off from a starting point, they work their way along a trail toward their ultimate goal, enjoying a sense of accomplishment at the end.

But many hikers rarely think about how that trail got there and how it remains so well kept. Unless hikers bushwhack their way to the top, they owe some of the credit for their accomplishment to an unseen, underappreciated force.

“It is wasn’t for this program, the trail system at this end of the mountains would be in bad shape,” said Joe Fazzi, who works for the U.S. Forest Service in Rifle, “We just don’t have the recreational crew to do the trails. It just isn’t going to happen with two of us.”

Fazzi is talking about the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps. The Youth Corps’ goal is to maintain hiking trails.

The Youth Corps is a nationwide collection of crews, part of the nonprofit AmeriCorps, who spend time working outdoors to improve communities. Since 2011 the corps has been improving trails in Garfield County.

Three different crews are working in Garfield County this summer. They include the Community Development Crew (ages 14-16), Regional Youth Corps (ages 16-19) and Conservation Corps (ages 18 and up). Twenty-three Garfield County residents are working for the Youth Corps.

Earlier this month, the Conservation Corps was working on the Mitchell Creek trail in West Glenwood. The 10-person crew has been working on trails in Garfield County since June 3 and will be continuing until Aug. 12. The crews stay on site for a week or more, camping out along the trailheads until their work is done.

Drew Langel is the crew leader in his third year with the Conservation Corps. He and assistant crew leader Chris Braun direct their crew on the maintenance that each trail needs.

“If the trail is in bad shape, we go up with hand tools and might have to reroute sections, widen the trails, create water diversion structures, retaining walls and do rock work, especially with eroded soil,” Langel said.

The crew has members from all across the country. Langel is from Glen Ellyn, Illinois. Braun is from Breckenridge.

One of their members, Marge Kneuer, is from Rochester, New York. Kneuer is also a crew member for the Mercyhurst University’s rowing team in Pennsylvania. As part of a tradition within her team, Kneuer decided to join the Conservation Corps for this summer.

“I’m the fourth team member to do it,” Kneuer said. “I’ve never done anything like this before. It’s been a life-changing experience so far.”

The Conservation Corps demands a lot of hard, physical work from its members, but it’s so much more than just trail maintenance.

Members who complete the requirements receive a stipend of more than $1,400 to go toward any educational pursuit they choose. The Conservation Corps also requires 100 hours of educational experience.

“It can be anything from crew members teaching each other something useful, to guest speakers, to going to a museum,” said Braun. “Really anything educational.”

The crew also has the freedom to explore all that Colorado has to offer. Workers are provided with a gas card and can travel anywhere they wish on weekends, which they have off.

“We go on a lot of hikes,” said Kneuer. “We’ve hiked some 14ers, and we are going to Silverton this weekend.”

Without the Youth Corps and its various crews, Garfield County would likely be unable to maintain the trails in the area. The Conservation Corps certainly welcomes praise when they get it but understand that they work an often times thankless job.

“There are so many benefits for us,” Langel said, “but it’s often a humbling job. If you do it right, people don’t even know that there is anything different. That’s kind of cool.”

Column: The memes of summer are harmful

Does this ever happen to you? You sit down to a task that involves giving practical advice on a topic that is solidly within your field of expertise. You assemble supporting facts, begin to organize your material — and then some wayward part of your brain asserts itself and drags you into the realm of, well, thought. The practical project is out the window.

This happened to me when I sat down to write this month’s column. July is prime time to discuss dogs and family vacations. Since the percentage of families with dogs who consider the canines full members is over 90, there is a wealth of information and advice for the ones who travel with them.

At High Tails, we entertain hundreds of visiting dogs every summer while their people hike Hanging Lake, enjoy the Adventure Park, the pool or a nice restaurant dinner. I was going to write about the places in our valley where dogs are welcome with their tourist humans, and how one might balance a vacation to include dog-friendly activities with those strictly for humans, when my mind made a detour. It asked: Why do families who fully embrace their dogs as members so easily accept this degree of segregation by species alone, where no reasonable distinctions are involved?

The online dictionary defines a meme as “a cultural item that is transmitted by repetition and replication in a manner analogous to the biological transmission of genes.” In other words, a belief, idea, practice or image that is not dependent in any way upon thought for its existence or propagation – yet it mimics those things that are anchored by judgment. What is a judgment, if not a product of thought? Is this why our society effortlessly holds contradictory memes at the same time?

There is the meme of the child and her dog, the “man’s best friend”; the provider of unconditional love; the heroic guardian. Say the word “dog” when any of these memes are operative and hundreds more will flood the mind.

But when dogs come up as laws are deliberated, or public health and safety policy set, immediately, the barking dog meme, the destructive dog meme, the threatening, dirty, malodorous, unruly and, well, alien memes seamlessly take over the same minds.

Similar to prejudices, memes are shortcuts to judgments we must make, but which bypass all forms of actual engagement with conflicting ideas. Because they let us escape the discomfort of cognitive dissonance and the difficulty of actually thinking and deliberating, they are more seductive than prejudices, and more dangerous because of their speed and scope, thanks to the internet, and the fact that they operate unconsciously.

Nobody proudly proclaims their beliefs to be prejudices — they immediately attempt to justify them. When challenged, as beliefs about race, gender and species have been and are, the ferment of engagement drags everyone into the realm of thought, however reluctantly. Whereas memes jump from mind to mind fully formed, not like assertions or propositions, but as images whose meanings are both self-evident and incapable of being articulated.

What does it mean to be transgendered? Despite the flurry of reaction in the form of “bathroom bills,” on one side, and haste to “support” (with chemical and surgical solutions) people grappling with gender identity issues on the other, very little thinking is taking place. It’s a war of meme versus meme, and all the history, psychology and law that ought to be enriching an examination of a relatively new (or newly identified) phenomenon is never even noticed in its absence.

What does it mean to claim your dog as a full family member? I think we ought to try thinking about this. Is it a new idea that has profound implications and deserves to be carefully explored? Or is it, itself, just a meme? Another toxic example of this weird new unit of intellectual-biological fundamentalism? Why not attempt to actually think about this new proposition: that families can have more than one species as members. That ought to produce a lively conversation. Who knows but what it might be enjoyable enough to get us to try it against some of the other recently occupied territory of meme-land.

Now, THAT would be a worthy outgrowth of the bond between our species.

Laurie Raymond owns High Tails Dog & Cat Outfitters in Glenwood Springs.

Dorothy Bensch Doyle

A memorial service will be held for Dorothy Bensch Doyle on Saturday, July 30th at 2:00 p.m. at the Carbondale Community United Methodist Church, 385 South 2nd Street, Carbondale, Colorado

County takes over food inspections

Garfield County has officially taken the reigns from the state on food safety inspections.

For more than a year the county had been discussing creating its own food safety program as the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has been gradually getting out of the business.

The county began considering in earnest how to implement its own food safety program last year, and from September through December the state was helping train the county’s new inspectors, with help from Eagle County, Mesa County and Aspen.

“Locally run programs can minimize travel expenses, and local inspectors have a better sense for the community’s needs,” said Natalie Tsevdos, one of the program’s environmental health specialists. “In addition, local inspectors build relationships with business owners, which is not only time-saving, but can also help restaurants obtain information easier. If there was an emergency, such as a food-borne illness outbreak, local programs offer a faster response time.”

Recent conflict at the state level has also held up some food inspections as state legislators negotiated with the restaurant lobby over inspection fee increases and food safety grades.

Before Garfield County took full control of food safety, the state had contracted Mesa County’s food inspectors to cover the western portion of Garfield County while the state still covered the eastern side.

Garfield County’s program covers 35 schools, 43 child-care centers and 345 retail food establishments, said Tsevdos. The child-care category includes day cares, preschools, after-school programs and camps. Retail food establishments include restaurants, hotels, grocery stores, guest ranches, gas stations, school kitchens and bars.

Tsevdos says the number of child-care centers and retail food establishments in Garfield County continues to grow.

When commissioners were first considering taking on food safety last year, Commissioner Mike Samson pointed out that many schools were being inspected only once every three years.

“Inspection frequency is based on food-borne illness risk,” Tsevdos wrote in a news release.

Under the county’s program, full-service restaurants and grocery stores generally get two unannounced inspections each year.

“Convenience stores, hotels, coffee shops, schools and mobile units are inspected once a year. Bars that have very limited food service (such as ice and snacks) are inspected once every two years,” she said.

The inspectors will also conduct complaint-driven investigations if they hear about unsanitary conditions or if there’s evidence that a food-borne illness has come from a particular establishment.

“It can be difficult to determine if a particular meal caused illness. People instinctively target the last thing they ate,” Tsevdos wrote.

Symptoms of food poisoning may show up in a few hours, but could take as long as 50 days.

People often don’t go to the doctor, where useful samples could be taken.

“And the onset of symptoms varies greatly between different pathogens and different people. In most cases, by the time symptoms are identified, the food suspected of causing illness is gone,” according to Tsevdos.

So to be proactive, the new program offers quarterly classes covering retail food regulations. These classes are held on a rotating basis in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Rifle and are also available in Spanish.

“Initial response to professional education programs for restaurateurs has been strong locally, with the first class attracting 75 participants from 20 different restaurants,” according to a county press release.

But the program’s courses are not mandatory.

“There are no food safety certification requirements for food workers in the state of Colorado,” wrote Tsevdos. “However, most restaurants have opted for some form of training in addition to attending GCPH’s classes. Most chain restaurants impose stricter requirements than the health department; their employees must have current food manager or food handler certifications through ServSafe and they have additional third party food safety audits and inspections. Food safety is also a requirement in most culinary school programs and to operate as a Cottage Foods producer.”

“We are only in a restaurant for three hours a year,” she wrote. “The rest of the time it is up to the business to practice safe food handling. So, we want to be the best resource we can be.”

One service gap the county’s program will cover that the state left out is special events, such as festivals and farmers markets.

Local public health departments “can more effectively regulate temporary events,” and complete preoperational inspections for new restaurants before they open, wrote Tsevdos.

In addition to the environmental health manager, the county’s food safety program now has two inspectors and one administrative assistant.

“As we know, this is a money loser. There’s no one in the state really that’s breaking even or making money,” Yvonne Long, Garfield County public health director, told commissioners in discussions about the new program last year.

“It is not a revenue generator, but a service and a safety issue that you have to pay for,” Commissioner John Martin responded.

Prior to the program being implemented, Josh Williams, county environmental health manager, said its budget would be about $178,000. However, the state would reimburse $93,000, leaving the county to pay $85,000.

PERA’s low returns call for a change

The leaders of Colorado’s Public Employee Retirement Association (PERA) assure us that if we have patience, long-term investment returns of 7.5 percent will fully fund the program’s promises to retirees over the next 40 years or so.

But what if those returns fail to materialize?

Moving PERA from the current defined benefit plan to a defined contribution or cash balance-style plan would remove much of the burden of returns falling short from taxpayers, while helping along the long-term financial health of PERA.

Coloradans got a taste of that this past year, when PERA achieved a paltry 1.5 percent return on its assets. PERA Executive Director Greg Smith has dismissed concerns over the low returns, saying that PERA’s investment managers outperformed both their counterparts at other public pensions across the country and PERA’s own benchmarks.

But the consequences are real, and not so easily dismissed.

The market value of PERA’s assets fell roughly $1.6 billion to $42.5 billion, and the unfunded liability – promises the fund lacks sufficient money to cover – ballooned nearly $4 billion to $28.4 billion. PERA now has the money to pay for only three-fifths of its promises, back to 2011 levels.

Far from exonerating PERA, these returns prove the need for systemic change.

Nobody blames PERA’s investment managers for 2015’s difficult environment. They’re not the problem.

It’s that the current system places all of the risk that sufficient returns may just not be possible on all Colorado taxpayers and citizens.

In 2014, the Legislature authorized a sensitivity analysis of a number of factors affecting PERA’s future. Most prominent was the return on investments.

Holding everything else constant, that analysis gave PERA’s State Fund – which provide benefits for state workers – a one-in-four chance of ending up 20 percent funded in 30 years, and of the school fund ending up 30 percent funded. That’s the same chance as flipping a coin twice and getting two heads. That same analysis found a better than 1-in-10 chance of each becoming insolvent in that same time period.

Last year, under pressure to increase returns, the PERA board instructed its investment managers to add risk, giving greater weight in their portfolio to alternative investments.

I repeat – the investment risk is borne not by the employees, but by the taxpayers of the state. Unlike PERA members, most of us don’t have pensions, but rather 401(k)s. We and our fellow citizens pay for these retirement promises before we can begin funding our own retirements, children’s college or even mortgages.

We also bear the investment risk of our own retirement funds.

When the crunch comes, as it has in so many other places, we will find ourselves with two unpalatable options: either increase taxes, which means less money for those not in PERA to invest in their own retirements or cut services, such as reducing spending on education or investment in public infrastructure. Either of these will have the unintended effect of lowering growth – and returns – even more.

We will need to contribute more to our own retirements at the same time that PERA will demand more to cover its promises that were made on our behalf by politicians generations before. If the money simply isn’t there, what then will those promises actually be worth?

There is a better, fairer, more reliable way to help our teachers and civil servants plan for retirement.

Starting now, we can begin to move the investment risk back where it lies for the rest of us: to the employee.

Benefits that are already vested should not be touched. These represent benefits that have been earned, and promises that must be kept.

But all future, unvested benefits, should be converted to a defined contribution or a cash balance plan.

A defined contribution plan, like a 401(k), puts the investment risk on the employee. A cash balance plan promises a retiree a certain cash amount upon retirement, based on salary and years of service. The taxpayers bear the preretirement investment risk. After retirement, it’s the members’ job to manage their own finances.

Doing this will move us closer to the ideal of measurable and predictable “total compensation” for teachers and other government employees.

PERA’s investment managers can keep their jobs. The PERA Fund could be one of the investment options offered for members, and given its performance over time, it might well be the preferred one.

More stability, more reliability and more flexibility mean more fairness. Who could be opposed to that?

Joshua Sharf manages the PERA Project at the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.

Summer racing heats up with California Chrome, Songbird

Horse racing’s summer season kicks off in a big way this weekend at two of the sport’s most treasured racetracks, Del Mar and Saratoga.

And what a daily double it should be — Dubai World Cup winner California Chrome taking on six rivals in Saturday’s $200,000 San Diego Handicap and undefeated filly Songbird starring in Sunday’s $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks.

While the Del Mar meet began last week, Saratoga opens its 148th season on Friday and runs through Sept. 5.

Stakes races on opening day at the Spa are the Schuylerville for 2-year-old fillies and the Lake George for 3-year-old turf fillies. On Saturday, it’s the Sanford for 2-year-olds.

California Chrome, the 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, comes into the 1 1/16-mile San Diego with a 3-0 record this year. The 5-year-old Chrome won the $10 million World Cup in March in his last start.

The field also includes 2015 Santa Anita Derby winner Dortmund, Hard Aces, Soi Phet, Crittenden, Follow Me Crev and Win the Space.

Chrome leaves from the No. 6 gate, and will have regular rider Victor Espinoza aboard. The race is a prep for the $1 million Pacific Classic at Del Mar on Aug. 20.

“Outside is good for me,” Chrome’s trainer Art Sherman said. “(Espinoza) will be able to break and see what’s happening to his inside and go from there.”

Songbird arrived at Saratoga from California on Wednesday. A comfortable winner in all eight of her races, the 3-year-old filly will be ridden by Hall of Famer Mike Smith in her New York debut. The filly owned by Rick Porter went for jog around the track Thursday morning.

“She ate up (Thursday) morning and she was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed,” Porter said. “She went with the pony and jogged for a mile and an eighth. She wasn’t too happy to go back to the barn, she probably wanted to do a little more. She’s doing fantastic considering all the travel she’s had.”

In her last start, Songbird won the Summertime Oaks by 6 ½ lengths.

Taking on the 2-year-old champion filly trained by Hall of Famer Jerry Hollendorfer is Carina Mia, Weep No More, Flora Dora and Mo d’Amour.

A week later, 3-year-olds are center stage after a Triple Crown break when Derby winner Nyquist returns for the $1 million Haskell Invitational on July 31 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey. A day earlier, it’s Preakness winner Exaggerator and Belmont Stakes winner Creator hooking up in the $600,000 Jim Dandy at Saratoga.

Others in the Haskell include Gun Runner (third in Derby), Blue Grass winner Brody’s Cause (seventh in Derby, sixth in Belmont) and Iowa Derby winner American Freedom, trained by eight-time Haskell winner Bob Baffert.

Last year, more than 60,000 fans showed up at Monmouth to watch Triple Crown champion American Pharoah blow away the field in his first race since sweeping the Derby, Preakness and Belmont.

Letter: Performing arts center needed

This is written in response to the article titled “Glenwood Parks and Recreation Master Plan Update Underway” on page A2 of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent of Friday, July 15, 2016.

Missing from the survey on the recreation master plan was the urgent need for a performing arts center in Glenwood Springs. At the present time local theater groups and the community orchestra utilize facilities at local schools for rehearsal and performance venues. The Jeannie Miller Theater in Glenwood Springs High School does not suffice as a community theater substitute. The individual schools must schedule their spaces to benefit primarily the students and school activities. Other organizations’ space rental needs are secondary and subject to the management of these spaces. Local churches generously make their facilities available as possible.

Current community center amenities consist of an ice rink, gym, climbing wall, exercise facilities, tennis courts, meeting rooms and a pool. However, a theater was never constructed. Within the past several years, community input was solicited, and discussion included conceptual ideas for a theater at the Glenwood Springs Community Center complex. Public meetings brought forth mention of theater use as a convention center, movable seats and shared facilities with the skating rink.

A performing arts center should be designed and operated as a totally separate entity from the existing community center and athletic facilities. There is need for a large auditorium, separate rehearsal space, equipment storage space, dance class space, scenery construction/storage space for local theater groups, and a catering kitchen. The design, planning and ultimate operation of a performing arts center should be under the direction of a board including members of the organizations (e.g. orchestras, theater groups, dance ensembles, etc.) who will be the primary utilizers. An art gallery and art class space could also be incorporated. Location is critical. The confluence area is unsuitable due to noise from trains and possible automobile traffic.

Several notable community theater operations exist in the state. These include the Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Lone Tree Arts Center, and the excellent theater of the Lakewood Cultural Center. On the Western Slope examples include the Grand Junction Avalon Theater and the Ute Theater in Rifle.

The time is now.

Rick Oakes

Glenwood Springs, president, Symphony in the Valley

Long Aspen area races will test runners’ lungs, legs

Running a race in the Roaring Fork Valley in the coming months? Prepare for plenty of ups and downs and roots and rocks.

A mix of newer races and two longtime classics are on tap, starting July 30 with the Mount Sopris Runoff.

The Mount Sopris Runoff is a 14-mile grinder that takes runners from the old schoolhouse in Emma to West Sopris Creek Road, a 1,500-foot climb before they head another 1,700 feet down to Highway 133. It finishes at the Carbondale Mountain Fair.

The race’s age is in question, but Brion After, whose Independence Run & Hike store in Carbondale puts on the event, said he believes it is 38.

“It’s a small, funky, fun race,” he said. “It’s a locals’ race that people know and want to keep it that way.”

Those not up for the challenge can do a downhill 4-mile race that also finishes at the fair.

More details are at www.independence​runandhike.com.

Even harder on the lungs and legs is the Audi Power of Four Trail Run, an ultra race traversing all four of Aspen Skiing Co.’s ski mountains — Aspen, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass — on Aug. 7. That accounts for 12,178 feet of elevation gain and 11,632 feet of elevation loss.

The 50-kilometer race, which starts at the base of Aspen Mountain and finishes in Snowmass Village, is the crown jewel of the trail races slated for that weekend. Other events include a 10K and 25K (Tiehack to Snowmass) on Aug. 7, as well as a race up Aspen Mountain on Aug. 6.

Prize money will be offered to the top three finishers in the 50K, 25K and Aspen Mountain climb, including $1,000 to the 50K winner.

For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com/while-you-are-here/events/audi-power-of-four-trail-run/schedule.

The Aspen Backcountry Marathon is set for the next weekend, on Aug. 13, with $600 going to both the male and female victors. The race starts and finishes at Rio Grande Park — Ducky Derby festivities also are at the park that day — with marathoners climbing up the Sunnyside Trail on Red Mountain before hitting various trails (Shady Side, Secret/Jedi, Upper Plunge, Red Mountain Communications Site Road, Four Corners, Hobbit, Hunter Creek Toll Road, Lower Lollipop Trail, and down Smuggler Mountain Road, among others).

New this year is a 21K, which also takes runners up Sunnyside and down Hunter Creek Trail. More details on the races, which are presented by Aspen Parks and Recreation, are at www.aspenbackcountrymarathon.com.

If running downhill on asphalt is your pleasure, not to mention achieving fast times, try the Basalt Half Marathon on Aug. 20. This year’s event marks its 40th edition, making it one of the oldest races in the Roaring Fork Valley. The race starts near Ruedi Reservoir and goes down Frying Pan River Road into downtown Basalt. The drop in elevation is about 1,000 feet. More info is at www.basalthalfmarathon.com.

The Salomon Golden Leaf Half Marathon, which is sold out, is a fall tradition that attracts runners from all over the state. The race starts at Fanny Hill in Snowmass, taking runners to Government Trail. It traverses both Snowmass and Buttermilk, dropping runners into the Marolt Open Space. A few blocks on West Hopkins are the lone stretch of asphalt before runners finish at Koch Lumber Park. There’s an elevation gain of 980 feet, mostly in the race’s first 5 or 6 miles, with a descent of 1,712 feet.

Go to www.goldenleafrace.com for additional info.

rcarroll@aspentimes.com