Aspen digs deep for green marketing; local bears largely unimpressed

Vail may be battling bugs with biomass, but ski-town rival Aspen wants to dig deep in order to heat up its enviro-friendly image … literally.

According to the Aspen Daily News, the city council last week awarded a $33,000 contract to a water consultant to study the possibility of drilling a well up to 3,000 feet into the Molly Gibson mine shaft near Smuggler Mountain.

The city hopes it can then snag a $3.5 million Department of Energy grant to tap into a geothermal reservoir and provide enough heat for 1 million square feet of buildings, or the equivalent of about 10 large hotels.

That would allow the town best known for extravagance to continue to hone its message of offsetting opulence with green-energy projects. However, Aspen Skiing Company, which for years has built hydro-power systems, solar arrays and green buildings, is taking a more pragmatic approach when it comes to marketing.

The SkiCo (as it’s referred to locally) is easing off on its “Save Snow” advertising campaign aimed at bolstering its green cred and instead focusing more on a lifestyle campaign emphasizing deals.

Citing the ongoing recession, which has hit Aspen particularly hard, the SkiCo appears to be more concerned with putting heads in beds than wowing snow riders with its enviro-ethic. Apparently it’s easier to be green when you’re in the black.

Which also happens to be the color of the bears that have been more abundant than tourists in Glitter Gulch this summer. Overrun by hungry bruins, Aspen has been on high alert lately. A young bear was tranquilized after scratching a woman who fell asleep on the deck of her home Monday.

And in a case police say was definitely an accident and not media persecution, a window was shot out by a beanbag at the Aspen Times – reportedly an errant shot from cops trying to scare away marauding bears.

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