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Courtesy of United

Imagine having an airport terminal all to yourself. It can actually happen — if you’re willing to pay for the privilege.

United Airlines has announced plans to partner with The Private Suite for high-paying business class passengers at Los Angeles International Airport who want nothing more than to avoid the huge crowds for a totally elite travel experience.

The passengers will be driven from the terminal to the tarmac to their planes in a BMW 7-Series sedan and have their own staff of eight assigned to their booking, CNBC reported. This premium offering also includes a custom security screening away from the long lines.

“I think this is a very smart move on United's part to compete,” Henry Harteveldt, founder of travel-industry consulting firm Atmosphere Research Group, told CNBC.

But all this exclusivity and luxury comes at a hefty price. An annual membership at the Private Terminal normally goes for $4,500, but access will be included in some ticket fares on flights to or from LAX, to Newark, Aspen, Hawaii, London's Heathrow, Singapore, Tokyo Narita and Sydney, said United, according to CNBC.

United isn’t the only airline revamping its premium offerings. Other airlines are also re-upping their airport lounges, first class cabins and seats to appeal to more customers who are willing to pay more for comfort.

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A closer look at Avalanche Ranch Cabins and Hot Springs in our continuing series on hot springs in Colorado.

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Glenwood Springs to the north and Aspen to the east get far more attention than Redstone, the quaint town along Colorado 133. But treasures lie within, such as Avalanche Ranch's hot springs, overlooked by the dramatic Mount Sopris. A family tapped a well in 2010, releasing the geothermal waters that flow into three pools stacked on top of each other.

But the soaking spots aren't the only draw at Avalanche Ranch. Several rustic cabins, three wagons, a ranch house and a cottage are some of the accommodations to be reserved by hikers and cyclists who want more than a day to explore area trails. The ranch is along the Crystal River's Gold Medal waters, and anglers staying the night can keep up to four trout stocked in the private pond. Guests are welcome to canoes. Winter activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice skating.

Book a massage or join a yoga session for optimum healing, though the mineral-rich waters should do the trick. The upper two pools are kept at 103 to 105 degrees, while the biggest one is about 88 to 94 degrees.

Rules: Suits required. Pools closed on Wednesdays for cleaning, opening for lodging guests after 5 p.m. All-day visitors must make reservations. No pets by pools. No glass, no smoking.

Address: 12863 Colorado 133, Redstone, 81623

Hours: Day visits made for four-hour slots, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 to 5 p.m.

Contact: 970-963-2846, avalancheranch.com

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for U.S. 6 west and follow to Interstate 70 exit toward Grand Junction. Continue west to exit 116 for Colorado 82 east to Glenwood Springs/Aspen. Turn for Colorado 133 south and go about 13 miles to hot springs.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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The U.S. Forest Service is looking for operators to rent out the Aspen Guard Station north of Mancos.

The San Juan National Forest is seeking applications to operate the historic Aspen and Glade guard stations.

A successful applicant will gain a commercial permit for renting the cabins to the public, said Tom Rice, recreation planner for the Dolores District.

“They are really neat buildings that are not getting used,” he said. “Having an operator will allow the public to stay in the forest in historic cabins and provide a local business opportunity. Rental management will also help keep the buildings maintained.”

The Aspen Guard Station is 10 miles northeast of Mancos on Forest Road 561. It is a rustic cabin with a water well, propane and solar system. It has a kitchen and three bedrooms.

The Glade Guard Station is 30 miles north of Cortez on Forest Road 512. It is similar to the Aspen station but has had renovations in the past five years that include corrals.

Access for both properties is via gravel forest roads. Winter snowfall typically closes access from November to May. Snow machines and off-highway vehicles may be used when roads are closed because of snow. The commercial permit term will be for two years, with an option to extend the term non-competitively for an additional five years.

The cabins have a long history with the Forest Service.

The Glade Guard Station was established in 1905 when a small log cabin was constructed as an administrative facility for the Glade District of the Montezuma National Forest, which is now part of the Dolores District of the San Juan National Forest. In 1916, a wood-frame residence was built and a barn was added.

The Lone Dome Civilian Conservation Corp camp was set up adjacent to the Glade Guard Station in 1930s. During this time, a garage, meat house (later used as a toolshed) and an outhouse were constructed. The station continued to serve various functions through the 1970s and is one of the oldest Forest Service administrative sites in Colorado. The site was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 2001 and is considered to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The log-constructed Aspen Guard Station was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938 for Forest Service administration under Superintendent G. Wayne Bauer. It is in an aspen grove near the historic Jersey Jim Lookout Tower.

The Aspen station was built as part of the federal government’s effort to generate jobs after the Great Depression and was part of a campaign of natural resource enhancement undertaken by the Forest Service during the New Deal era.

Rangers lived in the Aspen station when they worked in the field, and it included office space, a bedroom, storage and a garage. Later, a small kitchen and dining nook were added. By the 1950s, it was being used for seasonal work crews. Beginning in 1994, the dwelling was used for an artist-in-residence program, but that program ended in 2012.

Rice said the cabins need some upkeep, and that some of the revenues generated by the rentals would be earmarked for building maintenance.

As part of the application, bidders must show a business plan and experience with providing lodging to the public. Other details should include visitation numbers, season of use, potential revenue, logistics and cost of infrastructure and operations. Providing public benefit and generating revenue are critical parts of this opportunity, Rice said.

Parties are encouraged to research and visit the stations by contacting the Dolores Ranger District before Oct. 15. Application packages must be received by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27.

Interested parties may contact Tom Rice, recreation program manager, Dolores Ranger District, 29211 Colorado Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323. Rice’s phone is 882-6843. His email is thomasbrice@fs.fed.us.

For more information, including an electronic copy of the prospectus, contact Rice. The prospectus is posted at: bit.ly/2werN4E.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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The U.S. Forest Service is looking for operators to rent out the Aspen Guard Station north of Mancos.

The San Juan National Forest is seeking applications to operate the historic Aspen and Glade guard stations.

A successful applicant will gain a commercial permit for renting the cabins to the public, said Tom Rice, recreation planner for the Dolores District.

“They are really neat buildings that are not getting used,” he said. “Having an operator will allow the public to stay in the forest in historic cabins and provide a local business opportunity. Rental management will also help keep the buildings maintained.”

The Aspen Guard Station is 10 miles northeast of Mancos on Forest Road 561. It is a rustic cabin with a water well, propane and solar system. It has a kitchen and three bedrooms.

The Glade Guard Station is 30 miles north of Cortez on Forest Road 512. It is similar to the Aspen station but has had renovations in the past five years that include corrals.

Access for both properties is via gravel forest roads. Winter snowfall typically closes access from November to May. Snow machines and off-highway vehicles may be used when roads are closed because of snow. The commercial permit term will be for two years, with an option to extend the term non-competitively for an additional five years.

The cabins have a long history with the Forest Service.

The Glade Guard Station was established in 1905 when a small log cabin was constructed as an administrative facility for the Glade District of the Montezuma National Forest, which is now part of the Dolores District of the San Juan National Forest. In 1916, a wood-frame residence was built and a barn was added.

The Lone Dome Civilian Conservation Corp camp was set up adjacent to the Glade Guard Station in 1930s. During this time, a garage, meat house (later used as a toolshed) and an outhouse were constructed. The station continued to serve various functions through the 1970s and is one of the oldest Forest Service administrative sites in Colorado. The site was listed on the Colorado State Register of Historic Properties in 2001 and is considered to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places.

The log-constructed Aspen Guard Station was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1938 for Forest Service administration under Superintendent G. Wayne Bauer. It is in an aspen grove near the historic Jersey Jim Lookout Tower.

The Aspen station was built as part of the federal government’s effort to generate jobs after the Great Depression and was part of a campaign of natural resource enhancement undertaken by the Forest Service during the New Deal era.

Rangers lived in the Aspen station when they worked in the field, and it included office space, a bedroom, storage and a garage. Later, a small kitchen and dining nook were added. By the 1950s, it was being used for seasonal work crews. Beginning in 1994, the dwelling was used for an artist-in-residence program, but that program ended in 2012.

Rice said the cabins need some upkeep, and that some of the revenues generated by the rentals would be earmarked for building maintenance.

As part of the application, bidders must show a business plan and experience with providing lodging to the public. Other details should include visitation numbers, season of use, potential revenue, logistics and cost of infrastructure and operations. Providing public benefit and generating revenue are critical parts of this opportunity, Rice said.

Parties are encouraged to research and visit the stations by contacting the Dolores Ranger District before Oct. 15. Application packages must be received by 4:30 p.m. Oct. 27.

Interested parties may contact Tom Rice, recreation program manager, Dolores Ranger District, 29211 Colorado Highway 184, Dolores, CO 81323. Rice’s phone is 882-6843. His email is thomasbrice@fs.fed.us.

For more information, including an electronic copy of the prospectus, contact Rice. The prospectus is posted at: bit.ly/2werN4E.

jmimiaga@the-journal.com

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ASPEN, Colo. -- A camp in Aspen for the deaf is in need of help after cabins they rented out for the Winter X-Games last weekend were vandalized and ransacked.

The non-profit camp rents out their cabins through Air BnB to help off-set some of their costs during the year. The renters broke doors, left vomit on the floors, and littered their trails with garbage.

The camp says the renter even raided a kitchen they're not allowed access to and ate the food that's supposed to be for the campers.

But it was a vandalized sign that really upset their camp community.

Someone wrote "We are not Deaf" on a sign posted on a refrigerator in the kitchen.

After breaking into a kitchen, a vandal left a message that said "We are not deaf."

The camp is struggling to clean up the cabin before winter camp in two weeks and estimate the cost will be around $4,000.

They're trying to hold the renters accountable but since they rented the cabins to different people they can't exactly pinpoint who caused the damage in the common areas.

Air BnB has offered to help and so has the community.

If you'd like to help, you can visit http://www.aspencamp.org/donate.

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From the looks of it, job satisfaction remains elusive for the 45th president

The word that’s used most often to describe Camp David is “rustic.” The presidential retreat, located in the Catoctin Mountains of Maryland near the Pennsylvania border, was built in the 1930’s by the WPA under President Roosevelt and named by President Eisenhower in the 1950’s for his grandson, David. Technically a Naval Support Facility staffed by Navy and Marine personnel, Camp David consists of a main cabin, the Aspen Lodge, used by the president during his visits, and about a dozen guest cabins, which have housed members of various presidents’ families and foreign dignitaries, as when the G-8 Summit was held there in 2012, or when President Carter put together President Anwar Sadat of Egypt and Prime Minister Menachem Begin of Israel during the famous peace talks of 1978.

Look up photos of Camp David, and you’ll find shots of presidents and their guests tossing horseshoes, playing tennis, shooting skeet, taking walks in the woods, even bowling. It’s a casual place. Aspen Lodge is a Y-shaped cabin made of rough-cut clapboard siding with a cedar shingled roof and flagstone terraces. The guest cabins, connected by paths that wander through the wooded site, are similarly constructed. By all accounts, it is very much the rustic park-like retreat where presidents, cabinet members and congressional leaders have gone to relax and unwind for more than seven decades.

Congressional Republican leaders and members of the cabinet got the message last weekend when they were invited up to Camp David for a political summit to make plans for 2018. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan was photographed in khakis, a checked shirt and a bright blue fleece under a blazer; Senate Leader Mitch McConnell wore blue jeans, a button down shirt, and a red v-neck sweater under a blazer. Senator John Cornyn wore khakis and a dark open collar shirt under a blazer. Even buttoned-up Vice President Pence wore khakis and an open necked button-down shirt under a blazer.

But not President Donald Trump. He was attired, as he has been virtually every day since he’s been president except when on the golf course, in his usual dark, boxy business suit, white shirt, and tie. His clothing might fit the description of a uniform were it not so obviously a suit of armor. The man is apparently congenitally incapable of letting down his guard and relaxing even for one minute.

A story in Axios over the weekend had details of the new presidential daily schedule. Trump’s official day in the White House often doesn’t begin until 11 a.m. Before that the schedule shows “Executive Time,” from eight until 11 a.m. Axios reports White House sources say Trump usually spends that time in his private residence watching TV and tweeting. George W. Bush began his day in the Oval Office at 6:45. President Obama worked out early in the morning and was usually behind his desk by 9 a.m. Last Tuesday, according to Axios, Trump’s schedule went like this: “Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11am. He then has ‘Executive Time’ for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it's another 1 hour 15 minutes of ‘Executive Time’ followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of ‘Executive Time’ before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45 pm meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15pm.”

But why? Outside the walls of the West Wing, the world is going his way. The stock market is booming, unemployment is at near-historic lows, wages are trending up, Isis is on the ropes, they passed a huge tax cut for his rich pals, and all over the government, his minions are busy crippling regulations that protect air, water, food, medicine, banking, oil drilling and mining – hell, even nursing homes. He hasn’t scrimped on vacations. According to NBC, as of the end of 2017, out of what was then 354 days in office, Trump had spent a total of 117 days on vacation at Trump properties, and 90 of them playing golf. He spent 27 days at Trump International West Palm Golf Course, one day at Trump National Jupiter, 23 at Trump National Potomac Falls, and 39 at Trump National Bedminster. He has taken off one third of his presidency. You’d think he’d be giddy with delight.

But he hasn’t budged from the mid-30’s in approval ratings in the polls. Somewhere north of 55 percent of the public disapprove of the job he’s doing as president. He’s got Special Prosecutor Mueller subpoenaing everything from his campaign’s emails to his banking records. His son and son-in-law are being called before congressional committees and grilled about their connections to Russians during the campaign. Two of his former campaign officials are under indictment for multiple felonies, with another having pled guilty, and his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was by his side all the way through his campaign, has pled guilty to a felony and is telling Mueller everything he knows. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Trump said there was “no collusion” with Russia 16 times, appearing to wish away the connections that have already been proven.

He hasn’t cracked a genuine smile in public in months. Remember the photos of Trump and Melania sitting at the head table at the Congressional luncheon following his inauguration? Neither of them smiled even once. They didn’t talk to anyone or to each other — and it was the greatest day of his life! Michael Wolff found a source who told him Trump was miserable for the entire day of his inauguration. He was displeased with his shabby accommodations at Blair House, across the street from the White House, the night before. He was fighting with his wife Melania about something. When reports late in the day showed the crowds at the inauguration were sparse, Trump blew his stack and sent spokesman Sean Spicer before the press bellowing a blatant lie that they were the largest in history. It was the very first of nearly 2,000 lies Trump has told, or ordered to be told in his name, since taking office. But not even lying his way through the job of being president makes him happy.

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Sprawling across 119,790 acres, and only 50 miles from either Colorado Springs or Denver, the Lost Creek Wilderness is stocked with countless wonders. One could spend a lifetime exploring the 130-plus miles of footpaths, feasting upon rock formations, lakes and mountain plateaus. More than the eye candy, the solitude is what makes the wilderness so great. For some reason - the relatively low elevation? The spread-out variety? - Lost Creek doesn't get the crowds. If you haven't been, this day hike is an excellent introduction and suitable for any season.

The destination offers a glimpse into the history of the area. Not far from three cabins that housed workers are remnants of a shaft house, the site of a damming operation that failed in the early 1900s. From the Goose Creek trailhead, dip into the Hayman burn scar, which glows with aspen in the fall. At about a half-mile, rather than go straight, take the bridge across the stream. Continue along the water, past campsites - a reminder that the wilderness area is a prime site for multi-day backpacking. The trail steadily climbs into the woods and above the water that eventually disappears, giving Lost Creek its name.

The trees clear at points for views of Hankins Pass and distant monoliths and spires. Approaching 4 miles, a sign directs you left to "historic buildings." You'll soon come to the former houses. A trail spans north uphill, to rusted machinery. Stop to observe before proceeding to a rocky playground with this trip's best views. Massive boulders lean against one another, forming cave-like precincts to explore.

Trip log: 8 miles round trip (out and back), 1,100-foot total elevation gain, 9,500 feet max

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Going west on U.S. 24, continue through Florissant and Lake George. Turn right onto County Road 77. After about 7 miles, turn right onto Matukat Road, which becomes Forest Road 211. Follow 11½ miles to the trail's parking lot.

FYI: High-clearance vehicle/four-wheel drive recommended but not required. Hiking and horse riding only in wilderness areas. Dogs on leash. Trails could be icy in winter.

Seth Boster, The Gazette

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It's death by a thousand nibbles.

Pando, the world's largest living organism — and possibly its oldest — is being destroyed by the voracious appetite of mule deer.

Also known as the trembling giant, Pando is a colony of quaking aspen that spans 106 acres (43 hectares) of south-central Utah. Because of an explosion of deer in the area, new sprouts from Pando are eaten before they have a chance to mature, and the venerable organism is at risk of dying out altogether.

"The system is not replacing itself; it's highly out of balance," said Paul Rogers, an ecologist at Utah State University and the director of the Western Aspen Alliance. [See Photos of Earth's Oldest Living Things]

A forest of one tree

To the casual observer, Pando looks like an ordinary forest. But each tree shares a common root system and is a genetically identical clone of its forest pals. It's essentially a forest of one tree, Rogers said.

"What you all think of as trees are actually one living and connected being," Rogers told Live Science. "Being in this grove or this forest to me is pretty magical."

Though Pando has often been called the oldest living organism on Earth(with some estimates claiming the stand is upward of 80,000 years old), dating techniques for the colony are so imprecise that no one can say for sure how old the grove is, Rogers said.

A closer look reveals that the majestic superorganism is in trouble. In short, Pando is aging fast.

"If we had a community of 50,000 people and every one of them was over 80 years of age, we wouldn't have a very sustainable community," Rogers said. "That is exactly what we're looking at with the Pando clone."

The reason is that mule deer, and occasionally cattle, are devouring the babies of the community before they have an opportunity to grow to maturity. The problem has been going on for decades, Rogers said.

"It's clear that nearly every sprout that comes up — they're technically called suckers — is eaten almost immediately as it comes out of the ground," Rogers said.

Meanwhile, the older stems are almost all between 110 and 130 years old, which is about the typical life span of individual quaking aspen stems, Rogers said. The forest floor is covered with dead trees, and no new life is coming in to replace it, he said.

Complicated problem

Mule deer and other herbivores became such a problem for Pando in recent decades in part because of humans.

"Humans have eliminated predators," Rogers said.

Without wolves prowling the area, for instance, deer populations not only explode, but the deer that do frequent an area become more brazen. Instead of moving on quickly, they linger and munch on the nutrient-rich sprouts to their hearts' content.

"It's akin to a salad bar or a candy store. It's very, very desirable to these herbivores," Rogers said.

What's more, because state wildlife agencies fund themselves in part by issuing hunting licenses, they have some incentive to keep the deer populations high, so hunters don't go home empty-handed, Rogers said. Finally, there are cabins near Pando, and one campground is located within the grove itself, Rogers said. Because hunting near human dwellings is prohibited, the deer tend to hang out in this area because they know they'll be safe from hunters, he added.

Cattle that come in from higher ground for a few weeks a year also pose problems, because they may trample or eat the shoots during those periods, Rogers said. [Quaking Aspen: Trees of the Mountain West]

Possible solutions

Pando is dying, but Rogers, along with others at the Western Aspen Alliance, an organization that works to promote healthy aspen ecosystems, are looking for ways to save the trembling giant. Cattle come through the area a few weeks a year, so persuading ranchers to take a slightly different route for those few weeks could help, he said.

In a study published in February in the journal Ecosphere, Rogers and his colleagues showed that fencing-in growing suckers had some success in preventing deer from eating them, as long as the suckers were actively protected until they were above "browsing" height of about 6 feet (2 meters). (Above this height, most mule deer aren't tall enough to easily eat these sprouts.)

However, deer sometimes manage to get through these fences, so the fencing strategy may need to be re-evaluated at some point, Rogers said.

Another possible solution is to hire trained professionals to cull (read: shoot) deer, Rogers said. Letting amateur hunters loose near human-occupied areas like campgrounds or cabins isn't safe, but professional sharpshooters are trained to do so safely.

It's possible, too, that culling just a few animals could have an outsize impact. Aspen have chemical defenses that leave a bad taste in animals' mouths, so the deer that are munching on Pando are likely just a handful of animals that have acquired adaptations that allow them to tolerate the taste, Rogers said.

"It's really actually not a big number that are chronically feeding on that area," Rogers said.

Rogers is working with several different agencies and interest groups to find ways to save Pando that everyone can live with.

"I'm optimistic," Rogers said.

Originally published on Live Science.

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Whether you’ve always wanted a cabin in the woods or if you pine after the ski chalets in glossy magazines, there’s no fighting the allure of the log cabin. Unfortunately, mountain real estate is rarely cheap, and properties in ritzy ski towns like Aspen, Jackson Hole, or Pack City can easily run into the millions.

For some, the answer may lie in plopping a tiny home, modern prefab, or even a shipping container dwelling on a plot of land. But so many of these unconventional structures can be too small or unsuitable for cold climates, and frankly all too few of them fit the hygge-worthy idea of cozy evenings by the fire.

Another option is a log cabin kit. Unlike prefab, log cabin kits aren’t preassembled in a factory somewhere; the log home is constructed at the client’s site. In other ways kits are similar to prefab, especially because at companies like Wisconsin-based Golden Eagle Log & Timber Homes, all of the logs and material are precut at the company’s facility and then shipped by truck to your location.

Like Ikea on a bigger scale, when Golden Eagle delivers your log cabin, they provide an installation manual for the homeowner or builder who will be erecting the home. And unlike conventional stick frames that waste a lot of material—and require more time to construct—log cabin kits use much less material since the exterior walls are solid wood.

The exterior and back porch of the Ski Home Prow log cabin kit home.

Although about 95 percent of Golden Eagle’s customers hire a builder for their homes, any reasonably handy person with time on their hands could build a log cabin themselves. The logs go through a kiln drying process to remove water before they are shipped. This means that two people can handle the longest wall log in even the largest of cabins.

There are an array of customizable kit plans, ranging from a small 500-square-foot studio to million-dollar 6,000-square-foot retreats. Each kit, however, comes with everything you need for the build from the sill plate to the roof: logs, cabinets, sinks, flooring, fireplaces, windows, shingles, the list goes on.

Kit prices are downright reasonable compared to top-dollar mountain real estate. The Ski Home Prow plan starts at $97,000 and costs around $164,500 for the largest footprint (three bedrooms, four bathrooms) and finished lower level. Of course you need to factor in land costs and building costs—which will increase the cost significantly—and there’s no question that land can be the most expensive part of real estate. But for people looking for a semi-customizable log home that will hold up to the elements and fit the mountain aesthetic, a log cabin kit could fit the bill.

The first floor plan of the Ski Home Prow kit home.
The lower level of the Ski Home Prow kit home.

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Reactions

Did you recently get divorced or fired?

Does human interaction feel awkward, forced or unnecessary to you?

Then have we got a job offer for you.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is currently taking applications for a caretaker who will rent and oversee a pair of “historic guard stations” (read: remote cabins in the woods) perched on 597,373 untarnished acres of Colorado's San Juan National Forest.

The first charge is the spartan Aspen Guard Station near Mancos (see photo above), a three-bedroom log cabin with a kitchen, propane tank, well, solar system and wood-burning stove (the latter of which the winning applicant will need to replace with a propane stove). The second is the Glade Guard Station near Cortez, a white cottage with similar accommodations but the addition of a barn and some recently installed corrals.

Duties include: waste and garbage removal, utilities maintenance, tree felling and general upkeep, the costs for which can be offset via rental to vacationers. Any left-over revenue is yours, so long as you report everything judiciously and pay Uncle Sam his share.

The minimum term for the job is two years, with the option to non-competitively extend for up to five more years thereafter.

So, uh, see you in 2024.

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