Steamboat briefs: Christmas tree disposal available through January | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat briefs: Christmas tree disposal available through January

Now through the end of January, trees may be dropped off anytime at the northeast corner of the Howelsen Ice Arena parking lot. All tinsel, lights, nails and decorations should be removed from the trees. The area is for tree disposal only; no wreathes. The resulting mulch will be given to residents and used in city parks.

Sorel Soiree to celebrate Howelsen Hill's centennial

Ticket sales for the 2015 Sorel Soiree, which will be held Feb. 6 and is hosted by the Alumni Club of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, will take place from 3:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 7 and from 2 to 5 p.m. Jan. 10 at Howelsen Hill. Tickets are $90 each and will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Starting at 9 a.m. Jan. 14, tickets can be purchased tickets online at http://www.sswsc.org.

The annual soiree is hosted by the Alumni Club of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club and will celebrate Howelsen Hill's 100th anniversary. The event features dancing to live music by Missed the Boat, catered food from Marno's Custom Catering and beer, wine and shots of schnapps and fireball. All proceeds benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Call Nancy Perricone at 970-846-2506 for more information.

LEAP encourages residents to change energy-use habits

Colorado's Low-income Energy Assistance Program is encouraging all Colorado residents to make small changes in energy-usage habits so they can save on their home-heating costs.

LEAP is a federally funded program administered by the Colorado Department of Human Services that provides cash assistance to help Coloradans pay a portion of winter home heating costs. The program pays the highest benefits to those with the highest heating bills and lowest incomes by family size.

Applicant income cannot exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which equates to $2,982 per month for a family of four. This year's average LEAP benefit is expected to be $430 per household.

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"Home heating is crucial for Colorado families, but there's no denying that it's expensive," LEAP Manager Aggie Berens said in a news release. "Every family can follow a few small steps to reduce their home heating costs without greatly impacting their day-to-day lives."

These cost-saving tips include:

■ Turning down the thermostat at night or when you're not home.

■ Opening blinds and curtains to take advantage of Colorado's average 360 days of sunshine.

■ Lowering the hot water heater's temperature to 120 degrees.

■ Closing the fireplace damper when not in use.

■ Checking the furnace filter monthly for cleanliness.

■ Ensuring that furnace ducts are unobstructed.

LEAP-eligible households also may qualify for Colorado's Crisis Intervention Program or Weatherization Program to help with heating-source repair and efficiency.

To find out if you qualify for LEAP, call toll-free at 1-866-432-8435 or visit http://www.colorado.gov/cdhs/leap to view the current program application requirements. Applications will be accepted until April 30.

Audubon Christmas bird count slated for Saturday

The annual Audubon Christmas bird count is scheduled for Saturday. On that day, volunteers will flock to the Steamboat Pilot & Today, 1901 Curve Plaza, at 8 a.m. and then travel to several nearby defined count zones to look for birds.

Each zone will have an experienced birder as a leader, and anyone interested in learning more about winter birds in the Steamboat area is invited to participate in this free and fun event.

It's also possible to participate in the count by being a feeder watcher. To obtain guidelines for reporting birds seen at your bird feeder Saturday, email count organizers at birdsnboat@comcast.net.

Yampatika is organizing a group on skis that will count birds at Steamboat Ski Area. To join the skiing group, call Yampatika at 970-871-9151.

Organized by the Yampa Valley Birding Club and Yampatika, Steamboat Springs' sixth official Christmas Bird count will be one of about 50 similar counts in Colorado. All are part of the 115th Audubon Citizen Science project, which will incorporate about 2,300 counts with more than 70,000 participants in the Americas and Pacific Islands.

The data collected by observers throughout the past century allow researchers, conservation biologists and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys, it provides a picture of how the continent's bird populations have changed in time and space during the past hundred years.