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Mountain Town News

Revelstoke, B.C.: Idling of vehicles limited in downtownRevelstoke is putting its foot down about the practice of idling cars and trucks. A new law declares that vehicles cannot remain running for more than three minutes when stopped.The law is lifted in cases of extreme cold or warm weather, defined as -5 or 27 degrees Celsius (27 or 80 degrees Fahrenheit). The restriction only applies to the downtown area, although city officials suggested a broader ban is likely to come.But isn’t it true that re-starting cars takes a great deal of gasoline or diesel? Not so, says the Revelstoke Times Review. A rule of thumb, says the newspaper, is turn off the engine if stopping for 10 seconds or more.Sun Valley, Idaho: Beefed-up recycling part of climate change actionRecycling has been given a nudge in Sun Valley as the result of a new agreement that includes both small carrots and sticks. The Idaho Mountain Express explains that the agreement is part of Sun Valleys’ attempt to live up to its commitment as a member of the Mayors’ Agreement on Climate Change to reduce greenhouse gases.The agreement with a trash company specifies escalating costs for trash volumes, which should encourage more recycling. The program also sets up a “green” waste program in which grass clippings, leaves and other organic matter can be accommodated into a composting program for an additional $16.70 per month fee. Canmore, Alberta: Real estate prices leaping higherThe old coal-mining town of Canmore has had its first sale of a $3 million home, further evidence of the rapidly escalating real estate prices at the eastern gateway to Banff National Park.But million-dollar sales are becoming commonplace, with 10 of the 18 single-family homes currently on the market being listed for more than $1 million. The Rocky Mountain Outlook explains that four-fifths of the city’s increase in property value is due to appreciation, as opposed to new construction.Average sales prices of single-family homes increased 25 percent in the last year, while average sales prices for condominiums increased 33 percent.In Canmore, as in most other resort-anchored pretty places of the West, the story is of baby boomers, flush with wealth, buying vacation homes that are becoming primary residences. However, the permanent population of Canmore grew only 1.4 percent last year, while the number of second-home owners grew 27.1 percent.Re/Max, a real-estate firm, reports starting level prices at other resort-oriented communities in western Canada as $1.1 million at Whistler, $1.5 million at Salt Spring Island, $2 million at Kelowna, and $2.5 million at Invermere.Grand Lake, Colo.: Air pollution in national park concerns scientistsScientists are warning of heightened levels of both nitrogen and mercury in Rocky Mountain National Park.Nitrogen levels are nearly 20 times pre-industrial levels, and scientists say the sources include car exhausts, farm fertilizers, and power-plant emissions. The Denver Post says that state air-quality officials in June will consider regulations aimed at reducing air pollution.The newspaper in December also noted mercury levels in alpine lakes in the park are four times higher than in pre-industrial times. Don Campbell, of the U.S. Geological Survey, said research suggests that 70 percent of mercury in the atmosphere is from industrial processes. The most likely source is coal-fired power plants, although it’s impossible to determine exactly where it is coming from.Mercury gets spewed into the atmosphere where it can be held aloft in the air, pushed by winds, traveling the globe for months before being deposited on land and water. Higher elevations get more precipitation and therefore more mercury, Campbell said.Fort Worth, Texas: Developer plans ski resort in Texas cityWho needs snow? Or, for that matter, cold weather.An indoor ski area in the Persian Gulf emirate of Dubai is operating year-round. Now, a development team headed by Charlie Aaron is planning to build a 250-foot-high mountain and create a year-round winter resort called Bearfire in the Texas city of Fort Worth. Skiable terrain is to be about 15 acres.In telling the story, The Wall Street Journal notes that temperatures topped 100 degrees on 43 days last year in Fort Worth.Aaron plans an “alpine village” with chairlifts, ice rinks and a bobsled track, as well as a winter wonder park for children and a hotel.”There are some naysayers and people who can’t really wrap their brain around it,” Aaron told The Journal. Investors ultimately intend to post $150 million and borrow the rest of the total cost, estimated at nearly $700 million.Texans are a large market, supplying 6.5 percent of all visitors to resorts in the Rocky Mountains, second only to Coloradans.The technology to be used is called Snowflex, which uses water-misting systems to create a non-refrigerated surface slippery enough for skiing, but with enough grip for turning. Think of wet, white Astroturf with bristles, says the Journal, which also notes that a few but much smaller Snowflex slopes are operating in Europe.Aaron said the resort is expected to generate 2.4 million visitors in its first year of operation, beginning in 2008, but it can remain profitable if numbers are 20 percent less.Crested Butte, Colo.: Free skiing offered once again The ski-free program at Crested Butte Mountain Resort will resume again for 20 days in early winter later this year. The resort had conducted a similar program from 1991 to 2000. Company representatives say they want the public to “test drive” the ski area, to check out the “many improvements” since the ski area was purchased by Tim and Diane Mueller several years ago. Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at bestallen@earthlink.net.


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