Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Vail, Colo.: ‘Neighborhood’ project accepted into LEED programA $1 billion slopeside real estate project called Ever Vail has been accepted into a pilot neighborhoods’ program under the aegis of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design). Rob Katz, chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, the developer, said the company will seek a silver designation, which is the second highest of four potential designations. The project is scheduled to start in 2009, although it must first get town approvals.Jackson Hole, Wyo.: Teton County reverses ban on body piercingsTeton County has lifted its ban on tongue and genital piercings. Teton County Public Board of Health members were persuaded that the ban might have an unintended consequence of sending customers to back-door practitioners who are less likely to do the job right, leading to infections.”Piercing is here to stay,” said Susan Woodward, owner of a shop called Sub-Urban Tattoo. “We want regulations that will protect our community.” The state, however, has no licensing or training program for piercers, and neither does the county.Meanwhile, advocates of completely smoke-free communities have vowed to continue to press local officials to mandate a ban on public smoking. Jackson town officials recently refused to enact a ban, and a similar effort failed in broader Teton County. Julia Heemstra, program manager for the Teton County Anti-Tobacco Coalition, said she believes getting a total ban will “be much more a marathon than a sprint.”Why the ban matters isn’t clear. Only two businesses in both the town and county will still allow smoking after mid-June.Idaho Springs, Colo.: Forest Service ends fee for nation’s highest paved roadThe highest paved highway in the United States goes to within about 150 feet of 14,264-foot summit of Mount Evans, located in the Front Range west of Denver. And under the recreational fee program, dubbed “pay to play,” the Forest Service since 1998 has been charging $10 per car for those driving the road.Trouble is, the road was built and maintained by the state of Colorado. State transportation officials complained that the fee could only be assessed on those who parked and then used Forest Service facilities in some ways. The Denver Post reports that the Forest Service has agreed to place notices that the $10 charge only applies if vehicles are parked.Canmore, B.C.: Students say turn off those engines!Fifth- and sixth-graders at the Notre-Dame des Monts School in Canmore had a letter in the Rocky Mountain Outlook pondering the implications of global warming.”We wonder whether, as adults, we will be able to travel,” they wrote. Drivers of idling cars, they said, “should receive a fine if their car is running for more than five minutes.” It is important, they added, to “make small gestures.”Durango, Colo.: Animas to be studied for Wild and Scenic eligibilityAlthough dozens of rivers and creeks in Colorado have been judged worthy of designation under the 1968 Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, only one of them – the Poudre River, west of Fort Collins – has been designated. But the Animas River is now being evaluated for its eligibility, reports the Durango Telegraph. The river originates near Engineer Pass, in the Silverton-Ouray-Lake City triangle, and then flows down through Silverton and then Durango. If it happens, it will be a long process, says Kay Zillich, a hydrologist with the federal government.Steamboat Springs, Colo.: Starwood buys hotel at ski areaNot unexpectedly, Starwood has expanded its grip at the Steamboat ski area. Earlier this year Starwood, operating through its subsidiary, Intrawest, bought the ski area for $265 million. Now it has purchased the 315-room Sheraton hotel at the ski area base for $57 million. In addition, several key base-area parcels were sold earlier this year at a cost of $43.9 million. This comes as Steamboat begins redevelopment of its base area, which largely dates to the 1970s. Gunnison, Colo.: Thrice-weekly buses from Gunnison Denver possibleGreyhound ceased running buses through Gunnison a year ago, saying there just wasn’t enough money to be made in rural areas. The company increasingly focuses on routes directly linking larger cities.Now, local transportation authorities want to see three round-trip buses from Gunnison to Denver. If this new service happens, it will likely use federal funding and, ironically, aid from Greyhound. One-way fares would cost $22, with stops in Poncha Springs, Salida and Buena Vista.Among the potential riders, reports the Crested Butte News, are students at Western State College. Some 93 percent of students are from places more than 100 miles from Gunnison, many in metropolitan Denver.Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at

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