Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Compiled by Allen Best

Silverton, Colo.: Residents wonder about value of Telluride skiersA proposal to ferry helicopters skiers from Telluride to the backcountry in nearby San Juan County doesnt set well with some folks in Silverton.They are coming in from Telluride, paying $950 a day to ski on San Juan County snow, and they never really touch the ground, said local resident Julie Singer.The Silverton Standard notes that Helitrax wants the OK to ferry 600 skiers a year to public land around Silverton. County commissioners believe the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has forged a good compromise, but think Helitrax should also pay an impact fee to San Juan County. Banff, Alberta: Residents wonder about value of Telluride skiersPyeto, one of the glaciers in Banff National Park, has shrunk by 70 percent since it was observed in 1896. That statistic is contained in a report about the park by Parks Canada. The report notes greater changes under way and likely to accelerate. Obviously, we are looking at managing climate change, but adapting to it, and mitigating the effects of climate change, said senior park planner Mike Murtha.The report notes that, as predicted by global warming theory, minimum temperatures at Banff have been increasing faster than maximum temperatures, and winter temperatures have increased faster than spring and summer temperatures. For unexplained reasons, an exception has been noted at Lake Louise. Whistler, B.C.: Travelers to get tool to trace carbon footprint People traveling to Whistler will soon be able to consult a website that tells them the cost, in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, of their trip. Included will be comparisons of travel by jet, train and car.As well, the new website will allow travelers to buy carbon offsets for their travel.The website is being constructed in a partnership between Tourism Whistler, the resorts community promotional organization, and the city government.The provincial government in British Columbia, which has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 33 percent by 2020, is paying for a bulk of the work through a grant designed to promote energy efficiency.The purchase of carbon offsets has been criticized broadly in the last year as ineffective, accomplishing little more than absolving the guilt of those responsible for the pollution. Jackson Hole, Wyo.: What slogan describes your mountain valley? Those crossing Teton Pass from the west are greeted with a sign that says: Howdy stranger, yonder is Jackson Hole, the last of the Old West.That slogan is perhaps outdated. After all, this is a place from which people commute to Manhattan, are armored in Lycra and Gore-Tex, and can claim one of the highest per capita incomes in the United States.The Jackson Hole News&Guide is sponsoring a contest to see what people could say that might be more appropriate. To get the ball rolling it offers several ideas of its own: Our chai complements your chi.Or perhaps, Jackson Hole, where California plays and Mexico works.A local pundit in 1999 suggested yet another: Welcome to Jackson Hole, where men remain boys and women work three jobs. Driggs, Idaho: Commissioners get voter support on growth The shouts may not all be over, but Idahos Teton Valley seems to have reached a tipping point about managing its land rush.The valley is located on the west side of the Teton Range, and in many ways its just as beautiful as Jackson Hole, located on the east side. Development has been far slower, however.That is now changing. Middle-income residents from Jackson Hole are moving to Driggs, Victor and surrounding unincorporated areas because they can buy far more for their money than what they can buy (if anything at all) in Jackson Hole. But retirees and vacation-home buyers also have begun to flood the valley.Land-use controls were limited, so two of the three county commissioners voted to adopt a moratorium. Opponents who saw this as a threat to their ability to benefit from rapidly escalating prices petitioned to get a recall election. The commissioners survived, and earlier this month they were re-elected by wide margins. Lake Tahoe, Calif.: Threat of big forest fires continues to grow annually Its a nerdy, wonkish phase, and based on the acronyms, WUI, its pronounced woo-wee. That stands for the wildland-urban interface, and its a big, big deal in much of the West, where people have been flocking to stake out homes next to the trees, away from town centers.There are several reasons to be concerned about the settlement pattern, but most prominent is the potential for fire. This years classic case was at South Lake Tahoe, where a campfire gone awry destroyed 254 homes in June.Nationally, the Forest Service now spends 41 percent of its budget on either fighting fires or reducing fuels. In California, its 50 percent. There, firefighting costs have jumped from $10 million to $20 million per year during the early 1980s to $100 million to $252 million in recent years.Loss of life is also at issue. Seven firefighters have died this year, but during the decade an average 18 per year have died as a result of heart attacks, airplane crashes, or being burned to death.Until recently, firefighters saluted and went out and did it, U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Don Smurthwaite told a team of reporters from The Associated Press. Now, we will not ask a fire crew in a dangerous fire to defend a structure that has not taken precautionary steps. Thats definitely a change.Still, firefighters continue to die.In the case of Lake Tahoe, restrictions on thinning projects of less than 100 acres have been loosened since last summers fire, as have regulations regarding defensible space.Allen Best can be reached at

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