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Mountain Town News

Copper Mountain is among the ski areas that are now putting maps of ski trails onto chairlifts so that riders can study the maps on their way up the mountain. At Copper, those maps also contain advertising.

The advertisements were controversial when the Aspen Skiing Co. asked to experiment with them five years ago. Two years ago, the Forest Service issued a rule that said ads were within an “interior” space on the maps, similar to the interior of a midmountain restaurant, and hence would be permitted.

The Summit Daily News says that the chairlift maps results in less trash on the mountain at Copper Mountain, although ski area officials also acknowledge recycling bins at upper lift terminals helps.

Vail Resorts has no policy about chairlift advertisements, but “prefers” not to do so because of the type of experience we want to provide on its ski mountains, says corporate spokeswoman Kelly Ladyga.

The dual-language-immersion program that began at an elementary school in the Vail area will produce its first students at Battle Mountain High School next year.

The students in the program are split evenly between native English speakers and native Spanish speakers, and the students learn from one another as well as the teachers, explains the Vail Daily. Reading, math, science and social studies classes are conducted in Spanish and English.

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School officials tell the newspaper that the challenge will be to keep the students challenged academically. To do that, they need to find teachers who are not only bilingual, but can teach, for example, a Spanish and English literature class.

As well, with so many bi-literate students now arriving in the pipeline, school officials hope to expand their language offerings. In addition to Spanish, French and German, high school principal Brian Hester says he would be interested in someday finding teachers of Chinese and Arabic. He said studies have shown that once a person has learned a second language, it’s easier to learn third and fourth languages.

The school district is now nearly 50 percent Hispanic, many of them immigrants.

The Roaring Fork School District, downvalley from Aspen, also is about half Hispanic, and it now has two schools with dual-immersion language programs, although neither is a high school.

A search and rescue team in Whistler is $54,000 richer, thanks to a lawsuit. Maxwell Buhler, president of Whistler Snowboard Tours, filed a class-action lawsuit against a cable company, claiming the company overcharged consumers. He won, and those clients were notified. But relatively few applied for the refunds, so the settlement surplus was given ” for the first time in Canadian history ” to a nonprofit of the plaintiff’s choosing. The group rescues between 20 and 40 people every year, operating on an annual budget of $35,000, reports Pique.

Located about 20 minutes from Whistler, Pemberton is an agriculture-based town of 2,200 people. Unlike Whistler, where population increase has been slow, Pemberton has grown at more than 7 percent annually.

With a gazillion people expected at Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympics, the local business and community leaders in Pemberton are calculating how to leverage that into an opportunity to define their future. What they see is something not exactly novel in mountain towns of the North American West.

“The biggest thing we’re selling here is lifestyle,” says Paul Selina, who is president of the local chamber. “We’re not attracting anyone because it’s a hub of industry. So if someone wants to locate a business here, and live in a pristine environment next to nature, and not spoil it, then that’s great.”

Mayor Jordan Sturdy says the town must risk failure as it moves forward. But the town should diversify. “I fail every year on my farm. Every year, some things wildly exceed your expectations. And some don’t. They fail. But if you’re diversified enough, you can just learn from it and move on.”

Driggs, Idaho: Ski area ratings frown on expansion and real estate

Grand Targhee is none too amused with the grade given to the ski area by the Ski Area Citizens Coalition. Targhee got a C.

It’s not that the coalition didn’t find a lot to like about Grand Targhee. Based on its on-mountain programs, the resort would be close to an A, according to Ben Doon, the coalition’s research director.

But the annual coalition ratings are heavily weighted ” 45 percent ” by whether a ski area hopes to expand its trails outside the existing “footprint” of the ski area or build slope-side real estate. Those things, according to the coalition, are unacceptable. Targhee wants both terrain expansion and base-area real estate.

Under the rating system, a ski areas can flunk one year but, with advancing years, become an A student, its past transgressions forgiven. Such is nearly the case at Telluride, which got a flunking grade in 2000 when it debuted an expansion area called Prospect Basin.

Ryan Demmy Bidwell, executive director of Colorado Wild, said ski areas need to move beyond green marketing, which they are now doing very well, and actually do things that are more environmentally friendly.

“The story here is pretty clear to me,” he told the Durango Telegraph. “Cleaning up your act, and improving your score, is very possible. But it does require more than lip service and marketing rhetoric. Being a green ski area requires a shift in ideology and an honest commitment of resources.”