Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Whistler, B.C. : Parking to be in high demand in OlympicsIn two years Whistler will host the Winter Olympics, and a large question in the mind of residents is: What about parking?It will be tough to park, responds Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, a member of the municipal council, and people are going to be encouraged to leave their cars at home and get on transit.Olympic organizers plan to provide bus transportation for up to 5,000 people per day from Vancouver, the base for the Olympic festivities. Within Whistler itself, an additional 120 buses are being procured to supplement the existing fleet.Rather than thinking of public transit as the worst thing possible, think of it as the part of the Games experience, said Whistler Mayor Ken Melamed. Summit County, Colo.: War on Terrorism causes traffic detoursThe Summit Daily News thinks the war on terrorism needs to be better connected at times with common sense. What provokes the newspapers grousing is diversion of traffic away from Dillon Dam, which forms a shortcut between the towns of Frisco and Dillon.Concrete barriers are being installed along the road on the advice of the federal government, which says the barriers will make it more difficult although probably not enough to stop anyone, says the newspaper to sabotage the dam. The dam and reservoir are owned by the city of Denver.In just the first week, 56,000 cars were rerouted although its probably worth noting that the alternative route, Interstate 70, parallels the dam road and requires only a few more minutes of driving. Permanently lost will be scenic pullouts, however, including one that provided a history of the dam.Many other changes across the Colorado mountains have been instituted since Sept. 11. Almost immediately, restrooms at the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel complex were closed to the public. Dam facilities at Ruedi Reservoir, near Aspen, were similarly closed.In Steamboat Springs, a new courthouse was relocated to the edge of town, because the existing courthouse site in the downtown area had too little room for the mandated security areas. At Gypsum, 34 federal transportation security workers were hired, at federal wages, to screen passengers and baggage at Eagle County Regional Airport.In Glenwood Springs, the public was no longer allowed to freely enter the offices of the White River National Forest, but was instead screened before being allowed through a locked door.Steamboat Springs, Colo.:Prices of ski-in homes soaringSteamboat Springs is fast establishing the kind of real estate prices that are more commonly associated with Vail, Aspen and perhaps Telluride. The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that a 6,277-square-foot slopeside townhome was subdivided into a duplex. One side sold for $5.4 million and the other side for $5.3 million. Unbuilt lots in the same neighborhood are listed for $2 million.Another property has an asking price of $4.3 million, and real estate agent Arlene Zopf of Steamboat Village Brokers says that many potential buyers see the price as no barrier. I have a lady from Texas coming this weekend, and she only wants to look at ski-in, ski-out properties only the best.Grand Lake, Colo.: Neighbors get agreeable to burning of pine slashIt looked like the meeting might get stinky. Grand Lake town officials were planning to begin burning slash from 6,000 acres of trees killed by mountain bark beetles. Expediting the burning is to be a Dumpster-like machine that can burn an average of two tractor-trailer loads per hour, while leaving little ash. But neighbors were not happy to have the incinerator, and especially its smoke, in their neighborhood.The Sky-Hi Daily News explains that the $250,000 budgeted this year by Grand Lake town officials allows them to cut down every infected tree that is 4 inches in diameter or larger. Without the ability to haul trees a short distance to the portable incinerator, the town could process only half as much.The controversy dissolved, says the newspaper, after neighbors had an opportunity to vent, hear the rationale, and then discover that they could also dispose of their own slash in the burner.Norwood, Colo.: Forest Service trying to regenerate aspen treesThe U.S. Forest Service hopes to cut about 200 acres of low-elevation aspen trees that appear to be dying out, with the hope that the cutting will provoke the aspen trees to start root-based generation, called suckers.The aspen trees are old, and so their dying is not a surprise. But what is happening in the San Juans, and elsewhere in the West, is that aspen trees are not regenerating as expected. This particular area is about 45 miles air miles northwest of Telluride, on the Uncompahgre Plateau.Because aspen regenerates primarily through root suckering, some managers and scientists feel that clear-cutting before sudden decline advances too far is the best way to regenerate a new stand, said a press release.Vail, Colo.: Parking is scarce, a good problem to haveHow good has the snow been at Vail recently? The parking situation partly tells the story. The town has 2,350 parking spaces in its two major garages, plus hundreds more in other, private garages.Still, on a recent Saturday there were nearly 1,000 cars parked along the frontage road. It was the ninth time this winter that cars have overflowed the garages onto the frontage road.Its a good problem to have, said Stan Zemler, the town manager. The Vail Daily notes that there are 800 additional spaces in possible future developments near the ski lifts. The overflowing lots have been a problem since about 2000. The greater concern is having people unloading and walking on a busy road.Truckee, Calif. :Real estate prices edge down in Sierra NevadaThe lower- and middle-end housing market is shuddering in the Lake Tahoe and Truckee area of the Sierra Nevada.The median price for homes sold in the Truckee area last year actually dropped from the prior year, from $669,500 to $645,000. A similar drop was also reported in Tahoe City, located along the shores of Lake Tahoe.Without providing evidence, the Sierra Sun cites a spike in defaulted home loans in the area. However, the newspaper does offer the testimony of a real estate agent, Kelly Smith.Ive been here going on 18 years, and until six months ago there was no such thing [as a foreclosure market], he said.Jackson Hole, Wyo. :Town examines its own carbon footprintJackson Hole has taken stock of its carbon footprint, and its not a pretty sight. An analysis of electricity, petroleum, natural gas, and heating records show that each resident is responsible for 37 metric tons per year of carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas.The national average is 24 metric tons.Such statistics show that Jackson Hole, known for fostering a land conservation ethic, has developed an economy that relies on massive energy consumption, notes the Jackson Hole News&Guides Thomas Dewell, in reporting the analysis.The numbers are just staggering, said Michael Miller, president of Teton Power, whose company helps organizations and individuals find ways to decrease their carbon footprint. Were energy pigs, and to live where we live is energy-intensive.He noted that the valley economy is completely unsustainable without outside input. There is no such thing as a salad grown in Jackson Hole during the winter.Even though 10 percent of Jackson Holes electrical consumers have signed up for hydroelectric, wind and other forms of clean energy, as a practical matter even the renewable energy economy depends upon the natural gas being extracted to the south in the Pinedale area, the nations leading poster child for oil and gas development.The drive to use renewable energy will require even more natural gas development, because wind and solar energy require backups that can be turned on immediately, said John Bargas, spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States.Aspen was among the first to inventory its carbon footprint as a part of its Canary Initiative. Similar efforts are also under way in the counties where Crested Butte, Telluride, and Durango are located.Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at

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