Mountain Town News |

Mountain Town News

Banff is trying to position itself in the emerging market for reduction of greenhouse gases. If all goes as projected, the town will be able to earn $550,000 from the sale of carbon offsets as the result of methane reduction in its local sewage treatment plant.In 2002, the community upgraded the treatment plant. The improved plan has composting tunnels that, with the aid of wood chips and a longer processing time, yields 2,500 tons of biosolids. The sewage has been augmented recently by food waste from local restaurants.This new process significantly reduces the emissions of methane, which is 21 times more potent than carbon dioxide in retaining heat in the atmosphere. In the old process, the sludge would have been deposited in the landfill, and there decomposed, emitting the methane into the atmosphere.Banff, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, plans to use the money, if it can get it, for additional projects that reduce greenhouse gases.The money for carbon offsets so far comes from voluntary programs, such as when organizations decide to offset their festivals, for example. Such was the case in Telluride recently when organizers of Mountainfilm paid a hydroelectric power producer in nearby Ouray.The city of Aspen similarly is paying for work at a coal mine in east-central Utah. There, methane is being trapped and, after purification, put in natural gas pipelines for uses such as heating homes.In Alberta, Calgary-based Blue Source Canada has been set up to help conduct carbon offset transactions. So far, there have been seven such transactions. Edmonton has a landfill gas capture project, plus there have been two wind projects, one biomass energy project, and three transactions resulting from reduced tilling of farms. Reduced or no-till farming means more carbon remains sequestered in the soil.

Frontier Airlines, which recently debuted low-cost shuttle flights to several mountain towns in the Rocky Mountains (including Aspen), continues to flounder with the protection of bankruptcy. Rising oil prices are a key cause of Frontiers problems. The Rocky Mountain News, reports that the airlines fuel bill has risen by $100 million in recent months.

Revelstokes municipal council has adopted a law that bans idling of cars and trucks except in specified circumstances.For example, trucks that must continue to run to preserve perishable cargos are excused. Also exempted are vehicles idling when occupants are inside during extreme temperatures.Mayor Mark McKee readily admits that the law will be difficult to enforce. But the law has value nonetheless, reinforcing an attitudinal shift within the community, he told the Revelstoke Times Review.

Officials in Blaine County are taking the first steps toward establishing rules about where and how wind turbines can be located. The rules would be applicable in the rural areas outside the towns of Ketchum, Sun Valley and Hailey.Like most mountain valleys, those areas are largely shielded from steady wind. No large turbines are expected. Instead, 25- to 30-foot tall turbines are likely, primarily adjacent to homes and perhaps businesses, and probably well away from the resort areas. The Idaho Mountain Express reports support from officials. In an editorial, it likewise blesses the effort. This can-do spirit of personal enterprise should be encouraged by Blaine County as a pathfinder for even wider homegrown energy efforts (even) as the pain of energy costs and shortfalls continues.Perhaps the most plentiful homegrown energy solar power has yet to be fully encouraged and exploited, the newspaper adds.

After a long hiatus, the Summit Huts Association is studying potential for new backcountry huts.The Summit Daily News notes that the association, which already has three huts, is wary of environmental impacts after a previous proposal was scuttled due to concerns about impacts to lynx. That hut proposed for the area between Vail Pass and Copper Mountain was withdrawn several years ago because of concerns about intrusions into the habitat of the endangered Canada lynx. This time, hut association directors want to be sure there are no major impacts before they move forward, the newspaper reports.Meanwhile, worries about impact to lynx have caused the shelving of a hut proposed near Camp Hale, between Vail and Leadville. The Vail Daily says that the 10th Mountain Hut Association has withdrawn plans to build a hut in the area. A U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service study found the hut would have hurt the ability of lynx to thrive there. It is considered a key connecting area for broader wilderness areas.Allen Best compiles Mountain Town News. He can be reached at