go odor-free and silent
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYO. – Pushed by the Clinton
administration’s proposed ban of snowmobiles in Yellowstone
National Park, snowmobile manufacturers have responded. On a
recent morning at least a third of the snowmobiles in the parking
lot of Old Faithful Inn had four-stroke engines.
Four-stroke engines are made notable by what they lack –
the bluish tinge and smell of burning oil. The vapor is the
same exhaust that cars emit on a chilly winter morning.
Also gone are the high-pitched squeal and rat-a-tat-tat of
traditional two-stroke engines. Instead, the new four-stroke
engines hum like a car.
Tests of Arctic Cat and Polaris Frontier four-stroke engines
show that they reduce hydrocarbon emissions by up to 98 percent,
carbon monoxide by up to 85 percent and particulates by up to
96 percent. The engines also have about 40 percent better fuel
economy, according to the Southwest Research Institute, which
did the testing.
The Jackson Hole News & Guide (Feb. 12) explains that the
National Park Service banned snowmobiles from Yellowstone in
2000, the year the new four-stroke engines were introduced.
Now, the Bush administration is overturning that ban. Under
the new plan, guides in Yellowstone will be required to use
the new engines next winter. The following winter, all rental
snowmobiles will be required to have the less-polluting engines.
Salt Lake seeks Olympics again
PARK CITY, UTAH—A year after hosting the Olympics, Park
City remains aglow with the pomp and circumstance. The Park
Record (Feb. 8) mistily likens the event to Brigadoon, the mythical
Scottish town that existed only one day every 100 years.
Why wait 100 years? Already there is talk of seeking the Olympics
again, perhaps as early as 2018. That assumes Vancouver/Whistler
get the games in 2010, which means 2014 would be on another
Boosters say the infrastructure is already in place, and they
also point to what the Olympics do to a resort area’s
economy. Despite marginal snow conditions this winter in Park
City, the slopes are plenty busy. Marketing materials carefully
note Park City’s now-historic Olympic tradition.
Three cities have hosted Winter Games twice: St. Moritz in
1928 and 1948; Lake Placid in 1932 and 1984; and Innsbruck in
1974 and 1976. It should be noted that Innsbruck was drafted
for the 1976 competition only after Denver pulled out in 1972.
Park City unlikely to oppose war
PARK CITY, UTAH – The Park City Council is resisting
calls for a resolution in opposition to a war against Iraq absent
strong international support.
Although there was no resolution to vote up or down, the council
is disinclined to consider one, reported The Park Record (Feb.
8). Council members suggested that such a resolution might go
against the beliefs of some city residents, while others questioned
whether a resolution would do any good. Mayor Dana Williams
said he thought such a resolution would damage relations between
Park City and Utah’s largely Republican congressional
“Park City has gone a long way over the last year to
increase our relationship with our representatives in Washington,”
he said, noting that the city wants federal money for water
projects and continues to work with the Environmental Protection
Agency to clean up remnants of the city’s mining history.
“I’m wary of jeopardizing things like that.”
I-70 looks to Canada for lessons
BANFF, ALBERTA – In the 1970s and 1980s , the Trans-Canada
Highway, as it passed through Banff National Park, became known
as the “meatmaker.” As many as 120 elk were killed
in a year along the 82 kilometers (51 miles) of highway.
Then, beginning with highway expansion in the late 1980s, both
underpasses and overpasses were installed – not for people,
but for wildlife. Now, there are 22 underpasses and two overpasses
in a 31-mile stretch, the longest highway segment in the world
of such structures, providing a unique opportunity to study
the effectiveness of connecting fragmented habitat.
Colorado’s Interstate 70 west of Denver has a similar
issue as it splices the largest concentration of ski areas in
North America. Wildlife biologists have taken to calling it
the “Berlin Wall to Wildlife.” Very little was done
to accommodate wildlife at the outset of highway construction
in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. However, when the
highway is modified in the next 10 to 15 years, it is likely
to include accommodations to wildlife passage, probably using
lessons learned from the Trans-Canada Highway.
Leading the Canadian study is Tony Clevenger, a wildlife biologist
who is among the leaders in the relatively new field of road
ecology. He told The Rocky Mountain Outlook (Feb. 7) that the
overpasses and underpasses had resulted in a 900 percent reduction
in elk and deer mortalities. They are also allowing safe passage
to cougars, black bears and wolves. Species use them in different
ways. Moose, elk, grizzly and wolves prefer overpasses, while
cougars prefer going under. No one structure works for them
Beacon fails in avalanche death
JACKSON HOLE, WYO. – When Steve Haas and Tom Burlingame
began their descent of Hourglass Couloir, an in-bounds but closed
area at Jackson Hole Resort, both had avalanche transceivers.
Then, an avalanche caught both men, sweeping them 600 feet
down the couloir. Although Burlingame emerged on top, the tumult
had damaged his avalanche beacon, forcing him to search futilely
for Haas for five minutes using his ski poles converted into
a probe pole.
Then, another skier arrived. With his functioning transceiver,
they found Haas within seven minutes, but it took them 10 minutes
to dig him out from the three to four feet of concrete snow.
When they finally got to him, easily 20 minutes had passed,
reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide (Feb. 12). Despite
their efforts, he had suffocated.
Conditions had been ripe for an avalanche. The avalanche danger
was rated as “considerable” for high-elevation areas.
The slope was about 40 degrees, wind-loaded and laden with about
seven inches of fresh snow.
The victim was described as the “ski bums’ ski
bum,” a 41-year-old who had spent the previous 15 years
driving a dump truck six days a week from April through November
in order to finance his hard-core skiing. He was not, said friends,
the sort to parade in front of cameras.
Costs mount for snowboarder
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – For a 21-year-old snowboarder, the
consequences of hitting a 58-year-old skier last winter continue
Already, he has spent 10 days in jail and was ordered to perform
80 hours of community service, reports The Steamboat Pilot (Feb.
6). On top of that, he has to pay the out-of-pocket expenses
for a shoulder injury that the woman’s insurance policy
did not cover.
The snowboarder, who is from Georgia, said he hit the brakes
before hitting the woman, then rode away because he didn’t
realize she was injured. Run-ins are common, he said, and he
didn’t think twice about it.
Steamboat loses downtown hardware
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – In the 1950s, when Steamboat had
only one small ski area, Howelsen Hill, the downtown area was
like many agriculture-based towns in the United States. It had
five car and tractor dealerships, a five-and-dime Ben Franklin,
and two hardware stores.
All are gone today, most recently Boggs Hardware, which prompted
the Steamboat Pilot (Feb. 2) to examine the market that drives
business decisions on Lincoln Avenue, the main drag through
Ski Town, USA.
Among several factors is rent. The lowest rents, negotiated
a decade ago, run $10 to $40 per square foot. Most seem to fall
in the range of $23 to $30.
To pay this kind of rent, there must be high volume and high
margin items, even if they are lower cost, such as the sort
of trinkets that tourist stores sell. Or they can be high-margin
items like Native American art. But people shopping in Steamboat,
even if on a ski vacation, won’t pay higher prices for
such things as shoes, because they have a good idea of what
those shoes should cost.
People do expect to pay more for food in resort towns, and
Lincoln Avenue has 20 restaurants. However, they can’t
afford the top-end rents.
Some ski towns, Aspen in particularly, have seen independent
retailers replaced by national brand stores. Such stores as
Ralph Lauren, J. Crew and The Gap remain a possibility, but
Steamboat’s Bill Moser, a commercial property manager,
believes that Steamboat has not reached the critical mass national
retailers are seeking. “They’re not willing to take
too many chances,” he says. Only occasionally will a CEO
buy a home in a ski town and insist on having bricks and mortar
Dillon turns to Zeppelin for research
DILLON – While listening to Led Zeppelin, the Dillon
Town Council cranked the speakers, all in the name of legal
research. What council members found was that, in laymen’s
terms, 65 to 70 decibels is a really rocking party – the
point at which you’d expect the neighbors to call the
With that as the benchmark, the council chose to limit nighttime
noise at bars and restaurants within earshot of a residential
neighborhood to 55 decibels after 11 p.m. In commercial zones
during daytime, the maximum is 65 decibels, reports The Summit
County Independent (Feb. 6).
Ironically, this is the same town that invited a Harley-Davidson
dealer to do business after neighboring Silverthorne turned
up its shoulder. Wonder how this decibel thing will play in
that particular factory of ringing, dinging ears.
CB studies construction recycling center
CRESTED BUTTE – A study is under way to examine whether
a construction-materials reuse center is feasible in the Crested
Spare lumber is often used for firewood, but most unused material
ends up in the landfill, says one of the proponents, Melanie
Rees. The idea is to collect building scraps, unused materials
and displaced items such as sinks and furniture. These items
are then to be paired with new owners. The hope is that all
this match-making can be done with just one full-time employee,
and that the whole operation can operate without a subsidy after
the first year.
Such construction reuse centers can be found in Boulder, Carbondale
and Montrose. By one estimate, 20 percent of all refuse put
into landfills is construction waste. In high-growth areas,
such as Eagle County, the proportion may be even higher.
A major benefit to contractors might be to reduce their dumping
fees. Still, the odds of making this work on a small scale are
not considered particularly good. One builder told the Crested
Butte News (Feb. 14) that a pick-up service and drop-off opportunities
will be crucial to the plan’s success.
This feasibility study is being paid for by a $9,500 grant
from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Office of Rural
Development. One premise of the effort, said Rees, is that economic
wealth does not always have to be a result of bringing in more
tourists, but rather in capturing the dollars that tourists
do bring and keeping the dollars in the community longer.
Vancouver goes to polls over Olympics
VANCOUVER, B.C. – A plebiscite will be held Feb. 22 over
whether Vancouver wants to host the 2010 Winter Olympics. The
vote, reports the Pique newsmagazine (Feb. 7) is nonbinding
but nonetheless could cause the International Olympic Committee
to reconsider its choice.
Gerhard Heiberg, the head of the IOC’s Evaluation Commission,
said recently that it would be hard to award the games to a
city unless most of the population actually wanted them. Polls
have shown that Vancouver residents support the Olympics, although
anti-games forces are now cranking up their efforts. Vancouver
and Whistler, which would host the skiing events, are considered
the front runner among the three candidate cities.