slows in Jackson
JACKSON HOLE, WYO. – Construction activity is slowing
down in Jackson Hole. The peak was from 1998 to 2000, although
the years 2001 and 2002 were on par with the mid-1990s in terms
of permits issued.
Still, the Jackson Hole News & Guide (March 12) reports
that the area is busier than many other places, resulting in
an influx of out-of-valley contractors arriving to bid on projects.
“We definitely are seeing more bidders and an influx from
out of the valley,” said Lane Bybee, vice president of
estimating for Evans Construction. “I think things are
slowing down everywhere. We’re the last place with quite
a bit of work.”
Wolves migrate into Utah
UINTAH MOUNTAINS, UTAH – Wolves from the Yellowstone
area have been moving south through Wyoming into Utah. Last
year, a wolf was killed northeast of Park City. Most recently,
two wolves have been killed just over the state line in Wyoming,
as well as one in Idaho.
But just exactly how wolves will be managed in Utah is unclear.
The issue is a typical one of science vs. politics.
Wolves are to be removed within several weeks from the list
of “protected” by the Endangered Species Act. As
such, they can be legally killed only by federal agents. But
after delisting, responsibility will be transferred to the states,
in the case of Utah to the Division of Wildlife Resources. A
pivotal issue is whether the wolves, once they are removed from
the list of protected species, can be hunted.
In Wyoming, the state has sought for almost unlimited hunting
outside of national parks, a measure deeply opposed by wolf-recovery
groups. In Utah, there is no consensus. A coalition group called
Utah Wolf Forum, which was formed to work through differences,
has not taken a stance against wolf hunting in Utah. A spokeswoman,
Allison Jones, said the group is not ready to rule out wolf
hunting because it wants to ring together players on opposing
sides of wolf recolonization.
That has caused a member group, the High Uintas Preservation
Council, to break out from the forum, reports The Park Record
(March 8). That group’s Dick Carter says “science-based”
wolf management would never justify sport hunting of the creatures.
Meanwhile, Utah’s legislature has approved a fund for
wildlife management that state taxpayers can contribute a portion
of their tax refunds. But livestock producers say that contributions
equal a vote for wolves.
A-Basin discusses expansion
SUMMIT COUNTY –Arapahoe Basin is talking about potential
expansion into Montezuma Bowl.
Greg Finch, vice-president for Dundee Realty USA, which owns
the ski company, confirmed discussions with the U.S. Forest
Service but downplayed A-Basin’s plans. He told the Summit
County Independent (March 14) that he believed all A-Basin was
interested in at this time was running a Snow-cat up and down
the bowl, to evaluate snow cover, temperatures and existing
Before A-Basin plots expansion, it wants to complete installation
of a $2.5 to $3 million snowmaking system, then evaluate how
much revenue that system generates. Other projects include improvements
to the base lodge. However, plans for a mid-mountain lodge have
The bowl, located on the back, or southern side, of the existing
ski area, is a favorite of backcountry enthusiasts, who gain
access by using A-Basin’s lifts to nearly 13,000 feet.
The recently revised master plan for the White River National
Forest identifies the bowl as a possible expansion area. The
resort was opened in 1946, one of the oldest continuously operated
ski areas in Colorado.
Disco mania sweeps Jackson Hole
WILSON, WYO. – Cowboys and Western swing readily come
to mind when thinking of Jackson Hole. But the liveliest after-dark
action is every Thursday night when the Stagecoach Bar in Wilson
hosts Disco Night.
A tradition for about eight years, the Jackson Hole News &
Guide (March 5) visited the bar on a recent evening to find
20 people standing outside shivering and waiting to get into
the 185-person capacity bar. Inside, dozens of women dressed
in baby-doll T-shirts were tossing their hair over their shoulders,
trying to get air on the backs of their sweaty necks. Barstools
lining the walls made perfect perches for ski bums in search
of love, or something like it.
Why all the strobe-lit lust in a place of barn wood? The newspaper
has three answers: A) Women dig it. “Everybody’s
dancing,” said one woman. “Everywhere else in town,
you’re just standing around.” B) No cover charge,
a nicety for ski bum budgets. C) Guys go because there are actually
women in some abundance, a seeming (if not actual) rarity in
most ski resorts.
And why are there so many women? Go back to A.
Dancers were seen doing the robot, the bump and grind, and
even the worm. This being Jackson Hole, of course, there were
couples doing the Western swing in accompaniment to Donna Summers.
Date-rape drug hits Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – There has been a rash of drinks being
spiked with date-rape drugs in Steamboat Springs.
Typically, the cases have taken place at bars where women accept
drinks from strangers. Usually, the effect is rapid –
only 15 minutes. One Drug Enforcement Administration agent likened
the powerful affect to drinking a 12-pack instantly. One woman
likened it to taking several pain killers.
For those who believe they have been drugged, it’s essential
to get to a hospital for testing within 24 hours. However, one
drug called GHB (gamma hydroxy butyrate) metabolizes through
the system in only 8 to 12 hours, notes The Steamboat Pilot
Meanwhile, the drugs also seem to be readily available in Whistler.
A physician writing for the Whistler Question (March 13) advised
readers never to put their drinks down unattended, even to go
to the washroom. It’s best, he said, to use the “buddy”
system at parties – keep an eye on a friend’s drink
if he/she is not alert.
Also, he advised people not to drink anything that has an unusual
taste or color. A drink that is salty or a soft drink that has
gone flat can be signs of GHB, also known as Liquid X, Easy
Lath or Gop.
Jury still out on cloud seeding
CRESTED BUTTE – For the first time, Crested Butte and
various local governments are spending money to seed clouds
with silver iodide, hoping to produce more snow. The $85,000
cloud-seeding program began in January.
So, is it snowing? Is it making a difference? That’s
the question the Crested Butte News (March 14) asked.
The answer, essentially, was hold onto your britches –
at least until July, when an end-of-season report will be released.
In the meantime, cloud-seeding has plenty of fans and skeptics.
Drought, however, has a way of making skeptics less cautious.
In Colorado, after the drought of 1976-77, cloud-seeding was
done from Durango to Denver, or at least large chunks of real
estate in between. However, during some big snow years, only
Vail steadily continued to spew the wind with silver iodide.
Breck halts mag chloride use
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge is temporarily halting use
of magnesium chloride on town roads during winter, joining Frisco,
Silverthorne, and Montezuma in the no-mag chloride movement
in Summit County. Only Dillon continues to use the salt-based
deicer, says the Summit County Journal (March 13).
The county government also has ceased use of the chemical,
and it has asked the state to cease use of it on Interstate
“I’m hesitant, because I don’t want someone
10 years from now coming back and saying, ‘This is like
Agent Orange,’” said Breckenridge Mayor Sam Mamula.
“We are environmental leaders in the county, and there
is enough uncertainty that it is harmful.”
Across Vail Pass, Avon has ceased using mag chloride. Another
valley away, Basalt and Aspen no longer use it. Studies have
shown no severe impacts to plants, trees, fish and people.
However, it has caused several power outages when the mist
has coated electrical transmission lines. It also coats cars
driving on roads covered with the chemical in goo.
Winter Park tries to solve highway riddle
WINTER PARK – U.S. Highway 40 begat Hideway Village,
a cluster of bars, restaurants and shops that, with a vote of
incorporation in 1978, became Winter Park. The goal was to associate
it with the nearby ski area of the same name and to help it
become a destination resort.
Ever since, the town has been looking at putting the highway
in its place. The town got additional ammunition recently from
James Charlier, a transportation consultant from Boulder. He
told the Town Council recently that the highway effectively
divides the commercial district into two downtowns, with no
commercial synergy between one side of the street to the other.
Charlier urged the town to stand up for its rights. “Step
one is to realize the enormity of the problem. If you think
tweaking around the edges is going to solve it, then you might
as well just give up,” he said. He said mountain communities
must stress pedestrian activity, as people can’t spend
money from a wallet they are sitting on. “Your competition
is working hard to create a walkable environment, because that’s
what people want in a destination community.”
Wildfires dent Forest Service budget
SUMMIT COUNTY – If you see fewer wilderness rangers or
trail crews at work this year on U.S. Forest Service lands,
you can blame it on last year’s fires.
The agency last year borrowed about $920 million from various
programs to pay for firefighting efforts. However, Congress
reimbursed the agency only $640 million – a difference
is almost $300 million, notes the Summit County Independent
What this means seems to be anybody’s guess, other than
the Forest Service has proposed reducing 4,000 permanent firefighters,
down to 5,000. Dale Bosworth, Forest Service chief, said the
agency would condense other programs, including fire rehabilitation
and watershed restoration.
Spanish newspapers scrap in Jackson
JACKSON HOLE, WYO. – Publishers of two competing Spanish-language
newspapers are scrapping. La Vox de Jackson Hole came first,
in September, and was followed in November by La Palabra News.
The publisher of the latter newspaper, Craig Kelly, has sued
his rival, Marcela Murri. He alleges that she has attacked the
reputations of Kelly’s employees and contacted his advertising
clients, attempting to dissuade them from working with his business,
which he says is unethical.
In addition to publishing a newspaper, Kelly’s business
also procures work visas for its Mexican clients and runs a
bus service from Jackson to Tlaxcala, Mexico, the state most
of Jackson’s Mexican workers call home.
Aspen real estate bounces back
ASPEN – Real estate in the Aspen-Snowmass area bounced
back last year from 2001, with dollar value in both single-family
and condominiums soaring. Sales were particularly strong in
the higher end of the market, $5 million to $20 million.
The median sale price of a home in Aspen increased from $3.27
million to $3.54 million, according to figures from the Aspen
Board of Realtors Multiple Listing Service as reported by The
Aspen Times (March 12). However, on average, sellers of Aspen
homes received 90 percent of the asking price, as compared to
100 percent the year before, according to the analysis of Carol
Hood, an agent with Mason and Morse.
Meanwhile, in the mid-valley area of Basalt-El Jebel, sales
were down across the board, with single-family home sales down
5 percent and condo sales dropping 27 percent. The median sales
price in Basalt dropped for the first time in years, from $531,000
two years ago down to $505,500 last year.
Sales of vacant land also plunged in the mid-valley, as it
did in Aspen-Snowmass.
Most eye-catching in the current market is the staggering amount
of property for sale. Bob Ritchie, a broker, said his analysis
shows that the inventory of homes is at its highest level since
1985. There is a 3.5-year supply based on the current absorption
rate. At the end of last year, the total value of the property
on the market was $3.37 billion.
Woman drowns in hot springs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Police are investigating the drowning
of a 37-year-old woman at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs. According
to The Steamboat Pilot, there were no reports of a struggle
at the developed hot springs, about 10 miles north of Steamboat.
The husband of the woman told police he had left to get dressed
and couldn’t find his wife when he returned.