Idling cars targeted by activists

TELLURIDE – Telluride’s Town Council has made it against the law to let cars and trucks idle more than 30 seconds.

Cars have a maximum of three minutes to warm up, although proponents of the measure cited sources as diverse as General Motors, the Sierra Club and NPR’s Car Talk Guys in saying that only 30 seconds of warm-up time is needed for vehicles manufactured since 1985. Driving slowly at first is the better way, they say.

Representatives of the Sheep Mountain Alliance, which proposed the Telluride law, cited reports that found idling cars put lots of gas and not much air into the cylinders, which is bad for cars, as well as the environment. Even most trucking companies do not advocate idling, even in cold climates.

At issue primarily is the pollution caused by idling cars, explains The Telluride Watch (March 21). Emissions from diesel engines contain formaldehyde, benzene and other harmful substances. Moreover, diesel and gasoline engines emit carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, which is believed to contribute to global warming. Each gallon of gas burned produces between 20 to 25 pounds of CO, more than the weight of the gasoline.

Skier caught in slide at Whistler

WHISTLER, B.C. – A skier was caught by a small avalanche while skiing in-bounds on Whistler Mountain and taken for the ride of his life. He lost his skis, surfed on the debris feet first and ended up buried up to his waist.

“At the end of it, you are exhausted, shocked and humble,” the victim, David Harkley, western manager for Ski Canada magazine, told the Whistler Question (March 27).

Avalanche forecaster Jan Tindle described it as a size-one avalanche on a scale of one to five. Such avalanches occur at Whistler-Blackcomb four or five times a year, she said. She said the area had been thoroughly checked by avalanche control teams earlier in the day.

War and peace activists square off

RED LODGE, Mont. – For a small town, there were sizable groups on opposite sides of the same street at the outset of America’s war against Iraq.

On the eve of America’s war against Iraq, 200 boisterous, flag-waving people turned out for a rally in downtown Red Lodge. They chanted “USA, USA, USA” as a Vietnam veteran who organized the rally read a prepared address. Across the street, opponents of the war held a candlelight vigil. When one of the peace advocates crossed the street, to show support for the troops (but not the cause), she was told to “get back on your own side of the street,” reports the Carbon County News (March 9).

Child skis through slopeside condo

CRESTED BUTTE – A child skiing at Crested Butte skied out of control and through the window of a slopeside condominium. The child, whose age was not given, suffered minor injuries, says the Crested Butte News (March 28).

Spring thaw floods cars and trucks

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – The March thaw in Jackson Hole was so substantial that 45 vehicles stored in an abandoned gravel pit in Grand Teton National Park were flooded. A park spokeswoman told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (March 19) that the pit had been in use for 40 years with no similar incident. Damage was estimated to be between $1 million and $1.5 million.

Latino television hits Park City

PARK CITY, Utah – Park City’s Leadership 2000 program helped motivate Dana Williams to become mayor of Park City. Now, it has given Claudia Mejia the confidence to create a television program called “Contigo en Mente,” which is broadcast Saturday mornings.

The show is described by The Park Record (March 5) as a variety show that also features entertainment. It has local talent, i.e. singers and what not, but it also has representatives of local organizations that provide aid to or want to appeal to Spanish-speaking people. The program, however, is bilingual, and also has English subtitles.

“The thing that inspired me was that there were a lot of Hispanic people who didn’t know (English),” she told the newspaper. “There was a barrier there, and they didn’t know a lot about the nonprofit and service organizations, like medical and emergency services. The show is largely a fruit of voluntary efforts.”

Mejia was among the 25 selected to go through the leadership program from 75 applicants. She comes from Mexico City by way of Boston and Provo, Utah.

“State of the Cities” report given

BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho – Sales tax revenues have been flat, car noise and air pollution are fouling the air, and the resort sector needs a short-term bed base, i.e. hotels, to sustain the tourism industry.

Sound like any ski valley you know?

In fact, this was the synopsis given in Idaho’s Blaine County, where mayors of Sun Valley, Ketchum and three others towns plus the county commissioners’ chairman spoke at something called “State of the Cities Breakfast.”

The valley’s hub is Ketchum, where a hotel built 30-odd years ago was recently torn down, with no replacement in sight. Mayor Ed Simon said that the town’s “biggest failure” was its inability to foster development of hotels in the city’s downtown core. Ketchum, he said, must make greater strides to nourish its tourist-based economy.

Sun Valley Mayor David Wilson said the most consequential issue facing Sun Valley will be handling development applications expected from the ski area operator, the Sun Valley Co. The company has an abundance of undeveloped land.

Wilson had called for a summit meeting in December of city and county officials to address common issues. Little cooperation has ensued, he told the Idaho Mountain Express (March 12), but he cautioned that it’s a “long process.”

Aspen tries to define redevelopment

ASPEN – Aspen is struggling with defining the acceptable rules for redevelopment of its commercial and civic core, and the issue promises to become the pivotal one this year in City Council elections.

At the heart of the dispute is recognition that runaway growth is no longer the town’s greatest problem. Indeed, while Aspen has a 2 percent cap in growth, which nobody is proposing to alter, the city has had only 1 percent growth of late. Most of the talk, even before the nation’s economic recession, has been about how to juice up business.

To that end, proposals have been formulated over the last three years. According to The Aspen Times (March 25), they collectively amount to a vision of greater density and taller buildings. In calling for sweeping changes to the city’s land-use code, the proposal contemplates mixing housing and commercial uses, making lodging redevelopment easier, and excluding houses in those areas that are zoned for other purposes.

But all this has struck fear in the hearts of those who worry that Aspen’s small-town and sunny ambiance will get smothered by canyons of buildings. Connie Harvey, one of Aspen’s longtime residents, argues that it is a quick fix that unrealistically intends to prevent urban sprawl, but in fact cannot achieve that because it contains no restrictions on sprawl. Another critic, lawyer Doug Allen, told the City Council at a recent meeting that the proposal “started out with increased vitality and has become increased growth.” And a prominent building owner, Harley Baldwin, lamented it as an over-reaction to the national malaise. “It’s not solvable solely by us.”

Wyoming’s sage grouse disappearing

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Biologists aren’t entirely sure why sage grouse have been disappearing across the West. It could be fire suppression, which in turn results in trees displacing sagebrush. But the greater reason may be habitat fragmentation.

Indeed, the loss has been so severe, says Clait E. Braun, a biologist who headed up Colorado’s sage grouse recovery program for many years, that even Wyoming, which has the strongest sage grouse population in the world, could lose its sage. “Fragmentation of the habitats upon which this population depends will slowly unravel the entire presently linked sage grouse population in Wyoming,” he said. “This has already happened in most other states with disastrous results and has already started in Wyoming.”

Braun was hired by conservation groups to review the Bureau of Land Management’s plan for the Pinedale area, south of Jackson Hole. Braun, says the Jackson Hole News & Guide (March 19), found the plan wanting.





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