puts pinch on risque brewery
PARK CITY, Utah – Greg Schirf owns the Wasatch Brewery
and Wasatch Brew Pub in Park City, and he promotes himself with
what The Baltimore Sun describes as naughty billboards and advertisements
that tweak the state’s majority 60 percent Mormons.
For example, visitors to the 2002 Winter Olympics saw a freeway
billboard of a blond, blue-eyed “St. Provo Girl”
bursting out of her bustier with the caption “Nice Cans!”
But not all Utah legislators were amused. This winter they
considered a tax that would add $1.80 tax per keg onto the existing
$11 tax, among the highest in the nation. While the bill’s
sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Michael Waddoups, denied retribution,
he promised to point out the billboard to any legislators who
were waffling about the tax. “It’s flat-out bad
taste,” he told The Salt Lake City Tribune.
Schirf likened the beer tax being levied by a Mormon to a gasoline
tax in an Amish-controlled Pennsylvania legislature. Meanwhile,
he brewed up a vat of his newest creation, the First Amendment
Lager, and was reported to be planning to pour several kegs
of it into the brine of the Great Salt Lake. “It’s
give me liberty or give me a cold one,” declared Schirf,
who was dressed as Benjamin Franklin for his lakeside happy
Crested Butte on the brink of failure
CRESTED BUTTE – John Norton is shooting for 600,000 skiers
annually. Anything else, he says, and the ski resort he is operating
may not survive.
Mounting evidence suggests that Norton might not merely be
crying wolf. Just weeks ago, Norton’s resort, Crested
Butte Mountain Resort, had to give up its Sheraton Hotel, which
it had built in 1994, to creditors.
It hasn’t had a big year in business since 1997-1998,
when free, early-season skiing boosted numbers to 549,660 skiers.
Since then, numbers have averaged 350,000. The resort was widely
known to be for sale, but all big companies in the ski industry
came looking, and reportedly bottom feeders as well, and none
Last year, Crested Butte’s owners hired Norton from Aspen
to bail out the sinking ship. He quickly made energetic moves
to get the resort off dead-center, particularly with a humorous
advertising campaign that compared Crested Butte with Vail Resorts
properties. Still, they looked to be signs of desperation.
Norton confirmed as much at a recent community meeting covered
by the Crested Butte News (April 10). “No one has lost
business like us; our performance stands alone,” he said.
“CBMR is not sustainable at this level,” he added
To get Crested Butte’s skier numbers up, Norton’s
stated strategy is to get more skiable terrain, particularly
of the intermediate type. Lack of intermediate trails he says
is largely to blame for Crested Butte’s poor repeat business.
Also, he wants a base village. Both ideas involve Snodgrass
Mountain, an expansion area that the company has been working
toward since 1982.
Aspen witnesses shortened winter
ASPEN – It rained in January this year in Aspen, an uncommon
thing. But it’s all part of a trend toward shorter, warmer
Lee Cassin, the town’s environmental health officer,
said record keeping began in 1949. Since then, the number of
days in spring, summer and fall when the temperatures don’t
drop below freezing has increased by about four days each decade.
That leaves a smaller window of winter.
Winter Park finally pays property tax
WINTER PARK, Colo. – With Intrawest now running the show,
the Winter Park ski area will for the first time pay property-based
taxes to Grand County and other local jurisdictions. The bill
is estimated at $250,000.
This tax issue has been a sore point with local residents for
years. Because Denver owned the ski area, as another government,
it was exempt from property-based taxes. Courts consistently
ruled in Denver’s favor beginning in 1989 on this issue.
Given that Denver also exports a large amount of water from
the Winter Park area, a certain amount of hostility was evident
among locals who saw Denver as a colonizer.
Grand County still has no power to levy a property tax, but
instead has authority under Colorado law to charge a possessory
tax on lifts and other improvements that the resort has on federal
land. The possessory tax is determined based on payments made
to the U.S. Forest Service, administrator of the land, explains
the Winter Park Manifest (April 9).
In contrast to Intrawest’s estimated $250,000 tax bill
at Winter Park, the possessory tax paid in Eagle County by Vail
Resorts for 2002 for its holdings on Vail and Beaver Creek mountains
totals only $175,538, according to Mark Chapin, deputy county
assessor. It’s not clear why Vail’s bill for two
big ski mountains is smaller than Intrawest’s for one
Trout duke it out in Jackson Hole
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Jackson Lake is popular among anglers
because of its huge lake trout. Those lake trout, however, are
not native to the ecosystem. The National Park Service dumps
36,000 trout annually into the reservoir, which is located in
Grand Teton National Park.
In contrast, at Yellowstone Lake, located in nearby Yellowstone
National Park, the federal agency is spending $300,000 annually
to kill lake trout.
What’s the difference? The Park Service says plenty.
The agency says it is authorized to stock artificial fish in
water bodies such as Jackson Lake that are altered by humans,
and if it has done so historically. The stocking began in 1937.
Neither is the case at Yellowstone.
But according to the Jackson Hole News & Guide (April 9),
the Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s Scott Bosse said the
dumping of an exotic species both harms native fish, namely
Snake River cutthroat trout populations, and runs counter to
Park Service policy.
In dispute is whether the lake trout actually harm the cutthroat
population. One theory is that stocking the big lake trout reduces
fishing pressure on the smaller cutthroat trout.
Aspen offers incentive to hybrid cars
ASPEN – In what came down to a lesser-of-evils argument,
the Aspen City Council recently had to decide how to recognize
the relative virtues of the new hybrid vehicles.
While able to burn conventional fuel, hybrid vehicles primarily
use electric power, thereby emitting less carbon monoxide and
other greenhouse gases. Just a few people in Aspen now have
the Toyota Prius and other hybrid vehicles, but manufacturers
are gearing up to produce more, including hybrid-powered SUVs.
Aspen’s city council had three choices: 1) Give hybrid
vehicles free metered marking, 2) Give all hybrid vehicles a
$100 rebate on license registration; or 3) Give just smaller
hybrid vehicles that rebate.
The majority didn’t like the free parking for two reasons.
First, Aspen’s most immediate problem is small particulate
matter, called PM-10, which is caused primarily by sand spread
on streets being kicked up by car tires. By whatever power,
hybrid vehicles kick up sand. Second, free parking for a particular
type of vehicle still encourages automobiles, and the city wants
to lessen emphasis on automobiles.
In any event, the council members agreed that they will offer
the $100 license rebate only to owners of small hybrid cars
that have earned the “ultra super low emissions vehicle”
The Aspen Skiing Co. this year offered free parking in its
lots to hybrid vehicles.
Telluride hockey donors ask for fame
TELLURIDE – To get a full-sized Olympic ice-skating rink
with all the niceties, private groups have pledged $450,000.
But one of those funding groups wants special recognition, with
plaques showing names of its contributors, as well as a bust
of namesake Andy Hanley.
The town council compromised, reports The Telluride Watch (March
21), allowing recognition of private donors as well as taxpayers
and even a sign calling it “Hanley Rink,” but no
bust on the building’s exterior.