Miner hopes to restore relic

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Scott Smith, a third-generation miner in the San Juan Mountains, is hoping for a land swap that will put his mining relic, the Matterhorn Mill, into the hands of the U.S. Forest Service.

Smith wants the Matterhorn restored so that others can learn about how mills operated. He figures the Forest Service can better get access to restoration money than he. “It’s the Queen Mary of mining artifacts in San Miguel County,” says Smith, who worked at mills during summer vacations in his youth in Telluride and nearby Ophir.

Despite its mining heritage, Telluride no longer finds mining a respected occupation, reports The Telluride Watch (May 16). Smith, however, makes no apology for his ambitions to begin mining again.

Utah club may drop PGA tourney

PARK CITY, Utah – A Senior PGA Tour event was held at the Park Meadows County Club until last year, when a sponsor backed out. But the new owner, the Melrose Co., and club members aren’t so sure they want a big tournament.

While there are benefits, including the estimated $9 million infusion into Utah’s economy, a golf course manager told the Park Record (June 25) that such events gobble up a week of prime golfing time in an already short season and is seen as intrusive by some members. Total membership is 350.

Park City frees parking spaces

PARK CITY, Utah –The Park City Council has finally acceded to the demands of downtown (a.k.a. Old Town) merchants who have been annoyed, or worse, with the city’s paid-parking program since it was instituted in 1996. With one fell swoop, the city “freed”1,100 parking spaces, or 76 percent of the parking in the district.

Out to milk the news for all it was worth, Mayor Dana Williams and other city officials dressed in costumes urging people to “Remember the Main,” a reference to the street. Like many places, Park City is facing strong competition from big-box retailers on its outskirts.

Plant to cook Whistler’s garbage

SQUAMISH, B.C. – A waste company expects to begin operations in January at a $7 million centralized composting facility for the Sea to Sky corridor between Vancouver and Whistler. The business expects to process 50 metric tons of organic matter a day, including food waste, biosolids, organic construction waste and clean wood waste, reports the Whistler Question (June 26).

“Whistler is a very big producer of food waste because of all the hotels,” said Pat Taylor administration manager with Carney’s Waste System. “This facility would divert a significant amount of matter from the municipal landfills, reduce the amount of methane gas produced by organic waste in landfills and reduce the tipping fees required to dump organic matter in landfills by 50 percent.

“Really, organic waste is a resource which is being misplaced, because after composting it, it is a usable soil amendment,” he continued. “Certainly in Whistler, where there isn’t a lot of good soil, what better way to get rid of all your food wastes than by turning them into usable soil?”

Most of the composting will occur in sealed chambers, eliminating most odors and problems with wildlife.

Rent may double at Red Onion

ASPEN, Colo. – The 20-year lease at the Red Onion is up next year, and rent is sure to rise – probably double. Dave “Wabs” Walbert, who has had the lease since 1984, says he can’t afford to run the business at today’s market value for commercial space.

The owners’ representative, Charles Israel of Carbondale, says that’s just business. There will continue to be a “Red Onion,” he said, as he and his partners own the name as well as the building. “If there’s a problem it’s that the rent is 20 years old and so is the menu – they didn’t change with the times, and I think Aspen got a little more sophisticated.

Walbert and his wife, Ellen, say they harbor no hard feelings. They also own the Old Dillon Inn, a historic restaurant in Silverthorne.

Volunteers fill fee demo void

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Yankee Boy Basin, located between Ouray and Telluride, has become the first place in the United States to reverse the unpopular Forest Service Recreation Fee Demonstration program. Volunteers have instead taken over stewardship of the area.

In 2001, the Forest Service began assessing a $5 fee for entrance to the area, which includes access to 14,000-foot Mt. Sneffels, as well as Imogene Pass. A couple who has lived in the area for more than 30 years has organized 43 volunteers to manage and maintain the area. Without the unpopular rec fee demo program, they told The Telluride Watch (June 24), they probably wouldn’t have found so many volunteers.

Box retail project raises tempers

CARBONDALE, Colo. – The fate of a proposed big box-anchored retail development that has had Carbondale residents riled up for well more than a year is to be determined by a municipal vote on July 14.

The Aspen Times (July 2) reports that neither friends nor foes of the project can keep political signs in their yards. Some 20 to 30 signs urging “no” have been stolen, but earlier both signs and banners urging “yes” had disappeared. Some banners cost $300.

The Town Council had approved the 255,000-square-foot retail project called the Marketplace but referred the issue to a public vote.

Ex-Forest chief addresses roads

DENVER, Colo. – In particularly livestock-oriented parts of the rural West, local governments have been angry about federal policies regarding roads on federal lands. They believe the Clinton administration’s efforts to stem the growth of roads, and even pull back from user-created roads, has gone too far.

Led by Interior Secretary Gayle Norton, the Bush administration has been moving to reverse this federal policy. Norton has had talks with Utah and Colorado about state and hence local governments taking charge of some public lands.

Mike Dombeck, former chief of the U.S. Forest Service, was in Denver recently to promote his new book, and the Associated Press says he questions who will pay for this labyrinth of roads that Republicans want on federal lands. As is, the Forest Service can’t afford to maintain its road network, and has an $8 billion backlog of work. If state governments want authority over these roads, does that mean they will pay for them?

Reopening this debate, he says, diverts time and resources from more important issues, including managing off-road recreation and the invasion of exotic species.

Banff to discourage chain stores

BANFF, Alberta – Residents in Banff are concerned about the mom-and-pop shops being replaced by Gap, Lush and Starbucks as well as other multinationals. This could cause Banff to lose its distinctive mountain town feel, they say.

Adding to this sensitivity is that Banff is fast running out of space to grow. It’s located on a townsite within Banff National Park, and the land agency, Parks Canada, has put a cap on growth, both in terms of residents and businesses. On a random draw system, Banff already has allocated about 250,000 square feet of the allowable 350,000 square feet of incremental new development. That cap is to be reached in 2006.

“People are concerned about corporate branding of place,” Randall McKay, Banff’s manager of planning and development, told Rocky Mountain Outlook (June 19). “I think it’s important to maintain a sense of place and have some control over that if you want a unique visitor experience.”

Banff may consider controlling the size of retail stores and eating and drinking establishments. That has been done from Canmore to Taos. However, McCay conceded that it would be a “big step” to try to regulate what kind of businesses are allowed.

Municipal planners say they intend to look at other communities, including California’s Napa Valley, to study how they have dealt with the invasion of franchised businesses.

-compiled by Allen Best





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