Activists try to rename Lake Powell

MOAB, Utah - An effort is under way to replace the name "Lake Powell" with "Glen Canyon Reservoir." And it would appear that these activists have federal policy on their side.

That's because a Lake Powell already existed in Colorado before Glen Canyon in Utah was dammed to create the reservoir. The lake is located in Rocky Mountain National Park, at the headwaters of the Colorado River. The U.S. Board of Geographic Names rules state that no two geographic features in a single watershed can have the same name, argues Bill Bernat, of the Glen Canyon Institute, writing in the August/September issue of the Canyon Country Zephyr .

Less valuable to name-change proponents is the federal policy that suggests modification "where ambiguity is likely to occur." The two Lake Powells are roughly 500 miles apart, one tiny and located near timberline, the other vast and surrounded by desert.

For some, there's another matter involved. The name "lake" should be reserved for natural bodies of water, while "reservoirs' should apply to artificial creations.

Just the same, a good many people think that the name "lake" applies to natural bodies of water and "reservoirs" to artificial creations. Writing in Colorado Central , a magazine based in Salida, Ed Quillen recalls editing a newspaper in Breckenridge during the 1970s when he and the local chamber of commerce disagreed over what to call the local impoundment, Dillon Reservoir or Lake Dillon.

Sheep Mtn. may become Mt. Kiamia

TELLURIDE, Colo. - Closer to Durango, another name change is making headlines. Wherever you are in the mountain towns of the West, there's probably a Sheep Mountain nearby. Colorado alone has 33, including one hulking, white-backed 13,188-foot summit south of Telluride.

But a man from New Mexico is proposing to rename this peak Mount Kiamia, an amalgam of acronyms (Killed in Action and Missing in Action). The U.S. Board of Geographic Names is to decide upon the proposal, but the agency makes it clear that no approval will be forthcoming unless there is local consensus.

Affordable' home listed for $1M

ASPEN, Colo. - Aspen will soon have its second $1 million "affordable house."

The town obviously takes a broad view of affordable housing. In this particular project the developer sold lots to qualified workers, who then built their own homes or had them built. There was no limit on how much they could spend on their homes. When one is sold, the owner can set a price based on cost plus 4 percent annual appreciation, explains The Aspen Times . The high-end "affordable" project is designed with doctors, lawyers and such in mind.

Avalanches force outfitter changes

REVELSTOKE, B.C. - The Revelstoke Coroner has cleared the guiding company involved of any negligence in the avalanche that killed seven people on Durand Glacier last winter but has issued recommendations for changes.

Among other things, reports Pique newsmagazine, the coroner says ski tour operators should subscribe to more detailed avalanche warning information, and guidelines should be set up to define what constitutes an acceptable risk when skiing in the backcountry.

Avalanches left 24 people in British Columbia dead last winter. Partly to counter the bad news, a senior guide for Selkirk Tangiers, a heli-ski tour operator from Revelstoke, visited the Aspen and Vail areas recently to drum up business. One Aspen-area local who has been on 11 heli-skiing trips to Revelstoke said he missed last year and may miss this year, but it was because of the economy, not the snow danger.

The Aspen Times newspaper notes that heli-ski trips aren't for the faint of wallet. Seven-day, low-season packages cost $4,200, and high-season packages cost $6,200. But Selkirk Tangiers reports an 80 percent return rate among customers. Customers on the seven-day trips are guaranteed 100,000 vertical feet.

Snowmaking draws crowds to A-Basin

ARAPAHOE BASIN, Colo. - One of Colorado's oldest ski resorts, Arapahoe Basin, was nearly the last resort to get snowmaking.

But the guns were finally put to full use this year, resulting in an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 skiers and snowboarders during the opening weekends, reports the Summit Independent Daily . Plus, ski company officials say that the earlier opening allows A-Basin to recruit seasonal employees instead of waiting until after Keystone, Breckenridge and other nearby resorts have already opened. With snowmaking, A-Basin very probably will gain the longest ski season in the Rockies.

A-Basin has also inked another five-year joint marketing and ticketing agreement with Vail Resorts. Under the deal, A-Basin gets a cut each time a Vail Resorts Buddy Pass is scanned at A-Basin.

Locals evicted from mining cabins

BRECKNRIDGE, Colo. - Beyond the golf course, the ice arenas and the houses with glass windows that seem to be measured by the acre, there's another side to Breckenridge. There, far from the busy streets and along the forested flanks, are little mining cabins from a century ago.

These cabins constitute what is, in effect, a substantial affordable-housing project. Some residents are industrious, many rugged sorts and more than a few clutch the bottle or their bags of drugs. But now they all have something in common - they're looking for new homes.

Summit County and Breckenridge are collaborating on a $9 million purchase of 1,840 acres of land, including many of these cabins. As dedicated open space is not supposed to have people living there, eviction notices have gone out, reports the Summit Daily News .

Developer agrees to darken skies

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah - Night-sky partisans won a small battle for darkness recently, persuading a developer to replace or retrofit at least some of the acorn-shaped street lamps he had placed in the Redstone commercial development. The development is located in the Kimball Junction area along Interstate 80.

Those acorn-shaped lamps are intended to look vaguely old-timely, something like a gas flame. As such, the lights beam into the sky, not down to the ground. Because of this light pollution, a county ordinance restricts their use.

County authorities dragged their heels about forcing compliance, reports The Park Record , but organizers from the nightlight organization, Utah Skies, gathered 400 signatures on a petition demanding changes. The developer then agreed to modify the lighting, among other things putting on reflectors to deflect the light toward the ground.

Whistler considers new growth cap

WHISTLER, B.C. - Long ago Whistler set a cap on growth. By all estimates, the resort will reach that buildout of 55,500 bed units (including resident housing) within two years. If the community sticks with that plan, only redevelopment and renovations will then be allowed.

But for some time the municipality has been considering what-ifs. Alternatives range from a 10 percent increase in beds dedicated to local residents to an increase in overall development, with market housing paying the costs for locals. The discussion is framed within the community's long-standing goal of achieving sustainability.

One concern driving many discussions, reports Pique newsmagazine, is a fear that as Whistler builds out, the locals will scamper elsewhere and the service economy will go to hell in a handbasket, much in the same way Aspen and Vail are perceived. It is assumed that 75 percent of market bed units that currently house employees in Whistler will be lost by the year 2020.

Professor puts price on blue sky

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - So, can you eat the scenery? That's the age-old question for people in pretty (and expensive) places of the West. In Wyoming, a college professor is trying to figure out how much prettiness should mean to the paychecks of school teachers.

Robert Godby, an economist from the University of Wyoming, is calculating pay based on three primary criteria: 1) how close a school is to a national park; 2) how close to a city of 50,000 or more; and 3) the cost of living. In his thinking, teachers would get bonuses proportionate to how far they lived from cities and national parks, as well as proportionate to the cost of living.

- compiled by Allen Best





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