Jackson Hole aims for world peace

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Can dramatic scenery inspire global peace and progress while also filling local hotel rooms? That seems to be the ambition of a new organization, the Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs.

The organization recently held its first conference, called the U.S.-China Clean Energy Initiative, a weekend gathering of international bankers, environmentalists, scientists and government officials to address global warming.

Jackson Hole has served as a high-stakes meeting ground before. In a 1989 article titled “Where the Elk and the Diplomats Roam,” New York Times reporter Timothy Egan dubbed Jackson Hole “The Geneva of the Rockies.” Then Secretary of State James A. Baker was meeting with his counterpart from the Soviet Union, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, to talk about chemical warfare, nuclear missiles and such. The intent, said Baker, was to use “one of the garden spots of the earth” to help inspire global solutions to questions of war and peace.

From a less ethereal perspective, chamber director Steve Duerr told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the mission of the new center dovetails with his agency’s agenda of creating “sustainable business,” by drawing visitors during a time when tourists are few, and not harming the valley’s natural resources.

Scenery good for hospital patients

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah – As it turns out, scenery is also good medicine. In choosing the location for a new hospital for Summit County, reports The Park Record, one consideration is the view from rooms. Those views, as well as the hospital’s appearance, are important facets in the healing of patients, explained Randall Probst, a hospital administrator.

Officials calculate they can break even if they get only 50 percent of local patients who are now going to hospitals in nearby Salt Lake City or Heber Valley.

Bozeman and Crested Butte praised

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – In its travel section, USA Today highlighted ski areas that it defined as “small enough and far enough off the freeway to feel remote,” ones that “aren’t just corporate concepts; they’re real communities that happen to be near mountains that beckon dedicated downhillers.”

In the West, the newspaper chose Crested Butte and Bozeman: Of Crested Butte, it said: “Free-thinking, outdoors-loving residents enjoy a lively party, from Mardi Gras celebrations to the coal miners’ polka fests. Cows outnumber residents 20 to 1 and downtown boasts dozens of one-of-a-kind shops, none of which sell fur.”

Of Bozeman: “Rubbing elbows along Main Street are academics, artists, ranchers and more recently, an influx of urban refugees seeking the quiet life. The town exudes youthful exuberance, whether because of the college students (it’s the home of Montana State University) or the generally sports-crazed population.”

Both descriptions are apt, but just one question for USA Today – don’t they know that Bozeman is large, has an airport nearby and interstate running through it?

Eagle County sees rise in real estate

VAIL, Colo. – Add Eagle County to the list of resort areas where the real estate seems to be turning around. The year started slow, but sales in the last three months look to push 2003 sales close to last year’s final tally of $1.5 billion.

The largest company, Slifer, Smith & Frampton, reported that October beat the previous best month on record by 37 percent.

Approximately two-thirds of sales and one-third of total dollar volume were from what the Vail Daily described as “entry-level” housing, $500,000 or less. The top-end properties, $1 million plus, were responsible for a fifth of sales and a third of dollar volume.

New CB owner goes intermediate

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Crested Butte once hosted the X Games. Could the Intermediate Games be next?

That’s what Tim Mueller, who expects to buy Crested Butte Mountain Resort by Jan. 1, insinuates is in store for the mountain. “The mountain is the mountain,” he says of Crested Butte’s extreme terrain. “I would never get away from the extreme skier, but it needs to be rounded out so that the family knows that Crested Butte is more than just an extreme paradise.”

To get more intermediate skiing, Mueller intends to pursue the expansion of lift-accessed skiing onto Snodgrass Mountain, he told the Crested Butte News, The Forest Service approved Snodgrass in 1982, but Crested Butte did not act on it, and then by 1996 the community was opposed. After several tough economic years, caused partly by drought but more importantly by the faltering destination skier market, community opposition to that expansion has significantly softened.

CU Historian blasts Edward Abbey

BOULDER, Colo. – Ranchers vs. environmentalists? It’s a time-wasting dispute, says environmental historian Patricia Nelson Limerick.

“Edward Abbey was successful in throwing everybody off track for awhile with his attack on ranchers in the mid-1980s, and that was kind of a waste of time because, if the ranchers had collapsed economically and sold out to developers, then Edward Abbey would have played a role in the creation of more condos in the West,” she said in an interview in Divide, a new magazine.

“It doesn’t take the deepest ecological science to know that if your goal is preservation of habitat for wildlife, then you are so much better off with the ranchers than you are with the condos and the big houses spread around the landscape.”

That said, she conceded that coalitions between ranchers and enviros will always be precarious “and probably have to be renegotiated every morning.”

County resents Yellowstone wolves

RED LODGE, Mont. – In Colorado, governments are gearing up for the day when wolves released in the Yellowstone region in 1995 begin trotting into the state. In Montana’s Carbon County, located on the northeastern corner of Yellowstone, county officials are anticipating the delisting of the wolf under the Endangered Species Act.

If delisted, the wolves will come under state control. Like Wyoming, Carbon County wants the wolves considered as predators. The commissioners for Carbon County, a land of ranches with a ski resort among them, also have made clear their displeasure with the wolf reintroduction.

“The commissioners are expressing their displeasure with the federal government forcing wolves upon their land and beyond the control of the local citizenry” the county’s attorney, Kemp Wilson, explained to the Carbon County News. The commissioners cited impacts to farmers, ranchers and big-game hunters.

Steamboat files for kayak water

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Several years ago, Vail and Breckenridge filed for instream flow rights for the water that flows through their kayak parks. Now, after spending $100,000 configuring the Yampa River, Steamboat Springs is looking to do the same. But unlike Vail and Breckenridge, Steamboat has a lot of upstream neighbors. Some of those upstream neighbors, among them Oak Creek and Yampa, are fidgety and annoyed.

If this happens, they fear that the ability of these towns to appropriate the water necessary to grow will be hampered, reports The Steamboat Pilot. Because of the emphasis on protecting open space around Steamboat, those towns are expected to be increasingly important bedroom communities.

Glenn Porzak, the water lawyer for Steamboat who pioneered the concept on behalf of Vail and Breckenridge, says it’s much ado about nothing. “I have heard a lot of people say the sky is falling. That is simply not the issue,” he said. Recreational water rights usually are applied only from dawn to dusk, and from April to October, so other water users have plenty of opportunities to divert water without impacting the city’s recreational right, he insists.

Mass transit shot down for I-70

I-70 CORRIDOR, Colo. – This one was about as surprising as cold weather during winter. State and federal highway officials announced that they don‘t see any mass-transit options in the near future for steadily more crowded I-70, a critical link between Denver and about two-thirds of Colorado’s ski areas. Instead, they want I-70 to be widened to three lanes for about 40 miles, so that drivers from Denver will have three lanes all the way into Summit County.

Key governments from Idaho Springs, Summit County, Vail and Eagle County had lobbied hard for a monorail, even while conceding that such technology has not yet been proven.

But several acknowledged that these lesser highway widenings were badly needed. Residents of Idaho Springs and other communities where the highway is to be widened in an already narrow canyon were predictably not pleased.

- compiled by Allen Best





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