Tamarisk makes its way to Vail

EAGLE COUNTY, Colo. - River runners of the West have long known about tamarisk, the shrub that was introduced as an ornamental from Eurasia in the 1880s and now hogs the streambanks of the Colorado River and other desert rivers and creeks.

Without natural predators, the species is spreading. This year, tamarisk was found at Edwards, about 10 miles from Vail. Tamarisk also was noted near Kremmling, on its way toward Winter Park and Summit County.

The Vail Daily reports that both state and federal governments have considered allocating money to control tamarisk, but control is not easy. Hand-cutting and herbicide application can cost up to $5,000 per acre, while burning the stands only seems to cause them to redouble their growth.

As well, there is now another issue, in that a bird that is imperiled has begun using the tamarisk for nests, since the bushes it formerly used are now gone.

Park City denies Humvee display

PARK CITY, Utah - The Park City Council had ruled that a General Motors Humvee cannot be prominently displayed at a local shopping complex during the Sundance Film Festival.

A GM competitor, Volkswagen, co-sponsors the festival, and the city believes that displaying a Humvee would ambush marketing and harm the city's interests.

Owners of the plaza had been promised what they described as a "significant amount of money" to display the Humvee, reports The Park Record . They charged that the Sundance Institute, which puts on the festival, has too much influence over the city. "We believe it is inappropriate for the city to limit corporate sponsorship of activities on private property during the Festival to a select list determined by Sundance," they said in a letter.

The city's response was summarized by Councilman Fred Jones, who said the city must regulate such advertising or else there would be more in the future. "This is not about one Hummer in one plaza," he said. "We just have to be extremely careful about commercialism."

Resort wages dispersed globally

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. - Walking through Keystone's Summit House is a little like riding the Disneyland ride "It's a Small World," says the Summit Daily News . And by various reports, many immigrants send between 50 and 80 percent of their paychecks home, either to support relatives or to buy real estate in preparation for their own returns.

Steve Schwartz, general manager of the Summit House, said he happened to make a Western Union money transfer on payday. Ahead of him in line were three of his dishwashers and four of his busers. He estimated that of the $600 left to them after their housing is paid for, they send $500 home.

Swartz said many of his employees are buying houses in their native countries or buying plots of land with intentions to build. "It's the American dream," he said, "but it's happening in Mexico with money they're earning here."

Isidro Jimenez, a waiter, sends $200 a month to his mother in Mexico. His 11 siblings scattered across the United States also send $50 to $200 each month.

"Some of the families we work with send 60 to 80 percent of their pay home," says Christina Carlston, director of the Family and Intercultural Resource Center. "It's not only the Hispanic population, but a lot of the West Africans, too."

However, political and economic instability in their home countries is causing many immigrants to plant roots in the United States instead of returning home. "The economic conditions in some of the former Soviet republics sound like they're even worse than in a lot of the Latin American countries," said Swartz.

Nordic skiing marketed to masses

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. - So why do so many people want to walk across snow in snowshoes when they could be skiing?

That has perplexed people at Steamboat's Nordic Touring Center, as well as elsewhere. But in Steamboat they're paying attention to a new ski, the Nordic Cruiser, from Fischer. They're following the shorter and wider theme of alpine, telemark and backcountry skis, which in turn provides more control. The new ski, reports The Steamboat Pilot , is as much as 35 centimeters shorter than more traditional cross-country skis. As well, technology employed in the waxless kick zone doesn't sacrifice as much speed and gliding ability as old-school waxless skis.

Wal-Mart unwelcome in Granby

GRANBY, Colo. - Although certainly on the rise, the Winter Park-Granby-Grand Lake resort areas do not appear to have the demographics to support a Wal-Mart.

Good, says Patrick Brower, publisher of the Sky-Hi News and Winter Park Manifest . All the better to create the legal mechanisms, such as design guidelines that prohibit big-box buildings, to keep this particular big box out.

Consumers do gain with Wal-Mart's lower prices, concedes Brower. And so would the town treasury. But when Wal-Mart moves into a town, it typically displaces five local businesses within the first year. Also, Wal-Mart employees are typically offered wages below those prevailing in an area. Finally, he says, Wal-Mart would kill the existing downtown.

Or maybe not. The downtown area isn't particularly thriving as is - most people drive to Denver, about 75 miles away, to shop at big-box stores, as one reader pointed out.

- compiled by Allen Best





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