Use of off-road vehicles
THE WEST Off-road vehicle use has
become the most politically volatile land-use issue in the country,
reports the New York Times
. A new front in this "war"
is conflicts among off-roaders themselves.
The Times traces the dispute to the end of World
War II, when jeeps and dirt bikes first became available to general
consumers. But it wasn't until 1972, when President Richard Nixon
signed an executive order requiring federal agencies to regulate
the activity on federal lands, that the government took an active
role in managing its impact.
Meanwhile, the popularity of off-roading has exploded. The
number of off-highway motorcycles increased 146 percent from 1998
to 2002, while Americans purchased almost double the number of ATVs
in the same time frame.
The latest chapter is the friction between self-styled
responsible off-roaders, usually members of local clubs that
promote adherence to existing land-use rules, and the renegades who
see that as an environmental appeasement.
One example among the latter is Loren Shirk, of Duarte, Calif.,
who drives his Blazer over the sand dunes near Barstow, Calif. "I
think my right to go where I want should not be hampered by the
whims of somebody else that wants to leave the world looking like
it was 4,000 years ago," he said. "The way you succeed in life," he
added, "is to go outside the lines."
Another example is Brad Lark, publisher of extreme44.com, a Web
site devoted to off-roading. The Tread Lightly program, he said, is
"just a veiled form of extreme environmentalism. They spend more
time supporting the land closures than they do keeping the land
open and opening up closed lands."
The mainline off-roading organization, the BlueRibbon Coalition,
estimates that illegal riders account for 1 or 2 percent of all
off-road activity, but law officials and environmentalists put the
figure at somewhere in the 15 to 20 percent range, according to a
BLM ranger in the desert outside Barstow.
Whatever the figure, one figure in the California Off-Road
Vehicle Association, Ed Waldheim, who refers to scofflaw
off-roaders as "idiots," warns that the dispute is approaching
anarchy. The cause, he said, is a "rebellion against the continued
erosion of our off-road opportunities on public land."
Summit County bans public
SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. Smoking as of
June 1 will be illegal in enclosed public places and bus stops in
unincorporated Summit County. The only exceptions to the ban will
be private clubs, lodging and, as you might expect, tobacco
County voters by a
2-to-1 margin last year asked county commissioners to ban smoking
in places used by the public. The county's five towns are not bound
to the decision, but most are expected to adopt parallel bans. Only
one, Frisco, appears headed in a different direction, as it is
entertaining the idea of allowing designated smoking rooms that
must have separate ventilation systems.
Kindergarteners take yoga classes
TELLURIDE, Colo. As it has across the
Americas, yoga seems to be everywhere in the ski towns.
Aspen Magazine this winter has a story about yoga
becoming a guy thing. In Telluride, it's also a kindergartener
The Telluride Watch explains that yoga classes for
preschoolers began at the local Elks Lodge several years ago, which
in turn has led to yoga for kindergarteners at various public
schools. At Telluride High School, students can take yoga in lieu
of ski P.E. Several cheerleaders who did so were surprised at their
Is technology dumbing down
ASPEN, Colo. Is new technology, such
as shaped skis, the savior of skiing?
No, says Aspen Times columnist Roger Marolt, a longtime
local. Such devices are destroying the sport, he says, because they
take the challenge and hence the triumph out of the
"Nothing is off-limits to the novice anymore," he writes. "It's
the inevitable dumbing down' of our sport: a byproduct of mass
marketing to mature (a.k.a. wealthy) skiers (a.k.a. timeshare
purchasers). Take shaped skis for example. Well they just make
skiing easier. Now there's a thrilling concept. They practically
turn themselves,' Are you invigorated yet?"
As Marolt sees it, the decline began in the 1980s when skier
numbers began to drop. Rather than lowering prices to keep people
in the game, ski industry executives decided it was simpler to
fight over existing customers. "Retirement community amenities and
corduroy-smooth runs were the bait," he explains. "Equipment
manufacturers followed suit. Easier' became synonymous with
better.' The result is that now ski resorts are competing with
strolls down the Palm Beach Boardwalk as the recreational activity
In short, Marolt is saying that by making us all above-average
skiers, the new technology eliminates any true triumph of
excelling, making the sport boring. Take a cue from the X Games,
with its jumps, bumps, rails, stairs, walls and pits. Harder means
more exciting, means more passion, he argues.
Consultant relates Aspen's
KETCHUM, Idaho It's kind of the same
song, but the lyrics are different. For years people have been
saying they didn't want to be like Aspen, because of the unsavory
parts of its successes. But an economic consultant for Aspen
recently told a group in Ketchum that they didn't want to be like
Aspen because of its failure.
Well, "failure" might be
too strong a word to describe what has happened in downtown Aspen
during the last three years, but the retail picture does seem to be
out of whack. Commercial space lease rates have hit $140 a square
foot even in the face of vacant storefronts. For three straight
years retail sales have declined.
Part of the problem,
explained Ford Frick, managing director of Denver-based BBC
Research and Consulting, is that rising real estate prices have
resulted in people moving down valley. "A real estate economy uses
or doesn't use a downtown much differently than one that caters to
destination guests," Frick told the Ketchum gathering, which was
attended by the Idaho Mountain
Express . A
result, he noted, is that some retail businesses have migrated down
the valley along with their customers.
Also part of Aspen's problems have been growth in nonretail
businesses and strict city regulations that prohibit businesses
from effectively displaying their signs and products. One way to
help bring a revitalization, he says, is to increase height and
density for the downtown area.
Banff defends ban on
BANFF, Alberta Because Banff, the
town, is within Banff National Park, the federal government has
some considerable say-so in what happens within the town. One
provision is that people who own property there must live there. In
other words, no vacation or second homes.
A lawsuit is under way
in an attempt to displace that notion, but several Banff municipal
officials say it's proper and just. Opponents of this
need-to-reside rule say they are fighting for individual freedoms,
but Mayor Dennis Shuler says their real motivation is
Another council member,
Bob Haney, says the law is vital to keeping Banff a tourist town.
"I see no advantage of having the rich being able to come in and
buy up housing stock that is needed to house employees who are
delivering a service to the visitors of the national park," he told
the Banff Crag & Canyon
. Expensive mountain
retreats can be purchased elsewhere in Canada, among them Whistler
and Canmore, as well as the United States, he said.
Woman survives plunge in
GRANBY, Colo. A woman who drove her
snowmobile into the icy waters of a reservoir barely survived, with
her body temperature dropping to 80 degrees before she was flown by
helicopter to a Denver hospital. Initially in critical condition,
her condition was later upgraded to "fair," reported the Sky-Hi News .
She and two companions were snowmobiling on the ice of Shadow
Mountain Reservoir, a reservoir used in transmountain diversions.
After she drove into the open water portion of the reservoir,
a companion drove his snowmobile toward the edge of the edge,
but his snowmobile fell through. He managed to get himself out
and went for help. A second man then tried to push a ladder
to the woman from the edge of the ice, but he also broke through.
Arriving rescuers plucked him out, and then the woman, who was
unconscious and floating in the water.
Park City sees real estate boom
PARK CITY, Utah Last
summer a statistician with the Park City Board of Realtors went out
on the limb, predicting $700 million in sales for the year. He was
wrong. Sales were $772 million, a record in the Park City area.
Now, some real-estate agents are predicting even more sales this
Sales prices of single-family homes registered with the Board of
Realtors rose 14 percent. The inventory of mansions dropped, but
the more active market continued to be the mid-sized single-family
homes. Condo prices dropped 13 percent although volume
Aspen looks into artifical
ASPEN, Colo. Aspen may be going
plastic as in artificial turf. Artificial turf is much better than
the old Astroturf, as the city's parks director, Jeff Woods,
reported recently. "It looks and feels very much like regular
grass," he said.
The artificial turf
would also remove pressure on the city's other parks and playing
fields, and it could absorb the heavy beating of the annual Jazz
Aspen Snowmass Festival, reports The
Aspen Times .
Artificial turf was also used for a soccer field built in
conjunction with affordable housing and a college campus at
Edwards, in the Vail Valley.
compiled by Allen Best