New Yorkers fail to flood West

VAIL – Anecdotally, it would seem that people who left New York City after the terrorist attack of Sept. 11 have flooded Vail. The new chief executive officer of Vail Resorts, Rob Katz, fled New York after 9/11, as did Peter Knobel, one of the new developers in Vail. The Rotary Club in Vail also had a speaker recently, a local resident who had survived the attacks in New York.

But while the ex-New Yorkers may be prominent, it does not constitute a flood, reports Jonathan Schecter, who boils numbers weekly for theJackson Hole News & Guide. Schecter studied IRS data that shows the number of taxpayers in each county in the United States, and whether they have moved in the previous year and, if in larger numbers, from where.

Studying these data, looking for ex-New Yorkers in the area from Colorado to Idaho, Schecter found only 100 more New Yorkers moving to the Rocky Mountains in the three years after the terrorist attacks as compared to the three years before. Even then, the New Yorkers have been landing mostly in the cities, not in Vail, Jackson Hole or other resort areas.

“Men of the West, put down your pitchforks, extinguish your torches and let your womenfolk and children run free once again,” he writes.

Mountaineers mull climate change

BANFF, Alberta – The Alpine Club of Canada is planning Canada’s first-ever workshop on climate change that will be focused specifically on mountain regions. The event will be held in Banff on Oct. 11-12.

Aspen, as part of its Canary Initiative, is planning a similar conference on Oct. 11-13.

The workshop in Banff will seek out ways in which the international mountaineering community might respond to the changes that are now evident and forecast to become far more pronounced. While the changes are acutely evident in the retreating ice at Montana’s Glacier National Park, theRocky Mountain Outlooknotes that the changes are also clearly evident in the Canadian Rockies.

“Mountains are like the canary in the coal mine – the high altitudes and the high latitudes,” said Dr. David Sauchyn, chief scientist at the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative at the University of Regina.

Sauchyn is also a member of the United National Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which is scheduled to issue a report early next year. The panel’s last report, in 2001, for the first time reported a consensus of scientists that the fingerprints of man could be seen in the changing climate.

Wildlife-proof cans required in Vail

VAIL – After a summer of too-close encounters with bears, Vail is adopting a compromise measure that requires wildlife-resistant cans

The town already requires that trash be left out only on day of pickup and this summer began dishing monetary fines, instead of warnings. Wildlife advocates had wanted an even more aggressive action, a requirement that all homes have metal, wildlife-proof trash containers.

Instead, the Town Council has given preliminary approval to a law that mandates wildlife-resistant cans. One trash company will charge $150 for those wildlife-resistant cans, but cost was not really the issue. Trash companies said the cans were too heavy for their workers and trucks, not to mention the backs of homeowners. However, if the wildlife-resistant cans at homes do not curb bear problems, then homeowners will be required to invest in the tougher wildlife-proof cans.

Construction sites do not get off so easy. Wildlife-proof containers will be required there. Condominium complexes also will be required to have wildlife-proof bins or, in the case of Dumpsters and other large trash containers, wildlife-resistant enclosures.

The cost of this is not inconsequential. Town officials said they will spend $200,000 to install wildlife-proof containers at parks trailheads, and bus stops, and the cost of collecting that public trash is expected to rise $12,000 annually.

Tempers flare at immigration forum

PARK CITY, Utah – Tempers flared at a forum held in Park City about immigration, and the arguments were familiar ones.

Park City “would shrivel up and blow away” if not for the labor provided by immigrants, said one panelist, Scott Palmer. Local youth were willing to work at the golf course, but not on the cement crew, he added. Another panelist offered that if “you take the illegal labor out of the workforce, be prepared to pay more.”

The local sheriff, Dave Edmunds, said that the disagreement often puts local law enforcement agencies in a precarious position, being asked to turn a blind eye to the violations of law.

The Park Record says others complained about the costs of health care, schooling and public works, plus the familiar complaint that immigrants aren’t learning English, the language of the majority.

Art museum possible in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – City officials and boosters of the fine arts are mulling whether they can make a go of an art museum in downtown Steamboat Springs.

Helen Rehder, who had had owned a prominent and historic building since 1937 with her husband, Harry, bequeathed it to the city with the request that it be “operated as a museum for the preservation and commemoration of the lifestyle of settlers in Routt County.”

As Helen Rehder was herself an artist of some talent, art boosters believe that a museum displaying fine art would be in keeping with her wishes – and could help Steamboat build a reputation as a destination for art enthusiasts.

City officials tell theSteamboat Pilot & Today that it is important the century-old building pay for itself, either with income from the museum or from another business located in the building.

Realtors disclose wildfire potential  

SUMMIT COUNTY – Real estate agents in Summit County are tinkering with a potential disclaimer to be included in sale of property. That disclaimer would advise potential buyers of the risk of wildfires.

There, as in the adjoining Vail and Winter Park areas, forests are in the 10th year of a bark beetle epidemic that foresters say could ultimately destroy 90 percent of lodgepole pine trees. The fear is that the dead trees will potentially become part of a massive, catastrophic fire.

One idea reported by Ken Deshaies, a representative of the Summit Association of Realtors, is to inform prospective buyers about the changing nature of local forests and also the need to create defensible space around their structures. The idea is being reviewed by lawyers but could become part of the standard residential property disclosure, reports theSummit Daily News.

Counties consider 5-person boards

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah –Two resort counties in the West are thinking about emulating the experience of Pitkin County, where Aspen is located, by adopting a five-member board of commissioners.

The argument in Colorado’s Eagle County, where Vail is located, is that five commissioners will allow a broader representation. The county already has an administrator to execute the policies set by the commissioners.

In Utah’s Summit County, where Park City is found, county commissioners both set policy and execute it, looking after roads and other functions directly themselves. But the proposal would delegate that administration to a designated county manager.

Proponents of this change brought in Hilary Smith, the Pitkin County manager. She makes $130,000 annually, reports thePark Record. Smith said that by coordinating with the elected officials – the sheriff, clerk and so forth – she can save the county money and prevent officials from isolating themselves.

Hunters unhappy with elk photo

GRANBY – Bow hunters are angry with Patrick Brower, who edits theSky-Hi News. Several weeks ago Brower came across a bull elk with an arrow in its side. Brower took a photo of the bull and printed it.

“What were you thinking?” asks Paul Navarre, a bow hunter in a letter published in the newspaper. Navarre argues that hunting, regardless of the weapon, “should be a very private relationship” between hunter and prey. Hunting and killing “is not a spectator sport and does not need to be advertised to the general public as your picture of the wounded bull elk did,” he added.

Another archer, Ryson Arnold, also labeled the photo as a low blow. Not only is hunting expensive, but it is difficult – and rarely inhumane, as he contended the published photo suggested.

– compiled by Allen Best