Impeachment call draws controversy

TELLURIDE – A backlash quickly emerged after the Telluride Town Council adopted a resolution last week calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney.

“It’s huge, unbelievable,” said Telluride Mayor John Pryor. “Ski groups are canceling for the winter. Hundreds of people are bailing. The (town) Web site is flooded with people saying they’re canceling their vacations here.”

Pryor called it a “silly initiative.” The council, he toldThe Telluride Watch, is too busy to weigh in on national global politics.

If this was a silly initiative, why did he vote for it? The answer would seem to lie in the fact that the council routinely adopts resolutions, on matters both big and small, with nary a further word. Further, such a resolution would be hardly controversial in Telluride, where only 17 percent of voters in the 2004 election cast ballots for Bush.

Indeed, while the council chamber was full, virtually all people were there for resolution of a parking issue. The council had virtually no discussion before adopting the resolution.

But e-mail protests and cancellations began rolling in, including that of a Florida ski club.

There was also support. “Let ’em go to Vail,” wrote one Texan on a newspaper website. “I will commit to spend more time and money in Telluride now thanks to the initiative.”

Among the community members endorsing the resolution was Phil Miller, a veteran of World War II who was wounded in the Philippines. “The people have acquiesced too easily because they don’t know the horror that war unleashes,” Miller said of the Iraq War. “I have seen the brutality of war that turns nice young men into barbarians.”

Global warming claims ski resort

ABONDANCE, France – Abondance has become the first ski station in the French Alps to fall apparent victim to global warming.

The City Council in the resort town, located near Lake Geneva, Switzerland, voted to shut down the ski station, elevation 3,051 feet. A report from Associated Press indicated the lack of snow was the primary reason, although it also offered a dissenting opinion that mismanagement was at play.

The Associated Press also reported that a government court in France has put a ski area operator called Transmontagne under bankruptcy protection for the next six months. It operates mid-altitude resorts in France, Switzerland, Italy and Slovenia. Warming weather, said AP, is seen as a key reason for its financial woes.

Gerald Giraud, engineer at the Snow Study Center of Meteo-France at Grenoble, told the Associated Press that he expects Abondance will get even less snow in the future. “The 900-meter to 1,500-meter range is the one where global warming will pose the greatest problems.” His center documented an increased temperature of 2.7 to 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the Alps since the early 1980s.

A report from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that warming in the Alps in recent years has been roughly three times the global average, with even greater changes expected in coming decades.

German resorts are predicted to suffer the most from climate change, and those in France the least.

Jean-Charles Simiand, president of the French national union for ski lifts and cable cars, noted that the lifts are used today for hikers and mountain bikers in summer, but activity accounts for just three percent of overall lift revenues.

Employee housing goes solar

CARBONDALE – The Aspen Skiing Co. has installed solar collectors atop an employee housing complex in Carbondale, 30 miles downstream from Aspen.

The ski company has also retrofitted the units, which will house up to 45 employees, with Energy Star-rated appliances and efficient lighting fixtures. The solar collectors are expected to provide a third of the electricity used in the apartments.

Auden Schendler, executive director of community and environmental responsibility for Aspen Skiing, said it is the largest solar photovoltaic array in the ski industry, some four times larger than the array Aspen assembled several years ago on its ski patrol headquarters.

Given current energy prices, the cost of the collector will be paid for in 25 years.

“We did it because it cuts carbon emissions, makes a statement, is a model for others, and it’s beautiful,” said Schendler. “We have more in the pipeline – actually, lots more.”

Writing in Carbondale’sValley Journal, energy activist Randy Udall disclosed that one of those projects will be at a local private school, Colorado Rocky Mountain School. That 150-kilowatt collector is expected to be in operation by Thanksgiving. Several other buildings in Carbondale also have solar collectors, he noted. “Solar has never been more cost effective,” he added.

Skier safety concerns abound

DENVER – Jim Chalat is Colorado’s best-known lawyer in ski-related cases. He toldThe Denver Post recently that the ski slopes are not necessarily safer than they used to be.

Helmets have been proven to improve safety, and he’d have ski areas make sure that skiing employees used them to serve as role models.

Still, no substantial statistical decrease in injuries has occurred since the advent of the modern alpine release binding. He believes an increasing percentage of collisions is due to increasing skier density. “You’ve got high-speed lifts pouring skiers on trails that were cut … for a different era.” The Forest Service, he suggests, needs to administer its property better.

He also sees consequences of fewer people learning to ski from professional ski instructors. “Statistically, we see a higher incidence of more serious injuries, particularly with children, and largely as a result of collisions.”

Skiers, he says, are no safer than snowboarders. “As my grandpa used to say, it all depends on the nut behind the wheel.”

Real estate booms outside Jackson

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Real estate continues to become an ever bigger part of the story in Jackson Hole, even if the real estate being sold isn’t in Jackson Hole proper. The action, reports columnist Jonathan Schechter, has moved out to the exurbs in adjoining Lincoln County but even more so on the west side of the Teton Range, in Idaho.

The Multiple Listing Service of residential properties during the last two years has expanded by a third, from 1,800 to 2,700 properties, reports Schechter. But while the number of listings in Jackson Hole itself has dropped, the number of listings in Teton County, Idaho, has increased 64 percent.

Schechter also notes that this shift has become glaringly apparent in the advertising found in theJackson Hole News&Guide. Not only is real estate advertising becoming more dominant, but particularly so for real estate outside Jackson Hole.

It is to the point that in Jackson, real estate is dominating the valley’s economy. “Today,” he says, “real estate and development are to the greater Teton area what entertainment is to Hollywood or finance is to New York.”

He sees the real estate market continuing to thrive, even as wildlife habitat, economic diversity and small-town atmosphere suffer.

Winter Park and Fraser may merge

FRASER VALLEY – Sitting side by side, the towns of Winter Park and Fraser have thought about consolidation for a good many years. Fraser is the older of the two, but Winter Park nowadays has the better-known name, owing to the ski area within its boundaries.

A recent study finds that if Winter Park annexes Fraser, it’ll gain $786,000 in additional tax revenues, owing to Winter Park’s greater ability to levy sales and real estate taxes.

The greater question, reports theWinter Park Manifest, is what the combined town would be called. No names have been formally proposed, although the newspaper flippantly suggests Fraser Park.

Bigfoot believers descend on Utah

SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah – Believers in sasquatch, otherwise known as bigfoot, recently tramped among the forests of the Uintah Range between Park City and Evanston, Wyo.

Among the believers was Matthew Moneymaker, 41, who is president of the southern California-based Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. “You’re about 100 times more likely to hear them than to see them,” Moneymaker toldThe Park Record.

The believers in sasquatch tell the newspaper that they are sure that bigfoot bangs on sticks, clanks rocks together and howls while in the forest primeval. “You’re a little bit scared, but you’re excited,” said John Andrews, who has been studying bigfoot for about 50 years.

– compiled by Allen Best



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows