Ski towns tightening emissions

WHISTLER, B.C. – Ski towns across the North American West continue to plot their strategies for tightening their carbon belts.

Revelstoke, B.C., which was the focus of a spread about ski resorts in theSunday New York Times, plans to meet in February to hash out targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and strategies for achieving them. Any reductions will necessarily come at the expense of cars and trucks, notes theRevelstoke Times Review, as two-thirds of greenhouse gas emissions come from road transportation. Another quarter of pollutants are produced by heating, cooling or electrifying buildings.

In Wyoming, town officials in Jackson are hoping to secure $10 million in grants as seed money to implement energy efficient measures on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. The town and county had committed to carbon reduction in 2006, but had contained efforts to government operations, such as police cars and sewer plants.

“We’re going into uncharted waters,” said Wendy Koelfgen, energy affairs coordinator for the Town of Jackson and Teton County. “There just isn’t any cookie-cutter model out there for this kind of thing.”

Koelfgen told theJackson Hole News&Guide that town officials hope to get 80 percent of the property owners in each targeted neighborhood to participate.

Taking a broad view of climate-action in Whistler,Pique editor Bob Barnett notes that people have said that climate change is a major problem, but when it comes to accepting policies that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, they’re far less likely to be supportive.

“Unpopular policies – those that require some sacrifice or commitment from voters – will get you booted out of office,” he notes.

Unlike the cap-and-trade system now before the U.S. Senate, British Columbia’s government this year instituted a carbon tax, which many economists see as a more efficient way of driving innovation that reduces greenhouse gases.


Reporter runs afoul of ski resort

FRISCO – Undisputed in the fray revolving around theSummit Daily News is that Vail Resorts was unhappy with what former reporter Bob Berwyn wrote in a Nov. 19 column. The question is whether the newspaper caved into pressure from the company.

The story begins in October, when the Front Range of Colorado was hit by an extremely hard snowstorm. As reporter Bob Berwyn, in a column published in the Nov. 19 issue of theSummit Daily News, told the story, an industry PR person (not specifically identified with Vail Resorts) posed on the Weather Channel just west of Denver in the furious snowstorm – but made no mention that in Keystone and Breckenridge, on the other side of the Continental Divide, it was mild and dry.

Berwyn ended the column this way: “I sometimes wonder whether the ski industry wouldn’t benefit more from being completely transparent about weather and snowfall with its customers, but when snow = money, perhaps that’s expecting too much.”

This is a decades-old complaint, and it might well have blended in with all the others – except that Rob Katz, the chief executive of Vail Resorts, called the newspaper to complain. And, says Berwyn, Vail Resorts threatened to remove its advertising from the newspaper – a point that is disputed by the company.

Berwyn, who was eventually terminated, said that he was instructed by the newspaper’s publisher, Jim Morgan, to “grovel.” Morgan says not true. “The Summit Daily News, at least so far as I know in my six-year tenure, has never terminated an employee over a column or a story – and never will. We have, in fact, many, many times defended our writers in the face of significant pressure.”

In that column, he did not directly address the alleged command to “grovel,” but strongly suggests a broader context. He wrote that Berwyn’s firing was due to “circumstances symptomatic of a pattern of behavior documented in reviews over the course of time … That’s what occurred here.”

All this may be true, but one of the anonymous bloggers on theDenver Post website identified only as RickyVail1 seems to believe otherwise:

“If Bob had NOT written that column and somehow attracted Vail’s inexplicable ire, would he still have his job? No question. You don’t fire your most productive, most established and most dependable reporter unless someone like your biggest advertiser comes whining that they weren’t held up as the paragon of light.”


Mexico imports bison to Chihuhua

BANFF, Alberta – Wildlife officials in the Mexican state of Chihuahua recently transplanted 23 genetically pure bison from

South Dakota. And if the Mexicans, with not the best of resources, can accomplish that, why can’t the same be done in Banff National Park?

That was the question in Banff, where Parks Canada, the agency that administers the national park, had been considering a plan to reintroduce bison. It could be one of several reintroductions in North America, notes theRocky Mountain Outlook. Other reintroduction efforts are under way in Iowa and Kansas.

Chihuahua has not had bison since the late 19th century, just like most of North America. The species once numbered in the millions. When the explorer John C. Fremont returned from one of his trips to California in the 1840s, he described following buffalo trails through what is now Colorado’s Summit County.

The herd, from the Wind Cave National Park, in South Dakota, is considered especially valuable, as the animals come from a genetically pure strain of bison that has not been bred with cattle. As such, they are free of brucellosis and tuberculosis.


Telluride hopes to lure Europeans

TELLURIDE – Telluride ski area continues to see dividends ahead for its latest investment in the adventure component of the skiing market. Its Palmyra Peak and Revelation Bowl additions have plenty of that big bowl skiing.

“While not all skiers can ski that terrain, they may aspire to ski it, and it has that sex appeal people like to see in adventure vacations,” said Dave Riley, chief executive of the Telluride Ski & Golf.

“There’s an old saying in the ski business: ‘It takes about three years before people realize you’ve built a new lift.’” He predicts that Europeans and Australians will be flocking to Telluride once they recognize its new skiing dimensions.


Pillaging bear faces death sentence

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. – Wildlife officials in Incline Village, located on the north side of Lake Tahoe, continue to look for a 700-pound black bear that they say has caused $70,000 of destruction in the last three years.

The bear, reports theSierra Sun, has become expert at breaking into garages in pursuit of food. Wildlife officials fear that someday a homeowner will walk into the garage, and the bear will feel cornered and attack the person.

The wildlife officials believe it’s impossible to find a sanctuary for the bear, and so they believe their only recourse is to kill the animal. Not everybody agrees, notes the newspaper, even those whose quarters have been pillaged by the bruin.


New snow lights up resort bookings

ASPEN – With the snows finally arriving, bookings in Aspen have been picking up. It’s still not going to be a traditional Aspen Christmas, with nary a spare bed to be found. But lodging occupancy should surpass 80 percent during Christmas week, experts tell theAspen Times.

A couple of months ago, 80 percent occupancy was “looking like a distant fantasy,” said Bill Tomcich, the president of Stay Aspen Snowmass, a reservations agency. He credited the uptick to lots of deals on lodging but also traditional marketing: snow.

Vail Resorts last week had less encouraging news. Advanced bookings for the season at its five resorts were down 13 percent through November. However, sales of season passes were up 11 percent.


Mammoth explores biomass potential

MAMMOTH LAKES, Calif. – People in Mammoth Lakes have begun to talk about whether wood from the surrounding forests can be used to create a biomass plant, for heating and potentially the production of electrification. The Sheet notes that the talk is just that, with the next step being a feasibility study.

As was noted in Mammoth Lakes, the key to biomass is securing a long-term supply or at least 20 to 30 years, to justify the capital investment of equipment. A bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado and U. S. Senator James McClure of Idaho proposes to make it easier for the U.S. Forest Service to offer long-term stewardship contracts.


Aircraft testing returns to Gunnison

GUNNISON – Some residents of Gunnison are girding for another summer of disruption. Last year Boeing arrived to test a hybrid helicopter called the Osprey in the thin air of almost 8,000 feet. Another summer of testing is expected, with a payoff of $250,000 into the local economy, reports theCrested Butte News.

Not everybody is pleased. Don Janney spoke at a recent meeting and said testing of the aircraft was annoying. It was the vibration, not the noise. “We are being shaken up and disturbed,” Janney said.

– Allen Best


In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
Bagging it

State plastic bag ban is in full effect, but enforcement varies

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