Steamboat hears chicken pitch

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Add Steamboat Springs and Gypsum to the long list of municipalities who are considering allowing chickens inside town limits. The proposal – which has yet to be heard by review commissions – would allow as many as five hens, but no roosters, at single-family homes.

Bob Keenan, a city planner, tells theSteamboat Pilot & Today that chickens have some negatives, including the clucking and fact that they attract predators. But, overall, he believes they have fewer impacts than dogs.

Not all readers were impressed. “Gimme a break,” wrote one blogger at the newspaper’s website. “A dozen eggs are like $3. Chickens stink and are annoying.”

In Gypsum, located west of Vail, a chicken-owner was ordered to get rid of her cluckers. But the woman, Lydia House, told theVail Daily that having chickens is important for modern-day self-sustainability. She tells the newspaper that the town has about 16 “underground” chicken-owners. “My kids adore the chickens and they learn that eggs don’t come from rectangular Styrofoam containers,” said one of the undergrounders. “And the eggs are fantastic. Light years better than the eggs you buy in a store.”

Gypsum allowed chickens until the mid-1990s and Jeff Shroll said those residents wanting to allow livestock as a right are free to petition the Town Council. “We are a government for the people, by the people,” he said.


Aspen awaits seasonal workers

ASPEN – Large chunks of employee housing remain unspoken for in Aspen as the year’s first snows have arrived.

The town has huge amounts of housing for lower-income workers, some of it specifically earmarked for seasonal employees. But housing complexes that filled within hours of becoming available last year continue to sit largely empty and unspoken for.

But one property manager, John Michaels, is not worried. “The people will come. The snow will fly, and the lifts will open,” he told The Aspen Times.

Many of the ski instructors traditionally retained by the Aspen Skiing Co. through the H2B visa program will not be returning this year. The company hired 109 foreign instructors through the program last year, but plans to use only 57 this season. A ski company spokesman attributed the decision to the recession, which has left many people unemployed.

The Aspen Times also notes that a ruling by the U.S. Department of Labor in August will force U.S. employers to reimburse foreign workers for travel costs. The National Ski Areas Association is exploring how to best challenge the ruling.

The Aspen Skiing Co. wasn’t clear yet whether H2B visas will be used to fill other positions, such as housekeeping jobs.


Alberta gets a grip on grizzlies

CANMORE, Alberta – A new study using DNA testing has found that Alberta has 581 grizzlies.

Provincial wildlife authorities said the new study provides an “excellent baseline,” a far better estimate than any provided before. But, they said, it’s impossible yet to know whether the population is increasing, decreasing or stable.

An advocacy organization, Defenders of Wildlife Canada, believes that the scientific studies have established a strong argument for taking incisive action to protect grizzlies in Canada, as has been proposed since 2002. A newspaper in the Banff/Canmore area impatiently accused the provincial government of “dithering.” Said the paper: “Can’t we just say the big bears are threatened?” it asked.

Grizzlies were in the news south of the border, too. A U.S. District Court judge in Missoula, Mont., restored threatened status to grizzly bears under the Endangered Species Act, concluding that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Species had not established sufficient justification for delisting the bear in 2007.

Wyoming state officials charged judicial activism and complained about too many grizzlies. In Jackson Hole, though, the mood seemed different. A person-on-the-street poll by theJackson Hole News&Guide found unanimity when it quizzed three retirees, a developer and a service dog trainer. All said the bears still need special protection.


Ski industry pioneer passes away

WHISTLER, B.C. – Gabriel Beaudry died recently, and although his accomplishments included representing Canada at the 1948 Olympic Games, he leaves a much larger legacy, says his son, Michel.

Writing in Pique Newsmagazine, Michel remembers his father as a “lifelong athlete, passionate outdoorsman and ski resort visionary.”

The elder Beaudry, a product of the Great Depression, nonetheless was at the forefront of the post-war lifestyle revolution that completely changed the way North Americans would spend their leisure time, says Michel. “It was his generation, to be precise, that transformed skiing from a fringe sport to a thriving business. It was his cohorts, essentially, who invented the modern ‘ski resort’ concept.”

Michel says he has early memories of marching up a hill on skis in Montreal – and not happily so. “My dad was old school. He believed that you had to learn how to go up the hill before you got to experience the emotional release of going down the hill.”

In time, he adds, the lessons that his father taught took hold, as son became a globe-traveling adventurer.

“For him, it wasn’t about natural talent or good genes or being well connected,” Michel writes. “It was all about hard work. If you were disciplined and focused on your goals, he’d lecture me, then that was good enough. The rest would take care of itself. Talent was simply the icing on the cake.”


Resort economies ready for rebound

BRECKENRIDGE – Could the economy be turning? Everyone keeps looking for daybreak. At least for those closer to metropolitan areas, the darkest of night has now passed.

In Breckenridge, town officials report July was “less bad” than previous months, with a decline of only 12 percent compared to the same month in 2008. That compares with about 18 percent for the year. More broadly across Summit County, the sales tax decline for the year was 14.6 percent through July, reports theSummit Daily News.

At Park City’s Deer Valley, a major new hotel pushed construction numbers higher. The hotel, called the Montage at Empire Pass, is valued at $26.9 million, nearly half the value of the construction for which the city has issued building permits this year. Most of the rest consists of alterations and additions.

But even with this high-end hotel, notesThe Park Record, the year-end totals will likely be lower than any time since the early 1990s.


Blaze in the Butte worries marshal

CRESTED BUTTE – Every fall, for 24 years running, Crested Butte has hosted a community celebration called Vinotok. A high point of the festival is a giant bonfire at which a creature called The Grump – actually, all the bad things – is burned.

This year, reports theCrested Butte News, the bonfire was exceptionally large, 30 to 40 feet in diameter, enough that the town marshal, Tom Martin, was worried that the embers might set other buildings on fire. His recommendation is that a bonfire a third to a fourth of that size might be appropriate.

Festival organizer Theresa Henry quipped that the “fire was so big this year because the Grump was so large.”


Steamboat redevelopment fires up

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – After being slowed by the freeze-up of bond markets, Steamboat Springs is poised to move ahead with major redevelopment work at the base of the ski area.The Steamboat Pilot & Today reports that several financing options have become apparent, including a $21.6 million loan. Work is expected to begin next spring and continue through 2011 as workers remove a creek that currently flows underground and make it front and center in the new development. A new promenade will also have a snow-melting system, with the heat provided by burning fossil fuels. Joe Krakum, the project manager, says that a ground-source heat pump would be too expensive.


Spiritual mega-trend sweeps West  

SUN VALLEY, Idaho – The Sun Valley Spiritual Film Festival had its largest attendance since it was started five years. Peter Shia, founder and chief executive officer of Orb Media Group, said he believes spirituality is the driving mega-trend. “Hollywood is dying and something new needs to replace it,” he said. Down the valley, reports theIdaho Mountain Express, action-movie hero Bruce Willis continues to put together plans for expansion of his small ski resort, Soldier Mountain.

– Allen Best


In this week's issue...

July 18, 2024
Rebuilding Craig

Agreement helps carve a path forward for town long dependent on coal

July 11, 2024
Reining it in

Amid rise in complaints, City embarks on renewed campaign to educate dog owners

July 11, 2024
Rolling retro

Vintage bikes get their day to shine with upcoming swap and sale