Jackson Hole looks to 21st century vision

JACKSON, Wyo. – Voters in Aspen and Breckenridge last November approved new or increased lodging taxes, to be used for tourism promotion, as did those in Jackson and Teton County. But Jonathan Schechter, an economic analyst who writes for theJackson Hole News&Guide, argues for outside-the-marketing-box thinking as the valley’s residents consider how to spend the $2 million annual proceeds they will get next year.

In making his case, Schechter points to precedent, that of the oilman John D. Rockefeller, who in the 1920s and 1930s purchased 33,000 acres of land in Jackson Hole, eventually transferring it to the federal government when Grand Teton National Park was established in1943.

Rockefeller, says Schechter, had vision – and acted on it.

“Rockefeller could see that, without some sort of long-term vision and related action, the northern part of Jackson Hole valley would become a mishmash of random development, billboards and the like. In contrast, his preference was for unimpeded scenic vistas.”

With two big decisions– how to spend the $2 million in lodging tax money and a new land-use plan for the valley – now in front of it, Jackson Hole should reassess its long-term strategy for economic sustainability. It doesn’t, Schechter believes, lie with tourism as conventionally configured. Instead of entering into a marketing war with every other resort trying to lure visitors, he says, Jackson Hole should use the money to “catalyze our efforts to shape a 21st century economy.”

Schechter makes the case that three things are clear when looking ahead: A portion of the community will continue to enjoy great investment-generated wealth; real estate sales won’t return to their pre-bust levels for quite a while; and improved and cheaper technology will make it easier to work from anywhere.

“And because lifestyle is becoming an increasingly important factor in where people choose to live, those who can afford to live anywhere will continue to be attracted to Jackson Hole,” he says.

Meanwhile, in Canmore, Alberta, tourism leaders are hewing to a more conventional approach.The Rocky Mountain Outlook explains that 13 hotels in Canmore and nearby Kananaskis have voluntarily levied a 3 percent tax on hotel rooms, yielding a $250,000 annual fund to be used for marketing of tourism. The strategy adopted by the Canmore council last year calls for leveraging special events to promote tourism and hence economic growth.

DeChristopher goes on trial in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – In 2008, Tim DeChristopher stood at an auction conducted by the federal government and bid $1.8 million for the right to drill for natural gas on parcels near Arches and Canyonlands national parks, near Moab, Utah, and bid up the price on many other parcels.

But he had no intention of paying, nor does he have apparent income. Instead, DeChristopher, who can be seen as the latest in a long string of nonviolent protestors, was merely trying to gum up the effort to extract resources.

He was subsequently charged by federal prosecutors, and his trial began on Monday in Salt Lake City.

He has explained himself often, including twice at Telluride Mountainfilm. His mission, he explained, was to draw attention to climate change and the need to shift away from fossil fuels. A backcountry guide before his monkey wrenching of federal mineral leasing, he said he felt driven to protect the flora and fauna and, without much pre-meditation, decided to play havoc with the federal government’s mineral leasing program.

Relating the news of DeChristopher’s trial,The Telluride Watch noted a march in Salt Lake City to highlight support for his cause. Among those expected to participate were the actress Darryl Hannah, a part-time resident of the Telluride area; author Terry Tempest Williams, who lives near Arches National Park; and the singer Peter Yarrow, of the former folk singing group Peter, Paul and Mary.

Limbaugh takes a ribbing over calories

VAIL – Rush Limbaugh and other conservative commentators got a chance to chew on Michelle Obama a bit after her recent visit to Vail. After a day of skiing, the Obamas – minus the president, who stayed in Washington – dined at a local restaurant, enjoying a meal of short ribs.

“The problem – and dare I say this? – it doesn’t look like Michelle Obama follows her own nutritionary dietary advice,” said Limbaugh on his radio show while reporting that the ribs consisted of 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat.

Not so, said restaurateur Kelly Liken, who told the Vail Daily, that in fact, most of the fat on the braised ribs had been cooked off, leaving the serving at just 600 calories – and far short of the 6,000 calories that a skier can burn off during a day.

Not all readers were persuaded. “Yeah, right, 600 calories. And I just heard the Pope converted to Buddhism,” wrote one reader from New York City. And another reader, from Wyoming, found it incredulous that somebody skiing would burn 6,000 calories while he burned fewer than 500 calories while on the treadmill for three miles.

The Vail Daily, whose reporting on the subject was cited inThe Washington Post, also noted that the meal consisted of a pickled pumpkin salad with arugula and wild mushrooms and sautéed kale – the latter grown in a greenhouse at an elementary school in nearby Eagle.

 ‘Snowbeast’ deemed worst ski film ever

DENVER – The movie was advertised as dreadful, probably the worst skiing movie ever made. And, after a viewing on Saturday evening at the Denver’s Film Society, that seems a fair description of the star-starved “Snowbeast.” While some reviewers have tried to find redeeming value, this reviewer could only find solace in seeing Crested Butte, where the movie was filmed.

A made-for-television horror film, apparently modeled on “Jaws,” it was first broadcast in 1977. The plot featured a certain Rill Lodge and Ski Resort, where a 50th Annual Winter Carnival was under way, as well as a thin love triangle, an aging Olympic skier coping with his post-skiing mission in life, and then … missing skiers.

The culprit, as you might have guessed, was a bigfoot-type character who can occasionally be heard roaring in the woods adjacent to ski slopes that, on the busiest weekend of the year, were mysteriously empty.

The script was written by Joseph Stefano, whose credentials otherwise included the 1960 thriller, “Psycho,” and directed by Herb Wallenstein, whose other TV work included Star Trek and The Brady Bunch.

The film seemed to be intended for parody – or maybe was. After all, the county sheriff in the movie is called Paraday, who had one of the movie’s great lines. He asks the resort operator’s grandson to identify a victim. “Maybe I’ll recognize her when I see her face,” says the lodge operator. Says the sheriff: “She doesn’t have one.”

So, why would anybody pay good money ($12) to see a dreadful movie? The notice in Denver’sWestword billed it as an “abomination that is a classic in no sense of that word,” and invited patrons to put on their most dreadful one-piece ski suits in a chance to win a weekend of lodging and skiing at Crested Butte. The shows all sold out.

Whistler cracks down on out-of-bounds

WHISTLER, B.C. – La Niña has blessed Whistler this winter, giving it as much snow by mid-February as it usually gets in an entire season and setting up what could yet be a record winter for snowfall.

But all that snowfall has had a downside. The Whistler Blackcomb Ski Patrol has seized the passes of 32 skiers and boarders for venturing into terrains closed while avalanche danger is mitigated. The seizures are effective for a year.

Because people are venturing into avalanche terrain, the ski patrollers must then follow their tracks, to ensure they don’t get into harm’s way when the avalanches are set off. All of this causes a tedious opening of the ski area every morning, reports Pique Newsmagazine.

– Allen Best

In this week's issue...

March 17, 2022
Critical condition

Lake Powell drops below threshold for the first time despite attempts to avoid it

March 17, 2022
Uphill climb

Purgatory Resort set for expansion but still faces hurdles

March 10, 2022
Mind, body & soul (... and not so much El Rancho)

New health care studio takes integrated approach to healing