Wildlife crosswalks pitched in Jackson
JACKSON, Wyo. – In the continuing effort to keep critters and cars apart, wildlife researchers are suggesting the possibility of electrified mats on a section of road in Jackson. The optimal solutions are wildlife overpasses and underpasses, such as are found in Banff National Park. Some of those are being proposed in the heavily traveled section between Jackson, the town, and the hamlet of Wilson, at the foot of Teton Pass.

But those bigger structures are unrealistic for the segment in Jackson, says wildlife researcher Marcel Huijser, of Montana State University. In that case, one option might be erecting fences with gaps, to funnel elk, deer and other animals into narrow bands of road. Motion-sensor devices could alert drivers to the presence of animals.

And what would keep them in these critter cross-walks? Huijser tells the Jackson Hole News&Guide electrified mats on either side would keep them from straying. They’ve worked quite well in other places, and they stand up to snowplows.

One of the places they are deployed is along the railroad tracks at Lake Louise, which is otherwise surrounded by fence.

But pedestrians and bicycle riders might not like getting a jolt in such places. “It’s not going to be easy to make everyone happy,” he said.

Steve Jobs biography has Aspen roots
ASPEN – In 2004, Walter Issacson had just completed his biography of Benjamin Franklin and was at work on a biography of Albert Einstein. In his spare time, he also runs the Aspen Institute, which is based in Washington D.C. area but operates various forums in Aspen.

He reached out to Steve Jobs, the co-founder and chief executive of Apple, to speak. Jobs said he’d be happy to come to Aspen, but not to speak in public. Rather, he wanted to go on a walk with Issacson.

At the time, Issacson did not know that Jobs had been diagnosed with the pancreatic cancer that claimed his life last week. What he heard from Jobs on that walk took him aback. Jobs asked him to write his biography. Issacson, the former managing editor of Time magazine from 1996-2000, wondered if Jobs saw himself as fitting logically in the sequences of Franklin and Einstein.

He agreed, and over the years since then Issacson interviewed Jobs more than 50 times, along with hundreds of relatives, friends, colleagues and competitors, notes the paper.

In an essay in time, Issacson reports that he asked Jobs last month, in what was obviously a last visit, why Jobs – so notoriously sparing of interviews – had wanted a no-holds barred biography. “I wanted my kids to know me,” Jobs replied. “I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”

Glaciers continue to recede in Canada
LAKE LOUISE, Alberta – The flowers at the entrance to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise were still in bloom Saturday. They had, a concierge explained, been covered the night before, in case of frost, although it had been an exceptionally warm and pleasant autumn so far.

The Fairmont Chateau is among North America’s most storied hotels, a lingering testament to a bygone era when the economic elite traveled in passenger trains to see the national parks, both in Canada and the U.S. It’s part museum, with panels telling the story of explorers and of the drive to preserve the extraordinary landscape, both its plants and animals, and to celebrate its exceptional natural assets.

The color of Lake Louise and many other lakes in Banff National Park result from the rocks ground finely by the glaciers above. Lake Louise, at 5,700 feet, is only slightly less than the elevation of Ketchum, Idaho, or Glenwood Springs. The glacier is but a few hundred meters up the valley, and like most of the other glaciers in the park, receding steadily.

This recession of glaciers has been occurring since the time of settlement. The largest, located on the border between Banff and Jasper national parks, is called Athabasca. In 1844, at the end of what is called the Little Ice Age, it pushed down from the summit and across the valley floor, to where a famed lodge exists. Now, a road down to the valley, below the snout of the glacier, paints a picture of retreat: 1890, 1908, 1924, 1942 and so on, the life of a typical baby boomer marked off in several more hundreds of meters of now ice-free trail.

Shrinkage of glaciers has, of course, been linked to global warming, and the accelerated emissions of greenhouse gases through the burning of fossil fuels. The Parks Canada signs at the various glaciers in the Bow Valley noted the obvious loss of ice, but remained neutral as to the cause.

At the Peyto Glacier, a sign noted that as the glacier had receded, wood had been discovered below. Radiocarbon dating showed the tree had been alive 3,000 years ago.

Will travelers in the future have to be content to marvel at Lake Louise, deprived of the glacial backdrop?

With last year’s phenomenal snow and memorable cold from Colorado northward, it might seem that the stronger probability is of glacial advance. But then, what about the snapdragons blooming into mid-October?

Aspen Skiing Co. looking for lodging
ASPEN – Apparently without mention of any specific project, the Aspen Skiing Co. has let it be known to city officials that it wants an expansion of so-called “hot” hotel rooms.

Competitors to Aspen and Snowmass have added more than 1,300 hotel rooms in the last two years, representing more than 3,000 pillows, said Chief Executive Mike Kaplan in the annual meeting with the City Council. That expansion has occurred primarily at Park City and Vail. He noted that “fractional units” are hot right now.

While Aspen was a hot bed of construction work in recent years, it held back on one key piece of slope-side redevelopment called One Lift Lodge, which was first proposed in 2006. There were many areas of contention, including size and mass.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland suggested that the development applications that have come before the city in recent years have been for “cold” hotel rooms, meaning that the units would not have likely been put into rental pools.

Drug-free ski pass offered to students
CRESTED BUTTE – After a lapse of several years, Crested Butte Mountain Resort this winter will again offer a $99 season pass to students who, with their parents, agree to participate in activities intended to foster good decision making. The original program was called the Drug Free Ski Pass, but it has now been retitled The Choice Pass.

“Since its discontinuation seven years ago, we’ve received an abundance of feedback from parents, school staff and students saying they would like to see the program in operation again, as it helped mitigate our above-average youth substance abuse rates through an avenue that would reach a large student population,” said Brooke Harless, director of the Gunnison County Substance Abuse Prevention Project.

Students who do participate, say the Crested Butte News, must sign an oath pledging to remain drug free, and take the kickoff drug test. Students and their parents must also attend program orientations.

Small college toys with university status
GUNNISON – Western State College has a fine faculty and many hard-working students. Still, it’s probably fair to point out that the school’s major attraction is its mountain-town setting and the proximity of Crested Butte’s ski slopes, about 30 miles away.

But would the school do better if it got a new name? Administrators at Western State College are starting that conversation, suggesting something along the likes of Western Colorado University.

The Crested Butte News reports that many people at a recent gathering said they believed a name change will attract more international students, but there are doubts that a new name will change the actual product.

Schools in Colorado have been burnishing their names for decades, with most colleges now elevated to universities. Most recently, Mesa State College metamorphosed into Colorado Mesa University.
– Allen Best