Dick Cheney glad for wilderness work

CASPER, Wyo. – The 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act was celebrated in the United States on Tuesday, and there has been much talk about wilderness preservation efforts of the past and those efforts under way now.

Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney says that wilderness protection for Wyoming was “the most important piece of legislative business (he) did for the state of Wyoming” during his time in Congress.

A Wyoming native, Cheney ran for Wyoming’s lone House seat in 1978, when the state was primed for a decision on its public lands, explains the Casper Star-Tribune. Huge swaths of forest had been identified as potential wilderness areas. Until Congress made a decision, the land was frozen in limbo, neither protected wilderness but not open to other uses such as logging and mining.

Cheney said his appreciation for untrammeled land came from time as a youth spent in Wyoming and trips into proposed and existing wilderness areas with the Forest Service.

“I am a conservative. I ran one of the world’s largest energy service companies (Schlumberger) after I’d been in Congress,” Cheney told the Star-Tribune. “I felt then that it was important that some parts of the state be preserved and protected on account of development would permanently alter and change the territory.”

But that was the last wilderness preservation in Wyoming, observes the Jackson Hole News&Guide. “If, in 1984, you had told me that in 2014 we would not have designated any more areas in Wyoming, I would not have believed you,” said Phil Hocker, who lobbied for wilderness in the 1970s and 1980s.

Few people are visiting wilderness, though. That makes the areas more wild – but it also means less support for more wilderness additions, suggests Linda Merigliano, the  recreation and wilderness program manager for the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

In Colorado, the Forest Service in late August held a gathering on the shores of Trappers Lake. The agency celebrates it as the “cradle of wilderness” because Arthur Carhart, the agency’s first landscape architect, in 1919 had been dispatched to the lake to scout a road for several hundred cabins. Instead, he recommended that the best use of the lake would be no road or cabins.

Areas now being evaluated for wilderness preservation “didn’t make the first cut for a reason,” said Jill Ozarski, senior natural resources advisor to U.S. Sen. Mark Udall of Colorado. “It’s not that they aren’t incredible landscapes,” she added, but usually for other reasons they fell on the cutting-room floor.

Ozarski also sees frustrations with the strict rules of wilderness specified by Congress in 1964. People want to let their dogs run unleashed, as they can in ordinary national forests or BLM lands. There are concerns about allowing management of forests to protect adjacent communities from wildfire. Now, with the landscape of dead trees caused by various epidemics of beetles, people justifiably worry about the potential to get hit by falling trees while hiking on trails.

New coalitions of human-powered users are being formed, said Ozarski. They want fewer restrictions, but have a common interest in excluding extractive industries, including mining and in some cases logging.

The result is a hybrid. “They’re like Brown’s Canyon, half wilderness and half something else, and what is that something else is a complicated issue for agencies,” she said.

Man and ring reunited after five years

VAIL – In 2009, David Brenner went skiing at Vail, and when he returned home to his wife, Susan, the ring was absent from his finger. Wouldn’t you know it, the ring finally turned up below a chair lift in July, spotted by a lift maintenance worker.

The Vail Daily says the Brenners, who have been married 32 years, had purchased a new ring. This one fits more tightly. But they plan to put the old ring in a conspicuous place in their home in metropolitan Denver.

Gay Coloradans flock to Taos to wed

TAOS, N.M. – Although they’ve been together for 34 years, Reg Stark and Dale Schuette in late May celebrated their first anniversary as husband and husband. This was also the first same-sex marriage conducted in Taos County.

Since then, reports the Taos News, 241 marriage licenses have been issued, or nearly half of all marriages. About a quarter were for couples from Taos County, but others came from elsewhere, particularly Colorado.

Some county clerks in Colorado had started issuing same-sex marriage licenses but were curbed pending legal resolution of the constitutionality.

What’s it like to be married after 34 years. “It does feel different,” said Schuette. “It’s hard to describe, but finally we’re recognized.”

Other than that, asked the Taos News? “It’s the same old, same old.”

Crested Butte survives beer brouhaha

CRESTED BUTTE – Crested Butte seems to have survived its brouhaha about beer and brands. Rapper Jay-Z performed and a lot of beer flowed in the promotional event sponsored by Bud Light. At least one local resident says it was fun—if just one glass of Bud Light was plenty enough.

It remains to be seen whether this issue lingers when Town Council elections are next held. Some people in Crested Butte seemed to think all the council members needed to be sent packing after they approved the event, which to some was seen as a sell-out to a major corporation. The town got $500,000 for being Bud Light party central for a day or two.

Near-record monsoon in Steamboat

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – An old axiom of ranch country is that the rain comes with putting up the hay. This year, though, the monsoon has produced uncommon amounts of rain. In Steamboat, a hair over 5 inches of rain fell in August, the second wettest on record. July was also the second wettest on record, reports Steamboat Today.

Last year was good, this year’s better

TELLURIDE  – July was a record-breaking month for tourism in Telluride. The Daily Planet reports that occupancy was up three points over 2013’s record-breaking numbers, and the average daily rate was up 9 percent.

Next winter looks, good, too, with bookings for December and January slightly ahead of last year and the room rates up significantly. Also auguring well for a prosperous winter is the 20 percent increase in flights into nearby Montrose Regional Airport. There will be new flights from Dallas and San Francisco, and a doubling of flights from New York/Newark.

Mudder is all mud, sweat and beers

ASPEN – Under a headline of “mud, sweat and beers,” the Aspen Daily News tells about the first Tough Mudder held at Snowmass. “Contestants must swim through icy water, avoid live electrical wires, and endure hours of running, climbing and crawling, all while caked in mud and breathing the thin, Rocky Mountain air,” the newspaper reported.

Dog doo in Whistler now stays there

WHISTLER, B.C. – Doggie doo can now be composted along with the potato peels and other community compostables in Whistler. To make this work, Whistler is providing vegetable-based compostable bags at its two parks, along with special red bins for their collection.

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden told Pique that it means that the dog doo can now be composted locally instead of hauled to a landfill along the Columbia River in Washington state.

– Missy Votel

Dogs acting like dogs doggone unacceptable

JACKSON, Wyo. – Dogs acting like dogs have town and public health officials weighing whether to ban dogs at the farmers’ markets in downtown Jackson.

Even when kept on leash, dogs cause havoc at the Saturday morning gatherings by snatching food, fighting, and piddling on vendor booths.

“When people are not watching their dogs and dogs are lifting their legs on vendors’ tables or taking food off tables, then that becomes a more specific problem,” said  Sloane Bergien, board president of the Farmers Market on the Town Square.

“Leashed or unleashed, it’s become an issue,” Bergien said. “It’s time that we respond maturely and responsibly.”

– Allen Best For more, go to http://www.mountaintownnews.net