Around the Mountains
Towns considering wind electricityPARK CITY, Utah – A growing number of towns and counties, ski areas and developers across the West are buying wind-powered electricity, the intent being to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to be increasing the extent of global warming.Among the latest are Teton County, Wyo., and Park City, Utah. Also buying wind-generated power are Vail Resorts Inc. and the Aspen Skiing Co., and probably many others.”We’ve talked about making the county walk the walk and talk the talk, and I think this is a nice way to do that,” said Teton County Commissioner John Carney.The purchase of 3,000 kilowatt-hours of wind-generated power by Teton County augments 823 residential customers and 23 commercial customers, notes the Jackson Hole News & Guide. In Park City, municipal officials pledged to make 7.5 percent of annual electrical consumption from wind-generated sources. The council also issued a community challenge – if 5 percent of the community uses wind power, the town will increase its proportion to 10 percent.While such gestures are more than symbolic, the greatest gains are probably in transportation choices and land-use regimes that curb low-density sprawl.Growing Vail Christian school getting buildingEDWARDS – Private and church schools continue to proliferate and grow in the Eagle Valley. Vail Christian High School, the third such private school in the Valley, is getting a new building. Enrollment has nearly tripled to 92 students since the school was founded six years ago, and there’s now a waiting list, reports the Vail Daily.The new, $9.5 million building now being designed near Edwards will hold a maximum 240 students.Continental Divide Trail needs volunteer supervisorsGOLDEN – In 1978 the U.S. Congress designated the Continental Divide Trail, authorizing eventual construction of a trail that hews to the Divide itself or close by for 3,100 miles between Mexico and Canada.Now, 25 years later, although long segments of that trail have been completed, the trail is sketchy or altogether nonexistent in places. A key problem, says Paula Ward, of the nonprofit Continental Divide Trail Alliance, is the inability of the U.S. Forest Service to use volunteer labor.The Forest Service’s problem? It has too few people trained in supervising volunteers. Of course, the agency could also use money, an agency representative suggested to the Vail Daily.But a hiker in the Vail area who has done large chunks of the trail suggests that sketchy is just fine. To create another trail that is as well marked as most city streets, he suggests, will take a lot of fun out of the Continental Divide Trail. Part of the fun of hiking, he says, is trying to figure out where you are and where you’re going.The trail association hopes to complete the trail by 2008.Vail looks toward Steamboat for new waterVAIL – Like a big city, the Vail Valley keeps spreading its fingers outward into surrounding areas to get the resources it needs – in this case, water.In 1994, Vail reversed a century of history in Colorado by reaching across the Continental Divide to divert water from the Eastern Slope, if in just a small and temporary fashion. In Colorado, it usually works the other way – water goes from the state’s Western side, where the ski areas are located, to the farms and cities along the Front Range.Now Vail is reaching north, to the region around Steamboat Springs. Eagle River Water and Sanitation District and an allied district have purchased 1,250 acre-feet of water rights from five cattle ranches. The cost is $5 million.This is in a different river basin, making it a “senior” water right. As such, this acquisition gives the Vail area much greater ability to buffer itself from droughts.Crested Butte flounders in deep financial watersCRESTED BUTTE – The Crested Butte ski area continues to flounder in the deep waters of financial debt. The troubles seem to be deep enough that the Crested Butte News mentioned that the lifts will continue operating, suggesting some doubt that they would. Also, the recent news that the ski company’s real estate division owes $475,000 in delinquent taxes to the county government seems to have opened eyes.To continue operations, Crested Butte Mountain Resort received more cash from one of its lenders, although it was not a refinancing package. The resort is pinning its hope on a sale by late December or January.
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