Ski town roundup: ‘El Ninja’ weather, bag bans, Telluride and ski legends |

Ski town roundup: ‘El Ninja’ weather, bag bans, Telluride and ski legends

Compiled by Lauren Glendenning

Forecasting winter, with help from the hornets

Park Record columnist Tom Clyde is having a tough time imagining skiing with the weather in Park City so warm as of late. The following are excerpts from a column he wrote last week:

“But we all know how that can change. Nobody can remember what year it was, but a whole bunch of friends were talking about the year we were mountain biking in T-shirts on Tuesday, and skiing deep snow, all the way to Jupiter, on the Thanksgiving Day opening.

“Park City Mountain Resort had given up on the opening, and told their employees to go have a nice holiday weekend. So when they suddenly were open, all the way to the top, the management was out there bumping chairs and trying to remember how to work the lifts. That’s my kind of seasonal transition. Mud season lasted all of about 12 hours. Things have become so paved and polished around town that mud season isn’t what it used to be. But for those of us out in the hinterlands, it’s still there, still muddy and not going anywhere soon.

“Now that the leaves are off the trees, I’ve had a better chance to take my hornet nest census. The theory, based on no scientific evidence at all, is that when the hornets build their football-sized nests high in the trees, there will be a lot of snow, and when they build closer to the ground, it will be a light winter. There are lots of references to the theory online, but I learned it from a neighbor who lived to be 103. He was either filled with the accumulated wisdom of the ages, or senile. So this year, there aren’t a lot of hornet nests. Last year there were none. The hornets went to Florida or something. This year, with the leaves gone, I’ve been able to find a dozen or so while hiking around with the dogs. They are uniformly high in the trees. Some years there will be some outliers, with the bulk of the nests either high or low, and then a couple in completely unexpected places (like in the snow blower when I’m trying to attach it to the tractor). This year, they seem to be unanimous about being high in the trees. If the theory holds, we’re in for a lot of snow this winter.”

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Truckee moves toward plastic bag ban

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Based on positive feedback from town representatives and residents on a detailed single-use plastic bag ban proposal, Truckee Town Council has asked staff to bring a proposed ordinance for a first reading next month.

“I just want to say how excited I am that we’re at this point,” said Missy Mohler, executive director of the Sierra Watershed Education Partnerships, at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting. “I want to celebrate the consideration and commend you for the work you have done.”

The proposed ordinance calls for a ban of single-use carryout bags less than 2.5 millimeters thick at all grocery, convenient, pharmacy and retail stores within town limits, said Nichole Dorr, town recycling coordinator. Retailers would be required to charge a minimum 10-cent fee for a recycled paper or reusable bag.

Further, stores would be required to track the number of recycled paper and reusable bags sold to customers annually for three years, she said. Retailers won’t be able to provide customers with a credit, rebate or refund on the bag charge.

Distribution of free reusable bags by impacted businesses would be allowed as part of a limited time promotion, not to exceed a total of 90 days within a 12-month period.

“I think the plastic bag is going to be one of those things we look back on and say, we can’t believe that we did that,” said Truckee resident Linda Lindsay. “… I think Truckee has an opportunity here to be a leader and make a decision that is good for the town and good for the environment.”

For now, restaurants would be exempt from the ordinance due to potential litigation and uncertainty of how the Food Safety Code of the state of California regulates single-use plastic bags for food transportation, Dorr said.

Additional exemptions include: plastic bags for product packaging; prescription medication from a pharmacy; separation of food or merchandise that could damage or contaminate other items when placed together in a reusable bag; and large items such as tires, dry-cleaning and large-format artwork.

The ordinance would be implemented and enforceable nine months after its effective date, in order to give retailers time to use up existing bags, and for a public education effort to be conducted.

A six-month extension could be granted, upon a written petition to the town.

Once law, violations would be complaint-driven, with investigations possibly conducted by the town’s code enforcement officer, and action taken based on town municipal code.

A first reading of the draft ordinance is scheduled for the Nov. 12 town council meeting. A second reading could occur as soon as Nov. 26.

The move comes a week after the South Lake Tahoe City Council adopted its own single-use plastic bag ban ordinance.

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Another record summer for Telluride occupancy

TELLURIDE — Telluride had another record summer lodging season, with the June through September core season inching ever closer to the 50 percent occupancy goal set by Telluride Tourism Board CEO Michael Martelon.

The data, compiled by DestiMetrics, shows a 2.7 percent occupancy rate increase over last summer, bringing the 2013 occupancy rate to 49.7 percent. June was up five points (12 percent), probably due to the Ride the Rockies event starting in Telluride, Martelon said. July was up four points (7 percent) and August was up one point (2 percent).

Had September’s occupancy not been down compared with last year, the region surely would have surpassed 50 percent occupancy for the core summer season. Martelon attributed the 2.3 percent decrease to the disastrous flooding on Colorado’s Front Range, which is a feeder market for the Telluride region. September 2013 occupancy was down from 44.3 percent to 41 percent. But September revenue was roughly the same as 2012 because the average daily rate that lodging properties charged was up about $13.

“When you are dealing with tragedy, the last thing you want to do is get in your car and drive to Telluride,” Martelon said. “And it stretched beyond because it was national news so it affected September.”

According to Town of Telluride tax data, a 2.7 percent occupancy increase equals about $684,783 in money spent on lodging. Lodging represents about 34 percent of what people spend on a trip to Telluride, restaurants equal about 40 percent and retail and other is about 26 percent. That translates to about $2 million in growth across all segments for summer 2013, Martelon said.

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Vt. ski-racing legends converge in Stowe

STOWE, Vt. — The master of ceremonies at the Vermont Alpine Racing Association (VARA) gala over the weekend was Stowe ski champion and Olympian Tiger Shaw, who recently accepted the top job in U.S. ski racing.

The top honoree for the evening was a childhood friend of Shaw’s — and an old ski-racing foe — Jesse Hunt. After dominating as a junior at the Mt. Mansfield Ski Club, Hunt went on to dominate some more as the head alpine coach for the U.S. Ski Team. Hunt was inducted into the VARA Hall of Fame, joining history-making Vermont skiing names like Cochran, Knight, Chaffee, Kidd and Lacasse, to name a few.

Another of Shaw’s friends and one of Hunt’s best and oldest pals, fellow Burke Mountain Academy 1983 graduate Kraig Sourbeer, was honored as VARA’s coach of the year.

All three of them competed together as kids in Vermont, and later in the 1980s on the U.S. Ski Team.

Add to that mix Stowe’s own Kim Brown (actually, he lives in Waterbury Center). Die-hard ski bum, author of the Ski Bum Corner column in this newspaper, tireless course worker and keen ski-racing advocate, “Brownie” was honored as VARA’s alpine official of the year.

Two other honorees might have felt like they were crashing a northern Vermont ski-racing celebration. But it’s a statewide gathering and these two have made indelible marks on the sport in Vermont: Killington Mountain School’s Guy Garofalo was named Vermont junior development coach of the year, and long-time VARA board member and Mt. Snow Academy founder and head of school Lynne Sullivan was recognized as volunteer of the year.

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