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No money for new tram at Jackson

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily
Special to the DailyAround the Mountains
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JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – Jackson Hole’s 40-year-old tram, the guts of the community’s winter tourism economy, is to be retired after the ski season. The owners of the ski company, the Kemmerer family, say they can afford only $4 million of the $25 million replacement themselves, and they don’t want to bring in outside investors.That puts them into the position of arguing the tram should get $20 million of Wyoming’s budget surplus of $1.8 billion. Their argument was that the tram is an important tourism draw for Wyoming.But after a series of can-you-believe-this laughs from others in Wyoming, Jackson Hole Mountain resort has withdrawn the request. “At this point, and at this time, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of urgency on anybody’s behalf,” said Jerry Blann, president of the ski area. State legislators from Jackson Hole, speaking with the Jackson Hole News & Guide, similarly reported slim-to-none prospects for major state aid.Heliskiing lodge goes on microhydro powerREVELSTOKE, B.C. – A lodge used as a base for heliskiing in the Selkirk Mountains near Revelstoke is now being powered mostly by a small hydroelectric plant, called a microhydro. The microhydro eliminates the need to burn large quantities of diesel and propane, reducing the amount of carbon dioxide going into the atmosphere by 226 tons annually.The Revelstoke Times Review reports that the dam, called a weir, measures 16 feet across. Site of the dam was chosen carefully so as to avoid separating the creek’s resident population of bull trout and their food source of invertebrates.

Total cost of the project has been $500,000, but given the reduction in cost of other fuels, the payback is expected within seven years.Battery ban has Truckee studying disposal optionsTRUCKEE, Calif. – Where do you put the double-A batteries from your digital camera when they’re out of juice? For most people, it’s straight to the trash.But that is now an official no-no in Truckee and all other places in California. Effective Feb. 9, batteries as well as telephones, radios and microwave ovens must be disposed of as hazardous waste, which in fact they are.The Sierra Sun reports that local officials are talking about creating convenient drop-off places for batteries and other such items at local stores and other such collection areas. Other items banned from landfills include fluorescent lights and computer printers.The new ban applies to small businesses and homes; the ban was first applied to large companies several years ago.

Banff boosters want a major marketing pushBANFF, Alberta – Tourism boosters in Banff and Lake Louise are calling for a major expansion of marketing efforts. The money, $5 million ($4.36 million U.S.) annually, would be gained primarily by exacting a 2 percent bed tax on the 15,200 lodging pillows in the area. Marketing efforts currently have a $1.5 million budget.”This is huge. It’s about making us competitive again,” said Julie Canning, executive director of Banff Lake Louise Tourism. Her organization reports that Banff and Lake Louise spend an average $67 per pillow in marketing, compared to $518 per pillow at Whistler and $507 at Tremblant, Quebec. With this proposed levy, Banff-Lake Louise would be spending $349 per pillow.Another key proposal, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, would boost funding for special events, which promoters say they can then use as leverage for gaining sponsors for events. “It’s like a chicken-and-egg problem,” explained Canning. To get sponsors requires staging good events, but good events are impossible without sponsors.The group proposes to even levy a 2 percent fee on camping sites in Banff National Park. However, it proposes to grandfather any tour and travel contracts already in place if the bed tax goes into place June 1, as members want.Boosters of the tax pledge that administrative costs would be kept to 20 percent of the overall budget. Of remaining money, 70 percent would be allocated to destination marketing and sales and the other 30 percent to improving the visitor experience.Hotel rooms converted into condos at Squaw

TRUCKEE/LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A $53 million renovation at Squaw Valley that includes conversion of 405 hotel rooms into 238 condominiums has been completed.Of those condos, 200 have been sold. Still, with separate entrances to each room in the two-bedroom and penthouse condominiums, the former hotel rooms can function as before. As such, 375 rooms – 90 percent of the original rooms – will be available for rent.Next, the Resort at Squaw Valley plans to add 160 condominiums, a four-story parking garage, and 50 employee housing units, although the construction schedule has not been nailed down.Base village coming online at Northstar-at-TahoeTRUCKEE/LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – A Colorado-style base village is coming on line at California’s Northstar ski area.The first phase of the project includes 72 condominiums, a large ice-skating rink and three buildings for shops like The North Face and Helly Hansen and restaurants like Earthly Delights and Euro Snaks. Some 70 percent of the retail spaces have been leased, reports the Sierra Sun.Construction last fall was slowed by rains. A shortage of materials resulting from the destruction of Hurricane Katrina also caused delays. Building of the second phase, which will include two buildings of condominiums, is under way. Developer of the project is Colorado-based East West Partners.


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