Mountain Town News: Trash cans a barometer of Sun Valley prosperity |

Mountain Town News: Trash cans a barometer of Sun Valley prosperity

Allen Best
Mountain Town News
Volunteers from the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and from Copper Mountain Resort spent the day Friday building new trail sections thru some wetland areas on the Shrine Ridge Trail above the top of Vail Pass.
Bill Linfield / Special to the Daily |

KETCHUM, Idaho – The economy has continued to improve in the Ketchum/Sun Valley area. The evidence? Trash.

“Who would know better than the guy who’s going up and down the alleys and emptying the trash cans,” says Paul Kenny, a commercial real estate agent in Ketchum. Kenny told the Idaho Mountain Express that he consults a local trash company owner about trash volumes. Just how much trash volume has increased, however, he apparently didn’t say.

Who’s your mother if you’re out on the river?

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Can you imagine what people put in the Yampa River? Entire boxes of fishing hooks, writes Samantha Hope in a letter published in Steamboat Today, plus underwear (“gross,” she says), shoes, empty beer cans and plenty of other trash.

“Mother Nature is not your mother, folks,” she writes. “It’s our responsibility to take care of her, not only for ourselves but also for future generations.”

Guy leaves two dogs in SUV on a hot afternoon

PARK CITY, Utah — So what sort of guy would leave his two golden retrievers parked in a car as the temperature rises above 90? That’s what happened, and the dogs were panting but did not succumb to the heat. The owner, however, was charged with cruelty to animals and the dogs were confiscated and given to the man’s ex-wife, reports The Park Record.

Jasper hosts delegates from Japanese sibling

JASPER, Alberta — Jasper recently hosted a delegate from Hakone, Japan, a sister city. The relationship was forged in the 1970s when Japanese tourists were frequent visitors to Jasper. Now, not so much, but the sibling relationship continues, now forged in a cultural exchange. Hakone is a city 80 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, in the center of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Epic Pass now includes Australia’s largest resort

BROOMFIELD, Colo. — Vail Resorts last week completed the deal to buy the largest ski area in Australia. The 3,100-acre Perisher Ski Resort is located relatively close to Sydney and Melbourne, Australia’s two largest cities, and cost the company $134.8 million. Rob Katz, the chief executive, said the purchase will “deepen ties with one of our most important international markets,” and is intended to drive sales of the company’s Epic Pass. Obviously, it also gives the company a stronger year-round revenue stream as well as a year-round skiing product.

Aspen’s carbon cuts big, but short of goal

ASPEN, Colo. — Glass half-full or half-empty? Aspen’s city government in 2005 set out to dramatically shrink its carbon footprint. As of last year, it had reduced emissions by 7.4 percent as compared to 2004.

That’s pretty good, considering that Aspen’s economy has grown 22 percent during that time span, as measured by total taxable retail sales, even after adjustment for inflation. The town’s population increased by 5.5 percent.

But the gains fall short of what the Canary Initiative, Aspen’s climate action plan, called for. That 2005 document called for a 30 percent reduction of community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and an even larger reduction at mid-century.

Ashley Perl, the director of the Canary Initiative, said that meeting the reduction targets will require “bold policy decisions and constant commitment from all members of the community.” She identified the need for reduced use of natural gas in heating buildings, reduced use of private automobiles, and increased renewable energy for production of electricity.

How long does it take to create a new water plant?

TELLURIDE, Colo. — It took 20 years, but Telluride now has a new water treatment plant. The plant doubles the water supply for the town, and Mayor Stu Fraser explains that the water could come in handy in case of a major fire.

“The amount of water needed to put out a large structure fire, roughly one million gallons, would have exhausted our supply had the town relied upon the previous water treatment plant, leaving residents with dry faucets.”

But as part of the town’s efforts to reduce its carbon footprint, Telluride also placed a microhydro system into the Pandora Water Treatment Plant, converting the power of water running into the plant into electricity. The plant can provide enough power to satisfy roughly 200 houses.

After taking its time, Gunnison allows pot

GUNNISON, Colo. — Gunnison has taken its time, but now it has opened the door to the sale of cannabis for recreational purposes.

The Crested Butte News reports that the college town, located 27 miles down-valley from Crested Butte, decided to take its time to see how other communities handled sales.

“One of my original concerns was that allowing legal marijuana establishments would change the reputation or tenor of our community,” said Mayor Richard Hagan. “But asking around in other places that have done it, they didn’t feel that was the case.”

One issue was where the stores should be allowed and how many. Unlike Crested Butte, which capped the number of stores at four, Gunnison decided to let the free market sort it out.

Another issue was where to locate the stores. Early on, city officials thought the stores should be tucked into an industrial area. But Hagan says that he remembers somebody saying that any 14-year-old with a cell phone could find a store, no matter where it is.

“That plus the fact that keeping young people away would more likely be accomplished if the (stores) were in a higher profile setting as opposed to tucked away in an industrial zone made me sort of change my mind in some respects.”

But Gunnison does have rules: no pot leaves are allowed on business signs. And stores near churches cannot be open on Sunday mornings.

How long is too long in county courthouse?

TELLURIDE, Colo. — A Democratic Party activist in San Miguel County is passing around a petition that he hopes will cap the terms of county commissioners at eight years altogether.

Brian Ahern tells the Telluride Daily Planet that the power of incumbency discourages others from running for office. One of the current commissioners, Joan May, says that she thinks three terms would be better, because “it takes one term to get up to speed.”

Art Goodtimes, who has been a county commissioner since the 1990s, says term limits thwart democracy.

“I think the ballot box ought to be the term limit,” he said. “Why would you artificially stop someone who’s doing a good job from continuing doing that job?” he asked. “It sounds like change for change’s sake. Yes, a powerful incumbent who’s doing a good job is tough to beat, and that’s the way it ought to be.”

Incidentally, all the county commissioners are Democrats except Goodtimes, a member of the Green Party.

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