Mountain Town News: Watching wildlife with a whiskey sour in hand |

Mountain Town News: Watching wildlife with a whiskey sour in hand

Stewart Edgerly comes down the chute of the race-like entry into the Beacon Bowl competition area during the Feb. 7 competition at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area. Edgerly placed first in the junior division of the competition.
David Gidley / Special to the Daily |

JACKSON, Wyo. — Kirk Davenport, a 55-year-old securities lawyer from New York City, built a 6,200-square-foot vacation home near Jackson, and it has some features you’re unlikely to find elsewhere.

An elevated bridge connects the main house with the guest wing, which has a 30-foot viewing tower that was modeled after an old fire tower.

“You feel like you are in the wilderness, and the animals feel that way, too,” he told the Wall Street Journal.

However, in this wilderness, you can prop up your feet, with a cocktail in hand and listen to Stravinsky.

The newspaper asked local real estate experts in Jackson Hole how much the unusual features would add to the value of the home. “It’s a little eccentric,” said Tom Evans, an associate broker at Jackson Hole Sotheby’s International Realty. “A wine cellar or a media room is more traditional in a home in Jackson,” he added.

But Julie Faupel, an owner of Jackson Hole Real Estate Associates, sees them as selling points, should Davenport want to move the property. “What people really want is a very sophisticated home, but they want to feel like they’re outdoors,” she said.

Steve Kilpatrick, executive director of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation, said that animal lovers should remember they’re not living in a petting zoo.

“They’re cute and loveable, but boy, they can cause some harm,” he told the Journal. “And if you have a moose that’s malnourished or not healthy, be ready for a mountain lion or a grizzly bear to take it down — and don’t be alarmed that it might happen in your backyard — because that’s where they’re living.”



BANFF, Alberta — A new study recommends killing of wolves to help save endangered populations of woodland caribou in Alberta. The study also recommends habitat protection.

About 100 wolves have been killed per year in Alberta since 2005 by shooting them from helicopters or poisoning them with bait laced with strychnine. The goal was to

protect the dwindling herd of caribou called Little Smoky. Only 100 of the caribou in that herd remain.

Mark Hebblewhite, an associate professor in the University of Montana’s Wildlife Biology department, a co-author of the study, said that 11 of the woodland caribou herds in Alberta are declining very rapidly. Even with the killing of wolves, the herds did not grow, although they did stabilize.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook also talked with Paul Paquet, whom it identifies as one of the world’s leading wolf experts. He strongly dissented with the study’s conclusions.

“This is a true case of scapegoating wolves for something that we’re all responsible for,” he said. “There’s no effort to address the ultimate causes of caribou endangerment: industrial development over numerous years.”

The study, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology, identifies loss of habitat due to roads and pipelines as the greatest long-term threat to caribou herds. But even if oil and gas development ceased, says the study, habitat restoration favoring caribou over moose and wolves would take 30 years.



JASPER, Alberta — After a year of futzing, Jasper’s tourism officials have adopted a new tagline: “Venture Beyond.”

“There are a handful of things that really drive Jasper and really differentiate Jasper, so our goal was to build a brand around those differences,” said Eddie Sheppard, of Stormy Lake Consultants, one of the consultants.

The Jasper Fitzhugh notes that the new come-thither line bears a striking resemblance to the “Go Beyond” campaign devised for Tourism Canmore Kananaskis. Andrew Nickerson, the group’s chief executive, says he sees no problem.

The two taglines are just different enough to create separation, he says, yet they are similar enough to allow opportunity the two destinations to be packaged together to international travellers. “At the end of the day, we are far, far stronger working together than competing with one another.”



KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — “In God We Trust” was first used on a U.S. coin in 1864. It began appearing on paper currency in 1957, shortly after a joint resolution of the U.S. Congress declared it to be the national motto.

But should it be on the wall of the Klamath County commissioners’ hearing room? The Klamath Falls Herald and News reports a local couple announced they were raising funds to pay for such a plaque.

“This is generic. God is whatever people think he is. It doesn’t say you have to worship my God; I don’t have to workshop your God,” explained Carol Warren at a recent town hall meeting.

But, at a recent meeting, more people spoke out against the plaque. “Morality is not exclusive to those who believe in God, absolutely not,” said Jennifer Turner. “I find it a little bit insulting that the commissioners would need to see it to act in a moral way.”

Another speaker, Liz Schmitt, said she remembered before “under God” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance and before “In God We Trust” became the national motto. “I don’t think we were any less moral or less patriotic than we are now,” she said.

One suggested alternative: “In Love We Trust,” with the logic that “God is love.”



CHAMA, N.M. — Across much of the West last week it was a wonderful week, as good as they get for April. Except, of course, that it was early February.

In Southwest Colorado, lawns in Telluride were bare. How often does that happen in Telluride in early February, “About once or twice a decade,” said Art Goodtimes, a resident since 1981.

West of Durango, the unpaved parking lot at the tiny Hesperus ski looked like it was made to order for a Tough Mudder race: very, very muddy.

At Beaver Creek, temperatures that hit 40 degrees seemed to favor ski racers in the World Alpine Ski Races who went first, before the snow turned slushy and skis got grabby.

Weather records compiled by the Colorado Climate Center show that the recent thaw has been among the warmest on record for that period in a variety of Colorado locations. For Steamboat Springs, it’s No. 1 after 105 years of record-keeping, while Crested Butte is No. 5 after 100 years.

In Crested Butte, the lean snow is causing organizations of the annual Ally Loop ski race to alter starts and finishes. But, added the Crested Butte News, what won’t change will be the “clangers, pot beaters and screamers” expected to spur on the racers as well as the outrageous costumes of “colored plumage, crinoline, spandex, wigs, hats and contraptions that dangle and rattle.”

In the Cascade Range, dump trucks have been called upon in years past to haul up to 55 loads of snow from Mount Bachelor to a ski and snowboard event held each mid-February in Bend, Ore. This year, snow is too scarce and temperatures so balmy that a motocross stunt team was scheduled to replace the snow sports, reports the Bend Bulletin.



TIERRA AMARILLA, N.M. — In 1967, the U.S. spotlight was focused briefly on a remote part of northern New Mexico, north and west of Taos, when activists seized control of the Rio Arriba County courthouse. A jailer was shot and others held at gunpoint before the activists fled into the nearby Carson National Forest.

In late January, Reies Lopez Tijerina, the activist who led that raid, died at the age of 88. In northern New Mexico communities, he was remembered with fondness by some, but not others.

“While admired by some students, his activism was steeped in violence and his legacy remained controversial,” noted the Santa Fe New Mexican. “He also drew criticism for his treatment of women and comments largely viewed as anti-Semitic.”

A native of Texas, he had worked as a migrant farm worker, dropping out of school after third grade. He later became a Pentecostal minister. Then, in 1963, he founded an organization that sought to reclaim Spanish and Mexican land grants held by Mexicans and American Indians in the southwest before the U.S.-Mexican War of 1848.

The New Mexican talked with Nick Salazar, now a state representative but then a county commissioner who was held captive for several hours in the courthouse raid.

“He was trying to do the right thing for the people who were cheated out of their land. I don’t think he went about it the right way, but I’ve never felt any animosity toward him,” Salazar said.



TELLURIDE — Telluride Ski Patrol members, plus dispatchers and snowmobilers, will be voting on whether to unionize under the auspices of the Communications Workers of America. The union already represents ski patrollers at Steamboat and Crested Butte, both in Colorado, and The Canyons in Utah.

A union representative tells the Telluride Daily Planet that about 55 people employed by the Telluride Ski and Golf Co. are eligible to vote. The ballots will be collected by the National Labor Relations Board and counted on Feb. 27.

Pepper Raper, the ski company’s communications manager, told the newspaper that “we are just trying to work with them to understand their concerns and the drive behind this. We don’t necessarily think we need a third party to tell us or tell them what’s best.”



PARK CITY, Utah — Park City enjoys access unrivaled among ski resorts of the West. It’s just a half-hour to Salt Lake City, if you dawdle along the way, and just 10 minutes more to the airport. Even Jackson Hole, Vail, and Aspen, with all their direct flights to distant cities, don’t come close.

But could the transportation links be improved? And should Park City want to keep at least a small bit of distance?

Those questions were being discussed in Park City after a group called Mountain Accord sponsored a discussion about transportation alternatives. Some of the ideas involve just small increments, such as how to improve transportation flows on nearby I-80. But there was also talk of connecting Park City via tunnels to Alta and other resorts on the east side, reports the Park Record.

Not everybody is impressed. “We have no money for schools but we have money to blast through mountains to build trains,” asked local activist Rich Wyman.

A local delegation will be going to Switzerland and perhaps to Italy to study everything from ski lifts to gondolas, bus lines, and trains. Ann Ober, a policy adviser in city government, tells the Park Record she wants to study how Zermatt, Grindelwald, Interlaken, and other resort areas have kept their individualism despite connectedness.

She also wants to see how destinations can be connected “in the smartest way possible.”



STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Steamboat Pilot & Today observes that ski areas across Colorado have been upgrading their wireless infrastructure to accommodate the new set of whims and wishes of those with cell phones and now smartphones.

Doug Allen, vice president of mountain operations at the Steamboat Ski Area, observes that Vail Mountain already has wi-fi on its gondola. “When we redo our own gondola, I’m trying it get it on ours as well.”

Steamboat, adds the newspaper, last season installed a distributed antenna system, or das, at several places to allow cell phone users better data connections.

At Arapahoe Basin, cell phone coverage was limited until two years ago. A new connection has been put into place, although don’t expect wi-fi on the chairlift. This is place that until a decade ago didn’t even have snowmaking.

Alan Henceroth, the chief operating officer, said smartphones on ski slopes and chair lifts are welcomed by some, resisted by others. “It strongly reminds me that A-Basin can be a lot of different things to different people.”



GEORGETOWN — The Henderson molybdenum mine lies below the Continental Divide about 50 miles west of Denver, but mostly within the jurisdiction of Clear Creek County. The county has the Loveland ski area, but the mine provides a substantial amount of its property tax.

The mine won’t close for another 10 to 12 years, but county officials are already trying to figure out how to replace the property tax revenues. One idea, reports the Clear Creek Courant, is to push the tourism economy more strongly.

To that end, the county recently commissioned an economic study of what it would take to get a hotel in Georgetown. Once a rich silver-mining town, it has had a second career as a tourism resort. But it’s not particularly a tourism magnet. Rather, it’s a drive-by town for those heading to and from Summit County, Vail, Steamboat, and other destination resorts.

A recent hotel viability study finds a gap of 10 percent between what it would take to build a hotel and the potential revenues. In theory, local governments need to cough up the money to narrow or eliminate the gap.



WHITEFISH, Mont. — Will downtown Whitefish finally get a new hotel? Several proposals have been made since the depths of the recession, and all have failed for one reason or other.

The latest proposal, for an 86-room independent lodge, has been approved by the city council. The estimated cost of the three-story building is $10 million.

The independently branded lodge is tentatively to be called the Empire Hotel, a nod to the nearby Great Northern Railroad tracks. The giant railroad network of the Great Northern had been assembled by a Bill Gates of his day, James J. Hill.

Developers are Sean and Brian Averill and their unnamed partner from Florida, reports the Whitefish Pilot.

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