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Vail backs away from war over jake brakes

Allen Best
Around the Mountains
ALL |

VAIL – Vail residents have been increasingly annoyed about the growing din from the highway that bisects their town, Interstate 70.

Recently, town council members began gunning to prevent truck drivers from unnecessarily using the engine-compression brakes, commonly called jake brakes.

But a truckers’ lobbyist persuaded the council to postpone enacting a law to that effect backed by a $1,000 fine.

Instead, the council is now talking about education of truckers, something that dissident council member Greg Moffet believes will be ineffective.

Moffet, who lives within 100 yards of the highway, said nothing will change “without a gun to their heads,” reports the Vail Daily.

An issue for 20 years, highway noise in Vail has become an increasing complaint in the last 5 to 10 years.

The town continues to talk about erecting noise walls and also getting state authorities to reduce speed limits. Speed limits are officially 65, which means that most people drive 75.

As vehicles increase speed, noise from them increases, in summer drowning out back-porch conversations.

Kayak water rights

cause concerns

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – Several years ago, Vail and Breckenridge filed for instream flow rights for the water that flows through their kayak parks.

Now, after spending $100,000 in configuring the Yampa River, Steamboat Springs is looking to do the same.

But unlike Vail and Breckenridge, Steamboat has a lot of upstream neighbors. Some of those upstream neighbors, among them Oak Creek and Yampa, are fidgety and annoyed.

If this happens, they fear that the ability of these towns to appropriate the water necessary to grow will be hampered, reports The Steamboat Pilot.

Because of the emphasis on protecting open space around Steamboat, those towns are expected to be increasingly important bedroom communities.

Glenn Porzak, the water lawyer for Steamboat who pioneered the concept on behalf of Vail and Breckenridge, says it’s much ado about nothing.

“I have heard a lot of people say the sky is falling. That is simply not the issue,” he said. Recreational water rights usually are applied only from dawn to dusk, and from April to October, so other water users have plenty of opportunities to divert water without impacting the city’s recreational right, he insists.

Maybe, but County Commissioner Nancy Stahoviak of Oak Creek thinks Steamboat has no cause to hurry to file for the rights. “Maybe there is a good reason, but I haven’t heard it or seen it yet,” she said.

California team sinks

money into Telluride

TELLURIDE – Joe Morita, the son of Sony founder Akio Morita, has new partners at Telluride. After discussions with several suitors, including long-time ski industry executive Andy Daly and the Aspen Skiing Co., Morita has chosen Chuck and Chad Horning, partners in a real estate investment firm based in Anaheim, Calif.

No changes are expected during this ski season, and it’s not clear what the new joint venture may mean for Telluride, says the Telluride Planet. Also unclear is how much real estate is included in the deal.

Morita in 1999 became a partner with Jim Wells and Ron Allred, who had been involved with Telluride since the 1970s.

They eased out entirely in 2001, and Morita invested $14 million in the Prospect Basin expansion. Advisors urged Morita to rebalance his sizable international investment portfolio.

Booth Creek Ski Holdings, which operates six small ski areas, has managed Telluride in Morita’s absence.

Chris Ryman, president and CEO of Booth Creek, is negotiating with the new joint venture on his company’s future involvement.

Historian says Ed Abbey

started stupid argument

BOULDER – Ranchers vs. environmentalists? It’s a time-wasting dispute, says environmental historian Patricia Nelson Limerick.

“Edward Abbey was successful in throwing everybody off track for a while with his attack on ranchers in the mid-1980s, and that was kind of a waste of time because, if the ranchers had collapsed economically and sold out to developers, then Edward Abbey would have played a role in the creation of more condos in the West,” she said in an interview in Divide, a new magazine.

“It doesn’t take the deepest ecological science to know that if your goal is preservation of habitat for wildlife, then you are so much better off with the ranchers than you are with the condos and the big houses spread around the landscape.”

That said, she conceded that coalitions between ranchers and enviros will always be precarious “and probably have to be renegotiated every morning.”

Park City and Moab

vie to be the windiest

PARK CITY, Utah – Among Utah towns, only Moab and Park City have agreed to a municipal competition to see who can buy most into a wind power program being sponsored by Utah Power.

Park City recently announced it would purchase 7.5 percent of its energy from wind energy.

The wind power costs more than electricity from coal-fired power plants, so the city plans to replace fixtures and appliances with more energy-efficient models.

The next step is to get businesses involved. Three ski resorts – Deer Valley, The Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort – have agreed to buy 6 percent of their power in wind.

Several businesses have also signed onto the Blue Sky program.

Bozeman, Crested Butte praised by USA Today

CRESTED BUTTE – In its travel section, USA Today highlighted ski areas that it defined as “small enough and far enough off the freeway to feel remote,” ones that “aren’t just corporate concepts; they’re real communities that happen to be near mountains that beckon dedicated downhillers.”

In the West, the newspaper chose Crested Butte and Bozeman.

Of Crested Butte, it said: “Free-thinking, outdoors-loving residents enjoy a lively party, from Mardi Gras celebrations to the coal miners’ polka fest. Cows outnumber residents 20 to 1 and downtown boasts dozen of one-of-a-kind shops, none of which sell fur.”

Of Bozeman: “Rubbing elbows along Main Street are academics, artists, ranchers and more recently, an influx of urban refugees seeking the quiet life.

The town exudes youthful exuberance, whether because of the college students (it’s the home of Montana State University) or the generally sports-crazed population.”

Both descriptions are apt, but just one question for USA Today – don’t they know that Bozeman is large, has an airport nearby, and an interstate running through it?


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