Mountain Town News: Disrespect for the flag or disrespect for people? (column) |

Mountain Town News: Disrespect for the flag or disrespect for people? (column)

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Tensions continue to be on edge in ski towns with large numbers of immigrants from Mexico and other Spanish-speaking countries.

In Park City, a small magnetic American flag slid down at a coffee shop, and an employee, who is Hispanic, pushed it back up, possibly leaving it upside down.

A customer saw the upside-down flag and accused the worker of doing so deliberately. The woman’s husband and friends then spoke angrily to the employee. The store manager told The Park Record that the group told the employee to “go back to your country.”

The employee had been born and reared in Park City, the store manager said. The group left by the time police arrived.

On the south shore of Lake Tahoe, immigrants are edgy as the result of vows by President Donald Trump to crack down on illegal immigration.

The Tahoe Daily Tribune gained an audience with a group of immigrant women. Luz Maria Zepeda, of the South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center, translated for the women and the reporter.

One woman, a resident of Lake Tahoe for 13 years, said that even a trip to the grocery store feels different. Mostly it is just stares, but there has been blatant hostility, such as when somebody walked by, heard several talking in Spanish, and told the group members they should go back to Mexico.

The legal status of the women interviewed by the Daily Tribune was not disclosed in the story.

In Colorado, a new organization called the Latino Advocacy Committee has been formed in the Telluride area with the goal of connecting resources and services to the Latino community. The group has an employee, called an intercultural navigator, who previously worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Guatemala on projects relating to family health.

It’s not clear from the report in the Telluride Daily Planet whether the Latino community being referenced consists of immigrants or others. Definitions vary, but Colorado has had Latinos — defined as people who moved northward from Spanish-speaking countries — for 160 years. Neighboring New Mexico has had Latinos since the early 1600s.

The conversation is further confused when the subject explicitly is about those who are not in the United States legally. The New York Times last week had a major story with a headline that used the term “illegal immigrants.” The Times Insider, a weekend publication, reported that the headline drew criticism, as did the phrase, “undocumented immigrants,” which was used within the story.

Vivian Yee, a national immigration correspondent for the newspapers, said readers’ reactions tend to break along political lines. Conservatives, she said, often insist on using the term “illegal immigrants” while liberals tend to push for “undocumented immigrants.”

The newspapers’ style guide says “undocumented” has a flavor of euphemism, and “unauthorized” has a bureaucratic tone. Neither “illegal” nor “alien” can be used as nouns.

No death sentence

for this grizzly bear

WEST GLACIER, Mont. – Last June, Brad Treat was riding a mountain bike near Glacier National Park when he rounded a corner at high speed, later estimated at 20 to 25 mph, and ran into a grizzly bear.

In the collision, he flew over the bear and landed on his hands and then his back, breaking his wrists and his left shoulder blade. Riding a short distance behind, Treat’s companion arrived to see the bear standing over Treat, then left to seek help. When others returned with him an hour later, Treat was dead, the result of a mauling.

The Daily Interlake of Kalispell, Montana, reports that an inter-agency review board last week released its review, finding that the bear, having been surprised, responded with its “natural defense response.”

The bear is among an estimated 1,000 grizzlies in the Glacier ecosystem. The review team recommended public lands managers better evaluate trails before opening them to mountain biking. For example, does vegetation reduce visibility? Do trails go into areas that have the sort of forage preferred by the bears?

Group says hunting

grizzlies should end

WHISTLER, B.C. – The new Grizzly Bear Foundation in British Columbia is calling for an end to the legal killing of grizzly bears.

“We don’t think the legal killing of grizzly bears is a good idea in this day and age,” said Vancouver-based philanthropist Michael Audain, who funded creation of an art museum in Whistler. About 300 are killed in British Columbia each year, reports Pique, which also says the species is in trouble there.

Audain tells Pique that he was most surprised to learn that grizzlies can be hunted in provincial parks in British Columbia, and most of the hunting is done from boats or vehicles.

Aspen adopts regulations

to discourage chain stores

ASPEN, Colo. – After months of talk, Aspen has added a new layer of review that is intended to slow down the transformation of its downtown commercial core into chain businesses.

The regulations define “formulae retail” as any business having 11 other stores in the United States with standardized characteristics, including product lines and trademarks.

The Aspen Daily News described the regulations as a watered-down version of those originally proposed by a citizens’ group in November who are concerned that Aspen’s retail stores are starting to look too much like the rest of America. Think Starbucks.

The added review does not apply to the 21 redevelopment projects in the pipeline.

Councilman Adam Frisch said he doesn’t believe the new law will make it any easier for younger entrepreneurs to lease downtown commercial space. He suggested there may ultimately need to be commercial space that is leased out at subsidized rates to qualified tenants.

Amazing snow depths,

but what’s responsible?

TRUCKEE, Calif. – By the time you read this, several ski areas in the Truckee-Tahoe area of the Sierra Nevada may have surpassed 700 inches of snow for the season.

For the record, that’s 58 feet or almost 18 meters.

As of Monday, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe had 680 inches and Sugar Bowl Resort had 679, with Donner Ski Ranch at 670. Four other ski areas were above 600.

Historically, the average annual snowfall at upper elevations in the Tahoe-Truckee region is 450 inches, says the Sierra Sun.

Again comes the question, is this big winter a result of climate change? And was the drought that preceded it also a result of climate change?

“You tend to see these kinds of floods and droughts anyway,” Jay Lund, who directs the Center for Watershed Sciences at the University of California-Davis, told the McClatchy news service. “But there is some reason to think that we might see them more frequently and in greater extremes in the future,” he said.

A. Park Williams, a climate scientist at Columbia University, was less cautious. “Current models suggest the dice are loaded toward an increasing probability of this kind of year,” he said. A paper that he wrote, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, estimated global warming has worsened California’s drought by 15 percent to 20 percent.

Return of the record-breaking drought that has now subsided “is a real possibility” in 15 more years, he added.

After Stowe, what’s next

on the Vail Resorts menu?

BROOMFIELD, Colo. – The buying spree by Vail Resorts may not be over. The company is scheduled to soon pick up Stowe Mountain in Vermont.

Sitting in on a recent conference call, the Denver Post reported that Vail Resorts chief executive Rob Katz said he expects to one day offer “multiple choices” for Epic Pass skiing in New England.

The company has been doing very well this winter. The company has reported revenue of $725.52 million during the second quarter, up 21 percent from the year-before period and topping expectations of investors.

Whistler Blackcomb delivered beyond expectations and, of course, it has snowed lots of places. The Post reports that the effective ticket price – defined as lift ticket revenue divided by skier visits – climbed 7.7 percent.

The Post also points to the continuing strength of the Epic Pass. The sale of 650,000 of the passes minimized impact of a slow start to the ski season.

Getting charged up

about EVs in Durango

DURANGO, Colo. – Electric cars remain rare in Durango, but a consortium of local groups hope to change that. A non-profit called 4CORE has been working with La Plata Electric Association and Mercy Regional Medical Center in effort to get grants to pay for public charging stations.

But the group also hopes to engineer a group buy of Nissan Leafs by matching buyers with a pledge of deeply discounted prices, reports the Durango Telegraph.

Such group buys have been occurring in many ways, including the Vail-Aspen-Glenwood Springs area, as well as the college towns along the Colorado Front Range.

It’s gas, not renewables,

for new Aspen building

ASPEN, Colo. – In its move to decarbonize city operations, Aspen is willing to go only so far, at least for now. Over the objections of a city council member, the city council approved plans for a new police building that is to be heated by a natural gas boiler.

The city council member, Bert Myrin, argued for electrical heating of the building. The city’s municipal utility two years ago achieved 100 percent renewables, mostly through purchase of hydroelectric power in Colorado and wind from a farm in Nebraska. With its Canary Initiative, the city in 2005 vowed to dramatically reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, and this push toward renewables was part of that plan.

California also has plans to radically decarbonize its economy. The state has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent compared to 1990 levels by mid-century. The first step in that plan is to replace fossil fuels in the production of electricity with renewables, then, over time, shift cars and trucks from fossil fuels to electricity. But then the state hopes to shift home heating away from fossil fuels to electricity.

But in Aspen, consultants said the economics of electrical heating don’t pencil out nearly as well as natural gas. The full electrical system would cost $2.8 million to $3.6 million more than natural gas. Another alternative, drilling of geothermal wells, using ground-source heat pumps to tap the inherent heat in the ground, would have pushed project costs by $4.2 million to $4.5 million. Planners also feared that the 36 wells would have drawn objections from neighbors, according to an account in the Aspen Daily News.

This new building, if more efficient than most, achieving a Gold LEED standard, one step shy of the top-level platinum designation, remains tethered to natural gas—a fuel produced by hydro-fracturing.

Intrawest interested in

running in-town ski area

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Steamboat Springs has two ski areas, the big one owned by Intrawest and the smaller one near downtown that has existed for decades longer. It’s called Howelsen Hill, and it has struggled to survive without subsidies in recent years.

Intrawest, through its larger ski area, now proposes to take over Howelsen Hill and make it work better.

“We want to try and grow it and make it more profitable and turn it into a more viable operation for the city and for us,” Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Rob Perlman said in a statement, which was published on the website of Steamboat Today. It also says that the company needs to do “considerable” due diligence before submitting a detailed proposal.

Among the ideas explored by the ski area officials are a return of winter tubing operations, the development of more food and beverage opportunities, and more weddings and events.

The resort also thinks it can use its decades of experience in the ski industry to improve all of the basic functions of Howelsen, ranging from grooming to lift operations to human resource functions, according to Steamboat Today.

“We recognize Howelsen’s importance to our community,” Perlman told the newspaper. “The ski area has been around for more than 100 years. It’s a part of who we are as a community, and our skiing heritage.”

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