Mountain Town News: Tutus in the Cowboy State but not in Jackson Hole (column)
May 6, 2017
JACKSON, Wyo. – The guys in Jackson Hole missed an opportunity to have a little fun last week. Maybe they were camping in the desert, biding their time until the snow has melted or at least transformed into the fine corn best harvested by spring skiing.
Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi told high school students that a man who wears a tutu to a bar "kind of asks for" a fight. Although he quickly apologized, his remark soon had men of a certain political persuasion in Wyoming showing up to classes, work, and all else in — well, you guessed it — tutus, the costume worn by ballerinas.
If Wyoming is known for its conservative politics, it has its libertarian and non-conformist bent, as well as a few precincts that vote liberal. One photo showed up of a man dressed in a purple tie, dark suit — and purple tutu standing next to the Michael B. Enzi Stem Facility on the University of Wyoming campus in Laramie.
In Lander, home to the National Outdoor Leadership School, there was a full line of people in tutus on the city's main street outside a bar. "A tutu rebellion has erupted across communities in Wyoming, including Lander," reported a website called County 10.
Where was Jackson Hole in all this? A no-show, it seems. Halloween is a big, big deal there, and in years past the Jackson Hole News&Guide has showed men glammed up in short dresses and what not.
But although the News&Guide was waiting for news to happen in its backyard, it did not.
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"Nothing to report. We had our ears and eyes perked, and no tutus turned up," reported editor Johanna Love.
But here's another idea: Maybe the guys in Jackson Hole are too fashion conscious just to throw on any old tutu. Is North Face or Patagonia preparing to issue a line of tutus?
Telluride draws up regs governing use of drones
TELLURIDE, Colo. – The wild west for drones has ended in Telluride. The town has adopted regulations that govern where and when drones are flown above public or private property.
The regulations were triggered in large part by a case last summer when a drone was being used for filming of a promotional video. The drone appeared to spook a herd of elk on Telluride's open space area, called the Valley Floor.
Greg Clifton, the town manager, told the Telluride Daily Planet that the regulations do not constitute an outright prohibition, but they do provide an approval process.
Banff's first bison in 140 years born on Earth Day
BANFF, Alberta – The first bison calf in 140 years in Banff National Park was born on Earth Day, and two more calves soon followed.
As many as seven more calves are expected, the result of 10 pregnant bison cows that were transplanted from Elk Island National Park in February along with 6 bulls. Wildlife biologists hope that the transplanted herd grows to 30 animals before being released from its 18-hectare fenced pasture in June 2018.
The fenced pasture lies within historic bison range in Banff, far from the heavily trafficked areas of the park and also distant from the park's borders. Biologists hope the bison during the next year identify the park's interior as home instead of wandering into adjoining provincial land, where they may be killed.
In five years, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, Parks Canada will assess whether to continue or abandon the reintroduction project.
What goes down in Jasper cannot stay in Jasper
JASPER, Alberta – Whatever will Jasper do with its growing mound of biosolids? The biosolids are a product of the wastewater treatment plant. The biosolids are mixed with wood chips before being laid out to cure, and the intent had been to use the biosolids for fertilizer.
Nope, says Parks Canada, can't be done. Tests revealed the presence of "viable non-native weed seeds." How the seeds end up in the sewage at Jasper wasn't explained, but the Jasper Fitzhugh says it's clear that the biosolids must be hauled from the national park.
The operator of the sewage treatment plant has found that it is not legally responsible.
That leaves Jasper town officials checking with other Alberta municipalities of more than 25,000 people to find out what they do with their biosolids.
Town along Colorado River now selling fishing leases
GRANBY, Colo. – There's fishing to be had along a verdant portion of the prized Colorado River come mid-May. A real-estate project called Shorefox got caught by the Great Recession, and the town of Granby swooped in to buy the former ranch.
Now, reports the Sky-Hi News, the town is selling fishing rights in segments called beats. Each beat will be available to anglers for two days, then it will get a rest for two days before others can use it. The cost is $25 for town residents, but $60 for others.
This is about 25 miles from where the Colorado River originates in Rocky Mountain National Park. It's natural enough, although the giant Granby Dam a few miles upstream is used to divert much of the young river into a tunnel under the Continental Divide for distribution to cities and farms in northern Colorado.
A modest turnout for the March for Science
PARK CITY, Utah – In late January, just after Donald Trump was inaugurated as president, Park City was full, as it was the time of the Sundance Film Festival. Organizers of the Women's March told local authorities they expected 4,000 to 5,000 people, but the official count after the event estimated the turnout at close to 9,000 people.
What could they expect at the March for Science on Earth Day, April 22? No film festival was being staged, Trump had not just issued a fiery, take-no-hostages speech, and the ski slopes were closed. Lots of people were camping in the desert or headed to the beach.
This time organizers said they expected 850 to 1,200 people. They got even fewer: 350 marched on Main Street and then heard from a variety of speakers, among them astrophysicist Miriah Meyer and the president of the Utah Physicians for Healthy Environment, Brian Moench.
The Park Record belatedly wondered why there were so many law-enforcement personnel there compared to the number of marchers.
"You really don't know until the day of the event how many people are going to show up," Wade Carpenter, the police chief, said.
He also told The Park Record the Women's March in January was an "eye-opener about how quickly these things can grow."
Big real estate project comes around again in Steamboat
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – A major real estate development in Steamboat Springs first approved at the tail end of the last real estate boom has returned to life with at least a somewhat different vision.
Mark Scully, managing director of Green Courte Partners, says the overall project would have a value of $300 million to $400 million.
The Steamboat Today reports that the RiverView project would be located on 4.5 acres along the Yampa River at the eastern end of downtown Steamboat Springs. The rezoning of the planned-unit development, approved by the city's planning commission, does not expressly authorize new projects. But if the city council agrees, the newspaper says, the developer could pitch five distinct pieces, including a hotel, to prospective development partners.
The developers said they invested $2 million in improvements on the site in 2008, when they were awarded a development permit for the site. The permit has since lapsed.
In Aspen, real estate sales continue to spur arched eyebrows. The Aspen Times reports the $30 million sale of a 9,600-square-foot house, the most paid since 2015. In broader Pitkin County, six sales of homes have occurred at prices of $10 million and above so far this year.
Sierra runoff suggests surge in hydro power
TRUCKEE, Calif. – The Truckee River has become rambunctious as it spills over the lip from Lake Tahoe, tumbling down past the Alpine and Squaw Valley ski areas toward the town of Truckee and then Reno.
It's normally a relatively mild-mannered river, observes the Lake Tahoe News, but this year might offer Class IV raft trips, the sort where the guides get more serious as they go through their safety explanations.
All this snow soon to become water also has a strong implication for electrical production in California, explains the Los Angeles Times. In 2011, the last very wet year for the state, more than 18 percent of California's in-state electrical generation came from large-scale hydropower plants, but dipped to just 5.9 percent in 2015, deep in the drought.
Natural gas accounted for 45 percent in that first year, but increased to 59.9 percent during the drought.
This also has implications for California's carbon footprint. The Pacific Institute, a Berkeley-based water research group, recently estimated that greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector increased by 10 percent between 2011 and 2015.
It's not unusual for hydro to come in at less than 2 cent a kilowatt-hour, whereas natural gas comes in about twice as high. In 2015, for example, Sacramento Municipal Utility District calculated the cost of electricity produced by natural gas at 6.1 cents a kilowatt-hour.
The Pacific Institute estimated that California's annual cost for electricity jumped $2.45 billion from 2012 to 2016.
Tesla's gigafactory now on Chinese tourists' list
RENO, Nev. – While Chinese tourists continue to pile into buses to see Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, their No. 1 goal is New York City followed by Las Vegas.
But Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison tells USA Today that the big Tesla gigafactory near Reno has become a major tourist attraction, too.
At 5.5 million square feet, the gigafactory is reportedly the biggest building in the world in terms of its physical footprint, the newspaper points out. It cost $5 billion and remains under construction. It is to manufacture lithium ion batteries to power Tesla's electric cars.
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