Friday, August 31, 2007

Life goes on?as it should

Wood River Valley residents, businesses and visitors have done exactly what they should do during the Castle Rock Fire: They have carried on while keeping a weather eye out.

Nearly everyone has been matter of fact about the fire. Neighborhoods have accepted evacuations as a matter of course.

In Ketchum and Sun Valley, people are going to work. Businesses are open. Builders are building. Parents are parenting—even if they've decamped to a friend's place. Sun Valley Resort is still in business, and so is the rest of the valley.

The outdoor lifestyle here means that most people are intimately familiar with the area's topography. Others know someone who is. This knowledge has been invaluable as the valley watched crews battle this fickle fire whose moods range from reserve to rage.

From the fire's beginning, the danger to Bald Mountain was writ large. But mountain people are sturdy and optimistic and appreciate the power of nature and the raw physical displays put forth every day by fire crews. Also, as evidenced by their sports, they are not averse to a little calculated risk.

Everyone appreciates the fortitude of the nearly 1,700 firefighters, police and national guardsmen who have rallied to protect our lives, our mountain homes, and our economic engine, the Bald Mountain ski area.

It's all good reason to celebrate, and the Labor Day holiday will not be without celebration even though Wagon Days will not roll down Ketchum's Main Street.

Events ranging from an ice show in Sun Valley, music and art exhibitions in Ketchum, antique fairs and music in Hailey, and a parade and bluegrass festival in Bellevue are scheduled to go on.

Celebrating life and the outdoors is what this valley is all about, and celebrate we should.

We should also look to the future.

As the fire is contained, we can plan to enjoy the fall's Hemingway Festival, Trailing of the Sheep and the Jazz Festival.

In addition, the Sun Valley-Ketchum Chamber & Visitors Bureau is already discussing a Kick Ash Bash in October to celebrate fire and emergency crews.

Having areas around Bald Mountain burned out was not the way anyone had hoped the aging forest would reinvent itself, but the Castle Rock Fire and the back burns used to control it will greatly reduce the fire threat for a long time to come.

If people carry on, with no lives or livelihoods lost, the Castle Rock Fire may yet result in more blessing than curse in the long run.

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