Friday, February 11, 2011

Mountain Town News


It was plenty cold at 36 below

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo.—In Steamboat Springs last week, it was cold enough to close the schools, the first time in at least 22 years that that has happened.

The official reading one morning was 36 below zero. Technically, that wasn't sufficient to meet the school district policy, which specifies 40 below. But the temperature at the bus barn was that low in the pre-dawn morning, and diesel fuel can gel, making it impossible for buses to do their routes.

The last time it got this cold was in early February 1985, when the temperature hit 44 degrees below. The record low was 54, a benchmark established a century ago, according to records cited by the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Towns discuss economic diversification

JACKSON, Wyo.—Now the third year into the down economy, mountain resort towns continue to talk about diversifying their economies.

Aspen has been making a conscious effort to be more accommodating to somewhat lower-income people, the merely middle class. Vail has been talking about reaching out to active women and, alternatively, to a broader international clientele.

But there is also talk that instead of real estate and tourism, mountain valleys need a stronger component of paychecks tied to a more stable, or at least different, part of the economy. Steamboat Springs, which already has a huge number of software developers, is talking about even greater Internet connectivity.

In Jackson Hole, incoming Teton County Commissioner Paul Perry has stressed the importance of creating an economic development team focused on bringing in high-tech companies.

Co-housing group seeks Park City plot

PARK CITY, Utah—Co-housing is a concept that takes the concept of neighborliness and draws it more toward that of extended family. Everybody has his own house, even if they tend to be smaller, but there is much more sharing of common spaces.

Colorado has 16 co-housing communities, mostly small, while Utah has two, New Mexico five and California 51. As well, co-housing can be found at Calgary, Nelson, B.C. and North Vancouver, among other Canadian locations.

Now, a nonprofit group is seeking sites in Park City that could be incorporated into a development using the co-housing theory. That theory, explains Jeff Werbelow, executive director of the Greenhouse Foundation, involves collaborative efforts in designing communities. It make a community of like-minded people, he told The Park Record.

Canmore man ends upright

CANMORE, Alberta—A Canmore man got lucky recently when caught in an avalanche on Mount Sparrowhawk, a 10,000-foot peak south of Canmore. He was alone when caught by the slide, and was shoved against a tree.

He was only buried to his armpits, and his hands ended up outside the snow. The latter may not seem important, but you must understand that snow after an avalanche sets up almost as firmly as concrete within just a few seconds. Not cement but concrete. And third, he had a cell phone and cell phone reception.

"If any one of those things were different, it could have possibly been a different ending," Mike Koppang, a public safety assistant for the provincial government, told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. As it was, the man was hypothermic when search crews arrived by helicopter.

Aspen eyes tax on plastic bags

ASPEN, Colo.—Aspen is moving in the direction of public policy that would discourage use of plastic bags for shopping. The City Council did not take a formal stance, but indicated support for a tax of 5 or 10 cents a bag.

This would be different from the law in Telluride. There, officials have banned non-biodegradable plastic bans altogether.

Why not voluntary recycling? Nathan Rutledge, director of a nonprofit called Community Office of Resource Efficiency, said only 3 to 5 percent of plastic bags get recycled. And, at least in Aspen, recycling is a labor-intensive effort. Too, because of Aspen's distance from Denver, where recyclable goods are taken, the carbon footprint for plastic bags is fairly high.

"So your net energy gain is probably negative, which is not the goal," he said.

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