Mountain Town News
By Allen Best
Time runs short for wabbits
CANMORE, Alberta – What does Canmore, located at the gateway to Banff National Park, have against a few thousand bunny rabbits hip-hopping around?
Not all that much, except that rabbit doo-doo has caused some parents to warn their children against playing in yards and parks, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook. Perhaps more significantly, town officials worry that the rabbits will attract too many cougars and other predators.
The feral rabbits are the descendents of pets let loose. The town was split on whether to whack the wacky wabbits in 2007, but the city has now allocated $50,000 to deal with them.
Whistler seeks to reinvest
WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler-Blackcomb ski area managers are looking to invest back into the mountain. They’re talking about potential terrain expansion, new lifts, more restaurant seats —and a possible wind farm.
Whistler already has a little more than 8,000 acres of skiable terrain, but if skier numbers grow, another 2,000 acres could be added to the Khyber Ridge area, said Doug Forseth, senior vice president of operations, at a recent open house.
Ski area officials have also started talking about the potential for a 9-megawatt wind power project, reports Pique Newsmagazine. That output would be sufficient to meet 20 percent of the electrical demand at the ski area. The ski area has tested a couple of sites, but without success. Now, it’s looking at the Khyber’s Ridge area, which gets blasted by strong, sometimes turbulent winds.
Arthur DeJong, the mountain planning and environmental resource manager, outlined two major questions: Are wind turbines and towers sufficient resilient to handle the variable and turbulent wind trends? And will the public accept the scenic impact.
Crested Butte champions uphillers
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Ski area operators at Crested Butte are championing the uphilling at the ski area and adjacent area called Snodgrass Mountain. Ski executives for a number of years have been known to strap skins onto their skis to go uphill every morning before the lifts start.
That practice now continues with Ken Stone, the chief operating officer, and Tim Mueller, the ski area president. Most mornings, there are 30 people and 20 dogs going up the mountain at 6:30 a.m., notes the Crested Butte News. However, the ski area prohibits uphilling between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
La Niña cheered
JACKSON, Wyo. – You think people don’t like to backcountry ski in Jackson Hole? More than 600 people attended the Skinny Skis Avalanche Awareness Night in Jackson recently. And according to the Jackson Hole News&Guide, there were cheers every time that the phrase “La Niña” was mentioned.
If not a record, La Niña weather pattern has dumped great volumes of snow on Jackson. The comparison with last winter’s sparse offerings are particularly striking.
These early and regular snows have created relatively stable snowpack, meaning that avalanches won’t occur as easily. Still, they remain possible, particularly during storm cycles.
Now really, what is your best rate?
WHISTLER, B.C. – What’s the best price? That cat-and-mouse has gotten more complicated with the Great Recession, with travelers cagey enough to know that hotels were desperate for business.
Pique Newsmagazine explains that the combination of online bargain-hunting tools and continued economic recession has yielded more people waiting until the last minute to book vacations.
Price undercutting has resulted, causing hard feelings. For example, some overseas tour operators booked prices early on, arriving in Whistler only to learn that lower prices were available.
In response, Whistler tourism operators have tried to mimic airlines, giving the best price in advance and then increasing rates as time of use approached.
But the ski area operator in Whistler hasn’t bought into the idea. Its tactical “flash sales,” with rates below what had been “guaranteed” as the best prices by Tourism Whistler, the resort’s primary bookings agency, could leave some customers thinking they’ve been deceived. As Pique Newsmagazine notes, customers don’t necessarily realize that ski towns have different organizations.
Idling illegal except when its not
PARK CITY, Utah – After a few years of gentle nudging, Park City has adopted a law that limits idling to three minutes.
That said, the new law leaves enough exemptions to drive a truck through: emergency vehicles, vehicles defrosting windows, anytime it’s below 32 degrees or above 90, vehicles stuck in traffic, and on and on.
Vail/Beaver Creek sets benchmark
VAIL, Colo. – Although relatively few people will pay it, the single-day lift ticket price at Vail and Beaver Creek this winter will peak at $108 during Christmas week, then dropping to $102 in early January. The peak at Breckenridge during Christmas will be $104, and at Keystone $99. Aspen drew the line at $99, reports the Aspen Times, as did Telluride.
Open space rules in Idaho
HAILEY, Idaho – Two ranches with an aggregate total of 4,600 acres located near Hailey, about 10 miles from Ketchum and Sun Valley, have been sold.
One of those parcels had been identified as a potential site for what would have been essentially a new town for workers in Sun Valley, Ketchum and Hailey. The Urban Land institute in a 2006 had identified the site as a viable location.
But the new owner Harry Hagey, told the Idaho Mountain Express, that he and his wife, Shirley Hagey, are not subdividing he property. He further said they had not decided on a conservation easement plan, but that is their intent.
Tea Partier to bless spending
ASPEN, Colo. – Ultra-liberal Aspen now has a congressman who identifies with the Tea Party. A logical question is whether that congressman will support the application by Roaring Fork Transit Authority for $25 million in federal money to help connect Aspen with outlying communities via a new bus system.
Should be no problem, said U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton after hearing a 30-minute presentation. The funding proposal is well along. But in the future, he said, the federal spigot will be tightening. “We’ve got real economic challenges,” he said.
In addition to this and other one-time grants, the federal government gives the bus agency $800,000 annually for operations, or about 3 percent of the agency’s total operating budget, notes The Aspen Times.