RENO, Nev. — As certain as the yellowing of aspen leaves, bears are in the news in almost every mountain town newspaper.
In the Sierra Nevada, an Associated Press story notes that bears currently are trying to scarf the caloric equivalent of 83 cheeseburgers a day.
A typical bear's intake jumps from 3,000 to 25,000 calories a day this time of year, said Chris Healy, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife.
On the Nevada side of the Sierra Nevada, dozens have been rounded up in the Lake Tahoe-Reno area after getting into trouble. But only two were killed for their recidivism.
In Colorado, the toll is much, much higher. In the area from Vail to Aspen and westward to Grand Junction, some 41 bears were killed this summer after violating Colorado's rules about repeat offenders. Included were four cubs and one sow put down in Aspen during the last two weeks, while another sow is being hunted.
"It's all human-error related," said Kevin Wright, district wildlife ranger for Colorado Parks and Wildlife. "It's trash, trash, trash. Aspen has not gotten a hold of its trash issues."
He told the Aspen Daily News that crabapples are also drawing bears to residential and business areas.
Social media execs buy Nevada homes
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Employees of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn seem to be liberally represented in the lists of second-home owners in Incline Village and Crystal Bay, two resort communities located along Lake Tahoe.
Importantly, says the Sierra Sun, they're located on the Nevada side of the line. The larger share of Lake Tahoe lies in California, but Nevada has more attractive tax laws for the wealthy.
"Nevada offers some of the most favourable estate and trust laws in the nation, while California has some of the worst and least flexible," says Greg Crawford, co-manager of Alliance Trust in Reno. He tells the newspaper that one-quarter of his company's business comes from setting up Nevada-based trusts for Silicon Valley and Bay Area residents.
"A lot of Twitter executives have used Nevada trusts to shelter and shield part of their assets," he says. "The same is true with Facebook and GoPro. It is very well established in Silicon Valley that Nevada is a better place for your wealth. It may not be a better place to create it, but it's a better place to protect it."
Much of Alliance Trust's business over the past few years has come from younger clients working at social media companies, he said.
Scoping out the inflating value of real estate, up 13 per cent in the last year, the Sierra Sun finds that "cabin-style" furnishings are passé among many of these younger buyers. They favor more modern furnishings and fixtures.
Automatized home operations are also popular.
"Younger families are trending to more modern homes that are fully automated," says Pam Aaron, owner of Sierra Verde Interior Design in Incline Village. "You can run the whole house from an iPad. You can turn on the house from your car, and it's warm when you get there."
DNA evidence links four bears to man's death
JACKSON, Wyo. — In early September, a contractor working for the U.S. Forest Service was killed in the Teton Wilderness north of Jackson.
The Wyoming Fish and Wildlife Service analysis of DNA specimens don't conclusively find a killer, but the evidence suggests two male grizzlies, one female grizzly and one male black bear "associated with the area during or shortly after the encounter."
The Jackson Hole News&Guide further notes that two deer carcasses that bears had been feeding on were nearby, an indication that whatever bears killed the man were provoked to do so in an effort to protect their food.
First gay couple wed in wake of non-ruling
EAGLE, Colo. — On Oct. 7, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would not hear cases on gay marriage, in effect, dismissing the ban in Colorado and other states. Reading about it the next morning in a newspaper, Beth Reed and Dorothy "Bit" Hood decided to hasten to the Eagle County Courthouse during their lunch hour to get married.
And so, reports the Vail Daily, the first gay marriage in Eagle County occurred. Teak Simonton, the long-time county clerk, told the newspaper that she has long supported same-sex marriage and would have given couples a marriage license before — if only a couple had asked.
The first couple in Eagle County met in Denver, where Beth sold cars and Bit bought a Jeep. They met two weeks later for dinner and have had many dinners together in the 14 years since.
They say that while being in a civil union is good, being married is better, as marriage entitles them to make the kinds of decisions for each other that heterosexual couples make.
"Colorado's civil unions are designed to be separate but equal, but it's neither, really," Reed said.
Difference between a ski town and ski city
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club says it began using the phrase "Ski Town U.S.A." in 1959. It was the governing body for the town's small ski area, called Howelsen Hill, which had been open for decades. The big ski area, called Steamboat, was opened two years later.
Now comes "Ski City USA," the invention of a trade group trumpeting Salt Lake City as a ski destination.
Steamboat does not take kindly to the flattery by mimicry and has sued the Utah group, called Visit Salt Lake.
The Utah group tried to split hairs, arguing that its $1.8 million promotional campaign around Ski City USA "celebrates and promotes the fact that there is a distinct alternative of the 'ski town' experience, one that will forever change ski-related travel for a large segment of winter enthusiasts."
Vail Resorts names Park City executive
PARK CITY, Utah — Vail Resorts wasted no time in deciding who to install in Park City to run its show there. Bill Rock has been reassigned from California, where he had been chief operating officer at Northstar with oversight of Heavenly and Kirkwood ski areas.
Rock had worked for Intrawest as chief operating officer at Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia from 2005 to 2010 and before that was chief operating officer at Durango Mountain Resort.
He reports to Blaise Carrig, who is president of Vail Resorts' mountain division, working from the company's headquarters near Boulder, Colo.
Blakes succeeded the old-fashioned way
TAOS, N.M. — The Blake family sold the Taos ski area last year to Louis Bacon, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who owns several large ranches in southern Colorado and New Mexico. But the Blakes are not forgotten in Taos.
The ski area was started by Ernie and Rhoda Blake in 1955 after moving from the East Coast. Rhoda survives, although Ernie died several years ago. Their children, who are now all in their 60s, remember the hard work of carving out a ski area in the southern end of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Just getting to the ski area took perseverance, the Taos News notes. The road remained unpaved until the early 1970s. It was windy and often snowy, muddy or dusty. It crossed a creek several times. In some places, it split into two tracks to go around a tree.
The ski area now employs 650 people at peak season.
On the newspaper's website, some commentator remembers when the ski area came along. Many locals pooh-poohed Ernie Blake's vision. "The local gentry should have been delighted, but he spoke negative of his endeavor," wrote the commentator, who said he was a shoe-shine boy at the time.
In Ketchum/Sun Valley church is the outdoors
KETCHUM, Idaho — How is Ketchum, Sun Valley and the rest of Blaine County different from broader America?
Well-heeled, of course, and more often well-heeled in telemark gear and other ski gear. But also different in religion. Only 17 per cent of local residents self-identify as churchgoers, compared to the national average of 45 to 50 per cent.
These and other statistics were reported by the Idaho Mountain Express after a recent business resilience forum.
Of visitors, 55 per cent of those visiting Sun Valley Resort are male, and a full-fifth of them come from California with an average annual income of more than $170,000.
CNG or electric buses?
VAIL, Colo. — Vail has an extensive bus fleet, 32 vehicles altogether, and 10 of them are hybrids.
Can Vail scrap diesel, smelly and sometimes expensive, for all-electric or natural gas?
Town officials are studying the pluses and minuses, reports the Vail Daily. Dan Richardson, a transportation consultant, points out that compressed natural gas, or CNG, burns more cleanly and is likely to be relatively inexpensive. But new infrastructure would be required and comes at a high cost.
Roaring Fork Transportation Authority switched one-fifth of its much larger fleet to CNG, although it had significant federal help in making the switch. The agency operates buses from Aspen to various down-valley towns.
An all-electric fleet might be the future, but buses now cost $900,000 each and the technology has less of a track record. Too, it's better for short-routes.