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Mountain News: Jackson Hole aims to be ‘Geneva of the Rockies’


Compiled by Allen Best

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — Can dramatic scenery inspire global peace and progress while also filling local hotel rooms? That seems to be the ambition of a new organization, the Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs.

The organization recently held its first conference, called the U.S.-China Clean Energy Initiative, a weekend gathering of international bankers, environmentalists, scientists and government officials to address global warming.

Jackson Hole has served as a high-stakes meeting ground before. In a 1989 article titled Where the Elk and the Diplomats Roam, New York Times reporter Timothy Egan dubbed Jackson Hole "The Geneva of the Rockies." Then Secretary of State James A. Baker was meeting with his counterpart from the Soviet Union, Eduard A. Shevardnadze, to talk about chemical warfare, nuclear missiles, and such. The intent, said Baker, was to use "one of the garden spots of the earth" to help inspire global solutions to questions of war and peace.

From a less ethereal perspective, chamber director Steve Duerr told the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the mission of the new center dovetails with his agency’s agenda of creating "sustainable business," by drawing visitors during a time when tourists are few, and not harming the valley’s natural resources.

Wally World ad isn’t from Canmore

CANMORE, Alberta — Canadian television viewers will soon see a Christmas commercial for Wal-Mart that suggests the setting is scenery-blessed Canmore. In fact, in-store scenes were shot in Calgary, outdoor shorts in Golden, B.C. For that matter, Canmore doesn’t even have a Wal-Mart, nor does Wal-Mart have plans to build there.

Still, the local tourism director told the Rocky Mountain Outlook that the television exposure "can’t help but be a positive thing" for Canmore.

Historian says Ed Abbey started a stupid argument

BOULDER, Colo. — Ranchers vs. environmentalists? It’s a time-wasting dispute, says environmental historian Patrician Nelson Limerick.

"Edward Abbey was successful in throwing everybody off track for a while with his attack on ranchers in the mid-1980s, and that was kind of a waste of time because, if the ranchers had collapsed economically and sold out to developers, then Edward Abbey would have played a role in the creation of more condos in the West," she said in an interview in Divide, a new magazine.

"It doesn’t take the deepest ecological science to know that if your goal is preservation of habitat for wildlife, then you are so much better off with the ranchers than you are with the condos and the big houses spread around the landscape."

That said, she conceded that coalitions between ranchers and enviros will always be precarious "and probably have to be renegotiated every morning."