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Mountain News: Snowmobilers get no invite to Jackson Hole


JACKSON, Wyo. — Jackson Hole can afford to be selective about who it invites to come visit. Whether it is prejudiced in such matters is another discussion.

The town council there voted 3-2 against allowing a major snowmobile race at the in-town ski area, Snow King. Promoters expected to draw 5,000 people and had secured national TV coverage. Snow King estimated the event would generate US$2 million in Jackson during early December, a traditionally slack time of winter.

But the mayor, Pete Muldoon, said early December should remain quiet, and two councillors sided with him. Implicit in his remarks were complaints about the fumes and roars of snowmobiles and the sometimes rowdy behaviour of their drivers during another snowmobile race on the ski hill during spring. The ski hill is just across the street from houses.

"I think the public cost of producing a loud and disruptive event like this outweighs any public benefit that I see," said Muldoon, according to a report in the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Another councillor, Jim Stanford, said tourism promoters have been pushing too many special events. "Enough is enough," he said.

Councillor Don Frank articulated the minority position. "Although I am not a snowmobiler, there is a very large community of people who love the adventure and excitement of operating a snowmobile, and that culture should not be diminished or discredited, nor should it be mischaracterized," he said. "Most of them are just regular folks."

More talk in Banff about how to live with grizzlies

BANFF, Alberta — Town officials in Banff have started talking about putting the kibosh on crabapple trees and other things that attract wildlife. The neighbouring town of Canmore, located at the gateway to the national park, already has.

"I'm hesitant to say you can't have a bird feeder, a Halloween pumpkin outside, or fruit trees, but they are a problem and can attract wildlife. We have to find a way to manage that better," Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen told the Rocky Mountain Outlook. But for laws to have value, she added, they must also be enforced.

Once bears get a taste of fruit trees and then human food, it's a one-way street, said Steve Michel, a human-wildlife specialist for Banff National Park. "Ultimately the bear can end up being destroyed."

The discussion was precipitated by the unsettling experience of Bear 148, a sow grizzly.

She spent nearly all of her time in Banff National Park. She seemed to have her favourite fruit trees in Banff, the townsite, although she did not visit every year.

During the last two summers she migrated to Canmore to feast on buffalo berries in areas heavily used by hikers, bikes, joggers, and people walking dogs.

There, explained the Outlook, she daily encountered people this year. When she bluff-charged a jogger, coming within a metre of the man along a trail near a powerline, wildlife officials decided the bear had to go. They reached this conclusion knowing that there are just 60 grizzlies in the Banff area, and the species has a slow rate of reproduction.

Transplanted to the Willmore Wilderness Area, north of Jasper, the sow has been grazing on berries, working her way back and forth across the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia. There is little chance for incidental contact with humans, as there are very few people there. But trophy hunters pose a risk if she stays too long in B.C. The new provincial ban on trophy hunting will not take force until later this year.

There is also concern that she will wander her way back to the Banff-Canmore area, as many older relocated bears have a hankering for the familiar. At six and a half, though, this bear is relatively young.

In Banff during late August, there were two other wildlife interactions of concern. A bull elk charged a jogger on the recreation grounds in the town. The jogger grabbed the elk by the antlers and tried to push it away, but the elk pursued the jogger until he was able to take shelter.

The bull was, in the parlance of wildlife officials, destroyed. An adult female elk that hit a backpack of a person hasn't received the death penalty — yet.

More questions about role of Internet rentals

KETCHUM, Idaho — It's all connected, isn't it? The economy, the jobs, the housing.

In the Ketchum-Sun Valley area, an economic consultant has told local business leaders that local economic growth in 2016 was just one per cent, after adjustments for inflation, when he contends it should have been two per cent.

Harry Griffith, executive director of Sun Valley Economic Development, blames the slow growth on lack of employees. Unemployment was at a record low of three per cent last year.

"Labour is limiting everything," said Scott Burpee, chief executive of Safe Haven, an assisted-living centre. The Idaho Mountain Express said that Burpee got agreement from John Curnow, general manager of the Limelight, the hotel in Ketchum owned by the Aspen Skiing Co.

Are Internet rentals to blame? That's one view. But another view is that 90 per cent of short-term rentals in Ketchum and Sun Valley are offered by owners who do not live in the valley and therefore would be expected to live in those units part of the year. If they're not taking long-term rentals off the market, in this argument, they can not explain the labour shortage.

Vail, the town, designated as a sustainable destination

VAIL, Colo. — Vail, the municipality located at the foot of the eponymously named mountain, has been named among the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council.

The designation was based on a week-long assessment of wildlife protection, transportation, water quality, waste reduction, and greenhouse gas emissions, among other criteria.

Critics will note, as others already have, that a town that depends upon people flying across the continent to walk on streets that, in at least one area, are heated to melt the snow, can hardly be called sustainable. Kim Langmaid, a town councillor who has been a driving force for the destination as well as other sustainability efforts, readily concedes the point. Sustainability is, she said, a journey.