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Mountain News: Vail not interested in downhill biking

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Fire and town officials told The Denver Post that they remain worried about the potential for wildfire. "We're very uncomfortable. We think we've been living on borrowed time," said Tim Gagen, the town manager. Without a legal mandate, the town now will ask for voluntary compliance.

The issue pivoted to an extent on costs of insuring homes in forested areas subject to potential forest fires, reports the Summit Daily . But the Denver Post suggests that insurance companies may ultimately force homeowners in forested areas to take steps to mitigate risks.

"The public policy direction of the insurance industry is that, increasingly, we are requiring homeowners to see it as a shared risk and take certain mitigation steps in order to get and keep affordable insurance when they live in a high-risk wildfire area," said Carole Walker, executive director of the Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association.

Jackson Hole cuts energy use

JACKSON, Wyo. - In February 2008, city officials in Jackson and leaders of Teton County called a combined meeting of all city and county employees to explain their energy program, called 10 X 10. Their goal, they said, was to reduce energy use 10 per cent in government operations by the year 2010.

The leaders laid out two layers of justification. Energy was money, said Bob McLaurin, the town manager of Jackson, and hence saving energy saved taxpayers money. Also, Jackson Mayor Mark Barron had committed the town to trying to achieve reductions in greenhouse gases in accordance with the Mayors' Agreement on Climate Change.

It's now getting close to 2010. How are Jackson and Teton County doing?

The two governments have reduced fuel used for transportation, heating and cooling by 7 per cent, while electrical use has dropped nearly 4 per cent. Wendy Koelfgen, energy affairs coordinator for the two governments, says the goal looks attainable.

"I think we're looking really good," she says.

Plans already laid could result in much bigger savings yet. For example, the wastewater treatment plant is one of the biggest consumers of electricity in Jackson Hole, rivaling use even of the ski lifts at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Replacement of aerators will save one million kilowatt hours, she says.

While the city and county try to clean house, the broader community has been given what is labeled the Wolfensohn Challenge, named after former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, a part-time resident. That challenge aims for broader community-wide energy reduction in the private sector.