Mountain News: Jasper scientist fired 

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JASPER, Alberta — More than 100 former employees of Parks Canada and scientists have signed a letter voicing displeasure at the firing of the senior scientist in Jasper National Park. They accuse the Canadian government of instilling "fear" among those still working for the agency.

John Wilmshurst was fired in June after 15 years for reason that remain shrouded, explains the Jasper Fitzhugh. He would not comment when contacted by the Fitzhugh, and the parks agency refused to talk about a personnel matter.

Nik Lopoukhine, a retired director general of national parks in Canada, said the issue is about more than just one individual. "It's more about the reality that science has been cut back and projects that are going forward are contravening the National Parks Act."

The letter was issued a week after Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society launched a campaign objecting to what they see as the commercialization of Canada's national parks.

Aspen house to have a double-deep basement

ASPEN, Colo. — Above ground, the old house in Aspen will look like the miner's cottage that it once was, but with a new addition. Below ground, there will be two levels, one with a seven-metre ceiling, high enough to accommodate a basketball gym.

This will be the last house in Aspen with a two-level basement. The Aspen City Council last year outlawed super-deep basements based on the argument that it's too disruptive to neighbours and unnecessarily consumptive of resources. The house remodel had been approved prior to that action.

But in remarks to the Aspen Daily News, Mayor Steve Skadron suggested that it's not just a matter of getting along with the neighbours. Rather, he said, it's not "the kind of project that speaks to community values."

Town laws will continue to allow 12- and 15-metre-deep excavations for commercial projects.

Odour-eater for cannabis

ASPEN, Colo. — A cannabis proprietor in Aspen has bet his farm, literally, that an odour mitigation system will keep neighbours from howling about the skunky smell coming from his marijuana plants.

"This summer has been horrendous for us," said one neighbour of the marijuana greenhouses at a meeting of more than 100 people. The Aspen Daily News explains that the neighbours complained of the unpleasant odor coming from the operation, which is not uncommon.

Jordan Lewis, founder of Aspen's Silverpeak Apothecary, the cannabis store, and High Valley Farms, the grow operation, said he has spent more than $1 million to buy a carbon-filtered odour-mitigation system. "We literally bet the farm on this solution," he said.

From all available evidence presented at the Pitkin County commissioners' meeting, the new system seems to work. All but one commissioner voted to allow him to continue operations as long as odours don't bother the neighbours.

Commissioner Steve Child pointed out that all precincts in Pitkin County in 2012 voted for Colorado's constitutional amendment that authorizes growing and sale of cannabis. The county as a whole was 75 per cent in support, second only to the 79 per cent of San Miguel County (Telluride) among Colorado's 64 counties.

"And then it's a case of everybody took a not-in-my-backyard attitude," said Child.

Hotel to have works of local artists

KETCHUM, Idaho – Using the formula they have used in Aspen and Snowmass, representatives of the Aspen Skiing Co. have approached officials in Idaho about employing local art in their new hotel.

Expected to be completed in late 2016, the hotel in Ketchum will be part of Aspen's new Limelight chain. The Limelight hotel in Aspen was the first. Like it, the others are projected to be of moderate cost in the context of high-end, lifestyle-happy communities. The company has also kicked the tires in Boulder, Colo., and Charleston, N.C.

At Aspen and Snowmass, the company works with the Aspen Art Museum, which suggests artists to feature on lift tickets. Their shared goal, explained Don Schuster, a vice president of the Aspen Skiing Co., is to incorporate art into unexpected places.

A mid-mountain Elk Camp restaurant at Snowmass, another Aspen Skiing Co. property, also has a mural that seeks to depict an aerial view of the ski area. Aspen representatives say they hope to similarly incorporate local art from Ketchum into the new hotel in downtown Ketchum.

Mike Kaplan, executive of the ski company, and Heidi Zuckerman, chief executive of the museum, also appeared before the Ketchum City Council, reports the Idaho Mountain Express.

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