Mountain News: Yellowstone's wolves and grizzlies spread 

click to enlarge FILE PHOTO - wildlife worry Wildlife officials in Montana are concerned conflicts between humans and grizzly bears and wolves may increase as the animal populations spread lateraly.
  • file photo
  • wildlife worry Wildlife officials in Montana are concerned conflicts between humans and grizzly bears and wolves may increase as the animal populations spread lateraly.

RED LODGE, Mont. — From Yellowstone National Park, the populations of grizzly bears and gray wolves have been spreading laterally. Some people rejoice; others worry.

"They're here," said Shawn Stewart, a biologist with the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, referring to grizzly. "Now what do we do?"

To keep people out of harms way, said Stewart, they need to have no food lying around, such as in garbage cans. "Food-conditioned grizzly bears, bears with access to garbage and other anthropogenic food sources are much more likely to cause human injury or death than non-food conditioned bears," he told the Carbon County News of Red Lodge.

Nine people were killed by grizzlies in Yellowstone, Glacier and Banff National Parks between 1967 and 1989. Of them, eight were caused by seven different bears, all of which were food-conditioned, he said.

Bears which have yet to make the connection between humans and food almost always leave people alone. Just the same, bear spray is an effective deterrent when there are encounters with bears. He said studies show that where bear spray was used, 92 per cent of the bears changed their behaviour. In 98 per cent of cases, humans were unharmed.

In Wyoming, conservation groups seek to block a hunt of wolves that has already begun. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service delisted the wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act after first securing a management plan with Wyoming.

The plan, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide, allows up to 52 wolves in the northwest part of the state to be killed, but requires Wyoming to maintain at least 10 breeding pairs and 100 individual wolves outside of Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Gov. Matt Mead says the plan is working well, but conservationists disagree. "It's sort of a racer to the bottom in terms of wildlife management standards," said Tim Presco, of Earthjustice, which is representing Defenders of Wildlife and other groups.

'Hell on Highway' set to air

TRUCKEE, Calif. — Interstate 80 can be a bear to drive during winter. Consider the winter before last, when more than 700 inches fell on Donner Summit, whipped by wind gusts of 100 mph.

With that in mind, a film company got a contract with National Geographic and then lined up nine crews to record the story of keeping the highway open for long-haul truckers, skiers at Tahoe resorts, and whoever else would want to travel on the highway.

That was at the start of last winter, which wasn't at all like winter, explains the Sierra Sun. Finally, last February, the snowstorms began, and allowing America's Star Media to go into action. The results of its efforts are now being shown in a multi-part series called "Hell on the Highway."

Included are segments at a 90-room dormitory, described as the nerve center for highway maintenance, from which operators of snow blowers, graders and sanders work.

Three Sisters resort back

CANMORE, Alberta — There's life in the long moribund Three Sisters real estate development at Canmore. The project has been in court-ordered receivership for almost four years, and there's debt of $115 million.

An outstanding issue is how much space will be required for a wildfire corridor before the project can resume development. Now, town officials along with PricewaterhouseCoopers, the appointed manager and receiver of Three Sisters, along with the province have agreed on a framework for discussions.

That idea under discussion is leaving nearly 400 acres undeveloped. But there's potential for 2,459 residential and 1,500 hotel units that would be transferred to other parts of Three Sisters.

Nothing seems to be set in concrete, but rather, the parties think they might be able to agree on the details by next April.

Subaru the leading car maker in Jackson Hole

JACKSON, Wyo. — If there were an official car of Jackson Hole, it would have to be the Subaru. So says the Jackson Hole News&Guide. Subaru is the most common make of vehicle in Teton County, accounting for 15 per cent of all registered cars.

Interviews with Subaru owners revealed deep devotion. "That car was a total tank," said one, of his 1988 Subaru GI hatchback. It got 29 miles to a gallon of gasoline, it never messed up, and it never left him stranded by the side of the road.

"I never had to do anything to it except change tires and change oil," said the owner, Dennis Comer.

Neil Gleichman, a teacher across Teton Pass in Idaho, has 354,000 miles on his 1995 blue Subaru Legacy. He'd figured that he was going to trade it in at 300,000, but instead he's now shooting to join the million-mile club.

Dave Auge, co-owner of Teton Motors, told the newspaper that Subarus are popular because they're an all-wheel-drive vehicle. Too, the fun-loving, pet-focused outdoorsy culture that surrounds Subaru fits in well with Jackson. "There're not very many Subarus that don't have dog hair in them," he said.

Recovering real estate

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. — Real estate sales continue to recover as lowered prices meeting willing buyers have produced closing that rival, in quantity if not individual sales prices, the frantic pace of the boom years.

Consider the Telluride area, where total dollar volume in October was 132 per cent compared to the previous year.

Altogether, 2012 has been a rip-snorting year in sales, second only to 2007, according to Judi Kiernan, of Telluride Consulting.

Mike Shimkonis, broker associate with Telluride Properties, says that he believes November and December will continue the trend, because many sellers, for purposes of capital gains taxes, will want to close on sales by the end of the year. "I have a feeling we are going to see a huge number of closings in the last two weeks of December," he told The Telluride Watch.

Telluride real estate agent George Harvey also noted that Vail and Aspen had big months.

In Steamboat Springs and Routt County, foreclosure filings had been expected to increase. But Jeannie Whiddon, public trustee for the county, instead reports the pace of foreclosures has faltered significantly. At this pace, she told Steamboat Today, foreclosures could be down a third from 2011.

This same trend, if less pronounced, is occurring across Colorado, according to the Denver Post.

Cold weather nixes veggies

JACKSON, Wyo. — Is eating local food truly feasible in mountain towns where the growing season lasts something like a month, two months if frost comes late?

That's the debate in Wyoming, where several locals had the idea of creating a three-story greenhouse on a lot next to Jackson's municipal parking garage. They planned to employ disabled workers and sell the produce to local restaurants.

Seems like a wonderful idea. But is it practical?

"It's a pretty tricky climate to grow in,' said Dale Sharkey, co-owner of a farm called Cosmic Apple, in Victor, Idaho, about a half-hour drive away and in a place similarly high and cold.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide says that tomato grower to the south in Big Piney, which also gets cold and stays that way, says that growing through winter requires heat. If you don't have cheap fuel, your produce will cost a lot. The Jackson business, called Vertical Harvest, has budgeted $50,000 for electricity and heat.

And then, days grow short in winter. You might keep a plant alive, but will it grow? Again, perhaps, but with imported energy.

Will the restaurants pay a premium for locally grown produce? "The biggest issue I have with it is the amount of money that is being spent to potentially grow a bag of lettuce," said Ted Wells, owner of Alpenglow Farm in Victor, Idaho.

Restaurateur feeling heat

OURAY, Colo. — A much-loved restaurant in Ouray, the colorful old mining town at the gateway to the San Juan Mountains, is closed down. What's unusual is why.

Tim Tucker, a co-owner, said he has been ostracized in the community and sabotaged by employees because of his criminal history in the deepening past. In 1989 and 1990, he was convicted of sexual offenses against a minor.

Tucker says he is rehabilitated and has had a clean record, but under Colorado law must continue to register with the state every 90 days. In this way, his history followed him to Ouray last winter.

"I've never experienced the level of hate that has been shot around here in the last several months," he said. "It's been like living in the seventh pit of hell. I've definitively experienced ostracism and exclusion. I don't understand the huge backlash on something that happened a quarter-century ago."

Tucker tells the Watch that former employees sabotaged his business by giving the Bon Ton poor online reviews on sites like Trip Advisor, making false reservations that caused the restaurant to stay open late, and making "personal attacks" against him in the community.

The Italian restaurant is located in the basement of the St. Elmo Hotel. The hotel will remain open, however.

Petraeus pal spoke

ASPEN, Colo. — You might have guessed that there was an Aspen angle on the big story about Central Intelligence Agency director Davis Petraeus and his biographer, Paul Broadwell.

The Aspen Daily News reports that she spoke twice last summer at conferences in Vail, first at the Aspen Ideas Festival and then at the Aspen Security Forum.

"He is quite a physical specimen," she said during an hour-long interview at the Ideas Fest. "He really loves to work out. I think at the agency they call him a genetic mutant tow. For any of you who have worked out with him, he is 59 and he can run around 6:30 (minute) miles do over 120 push-ups, 120 sit-ups, 250 flutter kicks, which is pretty good for someone who has been in a high-demand job."

While in Aspen, Broadband also met up for a work out with Lance Armstrong, Both tweeted that the workout went well, notes the Daily News.

Smartphones disrupt value of Wi-Fi network

KETCHUM, Idaho — Ketchum has pulled the plug on its effort to have wireless interconnectivity throughout the town. The Wi-Fi system was somewhat expensive to maintain and users experienced large gaps in coverage. The rise in smartphone use is also a factor as the newer phones do not require Wi-Fi networks to access the Internet.

The Wi-Fi system was installed after Allen & Co., the investment firm that holds the well-known conference at nearby Sun Valley each July, awarded a $100,000 grant. Maintenance costs for the city have been reduced to $17,500 but additional investment was needed to improve signals through the coverage area. It is, city officials decided, time to move on, reports the Idaho Mountain Express.

JOBS PREDICTED TABLET IN 1983 TALK

ASPEN, Colo. — At the International Design Conference held in Aspen in 1983, Stephen Jobs gave a talk. The theme of the conference was "The Future Isn't What It Used to Be."

A tape of the lecture surfaced recently and has been posted to a website by Marcel Brown, a technology consultant in Edwardsville, Ill., reports The Aspen Times.

"Regarding the speech, it is amazing to hear Steve Jobs talk about some things that were not fully realized until only a handful of years ago," Brown wrote on his blog. "This talk shows how incredibly ahead of his time he was."

For example, he hinted at a future with computer tablets. Keep in mind that this talk was in 1983.

"We will find a way to put (a computer) in a shoebox and sell it for $2,500, and finally, we'll find a way to put it in a book," Jobs told the audience in Aspen.

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