Mountain News: Ban on plastic bags finally in the works in Jackson 

click to enlarge WWW.SHUTTERSTOCK.COM - No plastic Jackson, Wyoming is joining other mountain towns in saying 'no' to plastic bags
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  • No plastic Jackson, Wyoming is joining other mountain towns in saying 'no' to plastic bags

JACKSON, Wyo.—Elected officials in Jackson have decided that it's time to crimp the distribution of single-use plastic bags. Still to be decided is exactly how the crimping will be done.

"As a community, we pride ourselves on being a leader in mountain towns and try to set a good example, but we are slacking on this," Ashley Watson told the Jackson Town Council last week. "I think we can do better and make a difference if we start with plastic bags and move to straws, move to forks, Styrofoam, and really make our community a leader in this situation."

Watson owns a home-grocery delivery business called Mountains of Groceries. She said she was among about 10 people who began connecting within the last year about their common desire to substantially remove the presence of disposable plastic.

As a destination, said Watson, Jackson needs to set an example. "People come to us from all over the place, and maybe they'll be impacted by what we've done and they'll take (the idea) home."

The Jackson Town Council first considered a bag ban in 2011, soon after California and Colorado towns and cities began taking up the matter. But the town's mayor, Mark Barron, frowned on what he considered too much government intrusion into the affairs of businesses.

Other ski towns have adopted a variety of bans and fees. The most restrictive apply not just to grocery stores, but to all retailers. In Jackson, that's the preference of Watson. "I don't think it's fair to single out one type of store when all plastic is causing the problem," she said.

A survey of the town's largest merchants by a city employee showed both support and at least mild opposition. Albertson's, the largest grocery store, already has a robust recycling program of plastic bags and aids the local community-recycling program. Local bags get transported to Salt Lake City and eventually to Nevada for manufacture as plastic wood.

Even when people do collect them, plastic bags have limited use, according to a memo by Johnny Ziem, of the town's public works department. "Plastic bags are inherently contaminated with liquids, paper receipts, and food items such as onion skins," he wrote. "Therefore, the number of plastic bags that can be recycled is limited by contamination of the bags themselves."

The Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 found that nine per cent of all plastic bags were recycled, 12 per cent were incinerated, and the remaining 79 per cent ended up in landfills.

Or, as the Jackson Hole News&Guide noted, they end up in oceans. In early May, a plastic bag was found by researchers at the bottom of the Marianna Trench, 11,000 metres beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean. A World Economic Forum report recently found that the world's oceans could have more plastic by weight than fish by 2050.

What fish swim in now is ending up in the fish—and in humans. The Los Angeles Times noted a recent study by the University of California-Davis of seafood sold at markets in Half Moon Bay, between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Researchers found that one-quarter of fish and one-third of shellfish contained plastic debris.

Ireland and other countries around the world took action first. A town in Manitoba was the first in North America in 2007, followed soon after by San Francisco and then a flood of other cities, including the ski towns of Truckee, Mammoth Lakes, and South Lake Tahoe.

California now has a state-wide ban on plastic bags. The number of plastic bags collected on the most recent annual Coastal Cleanup day dropped by more than 60 per cent compared to 2010, noted the LA Times.

In Colorado, Telluride took action in 2011, followed by Aspen, Carbondale, and Boulder, then Breckenridge, Vail and, most recently, Avon. Crested Butte adopted a ban in 2016 that will take effect in September 2018. Park City, Utah also has a plastic bag ban.

As California tends to lead the United States in all things environmental, plastic straws will be up next and also plastic bottle lids. The LA Times noted that six bills were introduced into the legislative assembly this year concerning plastics.

The bills were motivated, in part, to studies documenting the broader plastic pollution in water, not just in oceans. The LA Times pointed to a study by Patagonia, the clothing manufacturer, that found that a microfleece jacket could release more than 1,000 milligrams of microfibres each time it is washed. Laundry machines today are not equipped to filter out microfibers, usually less than five millimetres long, and up to 40 per cent of microfibres pass through wastewater treatment plants.

Legislators say no one wants to drink a glass of water and wonder if they're also downing a glass of plastic.

Trademark secured for seal

PARK CITY, Utah—Municipal officials in Park City have secured a federal trademark for the municipal seal. Officials also have been seeking a trademark for the municipal seal as it relates to clothing and outerwear like jackets, shirts, hats and sweats.

The applications, explained The Park Record, were filed shortly after a dispute with Vail Resorts was resolved. The ski company had attempted to trademark the name "Park City" as it relates to a mountain resort. The ski company explained that it was attempting to secure a trademark that was narrowly worded, intended only to block another mountain resort from using the name.

That argument fell short in Park City, where demonstrators took to the streets with signs to object. At length, the company retreated.

The seal now trademarked by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office gets used frequently for municipal business. It includes the name of the community and 1884, the year of incorporation. The seal can be found on documents as well as municipal garages and other infrastructure.

The dispute involving Vail Resorts promoted other businesses and not-for-profit organizations to also file for trademarks. Among them were Park City Coffee Roaster and the Park City Film Series.

Confederate leader's name may be replaced

MARKLEEVILLE, Calif.—Locally elected officials have recommended that a volcanic plug near Lake Tahoe named after a famous Confederate leader in the Civil War be renamed with a phrase used by the Indigenous Washoe tribe of native Americans.

The 2,800-metre-high Jeff Davis Peak honours the president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. That area of the Sierra Nevada had drawn silver miners, many of them Southern sympathizers.

Summitpost.org described the mountain as "little known and rarely climbed" but "unquestionably the most impressive summit in the Lake Tahoe area." Even by its easiest route, the plug is an "interesting, airy, and occasionally spicy class-4 scramble."

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that elected officials in Alpine County have recommended the peak be renamed "Da-Ek Dow Go-et," a name proposed by the local Washoe tribe. The name means "saddle between points."

The newspaper said that an insurance salesman and history buff from San Rafael, a city in the San Francisco Bay Area, proposed the Confederate leader's name be removed. As a replacement, he recommended the name of a businessman responsible for stringing the first telegraph wire over the Sierra Nevada. Local officials instead solicited the advice of the Washoe.

The U.S. Board on Geographical Names has final say. But support of the local county commissioners for a name proposed by a local Native American tribe makes it more likely to be approved, the Chronicle observed.

Alpine County also recommended the board change the name of another Squaw Ridge, near the Kirkwood Ski Resort, one of two ski areas within the county. The word "squaw" is often considered an ethnic and sexual slur, although it may have derived from a non-derogatory Algonquin word meaning the totality of being female.

So far, there seems to be no movement to rename Pickett Peak, another geographic feature near Lake Tahoe named after a Confederate general.

However, another Jeff Davis Peak—this one in eastern Nevada's Great Basin National Park—has sparked a renaming effort. In that case, the proposal to rename it after an escaped South Carolina slave was rejected by the federal agency.

A time for beer, polka and a 21-gun salute

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—On Memorial Day, explained Mark Reaman, editor of the Crested Butte News, his town has a different feel. It's then that the old-timers or their descendants return, those who were in Crested Butte when it was a mining town, not a ski town. That shift occurred in the 1960s.

"Veterans from the old Crested Butte families will squeeze into their old military uniforms" and "greet their old friends, reminisce about the previous year and chat about their old stomping grounds that are now the site of million-dollar houses."

Writing in advance of the holiday, he predicted a Catholic mass at the cemetery in the morning following by a 21-gun salute and then a potluck. Then later in the afternoon would be a polka.

"There you will be taken back to a simpler time in Crested Butte. No one will be talking about increasing visitor numbers or appropriate density. The afternoon will be full of solid people, beer, and dancing," he wrote.

They will not, he added, complain about changes in Crested Butte, having long ago accepted that their town is a different town than when they or their parents laboured in the local coal mine.

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