Mountain news: Jasper bighorns have new home in Dakotas 

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JASPER, Alberta — Some 24 bighorn sheep that had been living on the edge of Jasper National Park were caged and then released in North Dakota.

The Jasper Fitzhugh explains that the last known bighorn sheep native to North Dakota died in 1905, but a half century later wildlife officials there decided to reintroduce the species. With this new transplant from Jasper, North Dakota has about 350 big horns.

Alberta will still have about 6,500 bighorn sheep living outside its national parks. In the past it has donated sheep to B.C., but also Nebraska, New Mexico, Washington state, and Utah, among others.

"The reason we do this is that it helps to ensure the long-term sustainability of bighorn sheep in North America," explained Carrie Sancartier, a spokesperson for Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development.

flood warning system approved

CANMORE, Alberta — Eventually, Canmore would like to see Alberta take responsibility, but for the next several years it has committed to installing an early warning system on Cougar Creek. The creek flooded last year, the water made more powerful because of what is called a debris flow.

The town spent $600,000 to understand what happened on Cougar Creek and expects to spend $14 million in short-term mitigation, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook. The creek, however, is just one of about nine that originate in the steel-walled mountains above Canmore and flow through the town.

Two-week spring break for schools

JACKSON, Wyo. — Good golly, when will it end? A few decades back, school started after Labour Day and ended by Memorial Day. Then, for whatever reason, classes started in August, earlier and earlier. Back-to-school specials on Summer Solstice?

Schools in Jackson, Wyo., however, continue to hew to a more traditional calendar, starting after Labour Day but enjoying a two-week spring break, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Mormon curtains to remain

PARK CITY, Utah — In its state laws regulating how wine and liquor can be dispensed, Utah always has been out of step with the rest of the United States. It will stay that way.

While some arcane laws have changed, the state law still requires a separate dispensing area sometimes called the "Zion curtain," a reference to the Mormon church that dominates the state. New restaurants are required to erect an opaque partition that prevents customers from viewing the pouring or preparation of alcoholic drinks.

One proposal before the Legislature, reports the Park Record, would have eliminated the requirement of this out-of-sight area with a simple notice at the public entrance alerting customers to the fact that alcoholic drinks are prepared and dispensed in public views.

The bill got shot down, though. Why isn't exactly clear. Even one of the supporters of the Mormon curtain conceded that it's the "dumbest thing in the world." It seems to have to do with the idea that the curtain discourages under-age drinking.

Art piece isn't right

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. — Last year, Breckenridge put out a call for a sculpture to grace the new roundabout at the town's north entrance. Of the 260 responses, the town art board settled on piece called "Syncline," by Albert Paley.

But the sculpture won't go into the roundabout. Gary Gallagher, a councilman, said he thought the piece was better viewed up close, on foot, rather than in a car navigating the roundtable.

"We want an iconic piece, that the Eiffel Tower is to Paris or the (Gateway) Arch is to St. Louis," he told the Summit Daily News. "It has to represent something more than itself. I don't see any piece speaking to Breckenridge, certainly not when you enter the town."

Breck a leg, artists.

High-end hotel pitched

TELLURIDE, Colo. — A developer who thinks he can entice a high-end hotel operator like a Marriott or Starwood is courting Telluride, and Telluride is interested.

But Randy Edwards tells the town council he needs 50 units, not just the 37 that current zoning allows, to interest Marriott or Starwood. The location is on an existing parking lot along the town's main street.

"The Marriott has its Autograph line of hotels, but it uses the same reservation system, which is a beast," Edwards told the Telluride Town Council, speaking to the marketing power of the hotel chain.

"Right now, we only have one Marriott hotel in a Colorado ski town, and that's in Vail. And they run at around 85 per cent occupancy. They have Marriott rewards holders that might come during shoulder seasons."

Rooms would average 375 square feet in size, notes The Telluride Watch.

Telluride's two newspapers say the town council didn't say yes to the concept, tentatively called Hotel Ajax. For one thing, there isn't a formal proposal. And the waiver from zoning would likely draw opposition. But the council is clearly interested. The town has shed full-service hotel rooms, although a high-end hotel was built several years ago at the adjoining town of Mountain Village.

Telluride adds another increment to renewables

TELLURIDE, Colo. — Little by little, Telluride continues to put money into renewable energy. The town government's most recent plan is to purchase solar panels for the town's extensive affordable housing, in which 20 per cent of residents live.

The panels wouldn't be on the housing units themselves. Telluride sits in a box canyon, and some places get absolutely no sunshine on the short days of winter.

A much better place is 129 kilometres west, in the desert-like Paradox Valley. There, a company called Clean Energy Collective has a solar farm with 4,784 photovoltaic panels. The town is buying 475 of them, at a total cost of almost $330,000.

Residents of the affordable housing units can opt directly into the ownership themselves, but their ownership of the panels will not go with them when they leave the deed-restricted units. Rather, ownership of the panels will stay with the units

Telluride's town government earlier purchased 215 panels in the solar array in the Paradox Valley to offset electricity used in municipal operations. The town has taken a variety of other steps, including a small hydro system at the water treatment plant.


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