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BY ALLEN BEST TRUCKEE, CALIF.—Potential for wildfire has become a focal point as officials consider whether to allow the real estate development proposed at the base of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows. The proposal would add 1,500 bedrooms and additional retail and resort amenities to the Olympic Valley during the next 25 years. The resort lies between Truckee and Lake Tahoe. Developers have acknowledged that wildfire could burn through the valley faster than people could evacuate. Approvals by Placer County are being challenged in court. Benjamin Spillman of the Associated Press talked with a resident, retired flight attendant Laura Haneveld, who fears being trapped. The fire at Paradise, Calif., which killed 85 people last November, and other fires in California in recent years cause her to worry even more about having too many people trying to flee down a twisting, curvy three-kilometre road to a highway that itself is only two lanes and also curvy. Truckee and Interstate 80 are about 16 kilometres away. Under some circumstances, said Squaw Valley developers and government officials, thousands of people might have to take refuge at the resort. Allen Riley, chief of the Squaw Valley Fire Department, said the acres of bare pavement and village area would be sufficient harbour for people to survive a quick-moving fire, although evacuation would be the first choice. He cited communities in Australia, the Rancho Santa Fe development north of San Diego, and Pepperdine University, between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, as places where shelter-in-place strategies have worked. California state legislators have been considering laws that would toughen the requirements of local governments for approving housing developments in high-risk areas, according to another AP report.

HIGH IN HEALTH RANKINGS JACKSON, Wyo.—Teton County, which is roughly synonymous with Jackson Hole, was ranked No. 6 in the nation for healthy communities in a data analysis conducted by Aetna with U.S. News and World Report. Colorado’s Chaffee County, home to the river towns of Salida and Buena Vista, ranked No. 11 in the same study, while Utah’s Morgan County (just north of Park City) was 12th, and Colorado’s Routt County (Steamboat) was 14th, San Miguel County (Telluride) 17th, and Pitkin County (Aspen) 19 th. Tops in the country was Colorado’s Douglas County, a high-income area just south of Denver. Teton County led rural counties. The magazine’s website noted that “access to


Mountain News: Shelter-inplace one option in case of wildfire at Squaw Valley care and transportation barriers can pose challenges, but residents of rural communities with high-performing economies typically live in healthier natural environments and fare better in terms of housing than their urban counterparts.”

STUDY SEEKS TO DEFINE ROLE OF ARTS ASPEN, Colo.—A study that seeks to measure the economic impact of the arts and culture sector in Aspen will soon begin. “Collectively, to be able to tell a fuller narrative of the importance of arts and culture to our communities is really important,” said Sarah Roy, director of the Red Brick Center for the Arts, which is among the arts organizations pitching in to cover the US$63,000 cost of the study. The Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the City of Aspen are together paying US$53,000. Boulder-based RRC Associates will define many metrics: number of jobs associated with the arts, the secondary impact to local businesses, the attendance at art, music, and other venues. Second-home owners will be surveyed as to how much the arts and cultural scene influenced their decisions to buy in the Aspen-Snowmass area. “Our perspective is that the arts are probably the most undervalued sector in Aspen,” Heidi Zuckerman, director of the Aspen Art Museum, told the city council members. “The economic impact is huge, and I actually think it should be a number that anyone sitting on your side of the table should be able to cite.”

THINKING ABOUT URBAN AVALANCHES CRESTED BUTTE, Colo.—In March, one man died in the Crested Butte area and another nearly perished after being buried under an avalanche of snow from building roofs. That has the Crested Butte Town Council considering regulations intended to forecast such urban avalanches from roofs onto public right-of-ways. The Crested Butte News explained that certain buildings within the town have been known to shed snow during winter, damaging cars when they do. Other roofs haven’t slid but certainly looked like they might after the series of heavy snowfalls this winter. Six buildings have been identified, including the town hall itself. The council leans toward an ordinance that would require owners or tenants to remove the snow once it becomes an obvious danger. It wasn’t clear from the report in the News how town officials intend to define an obvious danger. But not all snow loads seem to pose a similar threat. One roof is said to have shake shingles, hence posting less risk. But another building in the town’s commercial sector slid with what one speaker at the meeting estimated was up to 2.4 metres of snow. No one was walking by. n

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Pique Newsmagazine for May 2, 2019

Pique Newsmagazine 2618  

Pique Newsmagazine for May 2, 2019