Heard Around the West

  • ARCH FIENDS: Two Utah families join "Hands Across America" at Delicate Arch

    Marjorie Miller

Vive la France! There, we’ve said it, knowing full well those are fighting words — especially in Nevada. The owners of a restaurant in Reno were so angry at France for thwarting our Iraqi war plans at the United Nations, they poured expensive French champagne into a bucket on the sidewalk. And if they’d had any German wine, reports The Associated Press, they would have it tossed into the pail, too. But that’s not all. A radio station in Las Vegas arranged to have an armored vehicle flatten a Paris travel guidebook, photos of the French flag and even pictures of France’s President Jacques Chirac. “This is not a pro-war rally, just anti-French,” the program director for KXNT-AM explained to the AP.

A cheer for the anglers who told the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks that a televised fly-fishing contest was a bad idea. Voting 2-1, Montanans said they believed fly-fishing was not about catching and releasing the biggest fish; it was about protecting and nurturing a wild fishery. Self-interest might also have played something of a role, says the AP. ESPN proposed the contest on Missoula-area rivers for April 8-10, a popular time for fly-fishing locally. About 400 people wrote to the state, making it the “most comments we’ve gotten on anything in the 13 years I’ve worked here,” said fisheries administrator Chris Hunter.

Are Libertarians coming to take over your state? Jason Sorens, a 26-year-old doctoral student at Yale, wants 5,000 party members to pick a state, move in, and get active politically. Some 2,600 people have already pledged to do so, reports the Baltimore Sun. When the number reaches 5,000, the group will pick the state of their choice, and once 20,000 have signed on, the migration will begin. Sorens, who broached the plan in the online journal Libertarian Enterprise, says several Western states are under consideration for the takeover, though “one fellow from Montana threatened to get together a posse and do nasty things to us.” A Libertarian migration is not a new idea: Mary Margaret Glennie tried to attract 1,000 Libertarians to Fort Collins, Colo., in the late 1980s. When that failed, Glennie proposed a Libertarian space colony.

The ski industry has finally woken up to global climate change, reports Ski magazine. Last month, the National Ski Areas Association launched a “Keep Winter Cool” campaign, urging the purchase of more wind power to run ski lifts and snowmaking. The industry also hopes to work for more regulation of cars and power plants. “It’s mind-boggling that the ski industry has not been on the forefront of this issue,” says Auden Schendler of the Aspen Skiing Co. “We are in the process of clicking and dragging Colorado down to New Mexico.”

A “mountain of money,” says Gannett News Service, buys you first dibs at snow at some ski resorts in the West — even though the snow falls on publicly owned mountains. At Deer Valley, Utah, $1,000 buys up to eight buddies access to ski runs an hour before the hoi polloi get a chance to muck over the powder. At Snowbird, Utah, $7,000 buys a private clubroom with well-appointed lockers and a bar, first-on-the-mountain ski privileges and other perks, such as the right to cut ahead of skiers in line. Joining the trend is Copper Mountain in Colorado, where for $124 a day you get to ride up the mountain 15 minutes before the resort officially opens. Ski magazine, which first wrote about the VIP trend on the slopes, adds that some staffers at the Forest Service, which leases much of the land to ski areas, are “aghast at what’s being done.”

A Colorado parks official doesn’t think people seek the outdoors because they actually like roughing it and want to get away from it all. No, they must feel deprived without their computers! So Greg Walcher, director of the Department of Natural Resources, is adding Internet access to some state parks, “so people can drive in and plug in and shoot their digital pictures off to their grandkids,” reports the Daily Sentinel of Grand Junction.

Poor Seattle. “It may well be the only city in North America that has at least three Web sites devoted to slamming it,” says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. It is true that the city has not fared well since Boeing left it for Chicago. The dot-coms also crashed and almost 100,000 jobs have vanished since January 2001. But self-loathing seems rampant, particularly at the most popular site, SeattleSucks.com, which has received more than 50,000 postings since its launch in March. Two other sites also detail the city’s faults and advertise gatherings so people can “share the misery.” One founder of an anti-Seattle Web site says his biggest peeve is the $517-million Safeco Field baseball stadium, pushed through despite opposition from voters, and with no attention to transportation issues “in a city with one of the worst gridlock problems in the nation.”

A staffer at the EPA is almost certainly in hot water after providing a press release with a wrong telephone number to call for information about hazardous-substance releases. The right number is 800/424-9346, reports the Arizona Republic. The number the EPA sent out connected callers to “Intimate Encounters,” which promised exciting tête-à-têtes with very “hot girls.” “Oh, my gosh, that’s terrible,” said EPA spokeswoman Wendy Chavez.

Colorado Central, a monthly magazine published by Ed and Martha Quillen in Salida, Colo., changes its motto with every issue. The latest is “the magazine for people who already have plastic and duct tape over their windows.”

Betsy Marston is the editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado ([email protected]). She welcomes tips and photos of quintessential Western doings.

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