Heard Around the West

  • An idea whose time has come

    DON SLACK
 

WYOMING

Perhaps in jest, the award-winning Jackson Hole News&Guide wants readers to come up with a new welcome sign for the town. The current greeting at Teton Pass is definitely outmoded: "Howdy, stranger, yonder is Jackson Hole, the last of the Old West." With the town now urbanized and chock-full of New West bazillionaires, the paper suggests more appropriate messages, such as "Our chai complements your chi," or "Jackson Hole, where California plays and Mexico works." Ski Country online magazine suggests exhuming a slogan from 1999 that might still resonate with locals: "Welcome to Jackson Hole, where men remain boys and women work three jobs."

CALIFORNIA

Which is better for the environment: a stand of redwood trees or an array of solar panels? Both seem "green," so why should you have to choose? Well, a little-known California law passed in 1978 did choose - selecting solar panels and imposing a possible fine of $1,000 a day for tree-owners found guilty of obscuring them. A squabble between homeowners in Santa Clara County is now putting that law to the test, reports the San Jose Mercury News. Richard Treanor and Carolynn Bissett, who consider themselves environmentalists, refuse to cut down eight redwoods that they planted for privacy between 1997-'99. Their neighbor, Mark Vargas, who also considers himself an environmentalist, sued the couple under the Solar Shade Control Act because their redwoods reduced the output of his 10-kilowatt solar system. Before he put up the solar panels in 2001, he said, "I offered to pay for the removal of the trees. I said, ... Let's try to work something out.' They said no to everything." Vargas has the law on his side, because it applies to trees planted after 1979 that later grow big enough to shade solar panels. In December, Vargas won his case in county court, but his neighbors, who say they've already spent $25,000 on legal fees, appealed the ruling, even though the judge waived the fines and offered to let them keep six of the offending trees. "We could be done with this and walk away," Bissett said. "But this could start happening in every city in the state." For his part, Vargas said he'd move his solar panels if he could, but there's not enough room on his roof.

NEVADA

Knotty questions about environmental correctness didn't figure into Patricia Vincent's thinking when she had three ponderosa pines - each close to a century old - chopped down on publicly owned land near Lake Tahoe. The trees' offense: They blocked her view of the lake. Vincent has been indicted on charges of stealing government property from "environmentally sensitive" land, and if convicted, reports The Associated Press, she could face up to 10 years in prison and $250,000 or more in fines.

ARIZONA

According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau findings, 42,800 commuters in Arizona spend three hours or more on the road every weekday. These are the folks considered "extreme commuters," and the Arizona Republic asked several of them why they do it and how they survive long commutes made even more tedious by construction delays. Several workers shuttling between Tucson and Phoenix cited the benefits of extra income and a better lifestyle: "Tucson is a nicer place to live, but you can earn more money working in the Phoenix area." But because the trip is notable for its lack of scenery and boredom, drivers work hard to distract themselves. Some watch other drivers doing stupid things, while others listen to music or books or talk on the phone. Doug Jones, for instance, listens to professional-enrichment tapes and proudly notes he's "becoming much more intelligent."

CALIFORNIA

A suspected drunken driver may not have been wearing a seatbelt when he crashed into a tree at 60 miles per hour, the Sacramento Bee reports. However, his 12-pack certainly was. The driver suffered serious injuries to his head and body, police said. But the beer, nicely strapped into the seat next to him, was fine.

IDAHO

If you want to hear a ringing defense of SUVs, contact Barry McCahill of Eagle, Idaho, president of the SUV Owners of America. Since he took over as head of the advocacy group in 2004, he's spread the word that "in America, people have a right to buy vehicles that meet their needs." He adds, "I've never seen a vehicle so demagogued and attacked, its drivers criticized as inconsiderate." What's surprising, perhaps, is that McCahill doesn't own one of the gas-guzzling sport-utility vehicles he defends. He told the Idaho Statesman that he drives a Harley or a pickup, and since he works from home, he says, "I use less gas in a month than someone who drives a Honda Civic into Boise every day."

Betsy Marston is editor of Writers on the Range, a service of High Country News in Paonia, Colorado. Tips of Western oddities are always appreciated and often shared in the column, Heard around the West.

High Country News Classifieds
  • CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR WATER PLANNING WITH WRA'S HEALTHY RIVERS PROGRAM
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED BIGHORN RIVER BASIN PROJECT MANAGER
    The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • NON-PROFIT OPERATIONS MANAGER
    One of the most renowned community-based collaboratives in the country seeks full-time Operations Manager to oversee administrative, financial, fund development, and board development duties. BS/BA...
  • RUSTIC HORSE PROPERTY
    in NM. 23 acres, off the grid, rustic cabin, organic gardens, fruit trees, fenced, call 505-204-8432 evenings.
  • DIRECTOR OF VISITOR SERVICES & BOOKSTORE OPERATIONS
    The San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO is seeking a Director of Visitor Services & Bookstore Operations to lead our visitor information program &...
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    The Board of Diablo Trust is seeking applications for full-time Program Manager with duties of overseeing the coordination and administration of the Diablo Trusts ongoing...
  • SOLAR POWERED HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
    1800 sf home on 4.12 acres surrounded by Natl Forest and recreational opportunities in a beautiful area (Happy Valley) between Torrey and Boulder. [email protected], www.bouldermoutainreality/properties/grover/off-the-grid-in-happy-valley,...
  • SECLUDED TWO-STORY CUSTOM LOG HOME
    in 16-acre pinion pine forest with year-round stream, mountain views, wildlife. Garage, root cellar, wood shop, one-room cabin, RV shed, pasture, garden. [email protected]
  • BEAUTIFUL, CUSTOM RASTRA BLOCK ENERGY-EFFICIENT HOME
    Mature, six-acre Ponderosa forest, open pasture. Spectacular Sangre de Cristo mountain & valley views. Well maintained, paved county road, easy drive to world-class skiing &...
  • OJO CALIENTE RIVERSIDE SECLUSION
    Private, 2bd/2bath green home on 2 acres on the Ojo Caliente River between the confluence of the Chama & Rio Grande Rivers. Close to hiking,...
  • CLASSIC NEW MEXICO MOUNTAIN VIEWS
    of the Sangre de Cristo mountains. 3.19 acre lot to build on to escape the crush of city/town life. Short distance to trails, skiing, fishing,...
  • 40 ACRE ORGANIC FARM
    potential fruit/hay with house, Hotchkiss, CO, Scott Ellis, 970-420-0472, [email protected]
  • ASSOCIATE OF PROGRAMS
    The Orton Family Foundation empowers people to shape the future of their communities by improving local decision-making, creating a shared sense of belonging, and ultimately...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...