The Bundy battle continues, the Airbnb squeeze, and an unusual gun sale

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • COLORADO Keeps the hoi polloi out.

    Judy Wrought
 

THE WEST
A wit once wisely observed that “anyone who represents himself has a fool for a client.” Now there’s proof: Representing himself before a federal judge in Portland, Oregon, one of the occupiers of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge declared himself an “idiot,” adding that he is “incompetent and am not required by any law to be competent.” Ryan Bundy’s statement was one of several decidedly odd declarations sent to U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown, who, after reading his motions, called them not “legally cognizable.” All along, Bundy has insisted that he is not a U.S. citizen because he is a sovereign citizen of the “Bundy society.” He also says he cannot be legally defined as a “person” because he was created by God and is therefore not subject to laws created by people. Unmoved, Judge Brown reminded Bundy at his most recent hearing that if he keeps denying the federal court’s jurisdiction, he risks forfeiting his right to self-representation. The conspiracy trial of Ryan and Ammon, the Bundy brothers, who led the 41-day refuge occupation, is set for Sept. 7, reports Oregon Public Broadcasting.

THE WEST
In an upscale resort town like Sun Valley, Idaho, where’s a teacher, cop or restaurant worker supposed to live? An estimated 12,500 homes and condos are available for working people as well as tourists, reports the Idaho Mountain Express, but these days, just try to get a landlord to sign a long-term lease. Not likely. Homeowners who once rented out places for a year or more are now making much more money by renting to short-termers through Airbnb, VRBO and other internet rental sites. In the Wood River Valley, for example, a large house close to the ski area now rents for $1,400 per night. Even the low end can be lucrative: A treehouse with a path to the bath (and a zipline) rents for $60-$70 per night. Before the internet turned so many into opportunistic landlords, the average three-bedroom, down-valley house rented for $1,600 a month. In just 20 days, however, that same house can produce $6,500. It’s much the same story in the resort town of Crested Butte, in western Colorado. Bartender Alex Shelley told the Crested Butte News that he’s moved five times in two years. Now, just before he was supposed to renew his current lease, he lost his rental. Something has got to give.

SOUTH DAKOTA
In the small town of Freeman, South Dakota, recently, 150 people gathered at a nursing home to fete a woman who just retired from a nursing career that spanned 72 years. Older than many of the home’s residents at 93, Alice Graber was delighted to reunite with former patients and some of the nurses she’d trained since she started out in nursing during World War II. “I was just flabbergasted,” she told The Week magazine. Given her lifelong vocation, her retirement plans aren’t surprising: She intends to volunteer at the nursing home where she’s worked for the last 20 years.

OREGON
When a regional girls’ softball team started -selling raffle tickets, with an AR-15 assault rifle as a prize, a pastor in Lake Oswego, Oregon, decided he definitely wanted to win that weapon. He used $3,000 from a church “discretionary fund” and a bunch of member donations to buy 150 raffle tickets, and as luck would have it, the Rev. Jeremy Lucas of Christ Church Episcopal Parish bought the winning ticket. Lucas said he had two reasons for wanting to win the rifle: to help the girls’ team get to a tournament in California “and to take the weapon out of circulation.” But he had no desire to fire or even house the AR-15, a semi-automatic weapon often used by mass murderers. So he asked a -parishioner “to keep the rifle locked up in a gun safe until the pastor was ready to destroy it,” reports the Portland Tribune. The minister, however, may have violated a tricky state law: In order for that transfer of possession to be legal, the parishioner “should have undergone a background check at a licensed gun dealer” while Lucas, as the gun’s owner, was present. One commenter suggested that Lucas would not be charged for “political” reasons, while another called the state law “stupid” and designed to “harass lawful gun owners.” If the minister gets that now-confiscated gun back, he hopes to transform it into a work of art.

MONTANA
Self-incrimination is turning out to be a wonderful feature of the internet. In Helena, Montana, a ranch hand was so proud of himself for chasing a grizzly bear in his pickup truck, he posted a video on social media. Federal wildlife officials noticed, and Lawrence Kennedy of Browning was fined $400 for unlawfully harassing a threatened species.

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.


High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNITY OUTREACH MANAGER
    High Country News (HCN) is looking for a Community Outreach Manager to reach and forge new relationships with individuals and groups who represent communities historically...
  • NEW BOOK:
    True Wildlife Tales From Boy to Man. Finding my voice to save wildlife in the Apache spirit. 365+ vivid colorful pictures. Buy on Amazon/John Wachholz
  • CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
    with Rural Community Assistance Corporation. Apply here: https://www.marcumllp.com/executive-search/chief-operations-officer-rcac
  • CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a climate justice fellowship. The fellowship...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Wild Rockies Field Institute is seeking a visionary Executive Director to lead the organization in Missoula, Montana. Individuals with a proven track record in...
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • ARIZONA PROGRAM MANAGER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks an Arizona Program Manager. The Arizona Program Manager works...
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.