geologist to give overview of slide

By Jim Stanford on April 18, 2014

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These aerial photos show a comparison of the Walgreens site over time. The arc in the top photo is the landslide, not yet disturbed by quarrying and development. An irrigation ditch and cottonwoods used to run along the base of the butte.

There will be a press conference at 10 a.m. today at Town Hall to give an update on the landslide affecting Walgreens and Budge Drive. Immediately following, Peter Ward of the Geologists of Jackson Hole will give a presentation titled, “Options for Dealing with the Budge Landslide.” Ward will give an overview of the geology and human activities at the site from the 1950s to the present.

Both events will be streamed live and archived on the Town of Jackson website.

Ward’s talk is a must for anyone wishing to get a better understanding of how we got into this predicament, and looking to avoid another such collision between nature and development in the future.

The site was a quarry from the 1950s to the 1970s, during which time an enormous amount of rock and dirt was removed from the hillside, creating the scar we see today. Even recent grading, when the Walgreens lot was lowered by 8 feet, pales in comparison to the quarrying, Ward says. Also, when Broadway was expanded from two lanes to five in the early 1970s, crews removed the toe of an old landslide, visible in the photo above.

Ward presents an independent analysis. He worked for 27 years with the U.S. Geological Survey as a leader in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. He has briefed top levels of federal and state governments on geologic hazards. He has a doctorate from Columbia University and bachelor of arts from Dartmouth College. He is a board member of the Geologists of Jackson Hole, a nonprofit that promotes education and sharing of knowledge about the Earth.

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airport shuttle to continue through summer

By Jim Stanford on March 28, 2014

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Jackson Hole Airport is the only commercial airport inside a national park, and parking is limited. The shuttle costs $8 each way, compared to $10 per night for parking at the airport. To reserve a seat, call 307-733-3135.

Those on spring break or planning an off-season getaway will continue to have a cheap, easy way to get to and from Jackson Hole Airport.

The Ride2Fly shuttle has been extended through the spring and summer, serving every departing and incoming flight. The shuttle picks up and drops off at the town parking garage and costs $8 each way.

Since launching before Thanksgiving, the service has been a resounding success, with an average of more than 300 riders a month (total for both directions). The shuttle was particularly valuable over the holidays in December, when the airport ran out of parking.

With only two airlines serving Jackson Hole for April, the shuttle will pick up less frequently. But once the full flight schedule resumes in late May, shuttles will run accordingly. The off-season schedule follows after the jump.

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park road to get consistent grooming

By Jim Stanford on January 29, 2014

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Skate skiing is an easy glide by the Tetons.

For skinny skiers, the Teton Park Road is about to get smoother.

Teton County has reached an agreement with Grand Teton National Park to groom 15 miles of the road for Nordic skiing. The county will groom at least once a week between the Taggart Lake parking lot and Signal Mountain Lodge.

As with other trails around the valley, the track will accommodate classic and skate skiing. Donations to the GTNP Foundation, a private nonprofit, will pay for the service.

The road is closed to vehicle traffic during winter. While a popular destination, the park has groomed it only sporadically in recent years as funding and staffing have allowed. Winds tend to eradicate the track quickly.

Jackson-Teton County Parks and Rec will groom on Saturdays and perhaps other days as well. The park will continue to augment the service when possible.

The agreement makes sense for tourism. Skiing or walking along the park road is one of the few premier activities in winter outside the ski resorts.

Besides, there are never enough excuses to go to Dornan’s.

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councilmen to state reps: legalize it

By Jim Stanford on January 23, 2014

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Earlier this week, the town council invited state lawmakers and county commissioners for a discussion on the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Leland Christensen and Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff and Keith Gingery talked about bills they plan to work on and issues such as state funding for local government. The latter is nuanced and not very sexy but important for how the town and county provide services.

Bob Lenz

At the end, we addressed a topic a little more tangible: a pair of bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana. The first, to be sponsored by Rep. Sue Wallis, a Campbell County Republican, would permit medicinal or even recreational use, while the second, authored by Rep. James Byrd, a Democrat from Laramie, would lower the penalty for possessing small amounts to $50 or $100.

That I support such measures is hardly a surprise. But what raised eyebrows was when 81-year-old Councilman Bob Lenz, a retired pharmacist, emphatically weighed in.

“Just legalize it and tax it and control it,” Lenz said. “I think you save a lot of problems … I’ve never had a joint in my life, but [from] everything they tell me, everybody smokes it.”

Skip ahead to the 61:30 mark. The marijuana discussion lasts about 6 minutes.

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recycling center accepting more plastic

By Jim Stanford on January 7, 2014

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Sublette County Commissioner John Linn kneels at the perimeter of the landfill near Big Piney. Note the abundance of plastic strewn about and beyond the fence.

Plastic bags thrown in the trash end up all over the landscape, from the beaches of Hawaii to the sand dunes of the Sahara. Dramatic images from coastal areas show creatures like an otter, dolphin and turtle ensnared by plastic.

Here in the West, plastic blows across the sagebrush plains like tumbleweed and ends up in our streams and forests. To reduce this pollution as well as the cost of hauling trash, our recycling center greatly has expanded the types of plastic bags and packaging it will accept.

Bread bags, produce bags, Ziplocs, bubble wrap, dry cleaning bags and Visqueen-type sheeting are among the types of plastic residents now may recycle, along with grocery bags. Plastic wrap used to package paper towels, napkins, toilet paper and such also can be recycled. A full list can be found here.

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