News Roundup: Jackson Hole ski resorts open; Park City ski lift mechanics form first union of its kind

Plus, the ongoing battle over abortion rights in Wyoming and the state’s goal of becoming carbon-negative.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opened on Friday, Nov. 25. (Courtesy of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort)


JHMR, Snow King ski resorts open this weekend

Winter is here. Jackson’s ski resorts are opening this weekend, with operations starting at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort today and at Snow King Ski Area and Mountain Resort on Saturday. 

Snow King is opening a week earlier than planned, since the start of the season has been marked by high snowfall and cold temperatures that are good for snow-making. Snow King General Manager Ryan Stanley said the resort is already off to a better start than last winter, when it didn’t open until December.

“Compared to last year when it didn’t get cold until Christmas almost, [this year is] definitely more of the norm,” Stanley said. “We’re ready to go and got started early.”

Snow King’s Cougar Lift and base area Magic Carpet will run starting at 9 a.m. on Saturday. With new snow-making equipment, the resort is hoping to start spinning the rest of the lifts well before Christmas. 

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is starting by operating five lifts. That includes Teewinot, Apres Vous, Sweetwater, Casper and Teton. Several lifts are also running at Grand Targhee Resort, which opened on Friday, Nov. 18. 

As for cross country skiing, trails are open at Grand Targhee. In Jackson, Friends of Pathways has also begun setting a single track up Cache Creek. More information about nordic grooming can be found on JH Nordic’s website. 

Park City Mountain ski lift mechanics unionize — a first in U.S

The Park City Lift Maintenance Professional Union formed on Tuesday, and it’s the first of its kind in the country.

The new union will contain both lift mechanics and electricians and will operate under the United Professional Ski Patrols of America, which is an arm of the Communications Workers of America.

About 80% of local workers signed a petition last month in support of unionizing. Tuesday, every one of the 41 eligible voters cast ballots to weigh in on the move. Voting wrapped up at 11:30 a.m., and after a quick tally, the workers formed the union by a 35-6 vote.

Officers will be chosen to head the union in the coming days.

Union member Liesl Jenkins, who was active in the effort to unionize, said Tuesday that members were celebrating for the moment, but would soon get down to the business of contract negotiations.

Park City Mountain Vice President and COO Deirdra Walsh said in a statement that the outcome was disappointing but that she appreciated people taking the time to vote and respected the decision.

That story from KPCW was shared with us via Rocky Mountain Community Radio, a network of public media stations in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and New Mexico, including KHOL.

Battle over Wyoming abortion ban continues in Teton County

The battle over Wyoming’s abortion ban came to Teton County District Court again on Monday, Nov. 21. Judge Melissa Owens heard arguments about whether two Republican state lawmakers and an anti-abortion nonprofit should be allowed to weigh in on the topic.

Abortion is currently legal in Wyoming. The state passed a law banning abortion last spring, but a lawsuit is preventing it from going into effect. 

Now, Right to Life Wyoming and Republican state representatives Rachel Rodriguez-Williams and Chip Neiman want to intervene in the case. Their lawyer argued Monday that they have a vested interest in the subject and should be allowed to provide evidence.

Ultimately, Judge Owens decided to release a decision within two weeks. A motion to send the case to the Wyoming Supreme Court is also pending. 

Gov. Gordon says Wyoming will become “carbon-negative”

Governor Mark Gordon said Wyoming’s goal is to become carbon-negative by capturing and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. He made the statement during the Governor’s business forum held last week at the University of Wyoming.

Right now there is a group of people who are thinking that the way you address climate change is to stop doing what has made us the wealthiest nation in the world,” Gordon said. “Wyoming stepped forward and said we are not just trying to figure out a renewable standard for 2030. We are going to be carbon-negative, and we can do it by just improving our technology, carbon sequestration.” 

While these efforts are a welcome development, Wyoming remains the state with the most carbon emissions per capita in the country.

This story comes through a content-sharing partnership with Wyoming Public Media.

Yellowstone wolf biologist to retire

Yellowstone National Park’s lead wolf biologist is retiring after 28 years at the park. Doug Smith began working in Yellowstone in 1994 and became the leader of the Yellowstone Wolf Project soon after. 

Smith helped establish scientific monitoring and research programs aimed at studying how the recovering wolf population interacted with other wildlife, habitats and the ecosystem. Smith also oversaw the park’s bird and elk programs.

This story comes through a content-sharing partnership with Wyoming Public Media.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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