Gunnison hopes to draw stargazers | VailDaily.com

Gunnison hopes to draw stargazers

Allen Best

GUNNISON – The money is there. Government permission has been granted. Now all that remains is building the observatory on the outskirts of Gunnison that will house a 30-inch Cassegrain, the largest research telescope in Colorado.The idea came about three years ago, reports the Crested Butte News, as a couple of local business owners brainstormed about how to stimulate the economy. Star-watching – something people in cities can’t do very easily – came to mind easily enough.

KETCHUM, Idaho – Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson says his plan for the public lands north of Ketchum are a compromise. But the Idaho Mountain Express calls it a sellout to political convenience.The plan in question would designate 294,000 acres of federal land as wilderness, but the wilderness would be crossed by a network of motorized trails. Simpson also proposes to give some land to Custer County, located north of the mountains at issue, with the goal of giving the county an economic shot in the arm.But the motorized component seems to be what is drawing fire. Some 200 people showed up at a meeting in Ketchum, including singer-songwriter Carole King, to protest too little wilderness and too many motors. They also oppose state management of federal lands.”You need to put yourself in other people’s shoes for awhile,” Simpson said. “That’s what I’ve done, and it’s changed the way I look at it.”But Ketchum resident Deborah Kronenberg said if she can’t get there on her own two feet, she won’t go. “It’s enough to know it’s there. The backcountry is not just about human use.” And, she added, “it’s not wilderness if it’s cut by motorized corridors.”A representative of motorized users saw it another way. He pointed out that 10 percent of Idaho is dedicated as wilderness already, and that’s too much. “We’ve giving in to wilderness all too often,” he said.The Express addressed Simpson’s plea for compromise in an editorial. “The problem is that there are compromises, and there are sellouts that masquerade as compromises,” said the paper. “If President Abraham Lincoln had sold out in the name of constitutional compromise, black Americans would still be slaves.”Any real compromise, said the paper, was “consumed long ago by America’s torrid love affair with the gasoline engine. Areas today that have not felt the peel of a spinning wheel are tiny, tiny remnants of what was once wild and untouched country.”