Langmaid: Time for council run |

Langmaid: Time for council run

Kim Langmaid, a life-long Vail resident and founder of what became Walking Mountains Science Center, was the top vote-earner in the November Vail Town Council election.
Special to the Daily |

Vail Votes Nov. 3

• Vail’s election is separate from the county-wide election.

• That means you either vote in person at Town Hall or go to for information about absentee ballots.

• The council will have three new members — Andy Daly and Margaret Rogers are term-limited and Dale Bugby chose not to seek re-election.

• Ludwig Kurz is the only incumbent running for re-election this year.

• Current candidates include newcomers Kim Langmaid, Mark Christie, Jen Mason and Doe Browning; former council members Kevin Foley and Dick Cleveland are running again.

VAIL — Kim Langmaid is a life-long town resident, but she wasn’t born in Vail; her parents moved to town when she was 3. That’s close enough.

Langmaid, one of seven candidates for four Vail Town Council seats, grew up riding her bicycle between Vail Village and Lionshead. She worked in the ski shop her dad, Charlie, owned in Lionshead. As an adult, she founded the Gore Range Natural Science School, which has evolved into the Walking Mountains Science Center. She continues to work there as the center’s vice president of sustainability and stewardship programs.

With that background, it’s no surprise that Langmaid has thought about running for Vail Town Council for some time. This year, she decided to make her first run for public office. It’s also no surprise that Langmaid believes Vail needs to sharpen its focus on environmental issues.

Gore Creek a few years ago landed on a state list of “impaired” waterways — so did streams in a number of other mountain towns. The town, in conjunction with the Eagle River Water & Sanitation District, is working to identify and correct sources of pollution, but it’s going to be a time-consuming, expensive job. The job will also require a lot of community support. That’s why Langmaid, along with other candidates, has been talking about ways to build that community.

“We’re an urban corridor running between two wilderness areas. It’s our golden goose, and we need to support stewardship.”

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While Vail as a resort is a continuing success, “Where we’re lacking is keeping people who want to stay here a long time,” Langmaid said.

Filling that void will require housing, of course, but Langmaid said the town and valley need to work on better ways than private cars to move people around. The new underpass beneath Interstate 70 will be helpful in that effort, making it easier to bicycle between Lionshead and the town on the north side of the highway.

And, having grown up here, Langmaid believes people need to be willing to give up some things in order to live in the community.

“You don’t necessarily need a yard,” she said.

Longterm residents are the future of the town’s government and advisory boards, but that dedication to the community starts with smaller commitments.

“You build relationships when people are coming out to help for volunteer days or projects,” Langmaid said. Those relationships are reinforced through Red Sandstone Elementary School.

The community also knows who the kids are where around town. Langmaid remembers as a child that early longtime resident Gordon Brittan would often stop and talk to her and her friends when they were out and about.

Vail still has that mountain-town feel, she said.

“You can still walk around and experience Vail,” she said. “It still feels like a lively place.”

Vail continues to walk the line between a resort and a community, Langmaid said.

“It’s an incredible place,” she said. “People do care, whether they live here or have vacation homes or just visit.”

Like most young people, Langmaid was happy to leave her hometown for college.

“As a kid, I didn’t really realize how cool it is to live here,” she said. “You kind of need to get out of town to appreciate where you grew up.”

Working on her masters and doctoral degrees in environmental sciences, Langmaid saw the natural science school in Jackson, Wyoming, and believed she could someday create something similar in her hometown.

That was the genesis of the Gore Range Natural Science School, which first opened in the old schoolhouse in Red Cliff.

Over the years, developing what became Walking Mountains taught Langmaid about leadership, as well as the value of collaboration and building relationships.

“Collaborations are really important,” she said. “We face complex challenges — solutions can’t come from one perspective.”

Asked about some of the town’s challenges beyond housing and parking, Langmaid quickly ticks off issues including maintaining the quality of the public land that surrounds Vail and maintaining trails and backcountry roads. That’s going to be an increasing challenge as the U.S. Forest Service continues to operate with limited funds and often faces budget cuts.

“We’re an urban corridor running between two wilderness areas,” she said. “It’s our golden goose, and we need to support stewardship.”

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