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Photo by Joe Wolf, Flickr.com.

New West Daily Roundup for Aug. 9, 2016

Today in New West news: two CSU members honored as “2016 Women of Vision,” Vail Resorts Inc. buying Canada’s biggest ski area, and Bozeman to temporarily ban vacation rental permits.

According to a Colorado State University press release, two of the university’s associates have been named “Women of Vision” by the Colorado Women of Influence organization. Gillian Bowser, a research scientist in the Department of Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, and Janice Nerger, dean of the College of Natural Sciences, were selected for their exemplary doings in their respective departments. From CSU:

Bowser has devoted her career to increasing opportunities for women and minorities in science. Her research is focused on women in sustainability and biodiversity; she encourages underrepresented students to explore these fields, as well as ecology and science. “There are very few women of color in science,” she said. “We need to do more to address that.”

She is one of two researchers from the United States working on the Global Gender and Environmental Outlook, a first-of-its-kind project led by the United Nations Environment Programme. The team is assessing environmental trends and changes and their impacts on women and girls.

“[Access to] water has huge impacts across the board, and it cascades down into awareness about girls’ education,” Bowser said as an example of the questions being studied.

Bowser helped launch the Global Women Scholars Network, which encourages collaborative research on environmental sustainability. The group aims to increase the number of women in science and also provides a gender perspective through its research.

[…]

Nerger has long been a champion of, and an innovative advocate for, diversity in the sciences – particularly for women. She is a co-founder of the influential Women in Natural Sciences organization, a group with more than 50 CSU faculty that supports women in the sciences and increases visibility by providing research grants, travel awards, lectures and mentoring to women students and faculty. She is continuously inspired to do all she can “to support women in what are very male-dominated fields,” she said.

She was also instrumental in establishing the Colorado State University Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Center, which brings together students, faculty and staff across disciplines to create and facilitate STEM education opportunities both on campus and in the community. “My motivation always comes from others,” she said. “It comes from, ‘How can I help somebody else reach their potential?’”

Nerger has also broken new ground in her own research, in the topic area of vision. Her internationally known work on the neurophysiological mechanisms of color perception has garnered recognition from the National Science Foundation and National Research Council. She is a faculty member in the CSU Department of Psychology as well as a member of the interdisciplinary Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences program.

After receiving her Ph.D., she earned a postdoctoral fellowship at NASA’s Ames Research Center and SRI International. She has long taken pride in advancing scientific research while also forging a path forward to create more opportunities for other women in science.

Nerger sees her ongoing work as a service not only to underrepresented members of the field, but also to the entire field. “You want diversity of thought, and a diversity of thought comes from a diversity of people,” she said. “The value isn’t just to the women, it’s to the science itself.”

Keeping with Colorado, according to the Denver Business Journal, Vail Resorts Inc. is buying Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., a British Columbia-based ski company—and with it Canada’s biggest ski area. Indeed, the ski area was the venue for the alpine skiing events in the 2010 Winter Olympic games, per the DBJ, and is not only one of the largest ski areas in North America, it’s also one of the most-visited. From the DBJ:

“Whistler Blackcomb is one of the most iconic mountain resorts in the world with an incredible history, passionate employees and a strong community. … We are delighted to add such a renowned resort to Vail Resorts and look forward to expanding our relationships in the Sea-to-Sky community [referring to the coast-range area where Whistler Blackcomb is located], British Columbia and Canada,” said Rob Katz, chairman and CEO of Vail Resorts, in a statement.

Vail Resorts will pay about $513 million in cash and about $543 million in stock in the deal.

Whistler Blackcomb shareholders will get Canadian $17.50 (about $13.31 in U.S. currency) per share and 0.0975 shares of Vail Resorts stock. The offer is a premium of about 43 percent over Whistler Blackcomb’s Friday closing price.

The buyout is expected to close this fall.

The DBJ has a 10-point rundown of Vail’s purchase, which you can read here.

Finally, up in Montana, Bozeman commissioners have decided to temporarily ban vacation rental permits. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the ban comes in spite of substantive testimony against the ban, with rental operators saying the ban was premature and/or unnecessary. Proponents of the ban testified they were concerned about noise and traffic, with much criticism coming from representatives of neighborhoods south of Main Street. From the Chronicle:

“While there have been short-term rentals since time immemorial, the number of them is growing,” said Commissioner Chris Mehl. “Given the choices we have, I think it makes sense to have this interim time so we can study this and get a handle on it.”

“In my mind, the situation is on the edge of being a problem, and we’re trying to get ahead of it,” said Mayor Carson Taylor.

“This is not an epidemic. There are 40,000 housing units in the city of Bozeman,” said Molly Yarnell, who has run a vacation rental and works for a local software company. Her analysis of Airbnb and Homeaway data indicates there are only 100 homes listed for short-term rental in Bozeman, she said, compared to the city’s estimate of 450.

“I think that it’s way, way premature,” said another operator, Richard Martell, calling the interim ordinance a “draconian response.”

“With all due respect, I don’t think you have enough accurate information,” he said. “I would like you to slow down and conduct a study as you purport to do, and based on that study, make decisions.”

“I would really encourage you not to impose a ban, shut us down, vilify us,” said another operator, Carisa Fisher. It’s not uncommon for her to look out of her home and see long-term renters drinking on a nearby roof, she said, asking why the city was looking at cracking down on short-term rentals but not traditional ones.

Along with Mehl and Taylor, Deputy Mayor Cyndy Andrus and Commissioner Jeff Krauss supported the measure, which halts the issuance of new conditional use permits for short-term rentals in lower-density residential neighborhoods designated as R-1, R-2, R-S or NEHMU zoning. Commissioner I-Ho Pomeroy was absent.

The ban is set to last for six months; Mayor Taylor told the Chronicle he expects the city to have a vacation rental plan in place by then, adding he hopes to address problems pertaining to rentals “flying under the radar,” as it were.

Photo credit: Joe Wolf, Flickr.com.

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