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Instameet, June 2016

New West Daily Roundup for Oct. 17, 2016

Today in New West news: limiting visitors to Zion National Park, Bozeman tech firm named one of 50 “Best Small Workplaces,” and Vail acquires Whistler Blackcomb.

Tourism is a big industry in Utah, bringing in approximately $8 billion and generating almost $1 billion in tax revenue for the Beehive State. The state takes great pride in its landscape, as seen in the Utah Office of Tourism’s “Road to Mighty” campaign, which highlights the state’s big five national parks: Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, and Arches.

Speaking of Zion National Park, however, heavy tourism can bring many ills. According to the Salt Lake Tribune, Zion officials are debating whether to limit access to trails and campgrounds during peak times, citing “wear and tear” on both the landscape and visitor facilities:

With an anticipated record of 4 million visitors coming to the park this year — which would be up from 3.66 million in 2015 — officials are grasping for solutions to “overwhelmed” facilities, eroding soil and threatened cultural resources, according to a news release. In an effort to balance visitor use with measures to prevent irreparable impact on the land, park managers created the strategies list as a response to strained daily operations and overcrowding.

The ideas, which came from public meetings in May, include capping the number of daily visitors through a reservation system, eliminating first-come first-served campgrounds, fortifying the soil on trails and enforcing the seating capacity on shuttles.

The park is seeking further comment from visitors on the ideas with seven public comment meetings (see list).

“We are really here for the people,” [Zion spokeswoman Aly] Baltrus said. “The better the feedback we have, the better decision making we can do in the future.”

People can also submit comments and view all of the “draft possibilities” at parkplanning.nps.gov/zion. The feedback period runs from Oct. 24 to Nov. 23. The National Park Service will host a webinar that up to 100 people can participate in Oct. 31 at noon; it will include a formal presentation of the strategies.

According to the Tribune, Zion National Park will release a finalized plan by fall 2018.

Over in Montana, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, Bozeman-based tech firm Wisetail has been named one of the 50 Best Small Workplaces in the U.S. by Fortune Magazine. Wisetail, which specializes in learning software, came in at 25th. Founded in 2008, the company employs 30 people and earned $2.2 million in revenue last year. From the Chronicle:

The ranking is based on a survey that asked employees to rate parts of their workplace experience, including communication between themselves and their bosses, the quality of support for their personal lives and the “authenticity of relationships” with coworkers.

In their responses, Wisetail employees cited workplace perks such as a monthly wellness stipend, bi-weekly provided lunches, as well as generous compensation and benefits packages.

“It’s a wonderful recognition. It shows that this is a company who is ready to talk the talk and walk the walk,” said Kathy Weber, a Wisetail public relations representative.

“We’re really trying to find a balancing point between a competitive culture and providing an environment where people love to work where they work,” Wisetail CEO Justin Bigart added. “If you build a culture, that’s a significant competitive advantage and you have to believe in that process”

In August, Wisetail was ranked the fastest-growing tech firm in Montana by Inc. Magazine.

Other New West companies that made the list include Boulder, Colorado-based HRMS Solutions (15th); Lehi, Utah-based Jane.com (33rd); Denver-based Communications Strategy Group (37th); and Lehi, Utah-based 97th Floor (43rd).

Finally, over in Colorado, we previously reported Vail Resorts Inc. was purchasing British Columbia-based ski company Whistler Blackcomb Holdings Inc., which would give Vail control of Canada’s largest ski area. According to the Denver Business Journal, that deal has been finalized to the tune of $1 billion:

Vail paid Whistler Blackcomb shareholders about $13.30 in cash and .097294 shares of Vail Resorts common stock for each Whistler Blackcomb share held.

“Whistler Blackcomb is one of the most iconic mountain resorts in the world and we are tremendously excited to welcome the resort and the talented team who work there to the Vail Resorts family,” Vail CEO Rob Katz said in a statement.

The sprawling two-mountain ski area, north of Vancouver, was the venue for alpine skiing events in the 2010 Winter Olympic games. It is the biggest ski area in Canada and by some measures the largest in North America, and claims to be the continent’s most-visited winter resort,” the Denver Business Journal reported when the deal was announced in August.

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