Snail discovered at hot springs

BANFF, Alberta – A snail the size of a lemon seed is found in the hot springs of Banff and nowhere else in the world. It is appropriately called the Banff Springs Snail.

But since being recorded in 1926, it has disappeared from five of the 10 hot springs on Sulfur Mountain. Now, an effort has been launched to bring it back from the brink of extinction. So far, the effort seems to be going well. The 50 adult snails reintroduced into one hot springs have exploded to a population of 3,000 snails. But that is the way of the snails, which then suffer large declines in summer.

For the time being, authorities are trying to limit human contact in the hot springs. “You could get one serious habitat disturbance event like midnight revelers, perhaps breaking bottles of wine in the water, that could eliminate or seriously reduce the population,” said Dr. Dwayne Lepitzski. This is believed to be the first formal recovery plan for an invertebrate anywhere in Canada, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook (May 16).

Telluride ends adventure festival

MOUNTAIN VILLAGE, Colo. – The Telluride 360 Degree Adventure Festival has been cancelled. Mountain Village officials said the loss of major sponsors, including Subaru, caused the cancellation. Instead, said Kathy Mahoney, Metro Services manager, the town’s money will be devoted to smaller-scale events during the summer as opposed to the larger festival over the July 4th weekend, which last year included such things as bouldering, trail running and flyfishing.

Outdoor trade show gets political

PARK CITY, Utah – Peter Metcalf, a Park City resident, owns Black Diamond Equipment, and he is an angry but calculating man. He sponsors two Outdoor Retailer trade shows in Salt Lake City, which are estimated to be worth $24 million in direct income to the state. But he is threatening to move them to Denver or elsewhere unless state politicians re-examine their stance on wilderness.

Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt reached a deal with U.S. Interior Sectary Gale Norton to drop temporary wilderness protection from almost 6 million acres of federal land in Utah. Metcalf believes that the Leavitt-Norton pact usurps a democratic process for evaluating the wilderness potential of those lands, explains The Park Record (May 17).

Advocate helps valley immigrants

EAGLE VALLEY, Colo. – With Catholic Charities taking the lead, Eagle County pitched in $25,000 to pay a woman who began work with the title of “Hispanic community advocate. “

Her job, as she saw it, was to act as a mediator, helping immigrants to Vail and the rest of Eagle County resolve conflicts and overcome obstacles, and alerting them to available resources. In large part, she saw her job as being to “make cultures understand each other better,” Allison Kercher told the Vail Daily (May 16).

But after working for awhile, she realized that, aside from Hispanics, the valley also has a good many Europeans and Australians, and so she has changed her title to “immigrant community advocate.”

She offers a free, one-day program that is essentially a crash course on American culture. Topics include health, the law, and financial issues. She also has assisted immigrants who needed help with employers, either seeking work, needing help with immigration matters or getting paid. Of the 65 employers she was asked to contact, only two refused her.

Glenwood Springs, which also has a large influx of immigrants from Latin America, started a similar program last winter. But the Vail Valley is a harder community in which to get such a program launched, she said, because people work so hard and are so transient.

L.A. reporter recounts high life

LEADVILLE, Colo. – Leadville is a place of superlatives – it has the nation’s highest airport, the highest golf course and the highest hotel rooms. At 10,200 feet, its downtown district is higher than many ski area summits.

The thin air is felt in a multitude of ways, as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times recently discovered:

“Bread doesn’t rise, golf balls fly farther, and the high school track team, bursting with extra red blood cells, dominates cross-country running whenever it competes.

“At the local Safeway, ice cream pushes out of containers and vacuum-packed snacks sit like fat balloons on the shelves. Mosquitoes are so groggy that locals admit feeling pity before swatting them.”

Some people have blood so thick that they don’t bleed. Babies born at this elevation are often underweight. Exposure to hazardous ultraviolet rays is five times greater than at sea level. Water boils at 194 degrees, compared to 212 degrees at sea level. Boiling a potato takes an hour, an egg takes 20 minutes. Pasta is usually mushy on the outside and hard in the middle. And hot cups of coffee in restaurants are rare, noted the reporter.

Aspen trades rail for buses

ROARING FORK VALLEY, Colo. – A 500-page study being released soon lays out a vision of transportation for the Roaring Fork Valley. That vision is not of rail-based transit, which seemed to have the momentum when this plan began in 1997. Instead, the vision now is of bus rapid transit, reports The Aspen Times (May 14).

As now envisioned, these higher-tech buses will run every half-hour between West Glenwood and Aspen. Stops will have heated, indoor waiting areas, with a ticketing system that is more efficient. The buses will run on alternative fuels. HOV lanes and other systems, including traffic signals that switch to green to allow buses to move through an intersection without stopping, will also be installed to give buses an edge on single-occupancy vehicles.

The study anticipates completion in 2008, at a cost of $128 million. About 80 percent of the money is expected to come from the federal government. Four key members of Congress support the proposal.

One major strike against the rail-based transportation is that it would have triggered analysis and public involvement procedures under the National Environmental Policy Act. This bus system uses existing roads. The $2 million in federal funds that had originally been allotted for the rail-based system can now instead be used for bus system improvements.

Mountain lion killed near Aspen

OLD SNOWMASS, Colo. – A mountain lion that weighed 165 pounds was killed this spring near Old Snowmass, downstream from Aspen. The skin is to be tanned, stuffed and mounted, and then displayed at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, reports The Aspen Times (May 13).

Typically, 14 mountain lions are killed per year on roads and highways in Colorado. Highway 82, as it gets four-laned between Glenwood Springs and Aspen, increasingly becomes more like Interstate 70, which wildlife biologists call the Berlin Wall to Wildlife in Colorado. Such roadkill isn’t always in the mountains, though. Recently, a mountain lion was killed on I-70 within two miles of downtown Denver.





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