Eruption predicted for Yellowstone

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. - Doomsdayers this year have made much of new hot springs, increased geyser activity and a bulge in the ground at Yellowstone National Park. A volcano, they predict, will soon erupt.

But scientists consulted by the Jackson Hole News & Guide say this prediction is way overblown, so to speak. They admit that there is much that they don't know about Yellowstone's subterranean, which in geologic times has erupted three times, as recently as 640,000 years ago - just a sneeze in geologic times. And should it erupt again now, it could destroy huge portions of the United States.

But will it erupt soon? Not necessarily.

Apparently bolstering the case of the chicken-littles is a documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation. That program correctly noted interesting evidence of change. For example, a survey on the bottom of Yellowstone Lake identified a bulge that is about 2,000 feet long and 100 feet higher than the former lake bottom.

But the area of the volcanic caldera, an area of 3,000 square kilometers (1,158 square miles) has been swelling for a long time - a meter since 1923. New hot springs have emerged before. And that bulge underneath the lake may have been around for awhile but gone unnoticed, as measuring techniques have improved in recent years.

The BBC program, if well done, painted the worst-case scenario and voided more conservative views, said one scientist, Bob Smith, of the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. The changes alone do not necessarily auger an imminent eruption, he and others say. "Things that are normal to Yellowstone wouldn't be normal at other places," says Smith. "That's why it's Yellowstone. It's a place of change."

Crested Butte sale in the works

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - In buying the Crested Butte ski area, a key consideration for Tim and Diane Mueller is the potential to expand the ski area and sell real estate, like most of the other ski areas.

The purchase by the Muellers, who own Vermont's Okemo ski area and who at one time had a deal to buy Steamboat, is expected to be consummated by around Christmas. In turn, they are expected to bring to the table the substantial money needed to more fully develop the resort.

Crested Butte locals were famously opposed to ski area expansion and real estate development, but after several years of hard-rock times, opposition has softened. Some of the hard times were caused by drought, but Crested Butte's relative isolation - itthree or four hours from Denver and other metropolitan areas - has made it vulnerable at a time when all destination resorts are scraping. Even Aspen and Steamboat are close enough to Denver to battle for day skiers.

Pat Crow, a longtime local, told The Denver Post that the depressed economy "made us realize we have to diversify, and we have to help the ski area. It's not us against them."

Vegan telemarkers start eating pork

TELLURIDE, Colo. - In a way, Telluride seems to be converging with the mainstream. Vegans, vegetarians who shun even animal byproducts like milk and eggs, are becoming carnivores.

That's the report in The Telluride Watch from a Mexican restaurant that, after six years in the business, now offers pork. Not just any pork, however. The clincher was finding a supplier of pork that is free of hormones and antibiotics.

"The town has changed," shrugs Lucas Price of La Cocina de Luz. "People are eating more meat, less cheese and less carbohydrates.

Are more changes astir? Maybe. "The vegan telemarker of six years ago today is eating meat and has his downhill skis on," says the restaurateur with a laugh.

Vail Valley pass prices stay the same

AVON, Colo. - Prices for skiing by locals in the Vail Resorts kingdom is holding steady. A Merchant Pass, good for the company's four resorts in Eagle and Summit counties, costs $720, and the Merchant Pass good for only Eagle County - Vail and Beaver Creek ski areas - costs $649. That's about the same as what it was 15 years ago.

To qualify for these passes, however, a business operator must go through a class in customer services provided by the ski company. And from comments by anonymous commentators in the Vail Daily , some locals think even minor price increases are a slap in the face.

Crested Butte tries to define Paradise

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. - Who qualifies as a local in Paradise? That was the rather blissful question facing the Crested Butte Town Council recently.

Paradise, in this case, is a government-subsidized affordable housing project, with the name borrowed from an above-treeline bowl in the Elk Range. The town council has decided applicants to this project must prove they earn 80 percent of their income in Gunnison County, work at least 1,400 hours a year locally and don't own any land with residential housing on it in Gunnison County, reports the Crested Butte News .

Meanwhile, in Jackson, the Town Council plans to make employment the only criterion for eligibility for 18 new units of affordable housing. Eligibility based on income, as opposed to employment, eliminates some people who can't afford free-market housing from getting subsidized housing, reported Bob McLaurin, the town administrator. He said he's not worried that "trust-funders" will buy up the valley's hard-won affordable housing.

"If you've got that much money, you'll buy something in the free market," he said. He suggested a deed restriction limiting appreciation upon resale to 3 percent simple interest, compared to 3.5 percent compounded annually at other affordable houses built in Jackson Hole. The local housing authority's executive director, Forrest Neuerburg, said he supports the new restriction, which has been used widely in Colorado.

Electric grizzly bear fence invented

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. - Backpackers in grizzly bear habitat should be able to sleep a little better if the U.S. Forest Service succeeds in creating a lightweight electric fence.

Outfitters, who have horses to haul around the 12-volt car batteries that provide the jolt that keeps the bruins at bay, already use such fences. Now, in a project with the National Outdoor Leadership School, the Forest Service is hoping to create a lightweight version of the same. The fence line would be of particular use in above-timberline areas where there are no trees for stringing up lines from which to hang food, notes the Jackson Hole News & Guide .

However, such fences should be a last resort and used only when storing food above treeline. Jay Anderson, a spokesman for the Bridger-Teton National Forest, said that the fence is not a replacement for keeping a clean camp or hanging food.

Councilor harassed with latex penis

LEADVILLE, Colo. - A latex penis thrown on his front porch caused city council candidate Steve Prestash to file a report with police, saying it was part of harassment that had been going on for seven years.

The cop taking the report assumed a facial expression that Prestash didn't like, and he said so - it was not, he said, "funny." Then Prestash pulled the bars from the frame of the police station's front window, according to police, who then arrested him. He later told the Leadville Herald-Democrat that he had not knowingly done so, but that he had kind of blacked out.

As for the latex penis, it was logged into the evidence locker.

Whistler plagued by dual cataclysms

WHISTLER, B.C. - Oh, they've seen fire and they've seen rain in British Columbia this year. In August, wildfires threatened seemingly everywhere in the interior amid the worst drought in generations. By October, it was torrential rains that meteorologists referred to as a 100-year storm.

And along the way there has been a near record snowfall last Christmas, winds in February that trapped more than 1,000 people on chairlifts and in lodges, and then record heat for October.

One scientist consulted by Whistler's Pique newsmagazine says all this fits in with the pattern of global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a report in 2001 that predicted an increase in climate variability and in some extreme events.

- compiled by Allen Best





News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index