Mag chloride creates more
TELLURIDE Transportation always comes
down to lesser-of-evils arguments. In winter, and also in summer,
the current debate is where magnesium chloride falls.
Mag chloride has been
getting a lot of attention lately for its use on I-70 and other
highways in Colorado, and also other states. But it was used
originally, and more broadly, as a way to quell dust on gravel
roads. It does this by holding moisture, so as to keep the road
bonded, thus making dust less likely to break away.
But in San Miguel
County, there are second thoughts about mag chloride. By
withholding moisture that would go to adjacent trees, the trees are
dying along the 38 miles of roads where the chemical is spread.
Instead, the 150,000 gallons already stocked for use this summer
will be diluted by 20 percent with a solution called
lignosulfonate. The chemical is used to produce wood pulp, and it
costs roughly 30 percent more than straight mag chloride. It will
be used during summer on those roads close to streams.
The ultimate solution to dusty roads is asphalt or pavement, which is what
the county road department is now thinking about. However, the
county's road boss, Mike Horner, also reported to be working
with suppliers of a dust-control product proclaimed to be 100
percent environmentally safe. The firm's website is www.envirotechservices.com.
New pollution found in high Rockies
ESTES PARK The word "pristine" gets
used with monotonous regularity when describing Rocky Mountain
National Park. But new evidence suggests it's a relative
New studies, reports
The Denver Post , reveal air currents swirling around
the peaks are delivering a rain of mercury, pesticides,
insecticides and other long-lasting chemicals that slowly build up
in the park's forests, lakes, soils and fish.
One study shows mercury accumulating in the trout of high lakes
and streams. A small sampling showed mercury concentrations at
about half the level required to trigger federal health advisories.
Scientists speculate that the mercury is coming from the pollution
of coal-fired power plants to both the east and west in Colorado.
Another potentially serious threat to the park comes from
deposition of nitrogen oxides from cars and other sources in the
nearby heavily populated Front Range.
Another study suggests pollutants coming from even other
continents. Some of the chemicals found in the park's snow and lake
sediments show pesticides and herbicides. Among the chemicals found
were PCBs, which have been banned for decades in the United States.
That suggests that the chemicals are coming from Asia.
"The reason we're looking at parks is basically they are
indicators of what might be occurring in other places," said Donald
Campbell, a researcher with the U.S. Geological Survey in Denver.
Similar pollution studies are also being conducted at Mount Rainier
and Olympic national parks in Washington State, Glacier in Montana,
and Sequoia in California.
Lack of snow hinders
CRESTED BUTTE-ASPEN The annual
late-March race from Crested Butte to Aspen was less of a ski race
than an adventure race this year.
Leaving Crested Butte at
midnight, racers found that mud prevailed on the Elk Mountains
Grand Traverse. They also had to dodge cow patties and gushing
creeks. By one estimate, about 30 percent of the race occurred
This required some
inventiveness on the part of racers, explains the Crested Butte News . Jimmy Faust, of the winning team
from Crested Butte, drilled holes in his boots, so that they would
drain after crossing creeks. (It wasn't enough). His partner, Pat
O'Neill, carried a tent stake to clear their boots and bindings of
mud. The second-place team, Mike Kloser and Dan Weiland, out of
Vail, used ski poles to fight the mud, (It wasn't
The winning team
finished the 40-mile course in not quite eight hours. "It was
tougher than a $2 steak," co-winner O'Neill told the Crested Butte News . The winning coed team came in about
an hour and 50 minutes later, and the winning women's team came in
about 2`BD hours later. Not least among the 111 teams entered was a
team of 61-year-old men, the first over-60 competitors.
A major consideration was the 50 mph winds that buffeted the
crest of the Elk Range, where the race course tops out at about
12,300 feet. The winds later that day were strong enough to cause a
chairlift at Aspen to be closed.
Adaptive instructor loses
life in Iraq
WINTER PARK The continuing war in Iraq
is getting closer to the idyllic ski valleys of the West. Quietly,
in the small mountain towns, people are wondering about the fate of
their former high-school classmates who somehow are now in
There's good reason for
fear, as was revealed in the death of Mike Bloss, a ski instructor
for the disabled at Winter Park. Bloss had been in Iraq working for
a firm that was providing security. Hours before his death he had
e-mailed friends, alerting them to the danger he was in.
"We are expecting to be
overrun tonight, and we may have to fight our way to a safe haven,"
he wrote. "Unfortunately, all the safe havens are already under
attack," he added.
Bloss, 38, had been in
the Welsh special forces and had once served in battle-torn
Northern Ireland, notes The Denver
Post . Having
suffered a debilitating foot injury while in the military, he
showed great understanding of the needs of disabled skiers. Sources
at Winter Park suggested that Bloss took the job to help subsidize
his skiing lifestyle.
Cat survives pole plunge
LEADVILLE The top news in Leadville
seemed to be the odyssey of a cat that spent four days atop a power
pole while the owner tried to get firefighters, police and others
to retrieve the cat from among the thicket of electrical
The cat, a 6-month-old
Siamese mix, ran up the pole after being chased by a dog. Offers of
tuna fish and other delights failed to draw the frightened feline
back down, as did hurled potatoes and fired paint balls. Offers
from local hunters to bring the cat down in a different way were,
as you might expect, spurned.
Finally, the county road
and bridge superintendent, assisted by a county commissioner, ran a
ladder up the pole and dislodged the cat. The cat survived a
35-foot plunge to the ground with nothing more than bruises. It got
tuna and milk and front-page treatment in the Leadville Chronicle . No word on whether the kitten will
be psychologically scarred for life.
Telluride struggles with dog laws
TELLURIDE San Miguel County has some
of the best regulations around for controlling dogs. They are
banned from within a half-mile of elk-calving areas, migration
corridors and severe winter range.
But the laws aren't
enforced, and The Telluride
there's growing sentiment to revisit the laws. County Commissioner
Art Goodtimes, who helped introduce the regulations, says outlawing
dogs in down-valley communities is unrealistic. Sheriff Bill
Masters says the regulations are overly broad and unenforceable. A
libertarian, he urges more attention to education. And, he points
out, a Colorado state law already allows dogs that are harassing
wildlife to be shot.
But in the past, environmentalists and wildlife officials have
opposed weakening the regulations, and there seems to be some
sentiment that the county should up the enforcement rather than
weaken the law.
Mining claim sale stirs up
CRESTED BUTTE A long-simmering case
from Crested Butte has public lands watchdogs urging other mountain
towns in the American West to watch out.
In the Crested Butte
case, a mining company beginning in 1977 tried to get rights to
mine molybdenum on nearby Mount Emmons, known locally as the Red
Lady for the alpenglow shades at dawn and dusk. The market for
molybdenum plummeted within a few years, but not until after the
company, which has since been swallowed by multinational mining
corporation Phelps Dodge Inc., had poured several million dollars
into the project.
And so, using the 1872
mining law, the U.S. Department of the Interior has sold the 155
claimed lands to the mining company for $5 an acre, or $875 total.
Although the mining company has no current plans to mine there,
local officials as well as environmental groups are outraged. The
Town of Crested Butte and Gunnison County have joined the High
Country Citizens' Alliance in protesting the decision.
"The Bush administration
just gave away hundreds of millions of dollars in public land,"
says Roger Flynn, managing attorney of the Western Mining Action
Project. By one estimate, the land might be worth $15.5 million for
development of housing something not ignored by the local
compiled by Allen