Snowboarding bad for Kerry's image

COLUMBUS, Ohio John Kerry is not getting the traction with the working class in Ohio that many people think he should. Instead, the state is edging toward Bush. It is, says one campaign consultant who has worked in Ohio for 30 years, a matter of presenting the wrong image things like snowboarding.

"I smell the same New England genius that I smelled in the Dukakis campaign in 1988," Gerald Austin of Cleveland told The New York Times . "Kerry wants to run as a man of the people, and where do they put him for photo opportunities? Snowboarding in Sun Valley, shooting skeet in the Ohio Valley, and windsurfing off that great working-class vacation paradise, Nantucket. Democrats at least Ohio Democrats play softball and touch football."

Tellurider takes offense to weed war

TELLURIDE In Telluride and the San Miguel Valley, the invasion of exotic plant species is taken seriously. The front page of The Telluride Watch each week has an "invasive of the week" featuring such plants as leafy spurge and musk thistle.

Invasives were brought to North American from Eurasia and are now crowding out the natives. The problem, say some scientists, is even more menacing than that of global warming.

But one Telluride resident says too much already! Ilene Barth says a town employee informed her that neither the town nor the county was happy about the tansy, an invasive non-native plant, growing in her yard, and that the plant should be removed.

Well, said Barth, she is also non-native, and the peaches she favors are non-natives. This drive to "erase the movement of the last several centuries toward diversity" has gone entirely too far, she contends. The authorities were so agitated about the sinner plants that they were willing to take up herbicides!

Ecologists would generally say that Barth doesn't understand what's going on. Instead of creating greater diversity, the invasives are creating less diversity. Lacking the insects and diseases of Eurasia that control their spread, these invasives are choking out pre-existing vegetation in North America.

Park City impacted by local warming

PARK CITY, Utah Summers have become hotter in Park City over the years, but Roger Strand does not chalk it up to global warming.

Strand, who has had a heating and air conditioning business for several decades, says the building of driveways, dark roofs, nonindigenous trees, golf courses, lakes and ponds has changed the way the ground absorbs heat. All of this adds up to a man-made heat wave, he told The Park Record .

While scientists have long recognized localized temperatures increases due to changed land uses, they also say that the globe in general has become warmer, more than a degree Fahrenheit during the last 20 years. Some places, such as mountain tops and Alaska, generally have become much warmer yet.

Golf courses spread in Jackson Hole

JACKSON HOLE Expensive, private and almost-private golf courses are proliferating in Jackson Hole. There are two now, with three more planned. That means 900 more memberships, some at a cost of $100,000 plus annual dues, on top of the existing 920 memberships.

In reporting this, the Jackson Hole News & Guide wonders whether the market truly exists for this much private and high-end golf? The newspaper found several reports from 2001 that of supply outstripping demand, with the result of bankruptcies in beach resorts. However, the newspaper cited no evidence of financial difficulty in mountain resort valleys.

David Hutchinson, president of Valley Blue Sky Inc., a group of investors from Aspen and Sun Valley who are buying a planned golf course and real estate complex called Canyon Club, argues that there will be demand for "things that are special and of high quality."

The newspaper did find an expert who concluded that to make private golf courses work in high-mountain valleys with their short playing seasons that real estate has to be part of the proposition. That's usually the case, although the Eagle Valley where Vail and Beaver Creek are located has one course disassociated from real estate.

Lake Tahoe continues to lose clarity

LAKE TAHOE, Calif. Work has begun on a new strategy to reverse the decline of Lake Tahoe, which has lost one-third of its clarity since the late 1960s. Scientists say the decline could become irreversible unless remedial steps are taken during the next 15 to 20 years.

A consortium of local, state and federal agencies are responsible for protecting the 1,645-foot-deep lake, which straddles the California-Nevada border. The lake's quality is tied closely to the activities on land around the shore.

To reduce pollution, the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency has tightly restricted development, allowing only 225 new homes per year in the basin. Local jurisdictions are given permits based on their progress toward achieving key environmental goals, explains the Reno Gazette-Journal .

The new strategy will be geared toward finding new ways to control sediment and settling dust, reports the Contra Costa Times . Automobile driving in the Tahoe Basin could be restricted, while property owners could see new building limits. On the other hand, developers could be allowed to pay fees that will be used to pay for pollution controls. That, in turn, could loosen some construction rules.

Michael Donahoe, of the Tahoe Chapter of the Sierra Club, said the project, called Pathway 2007, because it is to be complete by 2007, has "incredible potential" to help Lake Tahoe's future. He warned against giving too much weight to local business interests. "Most of the people in this basin want to protect the lake, but you have a few that still see it as their own profit center. For them, it's for sale," said Donahoe. "The preservation of this lake ought to be primary."

California reports high mercury levels

LAKE NATOMA, Calif. Some 150 years ago the immigrant gold miners in the California foothills used an estimated 8.5 million pounds of mercury to separate gold from ore.

Now, new immigrants are being warned not to eat the fish from some lakes and rivers east of Sacramento because of dangerous levels of mercury. Preparing brochures in several different languages, health officers are targeting Asian, Russian and Latino anglers, people who tend to eat a lot of the fish that they catch.

Tests show mercury levels as high as 1.02 parts per million in bass and 1.89 parts per million in channel catfish, reports the Sacramento Bee . That's three to six times the threshold established by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Salmon and trout, two of the most popular local sport fish, tend to accumulate relatively low levels of mercury, say scientists. As a result, most people can safely eat those fish three times a week, although women of childbearing age should eat them only once a week.

Gunnison County to seed clouds

CRESTED BUTTE Gunnison County is signing on to have the clouds seeded again this winter, the third straight year. Cost is projected to be $92,000. The county commissioners figured at the outset that they would do it for five years, in order to measure the effectiveness of seeding, explains the Crested Butte News .

Cloud-seeders say they can boost precipitation from clouds 10 to 20 percent but also point out that if they don't have clouds, as is common in cases of drought, then they can't produce snow from nothing.

How valid are the claims of 10 to 20 percent? That's hard to answer, as there have been almost no double-blind experiments, which scientists say is necessary to deliver unbiased results. Results from operations have in-built biases. A national study released last year said the best evidence for winter cloud-seeding came from experiments done in the Leadville-Breckenridge-Vail area in the 1960s.

Light pollution impacts observatory

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. Climb the highest mountain, and you still can't get away from light pollution. That's the report in the Summit Daily News , which tells about an observatory atop Mount Evans, a 14,000-foot peak about halfway between Breckenridge and Denver.

Among the observatory's tasks is to track near-earth asteroids, which periodically in the past have crashed into the Earth. One such collision about 65 million years ago caused the extinction of most earthly life forms.

compiled by Allen Best






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