Alarm about mercury found in trout |

Alarm about mercury found in trout

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily

KETCHUM, Idaho – There is some alarm in the Big Wood River Valley, where Ernest Hemingway once snagged fish while at his second-home in Ketchum. Unhealthy levels of mercury have been found in Silver Creek, one of the tributaries to the river.”I just hope this doesn’t hurt us as a world-class fishery,” said Commissioner Sarah Michael, in an account reported by the Idaho Mountain Express.Paid by The Nature Conservancy, the study was conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey. The study didn’t pinpoint sources of the mercury, but the hypothesis is that at least part of the mercury came from gold mining operations in Nevada and a concrete plant in Oregon, both upwind from Silver Creek.Similar studies are underway in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. There, anecdotal speculation pinpoints mercury to the nearby Four Corners coal-fired power plants. However, there is also some native mercury in the ecosystem, scientists say.Whistler criticized for absence of green walkWHISTLER, B.C. – A plan to construct a new building in a wooded area of Whistler in anticipation of awards ceremonies at the 2010 Winter Olympics is drawing fire. It is, says Pique columnist Michel Beaudry, an example of Whistler not walking its rather loud sustainability talk.In fact, the town already has a plaza that will accommodate 18,000 people, and if it’s in the outdoors, so what? Umbrellas make more sense than an expensive building of limited use, he says.Beaudry also objects to the design of the roof, described by supporters as “iconic.”For support, he turns to Eldon Beck, the now semi-retired landscape designer from California who is credited with contributing some of the best design that went into Whistler (and many other resorts).”Good mountain-town design is all about experiencing the senses,” says Beck. “Successful mountain communities celebrate their environment. They find ways of connecting with their natural surroundings – rather than trying to overwhelm it.” That identity for Whistler, he says, is of a village in the forest.Beck concurs with the assessment of Beaudry (and others) that Whistler’s green talk is less impressive when viewed through the lens of reality. “I’ve heard a lot of talk (about sustainability) in Whistler,” he says. “But so far I’ve seen little action.”The broader issue here is the reality of global warming. Some liken the current situation to the view from North America in about 1938. Sun Valley had just opened, and similarly ski resorts were being planned in Aspen and elsewhere. But then they were postponed.”When World War II came along, nobody went skiing anymore – not even in neutral Switzerland,” Peter Alder tells Beaudry. “Subsequently, a lot of resorts went out of business.”The contention of Beaudry is that ski areas must pay more than lip service to global warming.Finally, Beaudry cites Auden Schendler, the Aspen Skiing Co.’s environmental point guy, who was recently quoted in a recent Business Week story: “The idea that green is fun, easy, and profitable is dangerous. This is hard work. It’s messy. It’s not always profitable, and companies (or communities) have to get off the mark and start actually doing stuff.”In snowfall, as in real estate, it’s about location, locationKETCHUM, Idaho – It’s all about location, say the real estate guys, and that can be said about ski mountains.Take California’s Mammoth Mountain. Fifty miles north or south, and the snowfalls are much, much less, says Jeff Dozier, a snow hydrologist from the University of California at Santa Barbara. Mammoth, three seasons ago, got more than 600 inches of snow.But Sun Valley has the reserve problem. The ski area was located there not because the snow was the best around, but rather because the Union Pacific railroad was looking for passengers, and it already had rails to Ketchum, which was a shipping point for sheep.In fact, Bald Mountain gets around 160 inches of snow, while a few dozen miles away are locations, not that much higher, with 210 to even 330 inches of snow per year.Banff resident objects to policy of open doorsBANFF, Alberta – Mike Reid, who lives in Banff, is annoyed to no end about the “open door” policy of businesses along Banff Avenue, the town’s tourist-friendly strip. Many of the doors to those businesses are left wide open during winter, as a way of inviting customers inside.”Do the owner/managers of these businesses seriously believe that customers will not venture into their shops unless the doors are left wide open to welcome them?” he asks in a letter published in the Rocky Mountain Outlook. It is, he adds, an irresponsible waste of energy.”Global warming,” concludes Reid, “it starts with warming the air on Banff Avenue.”YMCA lights given hoodies in KetchumKETCHUM, Idaho – The $22 million YMCA has finally been completed in Ketchum – whoops, guess not. The Idaho Mountain Express reports that the exterior lights flunked the town’s dark skies ordinance. The light fixtures are being hooded, to avoid light trespass. The city adopted its lighting ordinance in 1999. As for the YMCA, the aquatics pool seemed to provoke the biggest splash.

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