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Mountain meadows studied for evidence of global warming

Allen Best/Special to the Daily

JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. – An ecologist from Iowa State University who has been working in Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons for more than a decade theorizes that as the planet gets hotter, mountain meadows will begin to disappear.To test this theory, explains the Jackson Hole News & Guide (June 25), she first had to classify existing meadows and catalogue the birds and butterflies that occupy those habitats. If the meadows do shrink, or become drier, it’s going to make a big change in the biodiversity, she says.She has already observed one change. A butterfly, the Parnassius, which is known to favor dry meadows, showed up at a meadow that typically is wet. To what extent drought caused this meadow to dry up, the newspaper didn’t say, but apparently the ecologist has her eyes open.——Composting plant to process Whistler wasteSQUAMISH, B.C. – A waste company expects to begin operations in January at a $7 million centralized composting facility for the Sea to Sky corridor between Vancouver and Whistler. The business expects to process 50 metric tons of organic matter a day, including food waste, bio-solids, organic construction waste, and clean wood waste, reports the Whistler Question (June 26).”Whistler is a very big producer of food waste, because of all the hotels,” explained Pat Taylor, administration manager with Carney’s Waste System. “This facility would divert a significant amount of matter from the municipal landfills, reduce the amount of methane gas produced by organic waste in landfills, and reduce the tipping fees required to dump organic matter in landfills by 50 percent.”Really, organic waste is a resource which is being misplaced, because after composting it, it is a usable soil amendment,” he said. “Certainly in Whistler where there isn’t a lot of good soil, what better way to get rid of all your food wastes than by turning them into usable soil?”Most of the composting will occur in sealed chambers, eliminating most odors and problems with wildlife.——-Banff studying how to discourage retail chainsBANFF, Alberta – Residents in Banff are concerned about the mom-and-pop shops being replaced by Gap, Lush, and Starbucks as well as other multinational corporations. This could cause Banff to lose its distinctive mountain town feel, they say.Adding to this sensitivity is that Banff is fast running out of space to grow. It’s located on a townsite within Banff National Park, and the land agency, Parks Canada, has put a cap on residential and business growth in the townsite. Using a random draw system, Banff has already allocated about 250,000 square feet of the allowable 350,000 square feet of incremental new development. That cap is to be reached in 2006.”People are concerned about corporate branding of place,” Randall McKay, Banff’s manager of planning and development, told Rocky Mountain Outlook (June 19). “I think it’s important to maintain a sense of place and have some control over that if you want a unique visitor experience.”Banff may consider controlling the size of retail stores and eating and drinking establishments. That has been done from Canmore to Taos. However, McCay conceded that it would be a “big step” to try to regulate what kind of businesses are allowed.Municipal planners say they intend to look at other communities, including California’s Napa Valley, to study how they have dealt with the invasion of franchised businesses. They are also looking at Aspen, which is reportedly expecting to end commercial development in 2016. Businesses there that serve locals are given points in something of an affirmative action plan. Also, Steamboat Springs city officials have been discussing whether they should tinker with the business mix.——–Rec fee demo program replaced by volunteersTELLURIDE – Yankee Boy Basin, which is located between Ouray and Telluride, has become the first place in the U.S. to reverse the unpopular Forest Service Recreation Fee Demonstration program. Volunteers have instead taken over stewardship of the area.In 2001, the Forest Service began assessing a $5 fee for entrance to the area, which includes access to 14,000-foot Mount Sneffels, as well as Imogene Pass. A couple who has lived in the area for more than 30 years has organized 43 volunteers to manage and maintain the area. Without the unpopular rec fee demo program, they told The Telluride Watch (June 24), they probably wouldn’t have found so many volunteers.


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