Park City climate report predicts higher temps, possibly less snow |

Park City climate report predicts higher temps, possibly less snow

ALLEN BESTspecial to the daily

PARK CITY, Utah Even when Park City was planning to host the Olympics, the town never had 1,200 people show up for a community meeting. But that’s how many turned out last week to hear scientific projections about how rising temperatures may affect Park City during the 21st century.Global warming, said the scientists, will change Park City plenty. Easier to predict are temperatures. They will rise, of course. But rising temperatures will likely mean less snow.The base areas are at about 6,900 feet in elevation. Given the maximum continued emissions now projected, the snowline of the ski mountains could move up to 9,500 feet. Park City Mountain Resort’s top elevation is 10,400 feet.In addition, warmer temperatures could delay snow accumulations by at least four weeks.Computer models developed so far are uncertain about how global warming will change precipitation patterns.”We can’t say with any high degree of certainty what precipitation will do in the future,” says Brian Lazar, a hydrologist with Stratus Consulting, a firm from Boulder, that conducted the research. “That’s particularly true in mountainous regions, because of the interactions of the climate and the topography.”Temperatures we can predict with much more confidence,” he added.Stakes rising about nation’s highest townALMA The stakes are rising, so to speak, in the argument about who has the highest town in the United States. So are tempers.For many years, the dispute was between Alma and Leadville, two old mining towns located on opposite sides of Colorado’s Mosquito Range. Leadville has an elevation of 10,182 feet on its main street, Harrison Avenue, but city employees several years ago began using the municipal water tower, elevation 10,430 feet. Alma responded by establishing an elevation, 10,578 feet, between its post office and water tank. Still, by common consent, both towns claimed superlatives: Alma was the highest town, and Leadville the highest city. The distinction is grounded in Colorado law. Municipalities of less than 2,000 are towns, and Alma has an estimated population of 231 people. Places of greater than 2,000 people can be incorporated as cities, which Leadville did. It has a population of 2,764.Then along came Winter Park. Last summer, the town – it has a population of 827 people annexed the ski area, which reaches a maximum elevation of 12,060 feet. The purpose was to give the town jurisdiction over all of land-use decisions involving the ski area, bypassing county authorities.This quite possibly made Winter Park the nation’s highest town, although Alma officials, when contacted by Mountain Town News, said they didn’t really know how high their town went up the slopes of adjacent mountains. In Winter Park, both town and chamber officials said they had no intention of bragging about their thin air.But that was then. In December, the Fairplay Flume revisited the issue – and found cranky officials in Alma and stealth marketing in Winter Park.Alma Mayor Mark Dowaliby dismissed Winter Park’s claim as a “desperate ploy for attention.” Alma, he said, refused to recognize Winter Park as the higher town”We could always annex Mt. Bross,” he said, referring to a nearby 14,00-foot peak. “But I think it’s silly. We’re the highest town, and that’s that.”Winter Park town officials had decided to exploit their superlative distinction, erecting signs at the town’s entrances to proclaim the title as the highest U.S. municipality.Beetle kill is ‘bigger than all of us think’WINTER PARK Town officials in Winter Park are revamping their strategy for dealing with the bark beetles. For the last several years, the town had been paying homeowners $55 per tree to remove dead and dying pine trees. The bill ran $300,000 to $400,000 per year.But seeing the wave of dying trees, town officials now think they can better use the money on a community wildfire protection plan. “It’s bigger than all of us think,” Mayor Nick Teverbaugh told the Winter Park Manifest. “It’s getting to the point where we can’t afford to keep cutting every tree.”Revelstoke bargains with devil of ski areaREVELSTOKE, B.C. Developers of Revelstoke Mountain Resort have now committed $30 million toward erection of new gondolas and chairlifts. With that announcement, Revelstoke, a city of 8,000 people located in southwest British Columbia, is more squarely facing what environmental historian Hal Rothman identified as the devil’s bargain of communities that embrace tourism.While old ranching, mining and logging towns may see tourism as an economic savior, tourism ultimately changes them in ways that proponents usually have not anticipated, Rothman said in his book, “Devil’s Bargains: Tourism in the Twentieth-Century American West.””As a viable option for moribund or declining places, tourism promises much but delivers only a little, often in forms different from what its advocates anticipate,” Rothman wrote.

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