Ski town news roundup: Salmon spawning, le skiing and natl. park shutdowns
Salmon keep on spawning
LAKE TAHOE — A government shutdown hasn’t stopped hundreds of people from witnessing annual salmon spawning at Taylor Creek near Lake Tahoe.
On Wednesday, several crowds of people hiked around Rainbow Trail to see the natural occurrence, though gates to the Taylor Creek Visitor Center remained closed.
Families lined their cars off Highway 89 and walked in. For some visitors, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
“It was magical,” San Pedro resident Claudia Kreis said. “Where else would you see salmon so close and in the numbers you see them in?”
Hundreds, if not thousands, of Kokanee salmon swim up Taylor Creek each year to deposit eggs in the clean, oxygen-rich environment. It is in that cold water and gravel streambed where the eggs incubate for about 100 days before hatching between January and March, according to the U.S. Forest Service. To celebrate the event, an annual Fall Fish Festival is held so visitors can learn about the natural phenomenon from Forest Service biologists, but a recent lapse in federal funding caused this year’s Fish Festival to be cancelled after nearly all of the 150 people who work for the U.S Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit were furloughed.
Salida residents Philip and Debbie Waddle were lucky enough to watch the spawning up close earlier this week from the underground Stream Profile Chamber, they said.
But on Wednesday, when the federal facility remained closed, they were on their own.
“It’s disappointing that you don’t have someone out here that can explain (the spawning process) in detail,” Debbie Waddle said, as she stood near Taylor Creek on Wednesday to observe the fish.
Just a few feet from where Debbie Waddle was standing, the salmon swam in pairs: one male to every female. Most of the females were building nests, or redds, as the males waited for the eggs.
After a nest is built, a Kokanee can lay anywhere from 200 to 1,800 eggs, according to the Forest Service. The male fertilizes the eggs, and then both male and female die after spawning.
Only about three out of 1,000 eggs will survive to spawn. But when they do, they hatch and flow into Lake Tahoe in spring, the Forest Service states. And the scent of Taylor Creek stays with them.
The salmon that hatch from this year’s spawning will eventually return, and repeat the process as adults, according to the Forest Service.
— Tahoe Daily Tribune
Report shows France is top global ski destination
COURCHEVEL, France — France saw increased skier days by 5 percent during the 2012-13 season, bringing the total number to 57.9 million, one million more than the United States. A report recently released in Europe puts France at the top of the list of most popular ski destinations in the world for two years in a row.
France leapt into the lead last winter, overtaking Austria and the United States with 55.3 million skier days, after taking third place three previous years.
— Courchnet.com (news from Courchevel, France)
Improvements underway in Pacific Northwest
With snow falling at high elevations, Pacific Northwest ski areas are rushing to complete summer improvement projects.
NOTE: Timberline Ski Area at Mount Hood had plans to operate the Palmer Express lift as of Oct. 4. But due to the weekend rains and adverse weather, the ski area has decided to wait for winter snows to open the lower mountain. There will be no early season on the Palmer lift this winter.
Here’s what John Gifford, president of the Pacific Northwest Ski Areas Association, says skiers and snowboarders should see that’s new this winter at popular ski destinations.
Mount Bachelor: With recent Deschutes National Forest approval of a master development plan, Mt. Bachelor began work on its first new trail pod since 1996. A new, lower east catchline has already been constructed; trees have been felled for the new lift line and several trails in the pod.
The lift installation is at least a year away, but preparations to open all the terrain down to the new, lower east catchline this winter are under way. This will open 646 acres of new glades, bowls and natural features. For this season the terrain will be mostly un-groomed and 100 percent natural and will take a 20-minute hike out to the Sunrise base.
Mt. Hood Skibowl: The parking lot rope tow is being replaced by a state-of-the art, 220-foot long conveyor lift to create a better experience for new skiers and riders at Skibowl. One hundred new, four-person tubes have been added to the tubing flotilla, increasing hill capacity by a third, as well as a the addition of a second adventure lane. Extensive brush cutting and slope maintenance work this off-season will help with opening terrain earlier in the season.
Stevens Pass: Stevens Pass has replaced the Jupiter fixed-grip quad chair with a new high-speed quad, Jupiter Express. Stevens Pass also will add new gladed terrain in the South Park area as well as expand glades in Corona, Pegasus and Orion areas.
Snoqualmie: The Summit at Snoqualmie will open the new Silver Fir Lodge to provide a better experience for guests, with a boost in service, food variety and seating at Summit Central, as well as introduce a second option for skiers and snowboarders enjoying Summit East.
Crystal Mountain: The new $2.5 million sewer treatment plant is complete and treatment has been switched to it at Crystal. The new system meets all current state discharge standards and is capable of being enhanced to meet future standards.
— The Oregonian (Oregonlive.com)
Park turns to ghost town
JACKSON HOLE, Wyo. — The last of the visitors allowed inside of Grand Teton National Park trickled out Thursday, leaving only a few dozen rangers occupying the 310,000-acre preserve.
Visitors were blocked from accessing the park Tuesday morning, Oct. 1, when the federal government shut down, but those with hotel and campground reservations were given a couple of extra days to vacate.
Many of those people, forced to cut their stays short, are now Jackson-bound.
The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce’s staff has spent the week helping displaced tourists find alternative things to do.
“They’re upset at the federal government, but not at Jackson Hole or anybody in Jackson Hole,” said Rick Howe, the chamber’s director of visitor services. “It’s just obviously frustrating.”
Howe, who worked at a makeshift visitors center at the Home Ranch building this week, shared a couple of heart-wrenching stories of ruined vacations.
“One Japanese family said that they spent about $25,000 to visit, which was on their bucket list,” he said. “They planned the trip five years ago.”
There are three exceptions to the rule: Drivers traveling through the region along Highway 26-89-191 are allowed to drive through to access Togwotee Pass and Dubois. Owners of private land inside the park, such as at Pacific Creek, are allowed in, as are some hunters.
— Jackson Hole News
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