Smokeout annoys some in Winter Park
December 11, 2005
WINTER PARK – The bark beetles that are munching their way through the lodgepole pine forests of the Fraser Valley are having a secondary affect: smoke.After property owners cut down trees, to reduce the fire danger, they are burning the slash in 15- by 15-foot piles. After one such big burn, public officials were besieged with phone calls from people who felt they had been smoked out.Grand County officials reported 400 such slash piles in 2000. This year they expect upwards of 5,000. Burning is permitted during winter, when danger of spreading fire is low. The trick is to burn when weather conditions will allow the smoke to be blown out. However, a ring of mountains creates temperature inversions that often create a lid on smoke.Just how can people get rid of the excess wood? County officials have talked about a biomass plant, which would burn the wood with controls on emissions in order to produce electricity. However, biomass plants can be enormously expensive, in this case running $100 million to $120 million – hard to justify if the source of wood is temporary.While the Fraser Valley has never had particularly good air, owing to a century of railroad locomotives, sawmills, and stoves and fireplaces of residents, the Winter Park Manifest sees a similarity to the valley’s pollution and the skyline of Denver, Los Angeles and other cities.Man slips, drowns in Glacier National ParkGLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. – While Glacier National Park may be more famous for its stories of grizzly bears attacking hikers, the leading cause of death is drowning.Another victim was added to that roll recently when a 40-year old hiker, Dennis Brooks, fell into McDonald Creek and drowned. The Whitefish Pilot explains that the man, ignoring several signs that warned of the danger, had been hopping from boulder to boulder when a small bit of moisture caused him to lose his balance. Since 1913, at least 52 people have drowned in Glacier, according to Park Service records.Foursome escape injury from Wasatch avalanchePARK CITY, Utah – Four skiers playing in the backcountry snow between the Brighton ski area and Park City survived a major avalanche that was 600 feet wide and 5 feet deep.The skiers, who ranged in age from 45 to 59, had skied the Wasatch Range for decades. They were well prepared, as they had probes and shovels, plus beacons, but admitted to a lapse in judgment.”We usually play it conservatively,” one of the skiers, Jane Arhart, told The Park Record. “We were stupid today.”Two of the skiers were partially buried, but collectively the group lost five of the potential eight skis and six of the eight poles.Locals more like tourists, tourists more like localsGRANBY – A century ago a railroad from Denver was marching its way westward, with builders aiming their sights eventually for Salt Lake City.The rails never reached Salt Lake, but they did have a profound impact in creating ski and summer resorts. Just across the Continental Divide, the railroad played a large role in creation of the Winter Park ski area. The railroad also had an indirect role in fanning the popularity of ski jumping at Steamboat Springs, which is claimed as home by more Olympians than any other U.S. town.The railroad also yielded Granby 100 years ago. A ranch center for many years, then an important place for automobile tourism through the mid-century, the town in recent years was a mutt of these functions while also becoming a service center for the resorts, Winter Park and Grand Lake, as well as the largest collection of dude ranches in the nation.But Patrick Brower, publisher of the Sky-Hi News, notes that the town is now evolving once again, becoming something that is widely recognized in mountain towns of the West. With a variety of vacation home developments in and near the town, he points to the new blending of home ownership and residencies that should be familiar to people in the real-estate driven resorts of the West.”Tourists are becoming locals, buying homes and, frequently, working here,” Brower says of Granby. “Locals act like tourists, living in their own trophy homes.”40 is the pivotal age for wild and crazy skiing guysLAKE TAHOE, Calif. – Who do you think has the highest risk for getting injured when skiing and snowboarding? Would you say old people, what a newspaper in Vail once called “skeezers.” Or how about testosterone-driven young guys?Neither, reports a physical therapist at Lake Tahoe, who cites a recent study that shows 40-year-old males are most at risk. They have the desire to take risks, but their joints won’t hold up.