Mountain Town News

Mountain Town News
Allen Best - 09/20/2018

Citizen scientists track shrinking glaciers

JACKSON, Wyo. – Citizen scientists have been participating in an effort to document the melting of the 13 glaciers and permanent snowfields in Teton National Park.

The Jackson Hole News&Guide explains that the 13 volunteers each carried a camera to capture the ice from many angles. The photos will be compiled into a single 3-D model.

Peri Sasnett, the park geologist, says this project is a test to see if both the technique and use of volunteers works.

“We could do this as park employees,” she said. “We could run around for a few days and just take a jillion photos. But the more people we have, the more photos we have, the better the model, and, of course, citizen science is a very meaningful way for people to engage with park science,” she said.

The collated images will allow scientists to better track how the glaciers add and lose mass from year to year.

Ever since the last big glacial advance, the glaciers in the Tetons and elsewhere have waxed and waned. The most recent expansion was during the Little Ice Age, from 1300 - 1850.

Among the volunteers was Vince Anderson, an engineer from Denver. “You can teach someone about it from a textbook and blah blah blah, but when you come up here you become a stakeholder,” he told the News&Guide.

If the surroundings inspired awe, the weather even in late summer was challenging. Hurricane Pass – where some of this ice is located – was named that for a reason.

Jobs aplenty, but begging is free speech

GRANBY – “Get a job,” wrote one commentator on the Sky-Hi News website last week. “In this county there is no excuse for panhandling.”

What provoked the barbed comment was a Sky-Hi News story that the town of Granby, located between Rocky Mountain National Park and the Winter Park ski area, was planning to update its town code upon advice of the American Civil Liberties Union.

The current law bans vagrancy and defines a vagrant as “any person wandering abroad and begging, or any person who goes about from door to door or private homes or commercial and business establishments, or places himself in or upon any public way or public place to beg or receive alms for himself.”

Federal courts have found such broad restrictions unconstitutional. And the ACLU points out that the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly stood behind heightened protections for free speech. The ACLU sent dozens of such letters to Colorado towns recently, including several mountain resort towns.

Bus drivers’ wages may need to be raised

JACKSON, Wyo. – Bus drivers in Jackson Hole this winter will get bumped wages. Drivers for Start, as the bus service is called, will get $19.25 an hour plus their choice of winter bonuses that range from $450 to $1,000 or a mountain ski pass. To get these perks will require an average 30 hours a week.

Larry Pardee, the town manager, says wages may be nudged even higher if administrators get insufficient applications. The town is advertising nationally, reports the Jackson Hole News&Guide.

Parents in opioid death file lawsuits

PARK CITY, Utah – Parents of a 13-year-old Park City boy who died of a drug overdose in 2016 have sued the companies they claim shipped, marketed, distributed and sold the drug that led to the death of their son and his friend, who was also 13.

James and Deborah Seaver filed the lawsuit against the estate of the deceased Alexandre Cazes, who founded the now-defunct online dark web market AlphaBay; the Tor Project Inc., software that enables access to the dark web; and the postal services China Postal Express & Logistics Co. and Express Mail Service. The Seavers claim in the lawsuit that the defendants are liable for the death of their son, Grant.

The Park Record says the boy and his friend, Ryan Ainsworth, died within days of each other after ingesting U-47700, commonly called pink but also pinky and U4.

The Recovery Village, a website, says pink is an “extremely potent, highly dangerous synthetic opioid drug” developed in the 1970s. It is several times more powerful than morphine and is often confused with heroin or other opioid drugs.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement administration classified the drug as a Schedule I controlled substance after 46 deaths were linked to U-47700 in 2015-16.

Lake Louise not in mix for 2026 Games

CANMORE, Alberta – If Canada gets the right to host the 2026 Winter Olympics, it won’t be in Banff National Park. That rules out Lake Louise, a perennial spot on the World Cup skiing circuit.

Instead, committee organizers in Alberta have put together a package that would employ two venues that hosted events in the 1988 Winter Olympics. Nakiska, located in the Kananaskis Country south of Banff, would host the skiing and snowboarding events, while Canmore, at the entrance to the national park, would host the cross-country and biathlon events. Calgary is proposed for aerials, big air and assorted other events.

But here’s where the new attention to frugality comes in: the Canadians propose to let Whistler – site of several of the events at the 2010 Winter Olympics – to again host the ski jumping and Nordic-combined events. This, according to bid organizers, will save $50 million. However, upgrades would be needed to make it work.

The Rocky Mountain Outlook says Lake Louise was ruled out because of its location within Banff National Park. Both the Yellowstone-to-Yukon Conservation Initiative, or Y2Y, along with Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society opposed holding the Olympics within the national park. The park has three downhill ski areas: Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay and Sunshine.

The Canadian proposal sees need for an investment of $3 billion in capital costs and $2.4 billion for operations. The latter would be largely offset by $2.4 billion in revenue.

In addition to Canada, six other countries are investigating bids for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The United States is not among them, but a handful of resort cities are looking at 2030, including Denver. A group there plans to put the bid to a public vote.

The committee appointed by Denver Mayor Michael Hancock has recommended that the state pursue privately funded games, without direct public funding or any threat of financial losses for taxpayers. The Committee, reports The Denver Post, estimates the cost of hosting the event at $2 billion, with half that coming from the International Olympic Committee.

But the group wants to ask Denver voters next May whether the city government can spend any public money or resources on the Olympics. In other words, a “no” vote will ensure no city moneys will be used.

The Post points out that the committee includes an individual who shocked Denver last year by succeeding in getting a green-roofs initiative approved by voters despite the opposition of developers and the city itself.

The committee also includes former Colorado Gov. Dick Lamm. As a state senator in the early 1980s, he led the effort to reject public funding for the 1976 Winter Olympics. Denver had been named the host city, but the public vote in 1972 forced organizers to withdraw. Instead, the 1976 Olympics were held in Innsbruck.

In the early 1970s, Denver and Colorado altogether were booming not unlike today. Highways were getting more congested and rents were spiking, just as they are now.

Aspen ponders impacts of bigger airport

ASPEN – Aspen has re-begun a conversation about how accessible it wants to be to the outside world.

Most of Aspen’s best-heeled visitors arrive by plane at Sardy Field, just outside town.

United, Delta and American Airlines all use Bombardier CRJ jets that carry up to 78 people for direct flights from Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco, among others. These smaller capacities are less of a gamble than larger planes. This smaller gamble enables more flights daily, seven a day to Los Angeles and six to Chicago, allowing visitors to make easier connections.

The problem seems to be that Bombardier’s jets are getting old, but Pitkin County, the operator of the airport, is under no immediate obligation to revamp the airport to make it functional for other planes. One possible replacement is Embraer’s 70-seat plane called the E175. Like other new airplanes, it is more fuel efficient and probably quieter, too.