Vail Pass winter rec fees start Nov. 26

Day use fees at Vail Pass are $6 per person.

Courtesy and consideration needed in the high-use area

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you’re headed to Vail Pass to play in the snow this weekend, be aware that the annual seasonal fee program takes effect beginning Nov. 26, with day-use passes selling for $6 per person, while season passes are available for $40. Children 15 and under are free.

Season passes can be purchased at the Vail Pass trailhead on Saturdays and Sundays, at the Dillon Ranger District office in Silverthorne and at the Holy Cross Ranger District office in Minturn. Fee stations with self pay envelops are located at all VPWRA trailheads. Continue reading

Opinion: ‘Trust, but verify’ holds true for Gulf oil spill

Oil spreading across the Gulf of Mexico in July, 2009. PHOTO COURTESY NOAA.

More unpleasant facts about the oil disaster coming to light in reports and documents obtained with Freedom of Information Act requests

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — I never thought I’d quote Ronald Reagan, but the latest news on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster makes me think of his admonition to “trust, but verify.”

Late Wednesday, the federal government released a report on how it arrived at its conclusions about the rate of oil that was spewing from BP’s failed well, and as it turns out, the widespread skepticism about some of those estimates was more than justified.

The report was released at the start of the holiday weekend, at a time when the media traditionally focuses on cheery recipes and the latest shopping news from the local mall. It suggests that there was a lot of internal debate, not only about the numbers themselves, but about how the information was being communicated to the public, and about the role of government and non-government scientists involved in the oil spill calculations. Continue reading

Global warming: Lake ecoysytems at risk

Satellite data in a new study on global warming shows that some major lakes around the world are heating at a rate of up to 1.8 degrees per decade.

Study provides independent source for assessing global warming impacts

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A comprehensive study of global satellite data shows surface temperatures of large lakes around the planet warmed significantly in the past 25 years in response to climate change.

Researchers Philipp Schneider and Simon Hook of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., used satellite data to measure the surface temperatures of 167 large lakes worldwide, finding an average warming of 0.81 degrees per decade, with some lakes warming as much as 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit per decade.

The warming trend spans the globe, but is most pronounced in the mid- to high-latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere. Warming was weaker in the tropics and in the mid-latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere. That’s consistent with what’s expected based on most existing climate models, said Hook. Continue reading

Nanotech solution for ice buildup?

Nanotech engineering may offer a way to non-chemical de-icing, a Harvard research team says.

Harvard researchers say structured surfaces could reduce the need for chemicals and salt on roads and airplane wings

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Harvard University engineers say they’ve designed nano-structured materials that can repel water droplets from sub-freezing surfaces before they have a chance to freeze.

According to a press release from Harvard, the findings could lead to a new way to help keep airplane wings, buildings, powerlines, and even entire highways free and clear of ice during the worst winter weather.

Integrating anti-ice nanotechnology into a material could be more efficient and sustainable than existing solutions like chemical sprays, salt and heating. Continue reading

Morning photo: Fiery skies in Summit County, Colorado

Winter dawn

Pure color, looking southeast from Frisco, Colorado.

SUMMIT COUNTY — The first hint of color came at about 5:45 a.m. this morning, and I could see a wave cloud hovering over the Continental Divide. That left me enough time to make a cup of coffee before heading out on the five minute walk through my Lagoon Towhomes neighborhood in Frisco down to the Meadow Creek wetlands along the shore of Dillon Reservoir, knowing it would be a good sunrise. See how it unfolded after the break and see a listing of all the recent “morning photo” posts here. Continue reading

Morning photo: Experiments

CAIC Benefit Bash, Nov. 13. Click for more info.

Shoreline sunrise show

The low-angle morning light brings out texture in the snow on the shore.

SUMMIT COUNTY — A few quick shots early in a busy day that started with a gorgeous sunrise and ended with a blown-out head gasket on the grade up to the tunnel … that’s life sometimes. It’s interesting how just a small change in the angle can really change the overall tone of the image. In the first shot, the foreground is incredibly rich. A few shots later, the distant mountains look almost like a mirage because of the way the mist diffused the light. To change things up, I re-worked a few of the shots into black and white to take advantage of the rich contrasts between snow, sun and sky. See the rest after the break … Continue reading

Opinion: No nukes is good nukes

The Susquehanna nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

Listen to an interview with anti-nuclear activist Harvey Wasserman Nov. 13, 8:30 a.m. on Mountain Public Radio, 88.7 or 100.7 in Summit County or live on the web

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — On the surface, building nuclear power plants as part of the good fight against global warming may seem to make sense. But in reality, very little has changed in the 40 years or so since the last reactor went into operation in the U.S.

There’s still no good answer as to what to do with the waste left over. For now, tons and tons of spent fuel and other radioactive material is being stored at individual reactor sites around the country, while lower-level waste is being trucked to disposal sites, sometimes without knowledge of the communities along the routes. Most older reactors still in operation are creaky and leaky. The older they get, the higher the risk of a catastrophic failure. And every time I hear a nuclear power advocate say out loud how “safe” those reactors are, the words “Deepwater Horizon” ring out loud in my brain. Continue reading

Morning photo: Icebergs

CAIC Benefit Bash, Nov. 13. Click for more info.

Now this is some ice …

An ice arch in the Weddell Sea, off the coast of the Antarctic Peninsula.

SUMMIT COUNTY — Chilly weather the past few days got me thinking about some of the coldest places I’ve been, including Antarctica, which was actually surprisingly warm in February 2009 when Leigh and I cruised through the area aboard a somewhat rusty converted Russian oceanography ship. Icebergs are pretty cool in photos, but they’re way cooler when they’re looming above you and you can hear the creaks and groans as they shift and settle. Read a bit more here … and enjoy the rest of the photos after the break. Continue reading

New Twitter tool for WordPress blogs

Summit Voice editor Bob Berwyn is loving the new Twitter integration with WordPress.

Twitter ‘Blackbird Pie’ lets you embed tweets directly in posts and maintain active links

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — If you publish a WordPress blog, you’re probably also on Twitter, and while there has already been some good integration between the two platforms, WordPress now lets you embed tweets directly in your posts, where they appear the way they look in your Twitter stream with Twitter Blackbird Pie.

The embedded tweets retain all their functionality, including the links within the tweets, so readers can click from the displayed messages to the original source.

If, for example, you’re writing a WordPress blog post about the after-effects of the Gulf oil disaster, you could do a Twitter search for #oilspill to find the latest relevant Tweets.

Then you simply embed the url of the tweet in its own separate line in the WordPress.com text box. To find the url, click on the time stamp at the bottom of the tweet.

Here’s a couple of examples:

and …

BP sued for endangered species harm in Gulf

Manatees are among the many endangered species that could suffer additional harm from BP's failed oil well in the Gulf of Mexico, according to several environmental groups suing the oil company under the Endangered Species Act.


Sea turtles, sperm whale and Gulf sturgeons are already on the brink; oil could push some species even closer to the edge

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As they announced a few months ago, environmental groups have sued BP under the Endangered Species Act for the ongoing harm to endangered and threatened wildlife caused by the company’s massive Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

Under the Endangered Species Act, it’s illegal to harm animals listed as threatened or endangered. The Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center said the oil that spewed from BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig directly imperils 32 threatened or endangered species, including the sperm whale, gulf sturgeon, manatee and five kinds of sea turtles (leatherback, loggerhead, green, hawksbill, and Kemp’s ridley), as well as the waters, coastal wetlands and National Wildlife Refuges that many of these species call home. Continue reading

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