*Author’s note -this essay was originally published Feb. 26, 2007 on New West.
It’s a mid-winter meltdown here in the Colorado High Country. After a string of seemingly endless powder days that lasted through most of January and the early part of February, the sun is out, the roadside berms are melting. And – shhhhh, don’t tell anyone – despite ski reports touting packed powder, the snow is transitioning at our local ski areas, even turning to (Gasp!) hardpack in places.
None of that stops my friend Dave from making the annual 1,000-mile trek from his home near Lodi, California, where he grows grapes and makes wine when he’s not busy as a volunteer patroller at Heavenly Valley. After all, it’s not just about the snow, it’s about a 20-year ski friendship born on the slopes, a bond that’s in part sustained by our mutual passion for sliding down snow-covered mountains. Continue reading “Skiing heals!”→
Morning alpenglow illuminates the Hallstatt Glacier in Austria’s Salzkammergut region.
Karst landscape on the Krippenstein at sunset.
The Hallstätter See from above.
Langbathsee, Upper Austria.
A late summer sojourn in the always sparkling mountain and lake country of the Salzkammergut yielded some good research material for our journalism project on climate change in the Alps and we had the opportunity to spend a night atop the Krippenstein, at an elevation of about 2,000 meters. One of the old alpine huts near the summit has been converted into a snazzy alpine lodge, The Lodge at Krippenstein, and there’s even a Colorado connection — seems Chris Davenport enjoyed a good ski session here a few years ago, and it turns out that Warren Miller has also filmed short segment in the area. The lodge is also operated as a climate friendly green business, and has won awards for its sustainable practices, and it is, of course, a great base camp for exploring this wonderful slice of the Alps.
All the pictures except one show lakes of the region, intricately tied to the Hallstattt Glacier in the upper right, which feeds the system, in turn a major headwaters tributary to the mighty Danube. The country’s glaciers are shriveling at an accelerated rate, as are it’s lakes, heating up at twice the global average. Earlier spring melt and longer, hotter summers have warmed streams, and larger rivers, even more, leading to increased fish disease and blooms of algae. Similar issues have been documented around the Alps and worldwide as clear global warming impacts. Learn more here.
Disease may be exacerbated by warm water, low stream flows
The Yellowstone River, part of Montana’s iconic western landscape, is once again beset by environmental woes, as a rapidly spreading fish kill has spurred state resource managers to close the river to all recreational uses, including fishing, boating and tubing. Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said they’ve counted more than 2,000 dead mountain whitefish, and the estimate the total mortality in the tens of thousands. The river was also hammered by an oilspill in 2011 after pipeline burst. Continue reading “Environment: Massive fish kill reported in Yellowstone River”→
Settlement addresses pesky Adventure Pass fees on 4 Southern California national forests
A long-running and stubborn battle by activists against the spread of public lands access fees has paid off once again in Southern California, where the U.S. Forest Service agreed to designate and mark free parking areas for hikers who aren’t using developed facilities.
The court-sanctioned deal stems from yet another legal battle over federal recreation fees. Public land agencies started charging for access to plug alleged budget holes; public lands advocates have been trying to limit the spread of the fees and make sure they’ve only levied in the places specifically authorized by Congress — namely at developed recreation sites, and not just for general hiking access. Continue reading “Court deal a win for fee-free public lands access in SoCal”→
Activists say public was short-changed on comment period
Wildlife advocates are going to court to challenge a proposed grizzly hunting plan in Wyoming. A lawsuit filed last week alleges that he Wyoming Game and Fish Commission illegally fast-tracked approval of the plan without allowing adequate public comment.
The approval would authorize the state’s first trophy hunt of grizzly bears in 40 years, but the public only had 30 days to review and comment on the plan — far too short to be able to evaluate the biological consequences of the proposed hunt. The commission simultaneously adopted a tri-state memorandum of agreement with Idaho and Montana to formalize quotas for grizzly hunts, allocating over 50 percent of the quota to Wyoming. Continue reading “Wildlife: Wyoming grizzly hunting plan challenged in court”→
Non-native predators could threaten endangered species in Colorado River
Colorado wildlife managers will try to curb expansion of non-native northern pike in Summit County’s Green Mountain Reservoir by paying anglers a $20 bounty for each fish they deliver to the Heeney Marina.
The illegally introduced fish are taking a toll on trout in the reservoir north of Silverthorne and could escape to the Blue River and make their way to the Colorado River. That could add to the challenges of trying to recover four endangered native Colorado River fish species, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Three other men also face fines for related crimes
A Colorado man has been ordered to pay more than $14,000 in fines after pleading guilty to numerous poaching charges charges.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, 59-year-old Melvin Weaver killed three bull elk on the Uncompahgre Plateau west of Montrose last fall, then called friends and told them to come to the location and to use their licenses to claim the animals as their own. In Colorado, hunters can only tag animals that they have shot themselves. Continue reading “Colorado poacher gets big fine after illegal elk killing”→