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Resort Roundup

Bob Berwyn

Top Forest Service officials in Washington, D.C. recently authorized a one-year test of chairlift &quotlap maps at Aspen,&quot accompanied by commercial advertising messages. The lap maps are ski area trail maps permanently fastened to the safety bar, flanked on either side by 14-by-7-inch display ads.Local Forest Service officials say the test program runs counter to a longstanding agency policy that prohibits outdoor advertising on agency lands because it’s not in the public interest. The Aspen Ranger District, the White River National Forest and regional Forest Service officials all denied the proposal based on the policy, but the agency’s national headquarters approved the lap maps after hearing from Republican Sen. Richard Lugar.Erik Martin, a top ski and recreation planner with the White River National Forest, said the ski resorts and the agency should also make sure the maps are acceptable to the Colorado Tramway Safety Board.Skier rage?Some might see it as a reversal of stereotypes. A 48-year-old Crested Butte man is facing charges for harassing snowmobilers on Kebler Pass, a popular backcountry area near Crested Butte. According to the Crested Butte News, the man allegedly poked at the snowmobilers with his ski poles as they tried to pass him on a trail.The skier left the scene of the altercation, but was later found near the trailhead, according to the News. He was charged with harassment, defined as a strike, shove, kick, or otherwise touching or making physical contact. The skier pleaded not guilty, so the case may be headed for trial.Aspen tabbed for possible TV showA Hollywood producer says a TV show about life in Aspen is long overdue, and will pitch the idea when the Comedy Arts Festival comes to the town later this month, the Aspen Daily News reports.According to the Daily News, there will be a multi-media performance of the 30-minute production in hopes of drawing some attention from big-name Hollywood types who will be in town for the festival. Initially the show was conceived as a sitcom, but it may end up having an &quotadult nature,&quot perhaps more suitable for cable, the Daily News reports.Jackson supports The Nature ConservancyMarking the National Ski Areas Association Sustainable Slopes day, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) will contribute a percentage from each lift ticket purchased at the ticket window on Feb. 22 to the local chapter of The Wyoming Nature Conservancy. The funds will be earmarked for a pond restoration project on a local ranch.This year’s Sustainable Slopes day is highlighting global climate change, and JHMR is trying to reduce the impacts of its own greenhouse gas emissions by planting trees to absorb carbon dioxide as an offset to business air travel. The resort will also test ethanol and biodiesel fuel in summer vehicles and purchases bus passes for all its employees and season pass holders to encourage use of mass transportation.Other green projects include purchasing wind energy to power two chairlifts; retrofitting buildings with high efficiency lighting; initiating a green lodging demonstration project in the Cody House, and working with Teton Science School and the National Park Service to improve the Skecology environmental education program.Transceiver failure contributes to avy deathThe Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that the search for a buried avalanche victim was impeded because the avalanche beacon of a would-be rescuer was damaged in the slide.Skier Steve Hass, 41, was buried for about 20 minutes under several feet of snow and died of suffocation, the News and Guide reports after he was swept 600 feet down Hourglass Couloir and into Tensleep Bowl closed areas – at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. A second man joined the search effort after five minutes and was able to locate Haas with a transceiver within seven minutes.According to the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center, Hourglass Couloir is a &quotvery active and dangerous avalanche path.&quot The avalanche hazard was rated as considerable, with human-triggered slides probable on steeper aspects.Haas was a member of Jackson Hole Air Force, an informal group of skiers known in the area for testing themselves in challenging terrain and conditions. The News and Guide reports that he was well-liked and considered to be someone who lived to ski, purely for the love of the sport. There have been four avalanche deaths in Teton County this season and the six in Wyoming.Tahoe Tsunami?The Tahoe Daily Tribune reports that fault lines in Lake Tahoe can cause earthquakes strong enough to generate a tsunami, or tidal wave, every 3,000 to 4,500 years.Researchers are still trying to determine when the last major seismic event occurred, although it has become clear that the Tahoe Basin has active faults, based on studying visible phenomena, including landslides. Researchers may use remote-operated vehicles, core sampling and trench digging near fault lines to study the lake more closely, the Daily Tribune reports.Lake Powell drops to record low levelThe Durango Herald reports that Lake Powell is as low as it has been anytime during the past 30 years 87 feet below capacity. The last time the reservoir was this low was in 1973 when it was filling up for the first time. The water level may drop another five feet before spring snowmelt starts to raise it in late March. Drought in the upper reaches of the Colorado River Basin is to blame, officials say. The math is simple: about 18.5 million acre-feet of water has come in over the last three years, but 24.7 million acre-feet have been released downstream during the same three-year period. The reservoir currently holds more than 4 trillion gallons, the Herald reports.Wildlife feeding raises stir in JacksonThe Jackson Hole News and Guide reports that local officials are considering a ban on private wildlife feeding. The Teton County planning commission recently voted against such a ban, but numerous citizens turned out for the meeting to debate both sides of the issue.According to the News and Guide, advocates of feeding dominated the meeting, arguing that those who helped destroy natural wildlife habitat in the Teton Valley must do something to protect the displaced animals. Others argued that personal freedoms such as the choice to feed wildlife on private property are the reason people choose to live in Wyoming.But opponents said feeding might increase the spread of disease in concentrated herds, and could eventually lead to even greater mortality as herds grow out of proportion to the ecosystem’s ability to sustain them. Supplemental feeding can also bring animals into areas where there is a greater potential for conflict with humans.Busted from aboveSnowmobilers and snowboarders in California are being watched from above. The Mammoth Times reports that several individuals were recently cited for snowmobiling in closed areas after aerial patrols spotted tracks.According to the Times, the aerial observers also spotted snowboarder tracks, and determined that the snowmobiles were being use to transport snowboarders into the high bowls in the area around Tioga Pass, the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park, and around Mount Morrison and McGee Mountain, near Mammoth Lakes.An Interagency Task Force subsequently sent air and ground units, including officers from the Mono County Sheriff’s Office, Mammoth Lakes Police Department, and the U.S. Forest Service, to apprehend the violators and issue citations for violating the area closure.– compiled by Bob Berwyn


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