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Snowmakers could rebuild glacier

Allen Best

WHISTLER, B.C. ” Who’d have thunk? In January, Whistler was deluged by rain that eviscerated the snowpack. Last year was a drought. Yet the best glacier conditions in recent years were reported on Blackcomb Mountain during July.

It was so good that there seems to be some hope that the glaciers actually gained mass this year, reversing the century-long trend of recession.

Pique newsmagazine reports that this long-term trend has Intrawest, the ski area operator, considering several strategies to keep the glacier from shrinking. Like ski area operators in the Alps, they have used snow fencing to retain snow coverage, and will install more fences in the future.



Grooming practices also have been altered. And, while no plans are imminent, Whistler-Blackcomb is considering snowmaking to boost snows on the glaciers, perhaps extending the life of the glacier from 30 years to 50 years.

“Certainly, the world’s scientists ” and I’m referring to the UN and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ” agree that we will continue to see a warming trend, so we needed a significant operational plan to address that,” said Arthur DeJong, manager of mountain planning and environmental resources for Whistler-Blackcomb.

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Just the same, DeJong hopes for a return to the sorts of snowfalls that were common in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s.

GUNNISON ” Going to Salida, Crested Butte or Telluride? If so, you could be sharing a highway with a truck carrying uranium.

Activists are not speaking glowingly about the possibility.



They point out increasing uranium prices have provoked renewed

mining west of Telluride. From there, the ore is trucked to a processing mill about 300 miles to the east, near Canon City.

Two activist groups based in Grand Junction are protesting, partly because they claim that 44 percent of uranium is being used in production of new weapons.

But a representative of the Cotter Corporation dismisses the threat to public safety as broadly overstated. The amount of radioactivity in the ore is minimal, said the company’s Jerry Powers.

“We had one accident years ago in Colorado Springs,” he told the Gunnison Country Times. “Basically, we used a front-end loader to get the ore back on the truck. That was that.”

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