By Allen Best
Lakes have unsafe DDT levels
REVELSTOKE, B.C. –Dangerously high levels of DDT have been detected in the seldom-visited high alpine lakes of Mount Revelstoke National Park. How did the chemical get there? Nobody really knows, although scientists have theories.
The Revelstoke Times Review explains that Health Canada advised that fish caught in the high lakes not be eaten because the fish contain up to 16 times more DDT than the agency recommends.
Only a dozen or so fishing permits were issued for the high lakes last year, indicating the advisory won’t affect that many people. But the issue does hit close to home, as the community has been considering a ban on what are called “cosmetic” herbicides and pesticides applied to achieve aesthetic landscaping goals.
As well, says the Times Review, the announcement poses questions about the purity of water in local, lower-elevation lakes around Revelstoke as well as the Columbia River itself. The river flows through the town.
Parks Canada, the administrator of the national park, has two theories that might explain the DDT presence. One theory holds that the DDT was deposited in the 1960s when it was used as an insecticide. It does not readily break down and can remain in the environment as DDT for a century.
A second theory sees more distant, even global sources. The theory holds that DDT can be evaporated along with the water in a place and then redeposited elsewhere. But if a lake remains frozen well into July, as is the case in Mount Revelstoke National Park, then the water in which the DDT is found has little opportunity for evaporation and deposition elsewhere.
Sarah Boyle, a conservation biologist with Parks Canada, told the Times Review that this case illustrates why Revelstoke and other communities should carefully evaluate scientific evidence about long-term effects of chemicals such as Roundup.
Whistler weather, economy “chilly”
WHISTLER, B.C. – Whistler has had a T-shirt economy, if not necessarily T-shirt weather, early in the summer.
The weather is more easily explained. Coolish temperatures from what Pique Newsmagazine had called “June-uary” continued on into the July 4 weekend. This has led to readjustments on the ski mountain. With a lingering snowpack, the ski area operator was renting snowshoes and offering tubing.
But Whistler has also had what might be called a T-shirt economy. “Instead of the $200 bottle of wine, people might buy a $50 bottle,” Brownlie said. “Or instead of the expensive memento, they’ll buy a T-shirt. There’s still a bit of caution out there, and people are still downsizing a bit.”
“Flat” is the new “normal”
DURANGO, Colo. – Taking stock of the economy in Durango this summer, local tourism official John Coen describes a perspective that probably resonates in many other places as well. “Flat is the new normal,” he told the Durango Telegraph. “But it’s better than going down.”
Actually, others in Durango report statistics that resemble a good uphill climb. But then, those comparisons are against 2009.
Pot sales banned, despite revenue
VAIL, Colo. – The Vail Town Council has decided to ban medical marijuana dispensaries because, in the words of Mayor Dick Cleveland, they do not belong in a family resort environment.
Cleveland said that less than 1 percent of people in Eagle County, where Vail is located, are marijuana cardholders – and not all of them are in Vail. If people already leave the town for such necessities, such as buying underwear at Wal-Mart, they can also go elsewhere to buy marijuana. “This should not be seen as a referendum on medical marijuana (in general),” he said. “That’s not what this is about.”
One council member, Margaret Rogers, dissented, pointing to estimates that officials in Boulder, Colo., expect to reap $250,000 in sales taxes from sale of marijuana there.
Lab seeks experimental designation
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Managers of the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory want the national forest surrounding Crested Butte to be designated as an experimental forest.
The U.S. Forest Service has 80 such designated experimental forests, including one near the ski town of Winter Park. There, at the Fraser Experimental Forest, scientists for decades have conducted experiments in water matters. For example, how much does runoff increase if trees have been cut down?
Another experiment, now more than a decade in duration, has been to replicate how warmer temperatures predicted by climate-change models will change the vegetation. (The results show sagebrush eventually replacing the Van Gogh-like pastiche of summer wildflowers).
Researchers for years have fretted about what they perceive to be too much human intrusion into their natural laboratory, which is located at the ghost town of Gothic, about five miles from the ski slopes of Crested Butte. Exactly how this proposed designation would further the aims of researchers is not clear. Such a designation would not affect existing users or further restrict transportation.
Bears conspicuously absent
CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. – Last year at this time, Crested Butte abounded with bear stories. Bears were breaking into offices, houses, and cars – some 300 altogether before the season ended. Six repeat-offender bears were captured and killed.
It’s different this year – so far. Authorities attribute the absence of the ursine to an abundance of berries and other food in the backcountry. Possibly also of relevance is the lesser attraction of human food in Crested Butte. Town officials last year followed Snowmass Village, Vail and other ski towns into demanding garbage not be put onto the street until the day of pickup —and only then in bear-resistant containers.
But elsewhere in Colorado, bears have been active. Over the weekend a bear bit a camper along the Animas River in Durango. Transients camp along the river in that area, and state wildlife authorities said a hamburger and a container of ice cream were found inside the bear’s stomach after it was killed.
Food was also the story at Bailey, about an hour from Denver. There, in the community where the creators of the animated comic series “South Park” grew up, a bear bit a 51-year-old man as the bear tried to flee the basement of the home.
A door to a garage containing trash and a refrigerator had been left open, and the door from the garage into the home did not latch properly,