By Allen Best
Tornado second-highest in U.S.
IDAHO SPRINGS, Colo. – Tornadoes usually bring to mind flat land regions, such as Kansas and Alabama.
But every once in a great while, they can occur in the mountains, and meteorologist say a funnel touched down at 11,900 feet on a mountain west of Denver last Saturday.
The tornado on Mt. Evans the second highest ever recorded in the United States, reports The Denver Post. The highest was in 2004, at more than 12,000 feet in California’s Sequoia National Park, south of Mammoth Lakes.
Oil, grease, fat foul water works
BANFF, Alberta – Grease, fats and oils are fouling Banff’s wastewater treatment. It is, reports the Rocky Mountain Outlook, an expensive proposition for both the municipality of 8,200 people and for businesses, who contribute the bulk of the wastes and then suffer the consequences of sewer lines blocked by giant grease balls.
Municipal officials say restaurants and other businesses need to understand how to properly use and maintain grease traps and interceptors.
Store it, don’t pour it, they say.
Fire threat ebbs, rivers shallow
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – Wildfires in Colorado, so much in the news during a searing hot and bone-dry June, have receded as a threat. At the center of the drought, Steamboat Springs received almost double its average rainfall for July, reports Steamboat Today.
Despite the rains, river flows remain modest. To help boost supplies, city officials in Steamboat instituted mandatory conservation measures. Outdoor lawn watering was banned altogether on Wednesdays, during mid-day and remaining watering allowed only every other day.
When a stumble is not a stumble
JACKSON, Wyo. – We often talk about stumbles in life. In most cases, they are just that, a lurch in our mission. But in Wyoming’s Teton Range, a stumble can be deadly.
Authorities in Teton National Park guess that Justin Beldin, 27, stumbled shortly after leaving the summit of Middle Teton. “My best guess it that this was a relatively innocent moment of inattention,” said Scott Guenther, the coincident commander.
The victim, described by friends as a “hell of a righteous dude,” tried to stop himself on steep rock for 5 to 20 feet before free-falling for “quite a ways,” to his death, Guenther told the Jackson Hole News & Guide.
Meanwhile, a family of climbers summited the Great Teton, and the 6-year-old among them became the youngest ever to stand atop the 13,776-foot peak. He is one of three pre-adolescent children in the family to summit.
Messages to richest of rich
SUN VALLEY, Idaho –This year, Idaho followers of the Occupy Wall Street movement added spice to the annual Allen & Co. meeting of media businesses, politicians and celebrities.
The conference has hatched all sorts of big business deals. Whether hallway conversations will yield news in future months is too soon to know, of course.
But there was the usual stew of household names: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.
TV host George Stephanopolous spoke, and Oprah Winfrey interviewed billionaire investor Warren Buffet. Also attending were Google chairman Eric Schmidt and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Greeting them were representatives of the Occupy movement, positioned along the public roads with signs bearing pointed messages. “Size does matter. Too big has failed,” read the message of protester Alex Neirwith.
“I can’t speak for anyone but myself,” he said when asked by the Idaho Mountain Express what Occupy protestors hoped to accomplish. “I wanted to make a statement against the increasingly disgusting income inequality in the country. I wanted to communicate to the one-hundredth of 1 percent that business as usual is over.”
The Idaho Mountain Express, however, notes a certain irony. To organize the protest, Occupy Boise had used the technology invented by one of the 0.01 percent attendees: Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.
Aspen feels Aurora shootings
ASPEN, Colo. – Singer John Denver lived in Aspen, of course, and his funeral was held in Aurora, because that’s where his mother lived. Other than they’re both cities in Colorado, Aspen and Aurora would seem to otherwise have little in common.
Just the same, the massacre of 12 people in a movie theater loomed large in Aspen. Security at the Isis, the local movie theater, was heightened for a week, as patrons were required to open their bags and purses for inspection, reports the Aspen Daily News.
Elsewhere, the Aurora shootings came up in conversations at yet another of the talk-fests that now loom so prominently on the summer schedule of festivals in Aspen.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum, a former national security official said that stopping the next James Holmes, the accused shooter in Aurora, would likely entail violating civil liberties.
Admiral Dennis Blair, the former director of National Intelligence, an advisory agency in the U.S. government, said government intervention has effectively prevented large-scale attacks, such as those by Al-Qaeda.
To prevent the sort of mass shootings as have occurred in recent years would require a higher level of surveillance and would require government agencies to share more information, he went on.
“The cost in civil liberties and privacy that we would have to pay to get our intelligence to that level would (be high),” Blair said.
The Daily News says another speaker identified the best way to deal with the threat of home-grown gun violence such as occurred at Aurora would be to better train first responders in how to identify potential threats.
While there are 12,000 FBI agents, there are two million first responders, pointed out Matthew Olsen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Low-cost lodging is problematic
ASPEN, Colo. – Despite the massive construction in Aspen during the last decade, the amount of lodging available to the general public has slipped.
From 2009, the overall bed base declined 0.5 percent, according to a study commissioned by city officials. The sub-sector of condominiums, which includes fractional-ownership units, dropped 4.5 percent. The only gain was in the number of homes available for rent. But they mostly are in the category of deluxe accommodations.
City officials would like to see more lower-priced lodging options. The Aspen Skiing Co. concurs, but is dubious about the financial bookends.
“It’s hard to do economically because of cost of construction and price of land,” explained David Corbin, vice president for planning. “That said, we like the idea of having entry-level products so that a younger generation of skiers, not yet affluent, could come and enjoy Aspen and begin to make it their lifelong destination. We support that but acknowledge that it’s difficult to do.”
The ski company does see a niche for properties, such as its Limelight Lodge, that have limited service, relatively low numbers of employees compared to super-high-service hotels, and moderate prices but with pleasant and upgraded rooms.
“Aspen could use more of those kinds of beds,” said Corbin. “There is a lot of guest demand for that. It doesn’t have to be five-star.”
The company hopes to see another study, to better understand what type of new properties would be a best fit for the community.
Aspen has 10,085 visitor beds, compared to 8,772 in Snowmass, according to a study by the Mountain Travel Research Program.