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PROPS & DISSES 11.6.13
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Mountain bikers headed downhill DISS
My what big balls you have, mountain biking community. I suppose the same bravado summoned to perch oneself on a postage stamp of a saddle and hurtle down a mountainside with little more than a pair of flimsy elbow pads to guard against gravity is the same chutzpah that makes you think it’s OK to bring heavy machinery onto land that doesn’t belong solely to you and rework it to your satisfaction.
Wildlife biologist Ann Harvey raised a hissy fit over the Forest Service’s blind eye toward what has become major construction in an 180,000-acre section of the Bridger-Teton known as the Palisades Wilderness Study Area.
While it waits for Congress (good luck with that), Forest officials are supposed to manage areas in line for Wilderness designation as if they already are. This means the land should look like it did in 1984.
Sure, there were probably mountain bikes zooming down the south face of Teton Pass in the ’80s, but probably not as many as there are today, and they were also jamming Duran Duran on their compact cassette players. Today’s BMXers rock 2 Chainz’ “Feds Watching” on their iPod touch.
Only the feds don’t be watching. While stubborn Republican posturing furloughed them, mountain bikers moved in an excavator to push earth around on their Powerline Jumps run. According to Harvey, they had to make a road to get it in there.
It’s another case of polar opposites not finding that middle ground (which in this case is about an 18 percent grade). Should the highly trafficked Palisades area be Wilderness? Hell no. You can hear the big rigs whine while pulling up the pass. This is hardly backwoods country, and the government needs to be kept in check when it comes to their land management policy, which begins and ends with a “Road Closed” sign.
But bikers, you had a nice tacit agreement to make your little downhill trails. You parlayed that into a brazenly created nonprofit (Teton Freedom Riders) whose logo features a pickaxe and shovel. Go ahead and make your trails by using what’s there and riding them down. Fashion a few natural features into jumps if you want. But let’s draw the line at backhoes and bulldozers, eh?
Mapping the art of flight PROP
Let’s say you’re bird. For some of you, judging from the post-story chatter on our website, it’s likely an upgrade. If you’re like most birds, you migrate. No one likes to gnaw on frozen suet for six months.
Most birds fly high when migrating, taking advantage of trade winds and such. They are far above the danger posed by wind turbines. It’s mostly during takeoff and landing that traveling feather brains get bashed by turbine blades.
The Nature Conservancy recently released a first-ever statewide report that attempts to map where birds like to stop and rest in Wyoming on their way to Canada or Mexico, depending on the season. Zoologists, ecologists and mappers pounded out the extensive database, which was unveiled earlier this month by UW’s Wyoming Natural Diversity Database lead zoologist, Wendy Estes-Zumpf.
Estes-Zumpf says about 15 percent of Wyoming has or could have high wind energy development. Of that area, about 73 percent is in high-migration stopover points known as “flyways.” Wind turbines kill more than 570,000 birds each year, according to a peer-reviewed study published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin.
Wyoming’s complex topography, combined with numerous species of birds, made the study difficult so researchers concentrated on four types of birds: wetland, riparian, sparse grassland birds and raptors.
Each bird type migrates differently. For example, wetland birds tend to follow streams and rivers. Raptors, on the other hand, tend to be rather unpredictable in where they choose to set down.
U-Dub crackdown PROP
A report ordered by UW president, Bob Sternberg, on what the university can do to improve its athletics department has been made public. It took 21 pages and $35,000 to figure out the road to championships is paved with money.
A “cultural change” is necessary to create the expectation of conference championships, the report said. It suggested more money be spent on men’s football and basketball programs, in particular. The report also recommended student athletes be allowed to transfer credits to the school a bit more freely.
Sternberg has made his presence felt early and often since being tapped as UW’s 24th president in July. Law School dean Stephen Eastman abruptly resigned last week after finding out the department was the target of an unannounced probe by an advisory task force. Eastman’s departure marks the fifth time a dean or head of school has left since Sternberg took over.