News in Brief |

News in Brief

Fires spark pollution spikeForest fires in California were to blame for Aspens highest daily reading of particulate pollution last year, according to Lee Cassin, director of the citys Environmental Health Department.The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has just released its annual air-quality report, showing air-quality levels throughout Colorado and comparing them with the rest of the nation. The particulate pollution is known as PM-10.Aspens highest daily PM-10 level in 2003 was 103 millionths of a gram per cubic meter of air, compared to the health standard of 150. This high reading was recorded on Oct. 30, when haze from large forest fires in California blew into western Colorado on strong winds. The five highest readings in the state occurred on this day. The highest reading on any other day in Aspen last year was 70.Almost all PM-10 in Aspen comes from traffic not from exhaust, but from dirt and sand that is ground into fine particles by vehicle tires and kicked into the air. The five U.S. cities that recorded the worst days in 2003 included El Paso, Texas, and four California towns: Dirty Sox Hot Springs, Keeler, Olancha, and Lone Pine.Need to hone your avalanche beacon techniques? The Ute Mountaineer and Mammut will offer an evening of free, hands-on training with avalanche beacons on Thursday, Dec. 9. Mammut representative Chris Utzinger will lead the clinic, which will be followed by a slide show/video presentation and discussion of avalanche conditions specific to the Aspen area.Utzinger is the owner and operator of Mountain Life, a safety and rescue consulting firm specializing in avalanche rescue and training technology. Hes also a ski patroller and avalanche dog handler with the Lost Trail Ski Patrol, a wilderness emergency medical technician, mountain rescue team leader with Ravalli County Search and Rescue, and an instructor with the Aerie School for Backcountry Medicine.Participants are asked to bring a headlamp and beacon. Some Barryvox beacons will be made available by Mammut at the clinic. For more information call the Ute Mountaineer at (970) 925-2849. Schedule: Thursday, Dec. 95:30-7 p.m. on-snow beacon training in Wagner Park7-7:30 p.m. snacks & beverages7:30-8:30 p.m. slide show/discussionBLM moves to limit off-road travel on RoanSome Rifle-area recreationists say the Bureau of Land Management is headed down the right path with a proposal to permanently limit summer vehicle travel to designated routes on the Roan Plateau.None of us want anybody to go off trails whatsoever. We all believe in maintaining the integrity of a small, narrow path, said Gary Miller, a Rifle mountain biker.A temporary ban on off-road and off-trail travel has been in place since 2000 on the 56,000 acres on the plateau that Congress transferred from the Department of Energy to the Department of Interior in 1997.Kyle Costanzo, who owns Rifle Performance Motorsports, notes that the White River National Forest also already limits summer vehicle travel to designated routes. If the BLM decides it needs to do the same in order to keep public lands open to vehicle access, thats fine by him, he said. (From the Glenwood Springs Post Independent)