CROSS-COUNTRY RESORTS EMBRACE GREAT SATAN OF SNOWMAKING
Oh, you smug hippies and four-percent body fat cardiovascular replicants, oh, how you’ve mocked alpine ski resorts for their snowmaking. And now look at you — not just sleeping with the enemy, but letting him bring a gun to bed. Yes, across the Northeast, where the number of winter days with snow on the ground has shrunk by more than a month between 1965 and 2005, cross-country operations are turning to snowmaking just to keep their businesses going. At Vermont’s Jack Frost, a single night’s blowing of the guns can use 150,000 gallons of water. “In a sport that prides itself in being green, it is difficult to countenance,” Fred Griffin, founder of the New England Nordic Ski Association. Resorts are divided into two camps, but not on environmental lines; nope, it’s between those that can afford it and those that wish they could. Via NY Times.
FLORIDA ANNOUNCES GIANT PYTHON WHACKING DAY
That’s giant, as in the size of the pythons the state wants hunters to kill. And giant in quantity, too, because the whole reason for the event is to slay as many of these invasive pests as possible. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is officially after the Burmese python, which has been a threat to the Everglades ecosystem ever since owners of the exotic “pets” started to let them loose in the wild, causing a dramatic decline of raccoons, bobcats, and other mammals. The hazard is that they can grow to 18 feet in length and have no known natural predator in the Everglades. They are both poisonous and constrictors and anyone chasing the cash prizes of $1,500 for the most pythons killed and $1,000 for the longest python offed needs to take a 30-minute course on the dangers the snakes pose. (Only 30 minutes? That’s Florida for you.) By the way, there are also cobras loose in Florida and they aren’t friendly, either, so pay close attention during that video, kids. Via Scientific American.
CAMERA TRAP PHOTO CONTEST YIELDS GREAT IMAGES — BUT IS IT ART?
You know the old one about the tree falling in the forest…but if a robotic camera takes a photo in that forest, is it art? Okay, who cares. It’s just cool, and if BBC’s Camera Trap Competition, now in its third year, raises awareness about the natural world that’s a good thing. Also, most of this year’s winners are scientists, setting the traps to study populations, their habitats, collect census information, and so on. And just maybe contests like this encourage more amateurs to set their own traps, too, especially parents and kids who live in relatively wild places. Because why not, right? You don’t need to be great with a camera and the odds of winning beat the lotto. Although it’d help to be scientist Zhou Zhefeng whose winning shot of a leopard was caught exceedingly far off the grid, where he was there for a project funded by the Shanxi Wocheng Institute of Ecology and Environment. And the prize? A healthy £3,000. Via BBC Wildlife.
RICH SKIERS IN THE ALPS ARE STILL RICH
Despite all the various economic crises floating around Europe like so many flu bugs, resort real estate is going off, although the buyers are increasingly Brits taking advantage of a weaker Euro and snatching up condos in places like Chamonix, Les Portes du Soleil, Les Deux Alpes, and Les Arcs for 15 to 20 percent less, thanks to a drop in the currency vs. the pound. Average transaction prices are still kinda steep vs. the dollar: $450,000 for a two-bedroom apartment. But sales are up 30 percent vs. last year, with nearly half the buyers paying cash. Don’t forget that if a lot of Brits can fly to Geneva or Zurich in a few hours, take a high-speed train for another hour and be at their digs faster than anyone in L.A. can drive to Mammoth. Via Property Wire.