YOSEMITE PUTS PERMANENT RESTRICTIONS ON HALF DOME
Hikers don’t like the fact that Yosemite National Park requires permits to hike Half Dome or that just 300 are available a day, but they also didn’t like the pre-permit swarms that could bring as many as 1,200 people to the iconic route. Three years into the permit experiment, the park likes what it sees, and it just announced the plan will be permanent. And in addition to the 300-hiker limit, safety cables will remain in place, to the chagrin of environmentalists who argued the steel lines had no place in designated wilderness. The lines were put in prior to the 1964 Wilderness Act and make it possible for people to descend the 45-degree granite in 45 minutes should a fast-moving summer storm sweep through. “With a place like Yosemite that is so dear and important to millions of people, everyone has ideas about what wilderness protection is. We tried to find a balance that allows people to still experience Yosemite while protecting Yosemite,” said spokeswoman Kari Cobb. Via Associated Press.
ARMSTRONG CONSIDERING CONFESSION, WORLD SHRUGS
Hey, Lance: Too little, too late. The New York Times reported on Friday that the world’s most famous doper is considering confessing to taking performance-enhancing drugs. The reason? Not because Armstrong wants to do the right thing, make amends to the people he’s harmed, and begin to pay retribution for the millions he earned via fraud, but because he hopes for leniency on his lifetime ban on competing. Yes, the man who won and then lost seven Tour de France titles won’t be complete unless his tests himself in some backwater triathlon. Armstrong has become sad and pathetic, a figure whose downfall would be tragic if it weren’t for his unending calculations and seemingly bottomless hubris. If Armstrong really does confess, it’s not because he’s come to Jesus, but because he thinks there’s something to be gained. Via NY Times.
DEAD CHRISTMAS TREES SLEEP WITH THE FISHES
Last week on trash day, expired Christmas trees slumped in front of nearly every house on our street and it was hard not to feel a tinge of guilt. Some 30 million trees are cut down for the holidays every year, and most end up as mulch or land fills. But a very cool program in Lake Havasu is turning hundreds of them into artificial reefs that are nurturing fish and other critters. Begun in 1992, the trees are sunk in 42 coves and cover 875 acres (at its launch, it was the largest such program in the country). As they decompose, they create a skin of moss and algae over PVC pipes, concrete, and cinder block skeletons built by biologists, providing organic material the feeds and shelters fish. Damming the Colorado River cut the natural downstream flow of trees and grasses and such, turning the lake into a water desert. But the Christmas tree effort has reversed course. “Before this, the lake was basically dead,” said the president of a local fishing group. “Now…the fishing is just outstanding.” Via LA Times.