July 6, 2013

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Goats Join the Fight Against Wildfire

Deployed to consume hazardous brush

The San Francisco International Airport was facing a problem. They needed to clear a large section of dry brush at the edge of the facility to protect nearby homes from fires. Unfortunately, two endangered species, the San Francisco garter snake and the California red-legged frog, inhabit the brush, ruling out any mechanical or chemical methods of maintenance.

So they brought in the goats. Hundreds of them.

For the past five years, the airport has enlisted the services of Goats R Us, an environmentally friendly vegetation management company run by Terri Oyarzun, her husband, Egon, and over 400 hungry goats. Each spring, the goats travel 30 miles from their home in Orinda, California in a 16-wheel truck called the “Livestock Limo,” and spend two weeks cutting a 20-foot firebreak around the airport. The facility pays $14,900 for the service.

Oyarzun’s goats have also been deployed at state freeways, parks, and under long-distance power lines. The family has about 4,000 active goats available for hire. When they become too old to work, the goats are allowed to retire peacefully at the family farm rather than be sold for meat.

Smokey the Bear would be proud.

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    Photo: T and G Photo

Tito Claudio Traversa Passes Away

12-year-old climber succumbs to injuries

12-year-old Italian climbing phenom Tito Claudio Traversa passed away Friday after being hospitalized for injuries sustained in a 50-foot groundfall.

Traversa was warming up on a 5.10d sport climb in Orpierre, France, when the quickdraws failed and he fell. Nothing is confirmed, but it is believed that the quickdraws had been slung incorrectly. According to Grimper.com, the slings on the draws may have been incorrectly attached to the carabiners, leaving Traversa hanging by an elastic. The only correctly strung quickdraws were placed too low to stop his fall.

He was airlifted to a hospital in Grenoble where he died three days later.

Traversa climbed his first 5.14 at the age of 10. He had climbed his fourth 5.14a just two days before his accident.

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Spoiler: Dominating Performance at Tour Leads to Suspicions

Climbing nearly on-par with that from the EPO era

Chris Froome put in a dominating performance on the first mountain stage of the Tour de France, soloing to the finish at Ax 3 Domaines over 50 seconds ahead of the nearest finisher—teammate Richie Porte. Most of the other favorites crumbled on the day, with Alejandro Valverde finishing the best at only 1:08 back.

“I couldn't be happier,” said Froome after the stage. “It has been a nervous week leading up to this.” He thanked his teammates and said that he wanted to win today “to pay them back.”

Froome now leads by over a minute over Porte with Valverde in third. Contador lost a very surprising 1:45, with Schleck down 3:34, and Evans losing more than four minutes. It appeared that Porte could have further distanced Valverde, but he was reluctant to chase and jeopardize his teammate's gap.

The performance immediately raised suspicions on Twitter given the speed of speed of Fromme's ascent: "Best times up Ax-3-Domaines 1. Laiseka 2001  22:57 2. Armstrong 22:59 2001 3. Froome  23:14 2013," Race Radio quipped, leaving the rest to the reader. 

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