January 9, 2013

Tahoe skiing     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Judge Blocks Tahoe Resort Expansion

Plan failed to consider less intrusive options

A federal judge has blocked the expansion of Lake Tahoe's modest Homewood Resort, saying that regional planning agencies failed to consider a smaller development before approving the proposal. Ruling on a suit brought by residents and environmental groups, Judge William Shubb said that the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency would have to reconsider whether a reduced—and therefore more environmentally friendly—expansion would be financially viable. The ruling requires that Homewood investors evaluate a plan that would add a maximum of 284 housing units, as opposed to the proposed 336.

Both sides claimed it as a partial victory. "This decision is yet another reminder that the agencies entrusted with protecting beautiful Lake Tahoe, which has already suffered so much from runaway development, must not continue to allow private gain at the Lake's expense," said the lawyer for Earthjustice, the firm that brought the suit. An attorney for the developers said they would work with the Tahoe planning board to come into compliance.

Via Sacramento Bee

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    Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Joyful Zorb Ride Turns Deadly

Inflatable ball plunges off cliff

The zorb, essentially a giant, inflatable human hamster ball, is supposed to be a joyous, transparent symbol of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. But it seems it can also be an extremely dangerous resort ride. Denis Burakov, 27, was killed last weekend when the zorb he was riding in with his friend, Vladimir Scherbov, took a plunge off a cliff at a ski area in the southern Russian state of Abkhazia. The zorb was supposed to come to a gentle stop at the bottom of the slope when it suddenly veered away from its handler and careened into a ravine. Burakov sustained a broken neck and died en route to the hospital. Scherbov received a concussion and multiple lacerations but is expected to survive.

In a video of the incident, taken by a friend, one of the handlers can be seen desperately chasing the zorb before it gets away and disappears behind a hill.

An investigation is being launched into possible criminal negligence on the part of the resort operators.

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Great white shark seen from a diving cage.     Photo: Hermanus Backpackers/Flickr

Great White to Be Killed Preemptively in Australia

Shark attacks prompt stern policy

On Wednesday, the West Australian Fisheries Department ordered the killing of a great white shark after coming to the conclusion that repeated shark sightings along a stretch of unpatrolled beach were all the same animal. The decision marks the first hunt for the protected species since the government introduced "imminent threat" guidelines in 2012 in response to five fatal shark attacks. The sightings have occurred almost every day for the past 10 days, about 150 miles south of Perth. The Conservation Council of Western Australia questioned whether the hunt was justified. “These sharks have been causing pretty big inconveniences, but they haven’t actually displayed any threatening behavior,” Tim Nicol, the council’s marine coordinator, said. Officials have taken up patrol in two boats and set baited lines with the order to kill any shark in the area they believe poses a serious threat.

Via The Australian

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    Photo: USFWS/Southeast/Flickr

Enviro Groups Sue U.S. Over Sea Turtles

Ignored Endangered Species Act

Three environmental groups have sued the United States government for its failure to protect the endangered loggerhead sea turtle. The Center for Biological Diversity, Oceana Inc., and Turtle Island Restoration maintain that the government has not complied with deadlines set in the Endangered Species Act, which requires protected areas to be created for loggerheads. "The services are depriving this critically imperiled species of significant legal protections that are important for its conservation and recovery,” reads the suit, which was filed Tuesday. “Especially in light of the continuing negative effects of climate change and commercial fishing activities which include the use of harmful longlines, trawls and gillnets." Loggerheads typically weigh around 250 pounds and have been listed as endangered since 2011. 

Via The Guardian

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A skier in an avalanche.     Photo: Andrew Arseev/Shutterstock

Glacier NP Skiers Caught in Avalanche

Avy danger "considerable"

Two skiers were rescued from the backcountry in Glacier National Park on Tuesday after being caught in an avalanche. The unnamed 34- and 35-year-old Montanans were skiing near Elk Mountain when they were hit by what park officials say was a human-triggered avalanche. One of the two was partially buried, forcing his partner to dig him out. As of last night, one skier was on his way to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The Flathead Avalanche Advisory reported a "considerable" avalanche risk on Tuesday, with human-triggered avalanches likely.

Via Billings Gazette

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