January 30, 2014

The Denver skyline highlighted by some Bronco orange.     Photo: SatoriPhoto/Thinkstock

Colorado Peaks Renamed for Broncos Players

Hickenlooper temporarily renames fourteeners after Super Bowl stars

Mount Elbert? Actually, try Peyton Manning. Colorado governor John Hickenlooper announced Wednesday that he’s temporarily renaming 53 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks after Super Bowl–bound Broncos players.

Although the peaks will hold their NFL roster titles only through Super Bowl Sunday, the naming process has provided some humorous correlations between the mountains and players. 

Mount Massive, at 14,421 feet, is named after the 340-pound Terrance Knighton, who is also called Pot Roast by his teammates. Longs Peak (14,255 feet) is reserved for sure-footed kicker Matt Prater.

Here are a few more notables from the governor’s list:

Quandary Peak (14,265 feet): Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. His coverage proves to be a quandary for opposing quarterbacks.

Mount Lincoln (14,286 feet): Winston Justice. His name and his humanitarian work in Uganda and Haiti reflect the name of this majestic peak.

Mount Harvard (14,420 feet): Zane Beadles. He, along with others on the offensive line, are as formidable as the line of Collegiate Peaks.

Capitol Peak (14,130 feet): Champ Bailey. Rated the most difficult peak to climb on 14ers.com.

Pikes Peak (14,110 feet): Joel Dreessen. A Colorado mountain for a Colorado State University Ram and the only player on the roster to graduate from a Colorado university.

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The beer drone in action.     Photo: YouTube

FAA Shuts Down Beer Drones

Microbrewer Lakemaid was planning to fly beer to ice fishermen

Wisconsin-based microbrewer Lakemaid Beer had a pretty cool idea: delivering beer to the region's thirsty ice fishermen through the magic of flying drones. It even went so far as to produce a very promising video to advertise the service.

Unfortunately, the Federal Aviation Administration caught wind of Lakemaid's plans and has put the kibosh on our dreams of beer drones whipping through the skies, delivering refreshing bottles of happiness to all. Although there's been plenty of talk about plans by Amazon and UPS plans to begin using drones for home delivery, it's still illegal, with a few exceptions, to use drones for commercial purposes.

Only two models, Boeing's Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment Inc.'s Puma, are currently certified for commercial use. However, the FAA is revising the rules and hopes to have a certification process in place by the end of 2014, hopefully kickstarting a multibillion-dollar industry.

"They think it's a great idea," Lakemaid president Jack Supple told The Verge. "They're just telling me to stop."

Of course, even once the certification process is solidified, delivering beer via drone is still a technical challenge. As it turns out, the case in the video isn't even full. "It did deliver the box with something in it," Supple says. "[But] we had to keep taking bottles out to get it off the ground." The system isn't fully automated, either—although the video depicts the drone taking the package to specific GPS coordinates, Supple admits that a human was always nearby piloting the machine.

Nonetheless, these are just minor bumps on the road to what promises to be a cool and refreshing future. 

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    Photo: Getty Images

Man Smuggles Nearly 40,000 Piranhas into U.S.

Justice bites

Between 2011 and 2012, New York City resident Joel Rakower smuggled 39,548 piranhas into Brooklyn. On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty in federal court to violating the federal Lacey Act, which combats trafficking "illegal" wildlife, fish, and plants, CNN reports.

Rakower made this happen in three easy steps, according to a U.S. Department of Justice statement:

  1. His company purchased the fish from a Hong Kong–based tropical fish supplier.
  2. Rakower had the supplier falsely label the fish as silver tetras (not piranhas).
  3. He brought them into the city.

Rakower will pay $70,000 in fines and restitution, and his company will serve two years of probation.

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At their migration's peak, monarchs coat the oyamel firs in Michoacan's Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.     Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Monarch Migration Reaches Record Low

Pesticides, heat, and deforestation to blame

Every winter, thousands of tourists flock to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, about 100 miles west of Mexico City, to witness the millions—sometimes hundreds of millions—of monarch butterflies that migrate there from Canada and the United States. But that natural tradition might not last for long.

As we reported in November, only three million butterflies had traveled to Mexico one month into the migration, which usually begins around November 1. This followed last winter's record low of 60 million butterflies. Now this year's totals are in, and they're not promising.

This winter, only 33 million monarchs migrated to Mexico, according to the World Wildlife Fund. The butterflies occupied only 1.6 acres of forestland, a startling decline from 1996's 20-year peak of 45 acres.

Why aren't the monarchs migrating?

Many scientists blame the serious reduction in milkweed, the monarch's favorite food, across the continent. As Slate reports, since the turn of the century, farmers have developed crops that can resist Monsanto's Roundup weed killer—meaning that weeds like milkweed now stand a higher risk of extermination.

Karen Oberhauser, a conservation biologist at the University of Minnesota, wrote about the phenomenon, pointing out that when the amount of milkweed dropped by more than 80 percent, monarch egg production declined by a similar figure.

"We have this smoking gun," Oberhauser says. "This is the only thing we've actually been able to correlate with decreasing monarch numbers."

As the Washington Post notes, illegal logging in the Mexican state of Michoacan has led to the destruction of the oyamel fir trees where the butterflies like to overwinter. However, efforts by the Mexican government have slowed the rate of deforestation.

Higher temperatures have also put a dent in monarch numbers, because eggs dry out in hot, arid climates, making them less viable.

The monarchs' two-month journey can reach up to 2,800 miles and is the second-longest migration of known insects. This isn't the first time migration has dropped. Oberhauser notes that during the drought years of the 1930s, monarch numbers might've been even lower than they are now. She links monarch fertility to the rebound—a female monarch can lay as many as 1,000 eggs in her lifetime.

To protect the butterflies, Omar Vidal, director of the WWF's Mexico office, has called on leaders from Mexico, Canada, and the United States to develop a preservation strategy.

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Eric Spencer of Los Angeles at the finish of the 2013 L.A. Marathon.     Photo: Planetc1/Wikimedia

Los Angeles to Host 2016 Marathon Trials

Momentum builds for 2024 Summer Olympics

Los Angeles will host the 2016 U.S. Olympic marathon trials, city mayor Eric Garcetti announced on Wednesday. The qualifying race for the Rio Summer Olympics will be held February 13, 2016, and the L.A. Marathon will be held the following day.

"With its iconic landmarks and decades of experience hosting world-class sporting events, Los Angeles is the ideal location for America’s elite marathoners to prepare for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil," Garcetti said in a statement.

A smooth and successful Olympic marathon trials might boost the city's chances of bringing the Summer Games back to the city in 2024. Los Angeles announced its candidacy in September last year and already plans to host the Special Olympics World Summer Games in 2015.

If the City of Angels wins the XXXIII Olympiad, it'll be the city's third time hosting (1932, 1984), breaking the 18-year drought of Summer Games in the United States. (Atlanta hosted in 1996.)

With 744 days left to train, marathoners weigh in:

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