March 2, 2015

Ski patrollers at Steamboat, Crested Butte, and the Canyons have also unionized.     Photo: Telluride Ski Patrol/Facebook

Telluride Ski Patrollers Vote to Unionize

Decision is nearly unanimous

By a 47-1 vote, Telluride’s ski patrollers voted to unionize, the Telluride Daily Planet reported Sunday. The National Labor Relations Board office in Denver counted mail-in ballots on Thursday.

The patrollers will become members of the Communications Workers of America’s District 7. Changes to pay and work responsibilities will now be negotiated with the resort through the union.

Telluride communications manager Pepper Raper indicated some resistance on the part of the resort to the Daily Planet before the vote. “We are just trying to work with them to understand their concerns and the drive behind this,” she said. “But we don’t necessarily think we need a third party to tell us or tell them what’s best.”

But Raper said the resort would not resist the patroller’s unionization efforts after the vote. “Telski respects the decision of the Telluride Ski Patrol to be represented by the CWA District 7,” she told the Daily Planet.

The Telluride patrollers were not the first to choose union representation. The Communications Workers of America already represents patrollers at Steamboat, Crested Butte, and the Canyons.


Street artist Andre Saraiva allegedly painted graffiti at Joshua Tree's Contact Mine trailhead.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Street Artist Defaces Joshua Tree National Park

Posts photos of graffitied rocks on Instagram

Last week, self-styled street artist Andre Saraiva (also known as Mr. A and Monsieur Andre), posted images online of a circle and X he apparently spray-painted onto a rock at Joshua Tree National Park, according to Adventure Journal. Saraiva initially reported that the graffiti was painted on private property, but Modern Hiker blogger Casey Schreiner has since confirmed that it was actually painted at Joshua Tree’s Contact Mine trailhead.

Saraiva has denied this, writing, “Some crazy person is misinforming you,” according to Adventure Journal reporters with access to his private Instagram feed.

Saraiva is the latest in a string of photo sharers who have drawn the ire of commenters online for their use of mobile photo-sharing devices in national parks, as Outside described earlier this February. Saraiva’s case is unique, however, in that his apparent violation of park rules and customs was driven by an explicit desire to leave a trace on the desert—albeit on a surface, he insists, that was not part of the park. This sets him apart from almost every other visitor besides, perhaps, fellow Intagrammer Casey Nocket. As Outside wrote in October, Nocket posted photos of permanent acrylic portraits that she’d painted on rock faces in national parks across the country, defiantly noting that she was “a bad person.”

The problem of vandalism in national parks appears to be particularly pronounced in Joshua Tree. “We are a graffiti-heavy park, unfortunately,” Jay Theuer, Joshua Tree’s lead archaeologist, told the Desert Sun in October.


This is the first time Alpine Ascents has supported the children of men killed on the mountain.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Everest Outfitter Funds Kids of Fallen Sherpas

Alpine Ascents has helped 37 students

Seattle-based Alpine Ascents is now paying for the children of the 16 Sherpa killed in last year’s avalanche on Mount Everest to go to school.

Five of the Sherpa killed in the 2014 avalanche were under the employ of Alpine Ascents. The Nepalese government gave each victim’s family $5,000, but Alpine Ascents didn’t think that would suffice. Though the company has funded education for the children of Sherpas since 1999, this is the first time it has supported the children of men killed on the mountain, KIRO TV reports.

The number of students Alpine Ascents is sponsoring has nearly doubled since the tragedy, from 20 to 37. “It’s a way of giving back to them,” Gary Harrington of Alpine Ascents told KIRO TV. The company is paying for one of the lost Sherpa’s daughters to go to college for management and for others to attend boarding school in Kathmandu. It will also pay for the education of a child of a Sherpa who didn’t work for the outfitter and whose body was never found.


Collectively, protected areas around the world generate $600 billion yearly. Golden Gate National Recreation Area brings in the most visitors globally.     Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Global Protected Areas Pull in $600 Billion Annually

Study calls for funding for maintenance, expansion

A study published last week in the journal PLOS Biology has found that national parks and nature preserves (protected areas, or PAs, as the study labels them) bring in much more money than governments spend on them for conservation. According to the study, titled “Walk on the Wild Side: Estimating the Global Magnitude of Visits to Protected Areas,” more than 8 billion annual visitors bring in an estimated $600 billion in tourism revenue, while only $10 billion is spent on maintaining the protected areas.

The study authors examined visitor records from 556 parks across 51 countries from 1998 to 2007 to gauge the economic impact of visits. They then used models to extrapolate the numbers for the world’s 94,238 protected sites, omitting Antarctica, ocean preserves, very small sites, and those that don’t welcome tourists. Europe and North America had the most estimated visits (3.8 billion and 3.3 billion per year, respectively).

The study cites other research indicating that North American visits alone amount to at least $350 billion a year. That’s more than 35 times the worldwide total of less than $10 billion spent each year to safeguard protected areas, a number “which is widely regarded as grossly insufficient,” the study authors write. “Even without considering the many other benefits which PAs provide, our estimates of the economic impact and value of PA visitation dwarf current expenditure—highlighting the risks of underinvestment in conservation, and suggesting substantially increased investments in protected area maintenance and expansion would yield substantial returns.”

Outside reported in January that federally protected areas in the United States generate billions of dollars in tourism revenue each year.

Robin Naidoo, the World Wildlife Fund’s senior conservation scientist and a contributor to the study, told CNN that the dollar value still doesn’t determine the total worth of protected areas. “Even with the multibillion dollar value, this is a vast underestimate of the total economic value of these parks, as it does not account for the myriad ecosystem services that they collectively provide,” he said.

According to the study’s estimates, Golden Gate National Recreation Area brings in the most visits in North America (and globally) with 14.4 million each year, and the UK’s Lake District tops Europe with 10.5 million visitors annually.


Loxsom broke the record set by Erik Sowinski in 2013 by 0.3 seconds.     Photo: PhotoRun

Loxsom Breaks Own 600-Meter Record

Wins USA Indoor Track & Field Championship

On Sunday in Boston, 23-year-old Casimir Loxsom broke the indoor 600-meter record he had set at a college meet in Albuquerque earlier this year. He broke his previous record of 1:15.58 with a time of 1:15.33 and won the USA Indoor Track & Field Championship.

“The title means a lot more than the time to me,” Loxsom, a former Penn State athlete, told the AP. “I’ve never won a U.S. title before. I always seem to find a way to second place out of a potential victory.”

According to Flotrack, Loxsom joined the Brooks Beasts Track Club after finishing his collegiate career at Penn State.