Mountain News: Two towns ban plastic bags 

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TRUCKEE, Calif. — Add two more mountain towns to the list of those crimping the distribution of plastic bags by retailers.

The Sierra Sun reports that the Truckee Town Council has banned most disposable plastic bags. Retailers must charge a minimum 10 cents for reusable bags or bags made of recycled paper. Retailers can keep the money to offset their costs.

Restaurants are excluded, including take-out establishments and any business that receives 90 per cent or more of its revenue from the sale of prepared food.

Earlier this year, South Lake Tahoe also banned plastic bags.

Hosannas once again for epic snowmakers

PARK CITY, Utah — As is customary this time of year, there was a certain nervousness as Thanksgiving approached and slopes remained brown. In an earlier time, this might have been manifested in chain-smoking.

But of course, when it's cold enough, the snowmakers can do their jobs. It's been cold enough, and so Deer Valley and other Park City resorts opened on time. Deer Valley's president, Bob Wheaton, described it as a "highly localized weather event."

Lake Tahoe resorts were spanked hard by drought two years ago. Slopes at Squaw Valley and elsewhere remained bare until late January. This year is starting out differently, but homage was again paid in Tahoe Magazine to the "insurance policy" of snowmaking.

Squaw last year invested $2.6 million in snowmaking and more yet was invested this year. The adjacent Alpine also has had significant upgrades by its owners, KSL Capital.

Fire and not enough snow?

TRUCKEE, Calif. — The largest fire in the recorded history of the Sierra Nevada occurred last summer, but things aren't setting up to be any better next summer. Meteorologists forecast mostly dry conditions throughout California next year.

This comes on the heels of two relatively dry years. At South Lake Tahoe, for example, the average since the late 1990s has been 38 centimetres (15 inches) of water during the winter months. The last two winters have produced substantially less.

South in the Sierra Nevada, the Rim fire started in mid-August and eventually covered 1,036,400 square kilometres near Yosemite National Park before official containment in late October.

The Sierra Sun reports that a new study predicts more intense fires yet. The past few decades have seen a significant increase in the size of high-severity fires and the acreage subjected to catastrophic burn, said the authors of a study released by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy.

The authors said that dry conditions are only one factor. Also playing a role in the increased combustibility of Sierra forests is human encroachment into wildland areas, which caused fire suppression for many decades, only delaying the problem.

The group studied fire potential on nearly 10 million hectares (25 million acres) in the Sierra Nevada and found that two-thirds have high, very high, or extreme fire danger.

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