Mountain News: 

Vail conference centre going to voters again

Page 9 of 11

It’s not. It is part of the air pollution that makes this park, located south of the Mammoth ski area, the smoggiest national park in the United States. The Los Angeles Times says that mountains that John Muir once described as "not clothed with light, but whole composed of it" have, on many summer days, the clarity of miso soup.

Federal clean air standards are violated 63 days a year, better than 103 days in the Los Angeles Basin, but far worse than the five days of the San Francisco Bay Area. As such, ozone levels are harmful for human health.

Because Sequoia-Kings Canyon has been designated by the Clean Air Act as a "class 1 airshed," the National Park Service has some control over big emitters within 90 miles of the park. The trouble is, the pollution comes not from a single factory, power plant, or smelter. Instead, most of the smog in the Sierra Nevada comes from many sources in the nearby San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco area – cattle feedlots, household chemicals, unpaved roads and diesel trucks, to name just a few.

Lacking authority to take action itself, says the Times, park rangers at Sequoia-Kings Canyon go out of their way to tell people about the polluted air. For example, in a gift shop at the park headquarters, a smog forecast sign, designed as a rainbow, greets visitors.

Particularly for people with pre-existing lung conditions such as asthma, the smoggy air poses problem. One mother now packs a breathing-aid device called a nebulizer, along with the boots, camp gear and canteens that are di rigeur for park visits.

The air pollution has also crimped the hiring, reports the Times. Job Posts carry a generic disclaimer that working in the park "may pose human health problems due to air pollution."

Meanwhile, on the edges of Jackson Hole, air quality in both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks is likely to be affected by the gas-well drilling near Pinedale, 70 miles to the south. A report issued this year predicts up to eight days of haze per year in Teton and three days in Yellowstone when drill rigs are most active. However, the BLM has historically underestimated impacts to air quality, the Jackson Hole News & Guide observes.

Leave some for the fish

EAGLE VALLEY, Colo. — A measure of both the continuing drought and greater demand for water is found in an item in the Eagle Valley, where Vail and Beaver Creek are located.

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