Retrofitting busy highways to let wildlife travel safely, too ~ The Washington Post


Elk stand near U.S. Highway 285 in Colorado. (Matthew Staver for The Washington Post/For The Washington Post)
Oct. 11, 2019 at 3:15 p.m. MDT


COLLEGIATE PEAKS SCENIC BYWAY, Colo. — U.S. Highway 285 was once a death zone for the dwindling herds of elk and mule deer on Colorado’s Western Slope. But today it offers a lifeline, helping them travel from their summer range high in the mountains to winter foraging grounds along the Arkansas River.


For the past year, a tunnel dipping under three lanes of speeding traffic has beckoned. And as frost descended recently on subalpine meadows and glittering-gold aspen, a huge bull elk, measuring at least nine feet from antlers to hoofs, entered the structure ever so cautiously. Infrared cameras on both ends captured his meandering.

“Yes!” exulted Mark Lawler, an environmental specialist with the state transportation department, sitting under the 25-foot-wide tunnel arch and watching images pop up on his laptop. The ground there was marked by coyote, deer and even squirrel tracks, more proof of success. But Lawler was focusing on the elk’s safe passage. He “won’t be hit by someone on the highway.”

The $3.5 million project is one of several planned for Colorado’s ever more crowded roads, on which some 4,000 bears, bighorn sheep, coyotes and myriad other animals died last year. The cost of the carnage exceeded $80 million, according to state officials.

Across the country, as development continues to encroach on natural areas, wildlife-vehicle collisions are taking a massive toll. More than 1.9 million animal-collision insurance claims were filed in fiscal 2019, a State Farm report found, with some researchers estimating the annual price tag of the resulting human fatalities, wildlife mortality, injuries, vehicle damage and other costs at almost $10 billion.

Yet advances in satellite tracking technology are helping biologists to better understand how many animals rely on corridors — strips of land that link habitats — and how wildlife crossings over and under roads are essential to reconnect these shrinking settings. Federal and state officials, conservationists and landowners are now partnering across borders on remedies.

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Hundreds of birds face extinction due to climate change ~ The Hill

Earth: Updated Terms and Conditions ~ The New Yorker

Congratulations! You are a proud inhabitant of Earth™. Because of recent customer feedback, we have updated our terms and conditions. (We thought a lot of this went without saying, but our lawyers are insisting that we clear a few things up.)

You get one (1) Earth™. If you permanently damage your Earth™, you will not be able to trade it in for a new one.

This product is pre-used, but it is not refurbished. It has been maintained in near-mint condition for 4.5 billion years. Please keep it this way.

Earth™ is not supposed to get too hot. If you think Earth™ is overheating, DO NOT assume that there is a big fan inside Earth™ to cool it down like a computer. Earth™ is NOT a computer. Earth™ is also NOT a computer simulation (but that would be really cool).

If Earth™ gets too hot, work together to figure out what’s happening. DO NOT tell people that Earth™ is better when it’s hot. DO NOT tell people that Earth™ was kind of cold today, so how could it be getting hotter? That’s like saying, “I’m not hungry right now, so I guess I won’t be hungry ever again.” It’s a dumb thing to say. Don’t say it.

This used to be a nude Earth™, strictly clothing-free. You are now permitted to wear clothing, but please DO NOT force other animals (i.e., your pets) to do the same. It is cruel and weird.

By inhabiting Earth™, you acknowledge that you share this product with more than eight million other species. Be respectful of your fellow-users of Earth™. Please eat them only if you absolutely have to.

You may have heard that Earth™ used to be home to creatures called “dinosaurs.” They were too scary, so we sent an asteroid to get rid of them. Should you get too scary, we reserve the right to do the same thing to you.

Earth™ is home to tall pieces of land called mountains. Some of these mountains are solely meant to be looked at, not climbed. PLEASE REFRAIN from climbing the tallest mountains. Why would you do that? There are many other fun things to do on Earth™ that aren’t the most dangerous thing to do.

Peeing in the ocean is both allowed and encouraged.

Earth™ is hurtling through space at sixty-seven thousand miles per hour. So there is no reason to spend extra money on a fast car. You are already going really, really fast. This is not a rule but a solid recommendation.

Earth™ is not flat. Jesus.

We encourage you to leave Earth™ and explore the surrounding planets. Travelling is fun! However, we hope that you do this out of curiosity and not out of necessity. If you are having problems with Earth™, your first solution should not be “Let’s find a new Earth™.” DO NOT run away from your problems.

Rio Blanco (Chile) Avalanche Center end of season staff debrief and asado


Director, señor Tim Lane drinking his first glass of water since he was thirteen.


IMG_0186.jpeg Rio Blanco Director of Confusion, Tim Lane, forecaster Colin Mitchell (r rear) and guest lecturer, rŌbert, enjoying Pisco Hour(s) at La Ruca.





Tim using the Center’s confuser pointing out his favorite site, the ESPN sports page.



Avalanche Center debrief with Frank Coffey, Tim Lane and Colin Mitchell in attendance. 



‘Blind Boy’ Mitchell entertaining the 

rotos de nieve with one of his tunes.


Tim with son Gabriel breaking in the new parilla 


Constructed by Masón de piedra principal y diseñador, Colin Mitchell



Henry Purcell, propietario de Ski Portillo with the boys.


Director Lane with visiting profesor, rŌbert waiting for lunch in Portillo


Welcome to Estonia’s Isle of Women

What would life be like without men? On this tiny Baltic island, it’s business as usual. But its colorful, folkloric way of life is threatened by a dwindling population.

Credit Birgit Puve for The New York Times



In the Kihnu Museum on a tiny Estonian island, the elders, dressed in matching striped skirts, pondered a favorite question over coffee. What hasn’t a Kihnu woman done? They kept a running list of all of the necessary jobs they remember Kihnu women doing in the absence of men, from fixing tractor engines to performing church services when the Russian Orthodox priest wasn’t available. So far, there has been only one job no one can claim.

“Digging a grave,” Maie Aav, the museum director, said, “but even that is questionable.” Like the elders, Ms. Aav, who is in her mid-40s, was also wearing a traditional skirt (called a kort), but hers had a slight color variation to represent her younger age.

Credit Birgit Puve for The New York Times


Visitors to this peaceful isle in the Baltic Sea are struck by its windswept beaches surrounding pristine forests and the occasional brightly colored farmhouse. At nearly seven square miles, Kihnu is the seventh largest of Estonia’s more than 2,000 islands.

Many Estonian islands have remained unspoiled and untouched since they were last inhabited centuries ago. In contrast, Kihnu stands out precisely because of its inhabitants. The island is known for its abundance of women.


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Men began to fade from everyday life on Kihnu in the 19th century, thanks to their jobs at sea. Fishing and hunting seals took them away from home for months at a time. In response, Kihnu women stepped in and ran the island. Otherwise traditional female roles expanded to include anything their society needed to thrive and function. Eventually, this became ingrained in Kihnu heritage, as Unesco noted when it inscribed aspects of the culture on its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2008.

But tiny, traditional Kihnu has a growing modern problem. The population is shrinking as islanders move away because of a lack of jobs.

On top of that, changes in the fishing industry are bringing a new stress: the men are coming home for longer periods of time. Some have even stayed.