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  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Feb 14, 2013 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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Don't eat the yellow snow

News: Feb 14, 2013
by Betsy Marston

CALIFORNIA

It read like one of the sweetest wildlife stories ever -- the tale of an orphaned bobcat that was too darned nice. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that the affectionate bobcat kitten -- known as Chips -- was found in the burning Plumas National Forest, a surprising survivor at only a few weeks old. Soon Chips had adapted to humans so completely that biologists doubted that she could survive in the wild. So volunteers at the Sierra Wildlife Rescue in Placerville have begun squirting her with water whenever she cuddles up to a human; the couch is now verboten for naps; and Chips must chase down her own mice and rabbits or go hungry. The hope is that all this tough love toughens up Chips, though the fact that she's alive at all bodes well for the bobcat. "How it survived with the fire passing through is miraculous," said Forest Service spokesman John Heil.

ARIZONA

Talk about an ick factor! Northern Arizona's Snowbowl ski resort recently fired up its guns to spray some fake snow, and to the horror of all concerned, "the snow that blasted onto the mountain was yellow," reports The New York Times. But the snow was not yellow because it is the first in the world to be made completely from sewage effluent. No, the problem was caused by "rusty residue" in the snowmaking equipment that carries wastewater from Flagstaff, at least according to the resort. Skiers tried out the artificial snow, and although at least one found the yellow surface "disgusting," he said he was also confident that it would discourage him from making any face-plants. For years, tribes that regard the area as sacred and other critics have fought the resort's continuing development and sued to prevent the use of treated sewage for snowmaking. Now, they said, the Forest Service and state needed to do some investigating and find out exactly what had turned the snow yellow.

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