Heard around the West

 

Reader Frazier Nichol in John Day, Ore., had a deep thought the other day, maybe the same day he opened his fortune cookie and found a contemporary bit of wisdom: "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure." We know that's the way the cookie crumbled, because he sent the fortune on its little slip of paper to Heard around the West, taped to a clipping about the fat snowpacks threatening the region. Only a few years ago, Nichol complains, newspapers featured stories about not enough snow piling up on peaks. Now, fear of flooding is front page. Why can't the government manage this weather seesaw more efficiently, he wonders?

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Folks visiting filling-up Lake Powell in Utah would sure appreciate some help, especially by July when the Salt Lake Tribune tells us there's "a high potential for poop-related pollution." To decipher the newspaper's technical jargon, this means that last year when the lake level was low, some 2.6 million tourists and their canine companions occasionally used the lakeshore for a toilet. This summer, as the lake rises to its "full pool" of 3,700 feet above sea level, the fecal bacteria that tourists left behind will spread out, leading to possible disease and beach quarantines. Future help is on the way in the form of two floating toilets and dumping stations for passengers of boats. The Park Service is also beefing up an undeveloped day-use area, Lone Rock, which attracts an estimated 100,000 visitors a year - some of them seeking bathrooms. But we know what's really to blame for these fecal-stricken beaches: too much unmanaged snow draped over the mountains.

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A spectre other than willful snowmelt stalks popular Willard Reservoir near Utah's Great Salt Lake - wild and crazy recreationists. Segregation of anyone on fast-moving Jet Skis is one suggestion, with buoys marking off areas reserved for all the various kinds of boaters, reports the Salt Lake Tribune. One Utahn's novel idea: Dump "predator-type fish" in the lake to lower the population of Jet-Skiers.

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While spring wakes up sun-seekers in the West, bears also begin to emerge from their dens, famished. One bear was so hungry he broke into the kitchen of a house near Lake Tahoe and jumped to the head of the food chain. The homeowner woke up after hearing a noise, and then by the light of his opened fridge, saw a black bear standing in front of the refrigerator, munching on leftovers and peering in for more, reports the Reno Gazette-Journal. A biologist for the Nevada Division of Wildlife says that though this bear ran off when it was yelled at, other residents might not be so fortunate. Beware of bears because they're big and fierce, San Stiver warned: "You don't want to have a hand-to-paw confrontation."

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Janet Merel of Deerfield, Ill., offers an unusual way to cut down on fat: Sprinkle her product, Diet Dirt, on your tempting french fries or biscuits and gravy. Not surprisingly, reports the Tucson Weekly, the sterilized soil sprinkled over all munchies "makes them taste repugnant."

Pity the corporate food giants. They can't find new products to launch, what with all the pesky federal regulations about telling the truth, nutritionally speaking. Worse, whatever is or sounds foreign seems to sell better these days. Meanwhile, reports the Wall Street Journal, Italian companies raid North Dakota's waving fields of durum wheat and ship back to us inexpensive but top-notch pasta.

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Do you want to experience country-club living on the cheap? Denver Post columnist Mark Obmascik found a way to forego the $40,000 initiation fee at the Denver Country Club by piloting his trusty inner tube on a 34-minute, 11-block odyssey down the city's Cherry Creek. At a pleasant 3 miles per hour, he played on through the exclusive club's golf-course heart. "I float beneath a wooden bridge. Three golfers spot me and do a double-take. I wave but get no response. Hey, who looks sillier," Obmascik asks: "Me on a tube, or you in white pants and a lime-green shirt?" Along with the occasional styrofoam cup and plastic bag, he passed what seemed at first to be an impressive white cliff. But no, it was merely a $1 million trophy home, newly on the market.


Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or [email protected]

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