Long lost GoPro resurfaces; owl attacks in Oregon

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

  • UTAH Checkmate.

    Patty Whitley
 

IN THE DEEP
Allisa and Mark Oliger, from Durango, Colorado, like to spend New Year’s Day diving, often in the cold, murky waters of Lake Powell. Typically, they see a few fish, maybe find sunken treasures like golf balls or broken fishing poles. But this year, 30 feet underwater, they found a GoPro camera — the kind people attach to their bodies to record both the mundane and the insane. The camera, in a waterproof case, survived, as did its memory card, which held video clips and photos of young men on a road trip. Allisa scoured YouTube for similar videos and — surprisingly- — found a match. Turns out the camera belonged to a guy named Dan Burkovskiy, who had made, and partially filmed, his cross-country moving trip from Massachusetts to California last June. During his group’s stop at Lake Powell, their kayak flipped, sending the camera to a watery, albeit temporary, grave. Oliger found Burkovskiy on Facebook and returned his camera, attracting national media attention in the process. That’s the good news. The bad news? When the camera was recovered, it was plastered with zebra mussels, a pesky invasive species.

BIRDLAND
Oh, if only Ron Jaecks had a GoPro that Tuesday morning in January. Jaecks was doing his usual run through Bush’s Pasture Park in Salem, Oregon, when someone — or something — suddenly ripped the hat from his head, puncturing his scalp, according to the Statesman Journal. “It was like a huge electric shock ran through my body, but also like I got hit in the head with a two-by-four all at the same time,” Jaecks told the Journal. “Or maybe a strike of lightning.” Having no clue what was happening, Jaecks screamed and ran in circles. His now hatless pate was hit again, and this time he realized that it was a winged creature — a gigantic bat, he feared. But the friend he called, biology professor David Craig, theorized that it was an owl, which attack more often than you might think. In 2012, parts of some Washington state parks were closed after at least six such attacks, and in recent months, owls have dug their talons into folks in Florida and Missouri. They seem to be attracted to, or irritated by, long hair and ponytails. Memo to dawn and dusk park-goers: Wear a helmet.

CRAZYTOWN
Recent research suggests that living at high altitude- can affect brain chemistry in such a way as to induce either euphoria or depression. Lack of oxygen to the brain, or hypoxia, might explain both your “Rocky Mountain High” and the Interior West’s high rate of suicide.

Witness Silverton, Colorado, population 500 or so, elevation 9,318 feet. During the long winters, when the influx of tourists slows to a trickle, snow piles up in the streets and avalanche danger sometimes closes both routes out of town, tensions run high. Residents pack town, county and school board meetings, and engage in late-night, spittle-heavy debates, arguing endlessly over whether the county or town should pay for the ambulance or ATVs should be allowed on town streets. The latest fracas, simmering for months and now at a rolling boil, might be the most heated in recent memory, seemingly drawing in every resident and then some. It’s also one of the oddest. Tired of the long-running feud between the town administrator and the longtime public works director — who wields great power, since he’s in charge of the snowplows — the town board forced the two to publicly pledge to be nice to one another. The public works director then broke the promise at a local watering hole, allegedly warning folks that “you’re either with us, or against us.” The town board launched an investigation, and both employees were ultimately fired.

That’s when the hypoxia really kicked in: The public works director’s supporters launched a campaign of nastiness, boycotting businesses owned by those who favored the firing, pelting The Silverton Standard & the Miner with vitriolic letters and trying to recall one town board member. In January, after the polarized town board failed to agree on a replacement for another member — who had left town for lower elevations and higher sanity — two infuriated residents started screaming at officials. Local law enforcement had to extricate them, and town hall was closed to the public so that those employees who hadn’t quit, been fired or gone crazy could get some work done.

“It’s easy to look at what’s been going on in Silverton and see it as an implosion,” San Juan County Sheriff Bruce Conrad told the Durango Herald. “But divisions like this are cyclic. We go through it, time to time, and we’ll be out of it shortly.” Some hope that the Feb. 10 recall election will end the fight. The less optimistic suspect it’ll simply jumpstart the next wacky cycle. Stay tuned.

High Country News Classifieds
  • PART-TIME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Mitchell Museum of the American Indian Location: Evanston, IL Salary Range: $45,000 @ 24 hours per week. send resume: [email protected] www.mitchellmuseum.org
  • COMMUNICATIONS LEAD
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR
    Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on....
  • OUTDOOR PROGRAM - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
    St. Lawrence University seeks to fill the position of Assistant Director in the Outdoor Program. To view the complete position description, including minimum qualifications required,...
  • PUBLIC LANDS DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a dedicated advocate for conservation and public lands Public Lands Director a "make a difference" position Conserve Southwest...
  • FOR SALE
    Yellowstone Llamas Successful Yellowstone NP concession Flexible packages
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is seeking a full-time Director of Development & Marketing. This is a senior position responsible for the development of all marketing...
  • LEGAL DIRECTOR
    The Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director in cultivating a renewed vision at NMELC that integrates diversity, equity, and justice. Black, Indigenous,...
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    The Vice President for Landscape Conservation leads Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing on four program areas: federal public lands management; private lands...
  • NOVA SCOTIA OCEAN FRONT
    Camp or Build on 2+ acres in Guysborough. FSBO. $36,000 US firm. Laurie's phone: 585-226-2993 EST.
  • COMMUNITY FORESTER
    The Clearwater Resource Council located in Seeley Lake, Montana is seeking a full-time community forester with experience in both fuels mitigation and landscape restoration. Resumes...
  • GUNNISON BASIN ROUNDTABLE
    The Gunnison Basin Roundtable is currently accepting letters of interest for ten elected seats. Five of the elected members must have relevant experience in the...
  • PCTA TRAIL CREW TECHNICAL ADVISORS IN WASHINGTON'S NORTH CASCADES
    Seasonal Positions: June 17th to September 16th (14 weeks) - 3 positions to be filled The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to...
  • WE'RE LOOKING FOR LEADERS!
    As we celebrate 50 years of great Western journalism, High Country News is looking for a few new board members to help set a course...
  • MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Job Title: Membership Director Supervisor: Executive Director Salary: Up to $65,000/year DOE Benefits: Generous benefits package — health insurance, Simple IRA and unlimited...
  • UTAH PUBLIC LANDS MANAGER
    Who we are: Since 1985, the Grand Canyon Trust has been a leading voice in regional conservation on the Colorado Plateau. From protecting the Grand...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Executive Director Walker Basin Conservancy Reno & Yerington, NV Background The Walker Basin Conservancy (Conservancy) leads the effort to restore and maintain Walker Lake while...
  • WIND RIVER WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS RETREAT BY THE NATIONAL BIGHORN SHEEP CENTER
    Enhance your writing or photography skills with world-class instructors in the beautiful Wind River Mountains. All skill levels welcome. Continuing education credits available.
  • EARTH CRUISER FX FOR SALE
    Overland Vehicle for travel on or off road. Fully self contained. Less than 41,000 miles. Recently fully serviced Located in Redmond, OR $215'000.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    identifies suspect buried trash, tanks, drums &/or utilities and conducts custom-designed subsurface investigations that support post-damage litigation.