Wreckreation; snowmobile danger; a subdued vacuum

Mishaps and mayhem from around the region.

 

UTAH: Run your mouth and our oil.
Paul Bony

THE BORDER
Whatever adjectives you might pick to describe the U.S.-Mexico border wall, reports the HuffPost, “readily stolen” is probably not one of them. Yet 15 to 20 people were arrested for stealing concertina wire installed at the Tijuana port of entry in 2018. The missing razor wire has now been located in Tijuana, where residents are using it to surround and safeguard their homes. And who were the thieves? The Mexican government said those arrested were mostly Mexicans, but one woman told the newspaper El Sol de Tijuana that the man selling the wire had “blue eyes, blond hair, and didn’t speak Spanish well.” On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah could not stop laughing, imagining Tijuana homeowners bragging, “I built a wall around my house, and Donald Trump paid for it!” 

THE WEST
We don’t like to admit it, but when we hike, mountain bike or take ATVs into the backcountry, we’re invading the homes of wild animals and causing them stress. Bruce S. Thompson, former education director of the Teton Science Schools, has been researching recreation’s impacts on wildlife in the Yellowstone area. People think that because they don’t see animals running away at their approach “there must not be impacts,” reports Mountain Journal. However, “absence of evidence does not equate to absence of impact.” Mountain bikers can travel farther faster, diminishing spaces where animals feel safe, and hikers with dogs “are also formidable wildlife disruptors,” Thompson says. Habitat fragmentation caused by human use is a real danger for Greater Yellowstone, he adds, because once again “we are confronting the old tale of dwindling wilderness and natural systems.”

WYOMING
In Wyoming, snowmobilers have unexpectedly “outpaced” backcountry skiers as the outdoor recreationists most likely to be killed in an avalanche, Wyofile reports. According to the avalanche center at Teton Village, records kept since 1877 show that 32 snowmobilers have died, compared to 26 backcountry skiers. Today’s modern, high-powered snow machines come equipped with deep-snow paddles that allow riders to explore more dangerous terrain. But experts say fewer riders have adequate education about and understanding of avalanche dynamics, and the most vulnerable riders are “out-of-staters.”

THE WEST
One of the more delicious April Fools’ spoofs in the Jackson Hole News & Guide featured the amazing number of do-gooder groups that have sprung up in Teton County, claiming that so many have been created that “they exceed the number of actual human beings who live here.” Yet Charity Warmheart, chief enlightenment officer of the Nonprofit Association of Nonprofit Associations, hoped that the rest of Wyoming understands that “we’re (not) just rich, weird busybodies who spend our time hallucinating new problems that demand an organization to raise awareness, solicit cash, and invent programs to solve problems that don’t exist. ...”

CALIFORNIA
Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame, who lives in a $10 million Tudor home in San Francisco, probably had no idea that the clothes he throws out occasionally end up on the back of someone who goes through his garbage. That someone is Jake Orta, 56, who lives three blocks and a world away in the Mission neighborhood. Orta, who thinks of himself as a “treasure hunter,” told The New York Times that he regularly patrols the garbage cans of Zuckerberg and other 1 percenters, hoping to make $30 to $40 a night by selling his discoveries. “It just amazes me what people throw away,” Orta said, showing off designer jeans, Nike running sneakers and a bicycle pump he’d just snagged. “You never know what you will find.” Orta, raised in Texas with 11 siblings, spent more than 12 years in the Air Force, serving in the Middle East, Germany and other countries. When he came home, he found his wife had left him, and he struggled with alcoholism. Now 56, he qualifies for a program that assists chronically homeless veterans, and that support, plus what he calls his work as a “finder,” keeps him afloat. His beat also includes dumpsters, where the first rule “is to make sure there’s no raccoon or possum in there.” This March, he found a box fill of sterling silver goblets, dishes and plates, “as if,” the Times said, “someone had yanked a tablecloth from underneath a feast in some European chateau.” He’s also found lots of phones, three watches, iPads, and sand-covered bikes left over from the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Nick Mazzano, who publishes a magazine documenting the world of San Francisco trash pickers, says people like Orta help keep stuff out of landfills. It’s also a form of entrepreneurship, he adds, because “it’s the primary form of income for people who have no other income.” 

OREGON
In March, it took “multiple deputies” with guns drawn and K-9 backup on the way to subdue what turned out to be an overly conscientious robot. Shadows moving under a locked bathroom door had alarmed a resident, who called the Washington County Sheriff’s Office. A sheriff’s deputy revealed to NBC News the droll outcome: “We breached the bathroom door and encountered a very thorough vacuuming job being done by a Roomba Robotic Vacuum cleaner.”

Tips and photos of Western oddities are appreciated and often shared in this column. Write [email protected] or tag photos #heardaroundthewest on Instagram.

 

High Country News Classifieds
  • NEW AGRARIAN APPRENTICESHIP
    Quivira Coalition's 2020 New Agrarian Apprenticeships in Regenerative Ranching and Farming -Apprenticeships run 4/20 - 11/20 Applications accepted 10/15/19 - 12/1/19 NAP partners with skilled...
  • PHILANTHROPY DIRECTOR
    Wilderness Workshop seeks a full time Philanthropy Director to raise funds for our team. Learn more: www.wildernessworkshop.org
  • EXECUTIVE ASSISTANT WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Western Resource Advocates (WRA) seeks an enthusiastic and organized problem solver to join our growing team as an Executive Assistant. The Executive Assistant is instrumental...
  • WYOMING OUTDOOR COUNCIL
    Two positions: Development Director OR Development Writer, Communications Director. Full job descriptions at https://wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org/careers.
  • CONSERVATION PROJECT MANAGER
    Great Land Trust seeks to hire a Conservation Project Manager. Position is full-time, based in Anchorage, Alaska. First review of applications will be on October...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Eagle Valley Land Trust Executive Director Position Description Summary of Position: The Executive Director, working with and reporting to the Board of Directors, has overall...
  • FINANCE & LOGISTICS COORDINATOR
    The Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory, founded in 1928 as an independent nonprofit organization, is a biological field station located near Crested Butte, Colorado. Our primary...
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    See Full Job Description
  • DEVELOPMENT COORDINATOR
    Position: Development Coordinator Responsible to: Executive Director Time Commitment: 15-20 hours per week, or as otherwise agreed upon General Description: The Development Coordinator assists the...
  • EDUCATION CENTER MANAGER
    Friends of Cedar Mesa seeks a full-time Education Manager for the Bears Ears Education Center to provide day to day operational and administrative oversight. See...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED SCP SOUTHWEST REGIONAL DIRECTOR
    Seeking to hire an experienced advocate/manager to oversee the organization's sportsmen/women-driven advocacy in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. Open until filled
  • PROGRAM MANAGER
    for northern AZ collaborative conservation ranchlands group
  • AMAZING PROGRAM DIRECTOR
    If you're an amazing Program or Education Manager looking for an exciting and fulfilling position with an organization that makes a difference in the community,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Partners are seeking an experienced and energetic Executive Director who is excited about the opportunity to lead our growing organization! A full description of the...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    High Country News Seeks an Executive Director to advance its mission, grow its audience and influence, and strategically and sustainably guide the organization through a...
  • 2 PROPERTIES ON THE WESTERN EDGE OF THE GILA WILDERNESS
    Organic farm, hot springs, San Francisco River runs through both. [email protected]
  • CHUCK BURR'S CULTUREQUAKE.COM BLOG
    Change will happen when we see a new way of living. Thinking to save the world.
  • SOCIETY FOR WILDERNESS STEWARDSHIP BOARD MEMBER
    Join the SWS board and help us broaden, diversify, and engage the wilderness community.
  • NEW MEXICO BIRDER'S PARADISE.
    Fully furnished 2B/2B home near Bosque del Apache NWR, great for nature lovers.
  • COMING TO TUCSON?
    Popular vacation house, furnished, 2 bed/1 bath, yard, dog-friendly. Lee at [email protected] or 520-791-9246.