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Mountain News: Aspen left in the dust

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"The forest that is coming in is more diverse than the homogenous stands of mature lodgepole that existed before," reports the Sky-Hi Daily News. "Aspen and spruce are regenerating with lodgepole pine. We are beginning the stage of the forest renewing itself."

Central heating considered

SILVERTON, Colo. - Several entrepreneurs tell Silverton town officials they should give a woody biomass central-heating plant a shot.

Unlike most towns, Silverton has no delivery of natural gas, which is cheap. Instead, buildings are heated by coal, which is messy, or by propane, which is expensive.

David Gibney, of Forest Energy Systems, a firm based in Show Low, Ariz., says that Silverton has a nice layout for a central heating system. Several buildings in close proximity burn coal for heat. As well, streets remain mostly dirt. As such, they could be dug up without great cost for installing of the underground hot-water lines.

At least one other Colorado town - Oak Creek, which is near Steamboat - has heard a similar pitch for a centralized heating system. It, too, relies primarily on propane and coal.

Energy-performance contractors tell Colorado Biz Magazine in the June issue that woody biomass heating plans, such as one being installed at a recreation center in Fairplay, Colo., compete very well with propane. The investment will be repaid in only two years.

The Silverton Standard & the Miner reports that the town board there took no action. However, one trustee, Jim Lindaman, questioned whether there is enough wood available in surrounding forests, even if a bark beetle infestation hits.

Officials from the Governor's Energy Office tell Colorado Biz that guarantees of supply remain a major barrier for many biomass projects across the state.

Pesticide ban studied

REVELSTOKE, B.C. - A move to ban cosmetic pesticides and herbicides in Revelstoke has been gaining support, reports the Revelstoke Times Review. Cosmetic pesticides are those used such as to eliminate dandelions.

A speaker at a recent meeting, Dr. Warren Bell, a physician from nearby Salmon Arm, B.C., said adequate testing was never done to see what effects the chemicals had on other animals, including humans. He said there are many alternatives to synthetic pesticides for golf courses, for example.

An anonymous blogger on the newspaper's website, identified as GolfGuy, accused Bell of bias. "Most of us are stewards of the environment and only use pesticides as a last resort," said the blogger, who seemed to indicate that he is involved in golf course maintenance.

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