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Mountain News

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At Banff, that’s the policy, and it has been working. "If you can remove the graffiti within 72 hours it may stay down," said Calgary’s Police Sgt. Marcel Duboise, a street crimes investigator. "If you allow it to remain for longer than 72 hours, it’s going to come back – guaranteed," he told a recent seminar of municipal officials.

He said 70 to 80 per cent of all graffiti is "tags," stylized identifications of an artist or artists, or cryptic messages between artists. But some is more, he said. "I don’t hate graffiti – I have a strong liking for a lot of the artistic skill I see. But my job is to control it. Maybe if more of the graffiti was artistic it would be more socially acceptable."

While graffiti has proliferated among skateboarders and hip-hop aficionados, thanks largely to MTV and VH1 videos, most people associate it with gangs and violence. Once graffiti is established in a neighbourhood, housing prices start to fall because people assume there’s crime in the area. But in fact, says Duboise, only 7 per cent of graffiti is gang related. Some graffiti artists are in their 40s, and some are professionals and students who are addicted to the adrenaline rush of doing something surreptitious in the dead of night.

Healthy Forest Initiative wrong solution to fires

PARK, CITY, Utah — Congress has now passed the Healthy Forest Initiative, which is supposed to manage national forests to reduce potential of catastrophic fires. But several environmental organizations insist that even after compromises it remains the wrong solution.

For example, the California fires this past fall were cited by some Congressional advocates as a good argument for the law. But Matthew Kohler of the Native Forest Network writes that the majority of the California fires burned on private lands, and more than 90 per cent of the land was chaparral and brush, not forests that can be trimmed back by commercial loggers.

Writing in The Park Record, Koehler argues that there is no proof that the logging contemplated by the new law will reduce fire threat, and some evidence suggests that it will increase fire potential. This latter, counterintuitive argument is that commercial logging, by focusing on larger diameter trees, does not remove the ladder fuels that contribute to fire spread.

New device boosts odds of surviving avalanche

JACKSON HOLE, WYO. — For avid backcountry skiers of the steep and deep, yet another product is being introduced to improve the odds of surviving an avalanche.