CDOT looks into remote blasting of avalanches

By: Associated Press Email
By: Associated Press Email
Colorado highway engineers want the U.S. Forest Service to approve the use of remote-controlled blasters to trigger small snowslides in an attempt to keep big avalanches from blocking Berthoud Pass near Winter Park Resort.

Avalanche Paths

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado highway engineers want the U.S. Forest Service to approve the use of remote-controlled blasters to trigger small snowslides in an attempt to keep big avalanches from blocking Berthoud Pass near Winter Park Resort.

The Denver Post reports that if the $1.2 million system works, the Colorado Department of Transportation plans to use it statewide. That would replace the current practice of firing shells from howitzers into avalanche zones.

But because the blasters detonated from laptops would be used to set off frequent, small snowslides, some are concerned about the impact on wildlife and alpine ecology. Bill Bowman, director of the University of Colorado's Mountain Research Station, says it would affect alpine vegetation and forest ecosystems by changing natural cycles of disturbance and recovery.

Public comments will be accepted until Sept. 22.


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