Snowrider Corrects Portland Monthly Magazine

The Snowrider Project gives a tip ‘o the hat to Portland Monthly Magazine for getting it right. Well, at least for getting it right once a Snowrider Project volunteer corrected them. PMM published a puff piece on Mt. Hood Meadows’ weapon in their December issue and a Snowrider volunteer noticed the weak story during a visit to the dentist. Here’s Eric’s letter to the editor as PMM published it:

Mt Hood Howitzers

I recently happened upon Julian Smith’s article “Cannonball Run” (December 2008), about the new Howitzer being installed by Mt Hood Meadows for avalanche control. This article is of particular interest to the organization I’m involved in, the Snowrider Project (snowriderpdx.wordpress.com), the nonprofit mountain arm of the Surfrider Foundation (surfrider.org). While there may be benefits for Mt Hood Meadows in having a military weapon installed in their ski area, other potentially deadly outcomes need to be mentioned to the general public. While Smith mentioned that some backcountry skiers have voiced concerns about the potential transboundary effects of this weapon, the danger was easily dismissed with a quote from the US Forest Service stating “it hasn’t happened in thirty years of avalanche control.” Perhaps Smith should be a bit more diligent in vetting statements. Overshoot situations have occurred—some as recently as March 2005, when an overshoot near Ogden, Utah, landed a Howitzer shell in a residential backyard, resulting in severe damage to a house and the surrounding area. Thankfully, no one was killed. These links were found in less than two minutes of Google searching.

The Snowrider Project feels it’s important to make the general public aware of both sides of this issue. There is, in fact, a dangerous aspect to this Howitzer installation on the mountain, and these effects should be mitigated fully by Mt Hood Meadows in the interest of public safety. The Snowrider Project has been in active negotiations with Mt Hood Meadows concerning this issue, and while it has not been entirely addressed to our satisfaction, we do hope they will continue to work with us in the interest of public safety for all mountain users, not just their paying clientele.

ERIC JEFFCOAT
The Snowrider Project
Northeast Portland

Thank you for getting it right Portland Monthly and for publishing our letter.

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