Posted: 8/18/2004 6:11:41 PM EST
[Last Edit: 8/18/2004 6:13:55 PM EST by KA3B]
RENO, Nev. (AP) - The U.S. military is demanding the return of five howitzers two Sierra Nevada ski resorts use to prevent avalanches, saying it needs the guns for the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain received the artillery pieces on loan from the army and began using them last year to fire rounds into mountainsides and knock snow loose. But the ski resorts received word earlier this month the army's Tank Automotive and Armaments Command at the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois needs the howitzers back immediately.
"I need to have them back in the troops' hands within 60 to 90 days," said Don Bowen, the army command's team leader in charge of the howitzers.
"It's a very short timeframe to get them serviceable and back into the theatre in Southwest Asia. Afghanistan-Iraq is the immediate concern."
The ski resorts said they will comply.
"Given it's a war effort, their needs are greater than ours," said Larry Heywood, Alpine Meadows director of mountain operations.
Howitzers are short-barrelled guns that typically are pulled by a vehicle. They fire three to 10 rounds a minute at a range of about eight to 16 kilometres. Replacing a 119-A - the type used at the resorts - would cost about $1 million, Bowen said Tuesday.
The military lent two to Alpine Meadows and three to Mammoth Mountain.
Alpine Meadows and Mammoth Mountain are the only ski resorts in the United States using the 119-A howitzer, the most modern model available, said Bob Moore, a U.S. Forest Service specialist in Truckee, Calif. Other resorts have older 105mm howitzers.
Pam Murphy, senior vice-president at Mammoth Mountain just east of Yosemite National Park, said the military has provided the ski resort with recoilless rifles and other guns for avalanche control for 30 years. The howitzers are the most effective, Murphy said.
"It was designed to kill people but it's a very valuable safety tool for us," said Rachael Woods, a spokeswoman at Lake Tahoe's Alpine Meadows, where seven people were killed in an avalanche in 1982.
Resort officials said they spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to transport the guns, reimburse the army for training and build firing platforms.
But Murphy said she understood the army's decision: "We're certainly at a different place in the world than when we first got the guns."
The Forest Service said it is working to secure older howitzers for the ski resorts and the army's Bowen said he is optimistic that will happen.
Well I'll be, the original article is dated April of this year....
Holy old news, Batman!!
yep, just gonna say this is OLD news!
geeze just take Canadas guns off of their hands.