Today in New West news: whitefish parasite in Idaho, Utah Community Action Program, road changes coming to SLC International Airport, and Frontier Airlines may pursue IPO.
Last week, we reported that Montana FWP was taking drastic measures against a parasite responsible for the deaths of thousands of whitefish in the Yellowstone River. To wit: officials closed the river and all tributaries between Gardiner and the Highway 212 bridge in Laurel—183 miles of waterway. We also reported on the fascinating parasite’s evolutionary history—it’s really kin to the jellyfish.
Although news of the Yellowstone River closure and the nature of the parasite have reverberated nationwide, it’s old news to some people. Namely residents and fish managers in the upper Snake River system, who, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, dealt with an outbreak in 2012—and are still dealing with it:
“It’s still here,” said Dan Garren, the area’s fisheries manager for Idaho Fish and Game. “Since  we’ve seen less substantial kills each summer.”
Garren said each year since, around August when it gets hot, the parasite rears its head and kills more fish. But because the severity has declined each year, it indicates that the fish that survive develop some level of resistance to the bug.
That could be good news for the Yellowstone River, but nobody’s sure at this point. The microscopic parasite that causes proliferative kidney disease hasn’t been studied all that much.
“There’s not that much out there compared to, say, whirling disease,” said David Brooks, associate director of conservation for Montana Trout Unlimited.
This was the third time in the last 20 years that the disease had been detected in Montana. The other times it was found in very isolated areas.
The parasite lives in two hosts: river sponges called bryozoans and fish. To complete its life cycle, it needs to enter fish. It reproduces while living on the sponge, which can release the infectious stage of the parasite — spores — into the water column, where fish can be exposed to it. The Atlantic magazine reported Monday that the parasite was a relative of the jellyfish.
There is no known risk to human health or the health of other animals.
Doug Burton, a fishery pathologist for Idaho Fish and Game, said the parasite was first discovered in Europe, but has been known to be in fish hatcheries in southern Idaho since at least 1980.
“It’s kind of been cyclic as far as detections down there,” said Burton, adding that it is seen there in some years and then not seen for several.
There were some die-offs in the hatcheries — including some that put private hatcheries out of business, Burton said — but the setting allowed them to learn certain things about how those fish responded to it. They observed that brown trout could release spores of the disease, while rainbow trout could not. They also found that rainbow trout were good at developing immunity to the disease.
Those responses may not necessarily apply to the fish in the Yellowstone River, because hatchery ponds aren’t the same as a free-flowing river. There also is no evidence that hatchery fish are the source of the outbreak.
According to the Chronicle, a public meeting has been scheduled in Livingston, Montana at the fairgrounds. The meeting will take place 6 p.m. Wednesday, August 24.
Down in Utah, according to the Salt Lake Tribune, the Utah Community Action Program (CAP) is looking to get kids eating healthy from a young age, catering to local charter and preschools, as well as day care and after-school programs. One important stipulation: no fried foods, hot dogs, and pizza on the menu—staples that school systems and parents insist are the only foods kids actually want to eat. Au contraire, says Hayden Seeley, CAP’s nutrition program manager. From the Tribune:
A look at this year’s menu shows a smörgåsbord of super foods, including red quinoa salad, pumpkin soup, lemon rosemary chicken and, yes, even spinach. Much like Head Start’s diverse enrollment, there also are flavors from around the globe, from orange chicken and meatballs to rice and beans and posole.
Seeley said students are exposed to a food at least seven times before the staff decides if it’s worth keeping in the rotation.
“Brussels sprouts weren’t popular,” he admits. “But lima beans were a huge success.” So were the baby heads of lettuce and star fruit. “We are exposing them to a much more sophisticated menu than you would think.”
There are two items that are never included: pork, for children whose families avoid the meat for religious reasons; and nuts, because of allergies.
Seeley said what started out as a pilot program five years ago, serving 300 meals a day, has grown exponentially. For the 2016-17 school year, CAP’s central kitchen is gearing up to make and deliver nearly 5,000 meals, each one costing between $1.50 to $2.50 per child.
“We are scrambling to meet demand,” said Seeley, who said after five years, the kitchen is nearing its 6,000-meal capacity. “No one else is really offering such high-quality meals.”
But as parents become more interested in the food they serve their children, better school lunches are in high demand. It’s one of the reasons Seeley has been asked to speak about the program at national conferences and he regularly gives tours of the facility to interested groups in Utah and out of state.
CAP’s healthy meals program also has turned into a social enterprise. Last year, day care centers, preschools and charter schools around the Salt Lake Valley contracted with CAP for school meals, generating $120,000, which helps support all of the Utah Community Action’s programming, said communication manager Haley Eckels.
Keeping with Utah, according to the Tribune, the road around Salt Lake City International Airport is expected to change substantially, as the airport undertakes a $2.6 billion airport rebuild project. The biggest immediate changes are the new detours and traffic patterns that will go into place starting tomorrow, August 24, and September 7. You can see a map above, courtesy of the Tribune. From the Tribune:
The roadways will take a sharp turn south near the edge of the current parking garage and will loop around near some recently completed projects that house rental-car service facilities.
The new roadways are scheduled to be in place until 2020, when a new elevated roadway is expected to be completed.
“This is an exciting time for the airport rebuild project,” said Maureen Riley, executive director of the airport. “We appreciate everyone’s patience as the construction become more visible and the roadways will shift.”
The airport reminds drivers that parking and waiting is not allowed at curbs to help ensure a smoother traffic flow, but the airport has a special park-and-wait lot. The airport also notes that the Utah Transit Authority’s Green Line TRAX is an alternative to avoid the road detours.
Finally, keeping with air transportation news, according to the Denver Post, Frontier Airlines is reportedly on the look for new accountants, initiating a hiring spree that has some industry experts saying the company is looking to go public. We previously reported that Frontier was in IPO talks but nothing came of it. However, for some, the shift is inevitable. From the Post:
Frontier spokesman Jim Faulkner declined to comment on ongoing reports that the company was planning an initial public offering and whether the new hires might be related to that.
But Michael Boyd, an aviation industry consultant based in Evergreen, said it makes sense for Frontier to pursue an IPO — even if the company isn’t quite ready to go public about going public.
“They are light, and they are flexible. If a market doesn’t work, they go somewhere else. The story sells for me and it should sell on Wall Street,” Boyd said.
Bloomberg reported in early March that Indigo Partners, the private equity firm that owns Frontier, had hired Barclays, Deutsche Bank and J.P. Morgan Chase in connection with an initial public offering.
The job postings provide additional clues. The senior corporate accountant posting requires someone with expertise in “document accounting processes in accordance with Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002.”
Although some provisions of SOX apply to private companies, most of its financial reporting rules apply specifically to public companies.