Monday, December 15, 2008

Ace Reporter Schwebke Reports on the Malan's Basin/Strongs Canyon Clearcuts

The reclusive property owner "clams up"

You asked for it... you got it. After much reader discussion on Weber County Forum over the past couple of weeks, the Standard-Examiner has finally latched onto the Chris Peterson Clearcuts story.

In this morning's Standard-Examiner report, Ace Reporter Schwebke demonstrates that he's made a noble yeoman's attempt to find out what's transpiring on Chris Peterson's mountainside Malan's Basin property, which borders Emerald City to the east. Mr. Schwebke reports that he's contacted every individual and government agency who could conceivably have an interest in the frenzied vegetation-obliterative activity which as been recently occurring in the Malan's Basin/Strong's Canyon area. Despite his efforts, Mr. Schwebke was able to dredge up very little information beyond that which our gentle readers were able to ferret out and deduce during two weeks of robust reader discussion. Nevertheless he earns an "A" for the effort, we think. Unfortunate readers who do not have a hard-copy edition of this morning's Std-Ex readily on hand can read this morning's Scott Schwebke story here:
Trees, brush cleared near Malan’s Basin
Mr. Schwebke would have made greater headway with this story, of course, if Mr. Peterson had been more forthcoming in his telephone interview with the diligent Std-Ex reporter. Yes, Mr. Schwebke was successful in reaching Mr. Peterson; and this is what the very tight-lipped Son-in-Law of a Billionaire said:
Peterson, in a brief phone conversation with the Standard-Examiner, declined to disclose the purpose of the clearing and wouldn’t say if the aim is to make way for a road leading to a Malan’s Basin resort.
“I don’t have any comment on that,” he said.
While we suppose its possible that Mr. Peterson may regard Mr. Schwebke and the lumpencitizens of Emerald City as merely "nosy neighbors," we nevertheless can't resist observing the vast difference between Mr. Peterson's stingy present public utterances, and those heady proclamations of the year 2005, when he and Blessed Boss Godfrey were running their non-stop Emerald City Gondola/Malan's Basin Ski Resort Public Dog & Pony Show.

Mr. Peterson's feeling a mite underappreciated these days, we suppose; and we guess its understandable that he's now "clammed up."

So what say our gentle readers about all this?


Al said...

Is Baby Geiger too potentially volatile to be placed in a position to comment on what Peterson is up to that they have to go to his father? Where is Lift Ogden?

It's great that they have scarred the hillside, visible from nearly any part of Ogden. Millions of dollars invested. Blah blah blah.

Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.
- Edward Abbey

dan s. said...

Indeed, Mr. Schwebke earns a A for effort on this one. And that telephoto shot is a nice complement to the closeups that I posted last week.

Curmudgeon said...


"Vegetation-obliterative activity "!!! My god....

You have a career waiting for you, compadre, in Educational Administration. You have a truly impressive talent for turning the clear and plain of meaning into mind-numbing obfuscatory complexity. I am impressed. You missed your calling.

althepal said...

Of course Peterson has clammed up. Every time he makes the mistake of opening his mouth, he reveals himslf publicly as a dunce!

hmmm? said...

I am wondering if Schwebke contacted Petersen while he was on a street car vacation with his lover Matty?

Dealing with it said...

I still vote for tar and feathers. I don't subscribe to the notion that people can do "anything" they want on their own property.

This world belongs to all of us and we all have a responsibility to take care of what is ours.

Bill C. said...

Could be someone in the thorazine addled, patagonia vest sporting, squirrel phobic camp is actually on to something, seeking a way out.
Perhaps this little exersize in creative brush removal was designed to create public outcry.
It's long been undrstood that the best use for this property, as well as all the rest of the western facing mountainside north to At least North Ogden divide, is nothing. Perhaps to the extent of Wilderness designation.
In the long run this would prove to be the most beneficial to Ogden City and all of Weber County. Some think Peterson thought this when he bought the property. The rumor being he meant to trade it to the Gov. for land near Las Vegas.
This very visable assault on the vegetation could be an effort at stimulating the public to express that desire enough to finally get a serious movement in that direction and hopefully get the Government to buy his land, thus getting him out from under all this BS.
After all, despite the appearence, he's done nothing that would jeopordize such designation.

Curmudgeon said...

Since the discussion involves the way the SE is doing its job, I thought I'd post this here by way of FYI. The New Yorker has a a very interesting article up on newspapers and the internet, and what the latter is doing to the former, and what the consequences may be for readers. Well worth a look, I think, and well worth thinking about what, if newspapers, particularly local newspapers, go under, the costs to readers will be. From the article:

But people don’t use the [NY] Times less than they did a decade ago. They use it more. The difference is that today they don’t have to pay for it. The real problem for newspapers, in other words, isn’t the Internet; it’s us. We want access to everything, we want it now, and we want it for free. That’s a consumer’s dream, but eventually it’s going to collide with reality: if newspapers’ profits vanish, so will their product... It’s even possible that a few papers will be able to earn enough money online to make the traditional ad-supported strategy work. But it would not be shocking if, sometime soon, there were big American cities that had no local newspaper; more important, we’re almost sure to see a sharp decline in the volume and variety of content that newspapers collectively produce. For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime—intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on—and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can’t last. Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is. ♦

Chewy piece, I thought. FYI.

PS: the New Yorker article is available of course, on line. And free....

Rafiki said...

Speaking of Vegetation damage; I was hiking Bird Song trail late yesterday morning when I came across some 4 wheeler tracks on the trail.

Whoever was doing the riding went out of their way to spin the tires and tear up a lot of earth and vegetation.

I tried calling it in to the OPD but was told that there were no available officers to look into the issue. (Anyone Surprised?)

If anybody reading this blog lives around the Bird Song & Rainbow trail system. Please keep your eyes and ears open for these ATV users and possibly confront them to get names and home addresses. We need to stop this before our beatiful single track hiking trail turns into an ATV race track.

Curmudgeon said...

Now, back to the main topic: Charles Trentelman has some sensible comments regarding the Peterson project, whatever it is, up on his blog on the SE free site. Link here. Worth a look.

Curmudgeon said...


Thanks very much for the heads up on the off-roaders chewing up the Birdsong Trail.

dan s. said...


Haven't had time to read the New Yorker article yet. But as a quick response I would point out that many of us don't merely read Internet sites without paying; we also contribute to them without being paid. So there's a shift from professional journalists to amateurs.

I'd also add that many small town newspapers (especially weeklies) never had subscription fees.

Anonymous said...

But they don't get delivered to your house either.

Curmudgeon said...


Yes, as you wrote, there is a "shift from professional journalists to amateurs. " But that involves, the article argues, overall a substantial decline in the quality of what's produced. There are blog-posters, yourself being one, who post things every bit as well researched [and written] as one finds in the pages of professionally published daily newspapers. But, sadly, that is not true I think of the majority of posts by non-professionals across most of the blogosphere [god, I hate that word!].

Having professional journalists reporting the news daily replaced [not supplemented, but replaced] by a host of amateur posters would not, I think, improve overall either the quality of the reporting, or its scope. Which was the point of the article.

david s. said...

I think everyone involved did a great job on reporting this latest Malans issue - Schwebke, Schroeder, Rudizink.

Everyone that is, except Chris Peterson. It's amazing he'd put a scar like that across the mountain with no intentions of having the slightest comment.

Time and again it seems Peterson proves he's not up to the task or to any task. And that he thinks he's "Earl Holding II" is his silliest characteristic of all.

Bill C. said...

It just occurred to me, there is one very important stakeholder Schwebke forgot to contact.
South Ogden City uses the Strongs Canyon watershed for drinking water. I wonder if they have concerns regarding erosion and future traffic in this area.
I doubt that Petersons efforts included mitagating any potential damage to the watershed. Probably never crossed his mind.

ozboy said...

David, I think Peterson's actions on this are right out of King Holding's play book. Holding is notorious for secrecy and doing exactly what he wants regardless of the public's interests. Seems to me that Peterson is doing his best to emulate his "father in law?". The only difference in the two, in my humble opinion, is that Holding is smart and very very successful and Peterson is not.

On the other hand, it is Peterson's property and just because it is highly visible to the whole town doesn't mean he can't do pretty much what he wants with it as long as he doesn't break any laws.

My guess is that he is making a landing zone to test out part of the concept of the "Sling and Slide" mass transit system I conceptualized a couple of years ago. I heard through the grape vine that although the Godfreyites soundly condemned the plan they did see the beauty in it and intended to rip it off and make it their own. With Peterson owning the "JackBoot" property on Wall (the possible launching site) and now with this clearing of land in the basin (possible landing site), what else could intelligent citizens make of it? Maybe the SIL ain't so dumb after all:

The Sling & Slide Mass Transit System

dan s. said...


The average quality of what's available is declining (a lot). But the quantity of available information is increasing (also by a lot). So I'm not convinced it's a net loss. Probably depends on what types of information are most important to you.

RudiZink said...

Lets face it Dan. Most online journalists depend upon the traditional media for the reporting of the facts. Very few are well-heeled enough to employ their own reportorial staff. i believe Curm is right on this issue.

Let's take the local case. Weber County Forum unabashedly depends upon the Standard-Examiner, and a few other traditional news reporting media to filter and decipher the facts. What would happen to our unique dialogue in Emerald City if the Suits from Sanduskey went broke?

Keep in mind that it's only the traditional media who still hire the reporters and other journalism professionals to do the gumshoe work, and to deliver to us the well researched articles that we take for granted today.

Think about a world where ad revenue disadvantaged Web Pundits and Bloggers control the information flow.


We're hoping that the future of mass communications won't be limited to "unnamed souses" and unsubstantiated rumors.

Keep in mind we all depend upon the institutional structure of existing news organizations who can actually produce and report the assumed facts.

If their ad money dries up, we suspect many cities in America will wind up without a local daily.

It's a recipe for anarchy, we think.

Au Contraire said...

Bullshit, Rudy.

The death of the corporate mis-information media is exactly what America needs.

weber County girly girls said...

Is poopy diaper Baby Girl Geiger too potentially volatile to be placed in a position to comment on what Peterson is up to that they have to go to his father? Where is Lift Ogden? Where is the county to tell us about the permits that have been issued?

It's great that they have scarred the hillside, visible from nearly any part of Ogden. Millions of dollars invested. How much of this taxpayer money when all is said and done?

Monotreme said...

Dan S. and others:

I would just like to point out that 30 feet x 2000 feet (60,000 sq ft) comes to an area of over an acre (1.4 acres).

So, if the trigger for DEQ action is one acre, I'd suppose that Mr. Peterson has exceeded that amount of "brush-clearing" on his land.

Dan or anyone else, can you direct me to the Utah Law or DEQ Rule that covers (or might cover) this activity?

Monotreme said...

Oops, found it here. Answered my own question.

Bullet Sponge said...

Regarding the decline of newspapers, I see this as merely a change (for the better) in the way we receive information. I for one am not sad to see the end of receiving news once every 24 hours from a centralized gatekeeper of information.

I also don't buy that we're losing out on quality. If you ever read any article in any newspaper that deals with information that comes from a field you know anything about, you know they more often than not get scads of information wrong, and often leave out what's important.

It's true, you will have to sift through a much greater volume of information, and be wary of those who post information without proper research, but all the information will be there, and from many varying sources, with a more comprehensive coverage of the event than newspapers can provide.

I see those lamenting the death of traditional media as the whines and moans of those whose power is slipping away into the hands of the masses. Viva la Internet.

dan s. said...


Nice work, setting up a straw man and knocking him down.

I'm not arguing that internet-only news sources, in their present form, are preferable to print news sources. Nor am I arguing that amateur journalists, as a group, are better than professionals.

But I would disagree with those who maintain that journalism as a whole (broadly defined) is worse off now than before the internet came along. Newspapers have declined slightly (not a lot), while internet journalism has grown enormously. On balance, I think readers are better off now than they were 15 years ago.

The doomsayers are envisioning a future scenario in which most newspapers completely vanish, while internet journalism remains in exactly its present form. But that's not what will happen. Normally, when something vanishes, it leaves behind a market niche that something else will grow to fill. So whenever a newspaper vanishes, we can expect that internet journalism (either professional or amateur or both) will expand beyond where it is today. And of course, most newspapers won't simply vanish; they'll continue to exist in some form or other, print or web or both.

So although the road forward will be rocky, with many temporary setbacks, I'm actually pretty optimistic about the future of journalism.

dan s. said...


The length of the cleared route is closer to 10,000 feet, so the affected area is several acres. However, it isn't clear that merely cutting trees is enough to trigger the SWPPP process. What is clear is that not much more can happen up there until Peterson lines up a whole lot of ducks. So either we'll learn more about his intent soon, or the "project" will again be put on the "back burner" with little or no further activity.

Curmudgeon said...


But it's not just quality of research/writing that's a concern, though that is a more serious one I think than you do. It's fragmentation of the scope of coverage. When I pick up the SE or NY Times I read a wide range of news, covering a lot of different topics from popular culture and local events at one end, to politics, world affairs and science at the other. And I read on the ed pages --- or at least am exposed to --- a variety of opinion on a variety of topics.

There are established journalists running web-based blogs of high quality [e.g. Talking Points Memo]. But they are all very limited in focus: either they are from one particular political POV [e.g. Daily Kos] or they focus on a limited range of subects... all politics, or all science news or all economics. The potpourri laid out by a daily paper is, I think, healthy for the republic in general. I get to read about all sorts of things in the NYT and SLT and SE that I would otherwise not get to read about, and would not, absolutely not, take the time to track down [if I knew enough to look] on my own on dedicated sites.

It's that loss of general information, arriving daily for the reader's perusal that will, I think... is already... doing much to limit meaningful public discussion. Somebody who gets ALL his news from MSNBC has nothing much to talk about with someone who gets ALL his news from Fox. Kind of like an atheist arguing with a fundamentalist about the existence of God. Lots of studies already out there, being much discussed in the j-schools and at history meets trying to assess the consequences --- long and short term --- of this fragmentation of the newspaper reading audiences into like-minded narrow focused groups. [And the fragmentation of TV news from the old three networks model to the current riot of options.]

Yes, if you're motivated enough, you can cruise for science news and www.cnbc. com for economic news and various others for international news and such like. But how many people will? People who will read an article on science if its in their morning paper, cheek by jowl with one on art, next to one on the new sewer fees, flanked by one on what happened yesterday in Darfur. It's the loss of that range of information arriving on peoples' doorsteps each morning that has me concerned. And others who do that kind of worrying for a living [political scientists, historians of American journalism and popular culture, J-school folk, and so on.]

old news said...

I've noticed that a lot of the stories in the SE are copied and pasted into my morning paper.

I feel somewhat slighted by this type of reporting.

old news said...

I should have mentioned that the stories come from the internet.

OgdenLover said...

Rudi said:

Let's take the local case. Weber County Forum unabashedly depends upon the Standard-Examiner, and a few other traditional news reporting media to filter and decipher the facts. What would happen to our unique dialogue in Emerald City if the Suits from Sanduskey went broke?

Keep in mind that it's only the traditional media who still hire the reporters and other journalism professionals to do the gumshoe work, and to deliver to us the well researched articles that we take for granted today.

Rudi, I hope you are being sarcastic or have found some really great drugs. How often does this blog criticize the SE for simply repeating the utterances of City Hall without delving into the facts or asking pertinent questions? How often are stories broken here, only to be taken up by the SE when it becomes embarrassing for them to continue to ignore them?

IMO, the SE is NOT filling a need and deserves to die. The Mayor doesn't need another mouthpiece to confuse and delude the citizens of Ogden. Having a paper that reports incomplete information or unquestioningly presents outright falsehoods as truth is worse than having no paper at all.

Dap said...

it sounds as though you think a newspaper owes you something. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

The Lovely Jennifer said...

After reading all the above comments about the vegatation-obliterative activity on CP's property, I have one thing to add:

CP - Can you say MUDSLIDE?

The Lovely Jennifer

Curmudgeon said...

On the immediate impact of Mr. Peterson's vegatative-oblitrative activities up mountain: I don't think at this point there are likely to be serious down-slope consequences from his brush and tree cutting, even on the steep slopes depicted in the photos Dan S. put up recently. The roots of the trees and bushes are still in place. The stuff will grow back over time, staring this spring. Run-off not likely to be much affected in the short run over most of the cutting route.

But when Mr. Peterson starts moving dirt and rock to turn his cuttings route into a road, the situation will change dramatically. He will have to move a lot of dirt and rock to turn the cut slopes in Dan's pictures into a road. Thousands of tons and cubic feet. The resulting road, if not properly planned and engineered [particularly if not paved] can become a major pathway to erosion, just as badly planned and maintained trails can become new stream beds, more or less, in wet weather. He'll have to do a lot with retaining walls to stabilize the road, and put a lot of work into arranging for water up-slope from the road to move down-slope safely. [Recall that when Mr. Holding's new public road to Snow Basin went it, after it was ostensibly completed, a portion of it began to move downhill unexpectedly, and they had to back-engineer new stabilization and drainage projects to get the road to stop sliding.] Mr. Peterson will have similar difficulties to deal with, turning his cuttings track into a functioning road.

But at the moment, with the root systems still in place on the cut slopes and no earth or rock displaced, I suspect the erosion risk is minimal or essentially non-existent. For the moment.

dan s. said...


I share your concerns regarding some of the effects of fragmentation of news coverage. But when we step back and look at the big picture, I still think the internet has been, on balance, good for journalism.

Let's remember that a large percentage of Americans never did read a daily newspaper. Many of the folks who are now getting their news mostly from a single TV or radio or internet source probably fall into this category. So the predicted demise of newspapers won't affect them in any direct way.

Even people who subscribe to daily newspapers don't necessarily read them thoroughly. Many folks turn straight to the sports or the funnies or the crossword or Dear Abby.

At the national level, there are plenty of web sites that provide news that's at least as balanced and comprehensive as what you find in a daily newspaper. Those sites aren't all going to suddenly disappear. While I feel sorry for people who choose to ignore those sites and instead get all their news from Drudge or Huffington, we can hardly blame the internet for peoples' narrow-mindedness. Before the internet there were tabloids and talk radio and any number of partisan weekly/monthly newspapers and magazines.

Meanwhile, the internet allows anyone to instantaneously get far more depth of coverage on virtually any topic than they could easily obtain in the past. It also provides an army of volunteers (and professionals) who are doing their best to keep the news media honest, so journalists' mistakes get corrected much more quickly and reliably (at least when the journalists are honest).

At the local level, I think what we've gained from Weber County Forum far outweighs any slight perceived decline in the quality of the Standard-Examiner. I've been subscribing to the S-E for more than 15 years, and it was never very good but at least now there's a place we can post additional information. Example: 15 years ago the S-E wrote an editorial against a proposed trail connecting Beus Pond to the Bonneville Shoreline. The editorial was full of outright lies, saying the trail would be 10 feet wide and open to motorcycles. If that were to happen today, we would instantly post the facts here on wcforum. Would it reach more than a few percent of S-E readers? Of course not. But our readers are among those who are most engaged in local politics, including government officials and, of course, the S-E editors.

Before you moved here, Ogden briefly had an alternative newspaper called the Northern Utah Junction. It provided some important alternative viewpoints that you normally didn't see in the S-E. Of course, it was just a matter of time before the editor pissed off Godfrey and he tried to retaliate by pulling the city's public service advertisements. I don't remember how that turned out but it wasn't long before the paper folded, and I have to wonder whether Godfrey played a role in killing it, perhaps by encouraging local businesses to pull their ads as well. In any case, the Junction had another major drawback which was that it only came out every two months. So although I miss the Junction, I much prefer wcforum where the news is timely, anyone can contribute, and our editor is immune to political pressure.

RudiZink said...

Time for full disclosure. Your blogmeister isn't entirely immune to political pressure. My mom is an avid and regular reader of the blog. :-)

bullet sponge said...

As Dan mentioned, the news landscape will not simply be the disappearance of newspapers, but everything will change, and that will include the way in which people go about reading the news. Yes, people will adjust to getting their news from a wider range of sources. This is a good thing.

We should differentiate between the way in which news is collected, and the delivery system. Yes, papers may disappear, but there will still be a demand for reporters and researchers. Other news services will grow and adjust as needed, and perhaps the area of news gathering will fall more to minions of unpaid local "reporters" and freelance roving ones.

ozboy said...

The biggest problem I see in an all internet news world will be cutting through all the clutter. These damn little 'lectric boxes eat up way too much time already. Half the country seems to have serious addiction problems with the infernal machines. Every where you look people have their faces planted firmly in one screen or another. The real danger is information overload to the point where none of it makes any sense.

And by the way, Rudi IS NOT immune to political pressure. He is a long time card carrying Republican operative who wears red shorts and has Bramble's phone number on his speed dial. The Lil' Lord has also been known to stop in his place for Postum and a chat once in awhile. In fact I have it on good source that Rudi even taught the punk how to drink Near Beer one summer night.

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