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Avalanche Center Fall Update

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Old October 8th 03, 07:54 PM
Avalanche Center
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Default Avalanche Center Fall Update

An Update from the Avalanche Center
October 2, 2003

Online in html: http://www.csac.org/Organization/updates/
Translations: http://world.altavista.com/

(To translate this update enter the webpage URL above and then follow
the link on the translated page.)

This is a brief update on what is new and upcoming on the internet
Avalanche Center, http://www.csac.org/

Quick Contents:

General News
Avalanche Store - Logo Items on Sale!
Incidents Section Improvements
Education Section, Course listings
News and Updates Section - NEW!
How You Can Help - Current Needs
General News

Welcome to the first Avalanche Center update for the 2003-2004 season!
While most people stopped thinking about snow and avalanches over the
summer those of us behind the scenes at the CSAC have continued to
pursue a number of things to help keep this project at the forefront
of avalanche awareness and information dissemination.

While most of the information below focuses on website improvements we
spent a lot of the summer preparing a generic proposal to seek small
grants for operating funds from foundations. This was finally
completed and sent out to about 20 potential sources of support.

Avalanche safety is a hard thing to fund - the outdoor industry has
shown very limited interest, foundations often prefer to support youth
programs or social services (especially in the current economic
climate), and government agencies involved in recreational avalanche
safety in the US are unfunded or underfunded and left to fundraise for
themselves. Given that most avalanche fatalities in North America
today are recreationalists who purchase skis, snowboards, snowmobiles,
etc and who go into the backcountry by choice it is hard to make a
case that our safety is the responsibility of anyone other than
ourselves. Individual contributions remain one of our most important
source of support.

Along with the proposal writing we also spent some time on
organizational development. We have reassembled a new Board of
Directors and most of a new set of Officers. The entire Organizational
Info (or About Us) section of the website has been reviewed, brought
up to date and revamped. There is information there about our board,
officers and staff and this will be expanded as we continue to

Avalanche Store - Logo Items on Sale!

CSAC shirts and decals are on sale for our cost or close to it. Your
purchase of products with the very cool skiing skeleton logo now will
help our early season cash flow as well as promote this resource as
winter approaches. How long these items will be on sale will depend on
the volume of orders and the size of the inventory and the sale may
end at any time without advance notice, so buy soon!

We have also verified products and prices for the coming season. Most
existing products will still be available and only a few prices were
adjusted. There are some new products out and we will be adding these
to the web store this fall. Remember that we can sell any items in any
of the product lines we carry - if you would like a new item which has
not yet been posted or a non-avalanche item such as a pack please
inquire. (Many of the companies whose avalanche gear we carry also
make other items, but we only post and directly promote avalanche
safety gear. However, the other items can be special ordered on

Your purchases through our store help fund our avalanche awareness

Incidents Section Improvements

The most recent improvements have involved our search features. By
using new php scripting (with a lot of trial an error) we have been
able to significantly improve our incident searching. Instead of
choosing a month and year searches are now based on the selection of a
date range, along with state/country and activity. We plan to add a
key to allow searches for incidents with a number of fatalities within
a specified range as well. The initial search results are now
automatically ordered by date, but they can be reordered by clicking
on the appropriate column heading. The results page also indicates how
many records were found in the search.

We are still reserving full search capabilities for contributors, but
the public search page incorporates these new developments and now
lists the first 10 results rather than 5. (When sorting the results
all results found are included so the 10 incidents listed may not be
the same.) The full version in the contributors section returns all
records found and also gives the total number of fatalities.

Our incidents database now contains the past three seasons with a
total of well over 400 accident reports. In addition to continuing to
add reports during the coming year we are working on going back
further as well and hope to have our 1999-2000 reports be included in
searches later this fall.

Education Section - Course Listings

In our Education Section we have been adding course listings as they
come in. Several guide services have submitted their courses and there
is already a good selection for Colorado and California with a few
entries for other states as well.

We are continuing to make our course listing searchable and have
applied some of the same improvements developed for incident
searching. Courses can now be search for a given date range as well as
by state and level. Like incident results these are returned ordered
by date but can then be resorted by other parameters (such as location
or cost) by clicking the appropriate column heading.

New additions to our educational content are being considered, some of
which may be possible with a bit more php script work. Online lessons
or tutorials are something that has been considered for many years now
and we would like to implement some things along those lines if we
can. However, doing this right takes a great deal of planning, page
design, and scripting. The reason we have not done this so far is that
doing it right would take more resources than we have, and if we can't
do it right we'd rather not present a poor effort. Maybe this will be
the year to introduce something like this, we'll see.

News and Updates Section - NEW!

There is a new section this year for updates and news stories. The
navigation bar icon for this is a rotating snowflake, which is now on
the bar at the bottom of all the other main section pages. This
section will contain information on what is new on the site as well as
news stories.

As we search around for incident information we are finding more news
stories related in some way to avalanches but not to accidents. This
section is an effort to start posting that information, as well as
relevant press releases for things like events and equipment, in one

We have always had a "What's New" page but it has rarely been updated.
This season there should be some news posted there periodically. This
will be general overview information, not page-level details. There is
also a script which will list every page updated in the past 7 days
which can be found in this section. This is a good way to see exactly
what has been changed or added, although it does not distinguish
between formatting updates and content changes. (One of these days we
will change it to let viewers select the number of days to check,
rather than using only 7 as it does now.)

How You Can Help - Current Needs

There are a number of specific tasks, many of them small, which we
could use help with. Please contact us if you can help with any of the
following tasks:

Verify course providers - In our Education Section course listings
each state has a list of providers above the specific courses. These
have not been verified in a long time. It would be nice if somebody in
each of these states could verify the contact information with the
providers so that we can keep it up to date, and also to see if there
are additional providers or contacts which should be listed. For
states or countries not listed we will be glad to begin a page if
somebody wants to submit information for it.

Auction - The annual online fundraising auction will take place again
this year in early December. (More on this in future updates!) For the
next two months we will be canvassing the outdoor industry for donated
goods to auction off. Many of you reading this update have the
potential to help us find items to auction. If you work in the outdoor
industry, retailing, or other related fields please consider talking
to the appropriate people about donating one or more items. Or suggest
it to your local retailer. We commonly receive items which are brand
new but difficult to retail because they are last years model. As a
501c3 organization items contributed to us should be tax deductible.

Contributions and Matching - Making a contribution to help support our
work helps us a great deal, but many people could enhance that benefit
greatly by obtaining matching funds from their employer. Many
companies have such programs, although in the current economic climate
they may be less common than in the past. For the past four seasons we
have received matching contributions, but typically only two or three
per season. Companies participating in the past include Patagonia,
Safeco, Microsoft, and Hewlitt-Packard.

************************************************** *********
Cyberspace Snow and Avalanche Center (CSAC)

************************************************** *********

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