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Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Thursday, July 31, 2014
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, Colorado ranked first in the nation in an analysis for homes at risk of wildfire.

CoreLogic reviewed a variety of factors in assessing risk, including fuel available to feed a fire, the direction a property faces, as well as slope and elevation of the land, as well as the fire history of the area.

While Idaho has more actual acreage burned by wildfires annually, Colorado was found to have one in 10 homes at high risk due to wildfires.

Montana ranked second with slightly more than 9 percent of its homes at high risk.

Also in the news, a Texas-based oil company releases its second-quarter report that cites production in Colorado is up 24 percent from the same quarter last year.

And in our Opinion section, High Country news correspondent Sarah Jane Keller provides more information about the recent study about the dramatic loss of groundwater in the Southwest U.S.

Rockies today

Colorado ranks first in nation for homes at risk from wildfire
CoreLogic, a California company that compiles financial and real estate data, found that more than 200,000 homes, about one in 10, in Colorado were at high risk from wildfire; Montana ranked second with 9.1 percent of homes at such risk, and Oregon ranked third.
Denver Post; July 31

B.C. signs off on Seabridge's proposed gold, copper mine project
Toronto-based Seabridge Gold Corp. must still get federal approval for its proposed $5.3-billion KSM gold and copper mine in Northwest British Columbia, where it faces international opposition as operations would take place in watersheds that drain into the Tongass National Forest in Alaska, and the company is also in need of a financing partner for the project to go forward.
Vancouver Sun; July 31

Anadarko reports oil production in Rocky Mountain West up 24 percent
Texas-based Anadarko Petroleum's second-quarter report released Wednesday showed a $266 million profit, due in part to the company's strong on-shore drilling operations, primarily in northeastern Colorado, although its operations in Wyoming's Powder River Basin continued steady production.
Casper Star-Tribune; July 31

Separate lawsuits cite different deadlines for Utah counties to asser road claims
Utah is making claims on roads across federal lands in 22 counties covering thousands of miles of roads, and the federal government has asked a judge to dismiss the claims of Garfield County on the basis of a 12-year statute of limitations that began to run in the 1980s when various areas were listed in the Federal Register as wilderness study areas, but in a lawsuit filed in state court on Wednesday by the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance challenging Tooele County's claims to roads, SUWA attorneys charge that state law gives counties seven years to file claims.
Salt Lake Tribune; July 31

Yellowstone NP takes public comment on new bison quarantine program
Two public meetings on Yellowstone National Park's new quarantine program for bison will be held, one in Gardiner on Aug. 18 and another in Bozeman on Aug. 19, and public comment will be taken through Sept. 12 on the proposal that would hold bison in a facility at a location to be determined until they are determined to be brucellosis free and then relocated to areas outside the park.
Flathead Beacon (AP); July 31

National forest in Montana ramps up outreach for help in tracking species
Last year, the Helena National Forest and the Montana Discovery Foundation teamed up last year for a soft rollout of a project enlisting volunteers to report plants and animals they spotted on the nearly 1 million acres in the state, and this year, a more vigorous campaign is underway including the use of the iNaturalist smartphone app or mailing a postcard to report species.
Helena Independent Record; July 31

Wolf management complicates conservation deal in Idaho
Idaho Fish and Game and Blaine County are negotiating how best to manage wolves on a 16-square mile ranch the two entities are in the process of buying from the Wood River Land Trust, and at present, the Idaho county's stance that lethal means be a last-resort solution to wolves preying on livestock grazing on that land, has stalled those negotiations.
Twin Falls Times-News; July 31

New federal rules on coal mines take effect Aug. 1
New regulations designed to minimize coal dust in the nation's coal mines take effect on Friday, and while the Mine Safety and Health Administration tout the new rules as a step toward protecting coal miners' health, the National Mining Association said the rules are aimed at a non-existent problem and is challenging the rules in court.
Denver Post; July 31


Colorado congressman grills EPA official over Clean Water proposal
U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton from Colorado was among House Republicans who questioned U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe at a hearing before the House's Small Business Committee on the EPA's proposed change to the Clean Water Act to clarify regulatory authority under the act after two conflicting Supreme Court decisions rendered in 2001 and 2006.
Durango Herald; July 31

Denver-based property rights groups wades into Montana water fight
Mountain States Legal Foundation, a Denver-based nonprofit group whose mission is to "individual liberty, the right to own and use property, limited and ethical government, and the free enterprise system," has often interceded on the opposing side of issues involving Native American rights, and the group is now involved in the long-running water dispute on the Flathead Indian Reservation on the side of irrigators being sued by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Missoula Independent; July 31


Colorado River Basin study sparks concerns about aquifers
After a study of the Colorado River Basin indicated a "shocking" reduction of groundwater in that basin, water experts agree that making the public aware of the "invisible" water problem is the first step in reducing demand on the aquifers. A GoatBlog column Sarah Jane Keller, a High Country News correspondent based in Bozeman, Mont.
High Country News; July 31

Park City needs ski companies to work out Utah ski area fiasco
Businesses in and around Park City depend upon the skiers and snowboarders that flock to Park City Mountain Resort in the winter, a fact that both Powdr Corp. and Talisker should keep front and center when negotiating a deal to allow the resort to open this winter as the lease dispute makes its way through court.
Salt Lake Tribune; July 31

Beyond the region

Number of beef cattle in U.S. lowest since 1973
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that on July 1 the number of beef cattle in the country was the lowest since records began being kept in 1973, and prices continued their march upwards.
Salt Lake Tribune (Bloomberg News); July 31

Texas company divests share of LNG project in British Columbia
In its second-quarter report, Texas-based Apache Corp. announced it was withdrawing from the liquefied natural gas project it was developing with Chevron Corp. in Kitimat, B.C., as well as another LNG project in Australia, due in part to investor pressure to sell some assets.
Calgary Herald (Canadian Press); July 31

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"I t is discouraging that they want President Obama to abuse that authority on lands in a state they don’t live in or represent in the Senate."

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Grizzlies on my mind


Mountain West Perspectives
New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin
New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin


Mountain West Voices
Hear weekly stories from the Rocky Mountain West as gathered by Clay Scott

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West

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The University of Montana