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Flathead Valley Cherry Trees
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Thursday, Sept. 18, 2014
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, Utah, Colorado and Wyoming rule the headlines today.

A San Juan County commissioner is among five people charged in Utah for an illegal ATV ride in Recapture Canyon in May.

Commissioner Phil Lyman and four others were charged with trespass and conspiracy due to their roles in organizing and promoting the ride to protest the Bureau of Land Management's closure of the canyon to motorized traffic due to damage caused by illegal trails.

The Utah Foundation released its report on the state's water future that recommends charging residents more to help pay for needed infrastructure and to help encourage conservation.

Gov. Gary Herbert said he's confident that there will be no national monument designation in Utah, given his conversation with top Obama administration officials last week, who assured him that they'll await the outcome of the sweeping Public Lands Initiative currently being put together by U.S. Reps. Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz.

The House Natural Resources Committee is taking up the Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act today, but a change made by Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton that removed a paragraph about future uses of the land protected has groups and citizens who worked to build the consensus bill angry.

A couple of federal reports highlighted recent economic gains in the Rocky Mountain West, with the U.S. Census Bureau reporting Wyoming ranked first in percentage gain in median income growth and Utah ranked third, and the U.S. Commerce credited oil and gas development in the Rocky Mountain West for spurring gains in the GDP of Greeley, Colo., to the second highest in the nation in 2013, while Casper, Wyo., ranked 11th among metropolitan areas and Billings, Mont., was ranked 12th.

Rockies today

Utah county commissioner, others charged for illegal ATV ride in May
On Thursday, acting U.S. Attorney Carlie Christensen filed formal charges against San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman and four others who helped organize and promote an illegal ATV ride through Utah's Recapture Canyon in May.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 18

Report recommends Utahns should pay more for water
The Utah Foundation released its report, "Flowing Toward 2050: Utah's Water Outlook" on Wednesday that said population growth over the next 35 years will surpass the state's current water supplies by the late 2030s, that smaller water companies in the state may have to begin rationing water by 2020, and the report recommended raising the rates paid by Utahns for water to encourage conservation.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 18

Census Bureau ranks Wyoming, first Utah third in income increases
In a report issued today, the U.S. Census Bureau said Wyoming led the nation with a 5.7 percent increase in median-annual income between 2012 and 2013, Alaska came in second with a 5.3 percent increase, and Utah third with a 3.3 percent increase, all far higher than the 0.6 percent increase nationally.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 18

Wyoming city ranked 11th in U.S. cities for GDP growth
The U.S. Dept. of Commerce released a report Tuesday that said Greeley, Colo., ranked second in the nation for GDP growth in 2013, Casper, Wyo., ranked 11th, and Billings, Mont., 12th.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 18

Colorado-based Anschutz returns to Wyoming oilfields with land swap
Anschutz Corp. turned the Anschutz Ranch Field near Evanston into one of the largest oil fields in the Rocky Mountains in the 1980s, and with a land swap with Bill Barrett Corp. announced on Wednesday that gives Anschutz 30,000 acres in Wyoming's Powder River Basin in exchange for nearly 8,000 acres in the Wattenberg Field in Colorado.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 18

Summer business in Colorado mountain town to again outpace winter
Given the high mountain location of Telluride in southwest Colorado, businesses usually rang up their highest sales until winter, but that changed in 2012, when summer revenues were higher, and then summer outpaced winter again in 2013, and appears to be doing so again.
Denver Post; Sept. 18

Utah governor says federal officials promise no new monuments
Last week, Utah Gov. Gary Herbert met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, and he was assured by her and other top Obama administration officials that the administration will hold off on any national monument designation to allow Congress to work on a comprehensive public lands initiative championed by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 18

Colorado congressman's change of watershed bill angers groups
The Hermosa Creek Watershed Protection Act was written by community consensus, and Colorado U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton's decision to remove a paragraph addressing how the land conveyed under the act may be used in the future has angered groups and residents of San Juan and La Plata county who worked on the group, but Rep. Tipton's office said the change did not alter the intent of the bill, which will be marked up in the House Committee on Natural Resources today.
Durango Herald; Sept. 18


Utah group appeals water permit for nuclear plant
HEAL Utah filed an appeal in the Utah Court of Appeals asking that a state court decision issued last November, which granted the developer of a proposed nuclear power plant water rights to Green River water to use for cooling purposes, be overturned, with the appeal charging that Blue Castle Holdings was using the water rights to sell investors on the project and questioning if the volume of water granted to the project can be supported by the river.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 18

Group effort revitalizes Montana's Sun River, fishery
Over the past 20 years, private landowners along the Sun River, the Fort Shaw and Greenfield irrigation districts, Trout Unlimited and others have worked to improve irrigation systems to allow more water to remain in the Montana river, improve riparian areas to reduce sediment flow into the river, and remove old car bodies from the river, all which have improved the river and the trout that now inhabit it.
Great Falls Tribune; Sept. 18


Challengers in Wyoming gubernatorial race should focus on substance
Debates are a good way to inform voters of candidates' stance on a wide variety of issues, but the candidates who are challenging Gov. Matt Mead this November, Democrat Pete Gosar and independent Don Wills, appear to be focusing on the number of times Mead will debate with them, rather than the more important substance of such meetings.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 18

Lack of debates in federal races shows disrespect for Montana voters
Montana voters deserve better from the candidates seeking the open U.S. Senate and U.S. House seats, and Republicans Steve Daines and Ryan Zinke, and Democrats Amanda Curtis and John Lewis, should make every effort to schedule additional debates than the one in each race currently scheduled.
Helena Independent Record; Sept. 18

Beyond the region

Wildfire in N. California more than doubles in size overnight
A wildfire in Northern California near Pollock Pines grew from 44 square miles on Wednesday to 111 square miles early Thursday morning, and Gov. Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency to allow access to funds to fight that fire and another near Weed that destroyed 110 homes and damaged another 90 earlier this week.
New York Times (AP); Sept. 18

Oregon wildfire near Estacada now 30 percent contained
Cooler temperatures and light rain helped wildland firefighters battling the Pit 36 Fire in Oregon get lines around the 4,104-acre wildfire.
Portland Oregonian; Sept. 18

Crude production in U.S. hits highest level since 1986
According to Energy Information Administration data, production of U.S. crude hit 8.838 million barrels per day last week, the highest reported since March of 1986.
Salt Lake Tribune (Bloomberg News); Sept. 18

Chevron first company to meet voluntary shale drilling standards
The Center for Sustainable Shale developed voluntary shale gas drilling standards that go beyond state requirements in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, and on Thursday, the Pittsburgh-based center announced the Chevron had met those standards at its production sites in those three states.
New York Times (AP); Sept. 18

USDA OKs 2,4-D resistant corn, soybeans
With weeds becoming more resistant to Round-up, farmers have been pushing the U.S. Department of Agriculture to approve corn and soybeans genetically modified to be resistant to the herbicide known as 2,4-D, and the federal agency has done so, but there is opposition to the approval because of concerns 2,4-D may present to the environment and human health.
New York Times; Sept. 18

Statistics Canada releases population trends for next 50 years
On Wednesday, Statistics Canada released a snapshot of the country's population trends over the next 50 years, with the population expected to increase by 28.3 million people by the end of 2063 to 63.5 million, with 25 percent of those residents aged 65 or older.
Toronto Globe and Mail; Sept. 18

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"O nly Utah uses water and property taxes to lower the price of water. It incentivizes and encourages people to use, and therefore, waste water."

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