In News to track, the Associated Press reports that the wind-power industry isn't being prosecuted for causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of birds, including bald eagles, golden eagles and other raptors. After the report was published, the the House Natural Resources Committee, which is chaired by Washington state U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, vowed to investigate to ensure the wind industry was held to the same level of accountability as other industries.
And the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to allow a California wind farm to kill or injure one endangered California condor is proving to be a controversial one.
This week the U.S. Interior Department released revised rules for companies using the drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, opening up a 30-day comment period on the regulations. It's likely Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead will comment on the regulations, since he's already made it known that he believes the regulations are unnecessary, given Wyoming's rules on the drilling method.
Study uncovers the restoration realities in Montana
April 15, 2013
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Christine Byl's "Dirt Work: An education in the woods
May 15, 2013
We invite readers to listen to Mountain West Voices, a radio program that profiles an individual or community in the Rocky Mountain West, introducing listeners to the compelling stories that are part of the human landscape of our region.
Yellowstone Public Radio will broadcast Mountain West Voices at 7 a.m. on Sunday. This weekSapphire Carter's mother told her she would have to learn to "walk in two worlds." That was before the Chippewa-Cree student from the Rocky Boy's Indian Reservation had won the prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship.
Sapphire surprised her parents by opting to enroll at Carroll College, a Catholic liberal arts college in Helena, Montana, where non-white students are rare.
Tune into Yellowstone Public Radio at 7 a.m. on Sunday, or if you miss the Sunday morning broadcast, you can always listen online via the Mountain West Voices' website.
House panel begins digging into wind-power's pass on eagle deaths
On Tuesday, the House Natural Resources Committee announced it plans to find out why the wind energy industry has seemingly received a pass from the Obama administration for killing hundreds of thousands of birds, including eagles.
Denver Post (AP); 5/15/2013
- Wildlife advocates fight decision to allow Calif. wind farm to 'take' 1 condorU.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials acknowledge that the federal agency's decision to allow the Terra-Gen Power's 318-megawatt Alta East wind farm in California's Kern County to kill or injure one endangered California condor will be controversial, and wildlife advocates are challenging the decision as a slippery slope.
U.S. Interior Department releases new version of hydraulic-fracturing regs
The new proposed federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing were released by the U.S. Interior Department on Thursday, and public comment will be taken for 30 days, but environmental groups already said the new rules, which allow companies to shield some chemicals used in the process from disclosure, are too lax, and the oil and gas industry are already saying the regulations are too onerous.
New York Times; 5/17/2013
- Wyoming gets a head's up on federal fracking rules
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell called Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead to give him a brief description of federal rules on hydraulic fracturing, rules Mead said are not needed given the state's regulations on the drilling process.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/17/2013
Resort development near Canmore ignites concerns about wildlife
PricewaterhouseCoopers Inc.'s proposed development in Alberta near Canmore would be the largest resort development in the history of the Rockies, adding 2,549 residential units, 1,000 resort accommodation units and two hotels with 250 rooms each on 1,111 acres.
Calgary Herald; 5/13/2013
Colorado women's prison worst in nation for staff assault of inmates
The U.S. Justice Department's report, "Sexual Victimization in Prisons and Jails Reported by Inmates 2011-12," released today said the Denver Women's Correctional Facility in Colorado had the highest rate of reported assaults of inmates by staff.
Denver Post; 5/16/2013
Colorado group declares 'The driving boom is over'
A report released Tuesday by the Colorado Public Interest Research Group Foundation tracks the Millennial generation's waning interest in driving, and the group says it's time policy makers adjust their focus on divvying up transportation funds.
Denver Post; 5/15/2013
Suncor spill in Colorado proving tough to stop, clean up
Despite months of work and investigation, the spill from Suncor's oil refinery in Colorado is keeping benzene levels in the South Platte River six times higher than the national safety standard.
Denver Post; 5/16/2013
Colorado town passes ordinance requiring residents own a gun
The Nucla Town Board voted 5-1 to approve a new law that requires residents of the southwestern Colorado burg to own a gun, although the new rule provides some exceptions to the rule.
Denver Post (Montrose Daily Press); 5/17/2013
Utah water board asks Gov. Herbert to reconsider Nevada agreement
The Utah Water Development Commission voted Tuesday to formally ask Utah Gov. Gary Herbert to revisit his decision to decline to sign a water-sharing agreement with Nevada, and to provide the water panel with his response before the commission meets again in June.
Salt Lake Tribune; 5/15/2013
USFS, U. of Montana team up to document ancient sites near Missoula
The Lolo National Forest has teamed up with a team of archaeologists from the University of Montana to document ancient sites in the upper reaches of the Rattlesnake near Missoula, and this summer the team will return to an area where a projectile point dating back 2,000 years was found last year.
Montana tribe says ousted chairman of business council won't be reinstated
Former Chippewa Cree Business Committee Chairman Ken Blatt St. Marks is seeking a restraining order to delay an election held by the tribe in Montana until St. Marks is reinstated as a candidate, but the tribe's Election committee said St. Marks will remain ineligible to run.
Great Falls Tribune; 5/17/2013
Youngest defendant in Crow corruption case in Montana to plead guilty
Martin Lloyd Old Horn, the youngest of the seven defendants on Montana's Crow Reservation facing federal corruption charges, has reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); 5/17/2013
Montana state judge declines to overturn Ted Turner's bison deal
In a ruling three weeks ago, Gallatin County Judge Holly Brown declined to overturn the deal between the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks and Ted Turner that allowed the transfer of bison from Yellowstone National Park to Turner's ranch near Bozeman for five years in exchange for 75 percent of the calves born during that time; Western Watersheds Project, the Buffalo Field Campaign, the Gallatin Wildlife Association and the Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation said they will appeal that decision.
Missoulian (Bozeman Daily Chronicle); 5/13/2013
Montana group asks federal appeals court to block bison hazing
Last year, Helena-based Alliance for the Wild Rockies won a temporary injunction that halted the use of helicopters to haze bison that wandered out of Yellowstone National Park into Montana back into the park, but failed to get a permanent injunction on such hazing, and now the group is taking their request that such hazing be permanently halted to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Helena Independent Record; 5/15/2013
USFWS's plan for N. Rockies grizzlies takes zonal approach
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's draft management plan for grizzly bears in the Northern Rockies should federal protections for that population of bears be removed divides the ecosystem into three zones, the first that stretches from wilderness areas in the north to Missoula, Kalispell, Browning and Choteau; the second zone is south of Highway 200 to Bozeman; and Zone 3 contains the plains and mountain ranges near Great Falls, extending east as far as Havre, Fort Benton and Big Timber.
Report links dietary changes of grizzly bears to elk calf deaths in Yellowstone
A new paper published this week links the drop in the number of elk calves in Yellowstone National Park and surrounding areas to the decrease in cutthroat trout in Yellowstone Lake, which forced grizzly bears that fed on the tasty trout to find another food source.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/15/2013
Montana FWP forced to kill wounded grizzly bear
During a monitoring flight earlier this month, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks regional grizzly bear management specialist Tim Manley observed a grizzly bear dragging its hind legs, and after putting the bear down, discovered it had been shot.
Kalispell Daily InterLake; 5/14/2013
NPCA wants wolf hunting banned in parkway between 2 Wyoming parks
The National Parks Conservation Association has petitioned the National Park Service to ban wolf hunting in the John D. Rockefeller Jr. Memorial Parkway, which lies between Grand Teton and Yellowstone national parks in Wyoming.
Jackson Hole Daily; 5/16/2013
Annual survey in Montana's Bitterroot Valley finds more elk
The annual spring aerial survey of Montana's Bitterroot Valley found 7,373 elk, up from the 6,238 elk counted last year, and the fourth highest number since the survey began 48 years ago.
Ravalli Republic; 5/17/2013
Groups sue to stop timber sale in Kootenai National Forest in Montana
Environmental groups are challenging the U.S. Forest Service's analysis of the Young Dodge project in the Cabinet-Yaak region of the Kootenai National Forest in Montana that the project would not harm either grizzly bears or lynx.
USFWS plan for Idaho wildlife refuge sparks water fight with Canyon County
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working on its management plan for the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge in Idaho that includes rules for the 9,000-acre Lake Lowell, but on Tuesday, the Canyon County Commission laid out its position that the lake belongs to the irrigators and the state, and the county will not enforce any federal rules on the lake, and will withdraw any aid provided to the refuge should federal agents be brought in to enforce on-water rules.
Idaho Statesman; 5/15/2013
BLM proposes leasing of 26,402 acres in Utah for tar sands development
Public comment will be taken through June 13 on the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's proposal to lease 26,402 acres of land on Asphalt Ridge in Utah directly south of an existing tar sands strip mine and processing plant on private lands and adjacent to 16,000 acres of Utah School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration leased for such development.
Deseret News; 5/16/2013
Wyoming sale of oil, gas leases brings in $10.4 million
On May 8, Wyoming auctioned off oil and gas leases covering 82,970 acres of state lands for $10.4 million.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); 5/16/2013
BLM completes series of meetings on Montana Hi-Line management plan
Monday evening's meeting in Great Falls was the last of five the Bureau of Land Management hosted to gather public comment on its proposed management plan for 2.4 million acres of public land along Montana's Hi-Line, with 140 people in total attending the five meetings that addressed sage grouse habitat and energy development.
Great Falls Tribune; 5/14/2013
Interior, Agriculture secretaries discuss funding cuts, wildfire work
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell were the bearers of bad news in Boise on Monday, where they said Bureau of Land Management funds for fuels reduction may have to be diverted to fight wildfires. Editor's note: Contains a sidebar about the possibility of making the Boulder-White Clouds area of the state a national monument.
Idaho Statesman; 5/14/2013
Wildfire risk above normal for SW Montana, N. Idaho
On Monday, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack held a telephone conference with reporters and said that the national assessment for wildfire risk found above-normal risk conditions in southwestern Montana and northern Idaho for the season, where federal budget cuts will mean hundreds of fewer wildfire fighters on the line.
Missoulian and Associated Press; 5/14/2013
Montana man charged with setting wildfires had volunteered as fireman
Frederick James Maw V, 18, is charged with 12 counts of arson for allegedly setting a series of wildfires near Helena, Mont.
Helena Independent Record; 5/17/2013
Montana wildfire destroys 5 homes near Philipsburg
Investigators suspect the 350-acre Rumsey Gulch Fire in Montana that has destroyed five homes near Philipsburg may have been started by a downed power line caused by high winds. Contains a sidebar on the 75-acre fire near Wise River.
Montana Standard; 5/15/2013
Wildfire season arrives amid uncertainty on status of air tanker fleet
U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said that since six of the seven next-generation air tankers may not be ready to fight wildfires this season, the agency will rely on military air tankers to fill the void, but Tom Harbour, the Forest Service's national director of fire aviation management, later said those planes may not be certified for such action.
Utah needs to take 'Serenity Prayer' approach to air quality
In its effort to establish a baseline for airborne pollutants, the Utah Division of Air Quality found that pollution levels found in only the largest cities in the nation exist nearly everywhere in Utah, where the state's topography traps emissions from all sorts of human activity, and since we can't change the configurations of our geography, we simply must change what gets spewed into our skies.
Salt Lake Tribune; 5/16/2013
Wyoming needs policy changes to power up hydroelectric resources
The Idaho National Laboratory estimates that Wyoming has 500 megawatts of undeveloped hydropower, but before that resource can be tapped, the state needs to remove unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/17/2013
Mining faces a changing landscape in Nevada
Nevada is now the third-most urbanized state in the United States, and the dizzying population growth of Las Vegas between 1990 and 2010 has created somewhat of a north-south divide, with mining companies in the northern half of the state holding on to the heritage that built the Silver State, and the newcomers from California and Latinos in Las Vegas and Clark County starting to flex their political will and calling for mining to pay more in taxes. An analysis.
The Economist; 5/17/2013
daho's forests, desert lands face different wildfire futures
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack will be in Idaho at the National Interagency Fire Center this week, and on the agenda, will be the increased risk of wildfire due to higher temperatures, less moisture and fuels buildup, but the forests and the sagebrush steppe desert in southern Idaho have dramatically different fire risk, due to fuels reduction efforts undertaken by the Boise National Forest. A column by Rocky Barker.
Idaho Statesman; 5/13/2013
Wyoming governor rolls out state's energy strategy
On Monday, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead released the 47-step energy strategy for the state, that covers four separate subgroups of policies, including economic competitiveness, expansion and diversification; efficient, effective regulation; natural resource conservation, reclamation and mitigation; and education, innovation and new technologies.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/15/2013
Federal lawmakers in Colorado discuss IRS's targeting of Tea Party groups
Both the Western Slope Conservative Alliance and the Colorado Tea Party Patriots believe their applications for 501(c)(4) status were among those targeted by the Internal Revenue Service, a campaign Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton called an outrageous abuse of power, but U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, cautioned that the debate not lose sight of the fact that some groups organized as charities under section 501(c)4 of the Tax Code engage in illegal political activity.
Denver Post; 5/15/2013
Montana senators sponsor bill to increase veterans' access to farming
Armed with the knowledge that nearly half the people serving in the military come from rural backgrounds, Montana U.S. Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester are sponsoring a measure incorporated into the Farm Bill that would give veterans preference in farming programs, as well as other measures designed to make it easier for veterans to find jobs in the agriculture sector.
Great Falls Tribune; 5/13/2013
U.S. Senate passes amendment on Missouri River access fees
Senators from Montana and the Dakotas sponsored an amendment to the 2013 Water Resources Development Act that would prohibit the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation from charging fees to access water held in upper Missouri River reservoirs, and on Wednesday, the entire bill passed and is now headed to the U.S. House.
Great Falls Tribune (AP); 5/16/2013
On July 1, Idaho agribusinesses will get more protections
Idaho's petting zoos, pumpkin patches and other agritourism sites will get additional protection from claims from visitors when the Idaho Agritourism Promotion Act takes effect July 1.
Idaho Statesman; 5/13/2013
Federal judge puts Utah law limiting USFS, BLM enforcement authority on hold
A federal district court judge issued an order Monday that temporarily blocks HB 155, which makes it a class B misdemeanor for federal employees who are not certified law enforcement officials to enforce state laws on federal lands, from becoming law.
Salt Lake Tribune; 5/14/2013
Wyoming legislators debate fate of 1,200 'orphaned' CBM wells
The issue of coalbed methane wells that need to be plugged and reclaimed was again on the minds of Wyoming legislators, who met earlier this week with industry representatives and officials from Anadarko Petroleum and the Powder River Basin Resource Council about how to address the estimated 1,200 "orphaned" wells.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/16/2013
Wyoming legislators briefed on baseline water test regs for energy industry
Jerimiah Rieman, Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead's natural resources policy adviser, provided some details about new rules for oil and gas operators to obtain baseline water tests before drilling to members of the Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development committee.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/16/2013
Sheridan company's oil mine near Thermopolis its second in Wyoming
New Era first tried mining for oil in Wyoming near Greybull, and using lessons learned and the success of that first project, the Sheridan-based company is now mining for oil near Thermopolis.
Casper Star-Tribune; 5/13/2013
Wyoming mine began producing uranium Monday
Cheyenne-based Cameco Resources' North Butte Mine near Wright began producing uranium on Monday, and the Wyoming company announced plans to open two more uranium mines in Wyoming and three in Nebraska in the next few years.
Denver Post (AP); 5/15/2013
Idaho company strives to avoid 'Frankenfood' fight that torpedoed Monsanto's spud
Twelve years ago, McDonald's rejected Monsanto's New Leaf potato, which used genes from synthetic bacteria to kill Colorado potato beetles among other things, and J.R. Simplot Co. hopes to avoid such a rejection of its five varieties of potatoes that are genetically engineered to not develop ugly black bruises using just potato DNA.
Idaho Statesman (AP); 5/15/2013
Idaho officials say stable jobless rate due to decrease in workforce
The unemployment rate in Idaho remained at 6.1 percent in April, unchanged from that in March, and state Department of Labor officials said the number of people working or looking for work in the state declined again last month, the fourth consecutive month the labor force posted a decrease.
Idaho Statesman (AP); 5/17/2013
Colorado's jobless rate fell again in April
The unemployment rate in Colorado continued its downward trend in April, falling from 7.1 in March to 6.9 percent in April, with the most jobs gained in the professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, and education and health services.
Denver Post; 5/17/2013
Utah reported above-average job growth in April
The unemployment rate in Utah in April fell for the third consecutive month, with the addition of 43,100 jobs between April 2012 and last month crediting for bringing the jobless rate down to 4.7 percent.
Salt Lake Tribune; 5/17/2013
Carbon dioxide passes level long feared
Scientists reported Friday that the level of carbon dioxide surpassed the 400 parts per million, a level not seen on Earth for millions of years.
New York Times; 5/11/2013
Study finds fish have been seeking cooler waters for decades
Researchers from the University of British Columbia published the results of a study that looked back to the 1970s and found that fish and other sea life have been on the move to cooler waters since that time.
Washington Post; 5/16/2013
Companies seek office space close to Wall Street's data centers
In stock market trades milliseconds count, and that's why companies are paying top dollar for office space in northern New Jersey, where the data centers and digital systems of Wall Street and other markets are located.
New York Times; 5/14/2013
Arizona judge declines to revisit mining ban around Grand Canyon
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge David Campbell rejected a request from mining companies that the federal judge in Arizona reconsider his decision that the Interior Department had the authority to ban new hard rock mining claims on a million acres of federal lands around the Grand Canyon that contain high-grade uranium ore reserves.
Arizona Daily Sun (AP); 5/17/2013