Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Friday, June 22, 2012
produced daily by Shellie Nelson
In the Rockies today, the New York Times takes a look at the dilemma faced by the U.S. Forest Service, as aging air tankers are pulled from service as demand for aerial support on wildfires raging across the West grows.
And the U.S. Forest Service is about to conduct tests on the effectiveness of dumping water versus retardant on wildfires, as the debate about the use of retardant continues.
And again, we provide updates on the wildfires burning in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming in our In-depth section.
Also in the news, Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson will again try to stop the closure of some areas of the Payette National Forest to sheep grazing.
The forest is phasing in such closures to protect wild sheep from disease carried by domestic sheep.
If you're interested in learning more about the largest public collection of automated music machines in North America, which happens to be located in Nevada City, Mont., then tune in Sunday at 7 a.m. to hear the latest broadcast of Mountain West Voices on Yellowstone Public Radio.
Clay Scott talks with Mike Edwards, who is one of only a handful of people in the world with the know-how to keep the rare, intricate and fragile machines running.
If you miss Sunday morning's broadcast, you can listen to the program online via the Mountain West Voices' website.
Fierce wildfire season forces USFS to address aging air tanker fleet
Since 1999, aviation accidents have killed 63 wildland firefighters, far more than flames, heat, falling trees or traffic accidents, and with only a handful of air tankers still flying at a time when wildfires are predicted to become larger and more intense, the U.S. Forest Service is taking some steps to bring on more modern air tankers.
New York Times;
Debate continues to rage over use of fire retardant in wildfire fights
The U.S. Forest Service has new rules on where fire retardant can be used in fighting wildfires to protect endangered species, but the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, which sued to stop the use of retardant, still questions its use.
Spokane Spokesman-Review (AP);
Four major wildfires burning across Colorado
Wildfire danger is high across Colorado, with statewide and local restrictions in place, as crews continue to battle the High Park fire in Larimer County, which is 55 percent contained; the Springer fire near Lake George is 30 percent contained, as is the Little Sand fire near Pagosa Springs; and the Sunrise Mine fire near the Utah-Colorado border has burned more than 5,700 acres.
Idaho U.S. Rep. Simpson submits another sheep-grazing bill
After a federal judge ruled that Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's 2011 measure that barred funding for the U.S. Forest Service to close additional areas of the Payette National Forest to sheep grazing did not apply to lease closures set for this year, the Idaho congressman submitted a new measure to stop such closures.
Idaho Statesman (AP);
Corps of Engineers to do EIS on shipping coal out of Oregon ports
In a letter to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would conduct an environmental analysis of the plan to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming out of Oregon ports, although the letter is unclear if that analysis would extend to the effects of moving the coal by trains that pass through Missoula and Helena, both Montana cities that have asked that the analysis consider that impact.
Helena Independent Record;
Idaho senators question USFWS's designation of woodland caribou habitat
U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch questioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's proposal to designate nearly 600 square miles in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington state as critical habitat for woodland caribou, given that there are only about four of the animals that regularly wander south out of Canada into those states.
Senate passes Farm bill, but cut Montana senator's Sportsmen's Act
The U.S. Senate voted 64-35 on Thursday to pass the Farm Bill, but the massive, complex legislation will likely have a tougher time in the U.S. House, where conservatives have said they want to trim the food stamp program, which accounts for about 80 percent, or $80 billion, of the bill's costs.
Utah's U.S. senators' vote on coal-plant emissions was wrong
Utah U.S. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee's vote to oppose a measure that that preserved the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's rule that requires coal-fired power plants to reduce toxic emissions by 2015 was old school, apparently because the senators care more about corporate profits than the health of their constituents.
Salt Lake Tribune;
Montana governor's concept of state employee health clinic a good one
When Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer first proposed a health care clinic for state workers in Helena in February, he didn't have to look far to see similar clinics already providing care to groups of Montana workers, unfortunately in the rush to get the clinic up and operating, the administration bungled the bidding process.
Beyond the region
Washington state lawmakers introduce wilderness bill
Washington state U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks introduced the Wild Olympics Wilderness & Wild and Scenic River Act of 2012 that would designate 126,554 acres as new wilderness on Olympic National Forest lands and name 19 new Wild and Scenic Rivers in Olympic National Forest, the Olympic National Park and on Washington state forest lands.
Oil drops below $80 a barrel, $3-per-gallon gasoline predicted this fall
Benchmark prices for crude oil fell below $80 a barrel on Thursday, and market analysts predicted that American consumers could be paying around $3 a gallon for gasoline, and with production increasing, oil inventories the highest in 21 years and lackluster consumer demand, gasoline prices could continue to fall during the summer.
New map tracks ancient path of Lake Missoula through Northwest
Geologists with the Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries worked with a private company using aerial light radar, or lidar, to map how waters released from Lake Missoula some 15,000 years ago shaped the geography of what is now Oregon.
Utah says gunshots ignited 19 wildfires so far this year
Hot, dry and windy conditions across Utah make it incredibly easy to start a fire, and state officials said gunfire has ignited 19 wildfires so far this season, nearing the 24 fires started by gunfire last year.
Salt Lake Tribune (AP);
Fire danger raised to 'high' in W. Wyoming county
Grasses are drying out and temperatures are warmer than usual this time of year in Teton County, the Bridger-Teton National Forest and Grand Teton National in Wyoming, and the fire risk was raised to high on Thursday in those areas.
Jackson Hole Daily;
"T he bottom line is the fires are getting bigger as the fleet gets smaller. That is a prescription for trouble.
Mountain West Perspectives
Mountain West Voices
Hear weekly stories from the Rocky Mountain West as gathered by Clay Scott