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Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, as Montana and the U.S. Forest Service get closer to decisions on two mines under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness, environmental groups are raising concerns about how the copper-and-silver mines will affect the water, as well as bull trout and grizzly bear populations in the area.

In Colorado, where state officials are working to combine the water management plans of eight water basins into one for the entire state, reuse of wastewater is a component in five of those eight basins.

Also in the news, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah are among the 21 states that are joining the challenge of Maryland's new gun-control laws, which ban 45 assault rifles and limit the capacity of gun magazines to 10 rounds.

In Beyond the region, an oil train terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver in Washington state would have the capacity to handle up to 360,000 barrels per day, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a major expansion of wolf reintroduction efforts in Arizona and New Mexico.

Rockies today

Reuse of wastewater a component of Colorado's water plan
Colorado is projected to face a 163 billion gallon shortfall in water by the year 2050, and to help the state come up with a statewide management plan, each of the eight basins developed a local plan, five of which call for the reuse of wastewater, a process that is complicated by the state's obligation to deliver water downstream, the cost of cleaning the water, as well as the disposal of contaminants removed during the cleaning process.
Denver Post; Nov. 23

USFS, Montana set to release decisions on 2 mines under Cabinet wilderness
Two Spokane-based companies are awaiting word from the Montana Department of Environmental Quality and the Kootenai National Forest on their proposed mining projects that would bore under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness from opposite sides to reach copper and silver deposits, and while environmental groups are strongly opposed to both the Montanore and Rock Creek mines, local officials in Lincoln and Sanders counties vigorously support the mines -- and the hundreds of jobs they would bring to the counties.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; Nov. 23

  • Biologist: Montana mines spell disaster for Cabinet-Yaak grizzly bears
    Brian Peck, a biologist who has worked on grizzly bear issues for 22 years and is currently working with the Natural Resource Defense Council, said his analysis of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's finding that proposed mining operations in Montana's Cabinet Mountains Wilderness would not affect the 45 to 50 grizzly bears in the Cabinet-Yaak Ecosystem comes up with a markedly different outcome for the big bruins.
    Spokane Spokesman-Review; Nov. 23

Seven western states join challenge of Maryland gun law
A coalition of 21 states, including Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, are joining a 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals case that seeks to overturn Maryland's law that bans 45 assault rifles and gun magazines that hold more than 10 rounds.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); Nov. 25

Texas company seeks permit to drill 1,500 wells in Wyoming
EOG Resources, Inc. has submitted an application to drill up to 1,500 wells along the Campbell-Converse county line in Wyoming over the period of a decade that also seeks the lifting of a seasonal restriction to protect the ferruginous hawk, and the Bureau of Land Management will do a separate study on the EOG plan from its study on a more general proposal to drill up to 5,000 wells in the Powder River Basin.
Casper Star-Tribune; Nov. 25

Marijuana legalization advocates form New Approach Idaho
Earlier this year, a petition drive in Idaho for an initiative to legalize the use of medical marijuana gathered only 406 signatures, but officials of New Approach Idaho, a new coalition formed to push for full legalization of marijuana use, said they plan to focus on educating the public before they begin gathering signatures for a new initiative.
Idaho Statesman (Twin Falls Times-News); Nov. 25

Snow King Resort: Jackson's decision on alpine coaster draws $8M
After the Jackson Town Council voted to keep the approval of a proposed alpine coaster to be built on private land on Snow King Mountain in the Wyoming community's hands, ski area officials reported $8 million in investments, which will help retire the ski area's debt.
Jackson Hole Daily; Nov. 25

Idaho company seeks FAA approval for commercial drone use for farms
Four months ago, Star-based Advanced Aviation Solutions LLC, or Adavso, filed an application with the Federal Aviation Agency to use small drones to monitor farm operations, and Brad Ward, a co-founder of the Idaho company, said that the drone could gather a slate of information on crops, irrigation and other agriculture-related conditions and deliver the information on a thumb drive to farmers.
Idaho Statesman; Nov. 25


Snowpack levels in Wyoming at 79 percent of normal
Recent storms have dumped snow on the mountains in Wyoming, raising snowpack levels from 70 percent of normal to 79 percent of normal, with the Belle Fourche, the upper and lower Green, and the upper Bear basins all above 100 percent of normal, although last year at this time, snowpack levels were at 149 percent of normal.
Casper Star-Tribune; Nov. 25


Utah oil, gas agency needs to toss its lab rat mentality
The Utah Division of Oil, Gas and Mining recently -- and blithely -- approved Fidelity Exploration's use of oil from a well near Moab combined with food-grade cooking oil in a hydraulic fracturing operation to boost production of a well in the Paradox Basin, the geology of which does not lend itself well to the cocktail of water, sand and gravel commonly used in the drilling method, and the state agency also approved TomCo's operation in the Uinta Basin to "bake" the oil out of the oil shale, with both projects touted for their scant use of water, but both deserve much more scrutiny from the state agency, which apparently is open to just about any type of futuristic fossil fuel extraction method proposed.
Salt Lake Tribune; Nov. 23

Beyond the region

Oil-by-rail terminal proposed in Washington state would be busiest
Vancouver Energy, the oil-by-rail terminal proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies at Washington state's Port of Vancouver would be able to unload up to 360,000 barrels of oil per day from oil trains and load the oil onto ocean-going vessels on the Columbia River, although it would take some time for the terminal to reach that rate.
The; Nov. 25

Hydraulic fracturing brings oil boom back to Saskatchewan small towns
Saskatchewan has one of the highest employment rates in Canada, due in part to hydraulic fracturing that has revitalized oilfields in the Canadian province, and the small towns in those fields are enjoying the influx of people and revenue from the new oil boom, but the specter of global declining oil prices is looming on the horizon, although one small town mayor said a slight pause in the boom would be a welcome respite.
Calgary Herald; Nov. 25

USFWS to propose expanding wolf numbers, habitat in SW U.S.
A final decision is expected in January on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's proposal to expand the number of wolves in Arizona and New Mexico from the 83 now there to between 300 and 325, and to dramatically expand the area of land in those states where the wolves would be allowed to roam, but ranchers in the area said there's no elk or deer on which the wolves to prey in the expanded areas and the predators would undoubtedly turn to livestock to feed.
Santa Fe New Mexican (AP); Nov. 23

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"W hat distinguishes these mining proposals from other cases I've seen are the dewatering effects inside the wilderness. Both mines will be essentially accessing the same ore body from opposite sides of the wilderness. Groundwater would have to be pumped out of the underground tunnels, lowering the water table by up to 1,000 feet."

Bonnie Gestring of Earthworks, a nonprofit environmental group that focuses on mineral and energy development, discussing the effects two proposed copper and silver mines under the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness could have on water resources in the Montana wilderness.
- Spokane Spokesman-Review

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux reviews Douglas Emlen’s "Animal Weapons"


Mountain West Perspectives
Montana's two-year colleges revamp education to meet changing workplace demands


A Look Ahead

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

at the

The University of Montana