Our archives

Major Funders:
Foundation for Community Vitality
Greater Montana Foundation
Encouraging communications on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans.
Gallatin River Headquarters Yellowstone National Park
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Colorado's "Amazon tax," Idaho groups continue to press for a national monument designation for the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains, interesting genome mapping work on wildlife is being done in a Montana laboratory, and oil stockpiling in the United States may put storage capacity to the max by April--a situation analysts say could torpedo oil -- and gasoline -- prices.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision on Colorado's law that requires companies that sell products online to Colorado residents to report such sales for tax purposes. The decision on the "Amazon tax," remanded the case to federal court, a decision that the Direct Marketing Association, the plaintiff in the case, said was a victory.

Last week, Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and U.S. Sen. Jim Risch introduced the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, the newest version of Rep. Simpson's decade-long fight to protect the Boulder-White Cloud mountains in Central Idaho.

Several conservation groups dislike the reconfiguration of the areas protected, and are pressing the Obama administration to move forward and designate the area a national monument.

In Montana, researchers at the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation are piling up data about the wildlife that roam the region, using techniques that can, from a cup of creek water, ascertain the fish that swim in the creek, the plants that grow on the banks, and if osprey hunt there.

And finally, the United States has been stockpiling oil to the tune of about a million or more barrels a day, putting the country on a path to full storage capacity by April.

And in Beyond the region, hunting wolves and boosting grizzly bear numbers in Washington state.

Rockies today

U.S. Supreme Court sends Colorado internet tax case to federal court
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that will put the dispute over Colorado's law that requires online vendors to report sales to Colorado customers for state tax purposes before a federal court, a decision the Direct Marketing Association, the plaintiff in the case, called a victory.
Denver Post; March 4

Groups prefer national monument designation for Central Idaho area
Last week, Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson and Sen. Jim Risch introduced the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, the latest attempt by the Idaho congressman to protect the Boulder-White Cloud Mountains in Central Idaho, but a coalition of 18 conservation groups said the new legislation allows too much motorized access into wilderness study areas and the groups said they will continue to press the Obama administration to designate the area a national monument.
Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley); March 4

USFS laboratory in Montana taps wildlife genomes
On the University of Montana campus, researchers are at work in the new National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation applying genome testing technology developed for humans to wildlife, and they can, from a single tailfeather of a grouse, trace its family tree, and determine if bighorn sheep have a genetic defense against lung worm.
Missoulian; March 4

Saving ways of U.S. could lead to collapse of oil price
Because the United States has been socking away an average of a million more barrels of oil than it's been using for the past seven weeks, and the country's storage capacity for that stockpiled oil is expected to max out in mid-April, which could send the price of crude oil--and gasoline--into a sharp decline.
Flathead Beacon (AP); March 4

Wyoming bills seek to protect grazing leases for domestic sheep
WyoFile tracks the path of two bills before the Wyoming Legislature designed to protect domestic sheep grazing: Senate File 133, which calls for the relocation of the Darby Mountain bighorn sheep herd to deter the U.S. Forest Service from banning domestic sheep grazing to protect the wild sheep, and a companion measure, Senate File 134, which codifies the state's policy of resolving conflicts between wild and domestic sheep.; March 3

Tesla Motors' new showroom, sales lot runs afoul of Utah law
Utah isn't alone in limiting the stake vehicle manufacturers may have in dealerships, a provision state officials said gives consumers an ally in disputes with manufacturers, and the Beehive State isn't the only state where Tesla Motors has run into laws prohibiting it from opening direct sales offices, but today in the Utah House, members of a House committee will take up House Bill 394, which would allow the electric car manufacturer to open such a facility, which the company has already built and had planned to open Friday.
Salt Lake Tribune; March 3

Idaho Cattle Association says 'yes' to genetically modified feed
The science and technology committee of the Idaho Cattle Association recommended that the group pass a resolution allowing livestock producers to feed their stock with genetically modified crops, such as alfalfa, corn or soybeans, because committee members said science indicated no unfavorable or perturbed trends for doing so, and because such a resolution would help Idaho producers. The association passed the resolution with overwhelming support.
Idaho Statesman (Lewiston Tribune); March 4

Another year, another ringtail captured, collared in Southern Idaho
Bassariscus astutus, or ringtails, are tiny carnivores with big ears, pointed nose, long tail and striking facial markings that evidence their relation to the raccoon family, and are native to the deserts of the Southwest United States and Mexico, but in February of 2014, a female ringtail was captured and radio-collared in southern Idaho and released near Rock Creek in the South Hills, and last month, a male ringtail was captured in Oakley, radio-collared and released in the Big Cottonwood Wildlife Management Area west of Oakley.
Twin Falls Times-News; March 4


Friday seminar to examine water, climate change in Idaho valley
On Friday, the University of Idaho Extension, Wood River Land Trust, city of Ketchum, city of Hailey and Big Wood Canal Co. will host a daylong seminar in Hailey on water resources in the upper and lower Big Wood River watersheds and how climate change could affect those resources.
Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley); March 4

City in Montana declines to move forward with water treatment plant
The Montana Department of Environmental Quality gave Deer Lodge a Dec. 31, 2015 deadline to comply with water regulations, but on Monday, the city council voted 5-4 to reject a proposed water treatment plant plan that would bring the community into compliance with state law because of the cost of the project.
Montana Standard; March 4


Wyoming legislators should leave guns in schools decisions to the locals
The "only way to stop a bad person with a gun is a good person with a gun" mentality that is sweeping across the nation has made a stop in the Wyoming Legislature, where a bill removing the prohibition of guns in schools in making its way through the legislature, but if the bill that emerges does not contain the provision that leaves the decision up to local district officials, Gov. Matt Mead should veto it.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; March 4

Utah needs to rework its water plan to address drought
While Utah deserves praise for its Prepare60, which is the water plan developed by the Jordan Valley, Weber Basin, Central Utah and Washington County water conservancy districts, which provide 85 percent of the state's population with water, none of those four districts' forward looking plan examine a drier future, despite a recent report from NASA that predicts a much drier future, a situation that all of Utah--and its water providers--must consider.
Salt Lake Tribune; March 4

Beyond the region

USFWS begins meetings on boosting grizzly numbers in Washington state
Thousands of grizzly bears used to roam the North Cascades in Washington state, and meetings begin today on the federal government's proposal to boost grizzly bear numbers in those mountains, with the first meeting set for today in Winthrop.
Portland Oregonian (Northwest Public Radio); March 4

Groups sue USDA Wildlife Services over plan to kill wolves in Washington
Five environmental groups have filed a federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services' plan to kill wolves in Washington state, and charging that the federal agency must do a complete environmental impact analysis of the plan before killing any wolves.
Reuters; March 4

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"F ive years ago, I was looking at nine areas of an animal’s genome. If I got up to 20, I felt I was doing really good. Now I have a grad student working on sage grouse who's looking at 600,000 regions of its genome. I have another working on gray wolves who's looking at 166,000 regions. Now our big question is: What do we do with all that data?"

Michael Schwartz, director of the National Genomics Center for Wildlife and Fish Conservation on the University of Montana's Missoula campus, discussing ongoing research that identifies specific components of the genetic blueprint carried in every organism’s chromosomes.
- Missoulian

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Liz Carlisle's 'Lentil Underground'


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


A Look Ahead

Feb. 3-March 24: Wilderness Lecture series hosted by the Wilderness Institute at the University of Montana in Missoula

    March 10: Bruce Smith, The Mountain Goat: An American Wilderness Icon"

    March 17: Dr. Bob Ream, "Wilderness Research Then and Now: The Wilderness Institute’s Fortieth Year"

April 1-May 1: Water in the American West, a free, online college level course, offered by The Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Western Water Assessment at the University of Colorado. Register now.

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