Our archives

Major Funders:
Foundation for Community Vitality
Greater Montana Foundation
Encouraging communications on issues, trends and values of importance to Montanans.
Wild Horses Of The Pryors
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map
Rockies today

Ski resorts in Western U.S., Canada brace for warmer future
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's report that this December through February were the second warmest on record was not news to ski resort operators in the Western United States and Canada as they closed early, and many resorts are ramping up plans to become year-round resorts to deal with the forecasted warmer, drier future.
Idaho Mountain Express (Mountain Town News); April 1

USFS, BLM issue EIS on molybdenum mine expanion in Idaho
The massive open-pit Thompson Creek molybdenum mine in Idaho near Salmon is on pace to become bigger as the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have issued a final environmental impact statement on its expansion plan, and a related land swap will add public access to 4.4 miles of the Salmon River on lands now owned by the mine.
Idaho Mountain Express (Sun Valley); April 1

BNSF puts regulations in place to make oil trains safer
In a letter to shippers and posted online, Steve Bobb, BNSF executive vice president and chief marketing officer, and Greg Fox, executive vice president and chief operations officer, said the railway company was putting regulations in place to move oil safely, including slowing oil trains' speed in areas with 100,000 people or more to 35 mph, urging shippers to use stronger tanker cars and will ban DOT-111 and unmodified CPC-1232 tank cars in three years.
Flathead Beacon; April 1

Group forms to help clean up trout stream in W. Wyoming
In 2013, a U.S. Geological Survey study of Fish Creek, a 15-mile spring-fed tributary to the Snake River, found that the Western Wyoming creek had 13 to 180 times more algae than other streams and rivers in the area, and now a new nonprofit, Friends of Fish Creek, has formed to help with another USGS study, with this one targeted at identifying point sources and volumes of nutrients that are making their way into the creek.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; April 1

Wyoming coal mine operators at odds over new royalty proposal
Both Peabody Energy and Cloud Peak Energy oppose the U.S. Department of Interior's proposal to change when federal royalties on coal pulled from federal lands are assessed, but Peabody Energy, the largest privately owned coal miner in the world, said the new method won't affect its operations much, while Wyoming-based Cloud Peak Energy said it will limit its plans to export coal to Asia.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 1

Federal land managers in Idaho put new sage grouse plan into place
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell's visit to Idaho showed her the results of wildfires on sage grouse habitat, and the new federal policy on fighting wildfires in the Great Basin area, which includes Idaho, means shifting a focus to protecting habitat, and Rocky Barker takes a walk with federal land managers to see what that new policy looks like on the ground.
Idaho Statesman; April 1

BLM releases new drilling rules for lands in NW Colorado
The Bureau of Land Management is taking public comment on new regulations for drilling operations on 1.5 million acres of land in Northwestern Colorado, including the area around Dinosaur National Monument that adds heft to reclamation efforts required after the drilling ceases.
Denver Post; April 1

Study tracks urban spread of solar power
Frontier Group and Environment America's study on the spread of urban solar power found that, while U.S. cities occupy just 0.1 percent of the nation's land, they have 6.5 percent of the solar-generating capacity, and that Denver ranked eighth in solar power generation.
Denver Post; April 1

Montana GOP legislators explain vote blocking FWP land projects
On Tuesday, the Montana House passed a measure that blocks the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks from using $12.4 million in funding on habitat projects, a move that has riled up sportsmen, but was explained by House Republicans as a move to stop the agency from buying up more land.
Billings Gazette; April 1


Wyoming environmental board signs off on coalbed-methane settlement
Members of the Wyoming Environmental Quality Council said that they had not read the underlying settlement that gave rise to the dismissal of bond forfeiture proceedings against High Plains Gas for abandoned coalbed-methane gas operations in the state, but an attorney for High Plains Gas and Fidelity and Deposit Company of Maryland said that the company believes it can address all 143 reservoirs of discharge water with the $2.2 million in funding available.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); April 1


Wyoming's rush to challenge federal fracking regulation disappointing
Given that Wyoming has taken the lead on regulating hydraulic fracturing operations, and that federal rules on the drilling method are remarkably similar to the state's rules, it's hard to fathom why Wyoming would decide to challenge new rules on the disclosure of chemicals used in the process on federal lands rather than seek an exemption.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 1

Yellowstone Park fire ecologist recalls '88 fire, ponders future fires
Research botanist Dr. Don Despain, who spent nearly three decades working as a fire ecologist at Yellowstone National Park and the U.S. Geological Survey, was on the ground during the Park's 1988 wildfire season, and he again reiterated that fire will have its way with landscapes in the West just has it has done for centuries, and that "Fire suppression is an exercise in futility." He does support the designation of "fire plains," which would act as flood plains in helping determine where homes should, or shouldn't, be built. A column by Todd Wilkinson.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; April 1

Beyond the region

Obama administration pledges to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 28%
As part of a formal submission to the United Nations due in December, the Obama administration announced Tuesday that the nation would cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent by 2025.
New York Times; April 1

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"W e’ve got to go after cheatgrass. We can’t just spend all our efforts on the suppression side."

Ron Dunton, assistant BLM director for fire and aviation and the top official at the National Interagency Fire Center in Idaho, about the new federal wildfire policy designed to protect sage grouse habitat, and the invasive grass that has spread across the West, creating fuel for wildfires.
- Idaho Statesman

On The Bookshelf

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


A Look Ahead
Western Governors Association's Drought ForumRegister now for these webinars:

    April 8: “One Size Doesn’t Fit All: Why Variation in Hydrology and Legal Structures means that Drought Looks Different across the West”

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