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Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Wednesday, April 23, 2014
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, last week legislators from nine Western states met in Salt Lake City to discuss the transfer of federal lands to states' control.

Utah legislators passed the Transfer of Public Lands Act in 2012, which gave the federal government until the end of this year to cede title to millions of acres of land to the state.

A Montana state senator who is running for the state's lone U.S. House seat said he would make such a transfer a priority, as well.

Also in the news, the U.S. Geological Survey released its report on mercury levels in fish in waters in 21 national parks in the American West and found a great deal of variability in levels within the parks and within different species of fish.

Montana Public Radio will broadcast Mountain West Voices at 7:30 p.m., with this week's program coming from along the Tongue River, in southeast Montana, where a tornado destroyed Mark Fix's log barn. With the help of local Amish craftsmen using hand tools, he rebuilt the homestead-era structure.

Tune in at 7:30 p.m. or listen online via the Mountain West Voices website.

Rockies today

USGS releases report on mercury in fish in western national parks
The results of a four-year U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service research project published in the "Mercury in Fishes from 21 National Parks in the Western United States," report shows wide ranges of mercury levels within Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; April 23

Alberta to allow in-situ operations to resume in area of bitumen leaks
The Alberta Energy Regulator has not yet been able to determine the origin of bitumen leaks on CNRL's Primrose lease, but the board is allowing CNRL to resume pumping steam into four wells.
Calgary Herald (Edmonton Journal); April 22

Utah conference focuses on states' rights to federal lands
Last week, legislators from Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Oregon and Utah met to discuss avenues to transfer federal lands to states' control.
Deseret News; April 19

Montana U.S. House candidate: Transfer BLM, USFS lands to state
Republican state Sen. Matt Rosendale, who is running for Montana's lone U.S. House seat, said he would make transfer of Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service lands to the state a priority should he be elected. Editor's note: Contains a sidebar with other U.S. House candidates' position on the proposal.
Missoulian (Lee State Bureau); April 19

Groups redraw boundary of proposed Idaho national monument
The conservation groups involved in the discussion of designating the Boulder-White Clouds area of Idaho as a national monument have redrawn the boundary to include Malm Gulch, a Bureau of Land Management-maintained site containing petrified sequoia trees.
Twin Falls Times-News; April 23

Arch Coal writes off loan, investment in DKRW's project in Wyoming
Since 2006, Arch Coal has invested $13.7 million in DKRW's proposed coal-to-liquids plant in Wyoming, and loaned the project another $44 million, but in its 2013 annual report to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, the St. Louis-based company listed the entire $57.7 million as an impairment loss, a designation that means the company does not believe it will recover its investment.
Casper Star-Tribune; April 22

Railroad bottleneck delays delivery of Montana, Wyoming coal
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said coal reserves are at 6-year lows, and coal companies said delays in shipping coal caused by congestion on railways is to blame for the low reserves.
Billings Gazette; April 22

Arch Coal reports increased demand for thermal coal
A decrease in global demand for metallurgical coal was cited by Arch Coal officials for a 1 million ton reduction in production estimates for 2014, while demand for thermal coal was predicted to rise.; April 22

Sliding butte in W. Wyoming town crumbles home
Last week, the Budge family in Jackson lost their home to the sliding face of East Gros Ventre Butte, where at least 60 people remain out of their homes in the western Wyoming community while work is done to stop the movement of the butte.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; April 23


Montana FWP seeks feedback on closing stretch of Bitterroot River
After a young girl drowned in the Bitterroot River last year after getting trapped near a diversion dam, and after a couple of close calls were reported in the same area earlier this year, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks closed the river to floaters between Woodside and Tucker fishing access sites, and is taking public comment on a plan to close the river during high flows in the spring and early summer.
Ravalli Republic; April 23


Nevada rancher's actions are contrary to state's constitution as well
In an interview last week, the Nevada rancher, who forced a stand-off with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management by not paying grazing fees for more than two decades, said, "I abide by all of Nevada state laws. But I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing," a statement that puts him at odds with the Nevada Constitution. A column by Matt Ford.
The Atlantic; April 23

Beyond the region

Drought, crop choices strain California's agricultural water supplies
Three years of drought, coupled with California's agricultural producers' decision to focus on more water-intensive crops have strained the state's water supplies.
New York Times; April 20

President Obama visits slide-devastated area in Washington state
A month after a mountainside gave way in Washington state, sweeping away homes and killing 41 in the small community of Oso, President Obama visited survivors and pledged continuing aid to help the community recover.
New York Times; April 22

U.S. has world's richest class, but middle, lower classes poorer
Canada's after-tax middle-class incomes have outpaced the United States' for the first time, and the poor in the United States are poorer than residents of European countries, but the rich in the United States remain the wealthiest in the world.
New York Times; April 23

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"W e found a lot of variation, not just within parks but within fish within individual parks. In parks where we looked at a lot of locations, we tended to find more sites with higher mercury. There was so much variability within a park. The more you looked, the more likely you were to find sites with high mercury."

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux of Fact & Fiction reviews Goliath Staggered: How the people of Highway 12 conquered Big Oil


Mountain West Perspectives
New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin
New report highlights opportunities in the Colorado River Basin


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