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Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, the National Wildlife Federation released a report detailing the effects of climate change on wildlife and calling for action on addressing greenhouse gas emissions.

University of Montana professor Diana Six said recent mountain pine beetle infestations in the Rocky Mountain West, which are 10 times larger than any reported in the past, are a symptom of the warming climate, and UM Regents Professor Steve Running, said coal-fired power is the driver in the worldwide increase in carbon emissions, the driver of climate change.

In Colorado, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall said his concerns about ongoing drought and a more intense wildfire season prompted him to ask the U.S. Forest Service to outfit seven C-130 transport planes to use as air tankers for the upcoming wildfire season.

Moose are on the decline in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, due to an increase of wolf-related kills in the northern end of the park, and in Montana, cow moose have been outfitted with radio collars in the Cabinet Mountains near Libby, in the Big Hole and along the Rocky Mountain Front to allow the state to learn more about those populations.

Also in Montana, a bridge-component fabrication business that opened just three years ago is closing in Libby, eliminating 70 jobs in Lincoln County, which already has the highest unemployment rate in the state.

This evening Montana Public Radio will broadcast the latest edition of Mountain West Voices.

Tune in at 8:25 p.m. to hear Clay Scott's conversation with with Bonnie Preikszas of Laurel, Montana about her life as a rural schoolteacher in the 1930's, or if you miss the broadcast, you can always listen online via the Mountain West Voices' website.

Today in Western Perspective, the results of Colorado College's 2013 Conservation in the West poll are in -- and the survey found that a majority of residents in the Rocky Mountain West favor protection of sensitive lands, oppose the selling of public lands, and believe production of renewable energy should be a priority.

Rockies today

U. of Montana professors tout NWF's 'Wildlife in a Warming World'
On Tuesday, University of Montana professors Steve Running and Diana Six, Todd Tanner of Conservation Hawk, and Greater Yellowstone Coalition climate change program director Scott Christensen joined forces to call attention to the National Wildlife Federation's "Wildlife in a Warming World" report.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 13

U.S. Sen. Udall hears concerns from local firefighters in Colorado
On Sunday, Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall was in Vail, meeting with local firefighters and police to talk about the upcoming wildfire season, where drought and a lack of federal funding could further complicate firefighting, and Udall said that he was in talks with the Air Force to adapt seven C-130 transport planes to use as makeshift air tankers before the season starts, although one person at the meeting noted that an 800-acre wildfire in southeast Colorado over the weekend indicated that fire season is already here.
Vail Daily; Feb. 13

Wolves take a toll on moose in national park in Wyoming
Researchers from the Wyoming Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found 43 wolf-killed moose in the northern end of Grand Teton National Park in the winters of 2010 and 2011, and early data indicate 13 killed in the winter of 2012.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Feb. 13

Montana FWP launches moose study in 3 areas of state
Biologists have radio-collared 12 cow moose in three regions of the state to learn more about the populations in the East Cabinet study area south of Libby, the Big Hole and along the Eastern Front of the Rockies.
Kalispell Daily InterLake; Feb. 13

Oil, gas operator in Colorado has another spill incident
PDC Energy's eighth incident in Colorado so far this year involving oil and gas drilling operations occurred on Monday, when a well began spewing hydraulic fracturing fluid and continued to do so for 30 hours, and the company reported 27 oil and gas releases and spills in 2012, 12 of which resulted in groundwater contamination.
The Coloradaon (Fort Collins); Feb. 13

After death of CEO, welding company in Montana to close doors
Arizona-based Stinger Welding came to Libby in 2009, bringing dozens of much-needed jobs to the northwest Montana community, but the bridge component fabrication company was struggling financially in 2012, and the death of CEO Carl Douglas in a plane crash near Libby, put the company in receivership and now 70 people will be out of work by the end of the month.
Missoulian; Feb. 13

Debate over gun-related bills draws a crowd in Colorado
Party-line votes in a committee of the Colorado House on Tuesday advanced legislation to require background checks in private sales of guns and to limit magazine capacity.
Denver Post; Feb. 13

Colorado firm makes transition from corn to wood in ethanol process
Windsor-based Front Range Energy is putting new biomass technology to work turning waste wood into ethanol, and the Colorado company plans to move into commercial production next year.
Denver Post; Feb. 13


Deregulated power market at root of PPL Montana's decision to sell
PPL Montana's proposal to sell the five hydroelectric plants and its share of coal-fired plants in Montana is prompted by the company's desire to flee the deregulated electricity market. A blog by Marshall Swearingen, an intern at High Country News.
High Country News (The Goat Blog); Feb. 13

Beyond the region

As sea ice disappears, scientists discuss options for polar bears
The polar bear population around Hudson Bay may be the most at-risk as warming temperatures have melted the sea ice upon which the bears use as a platform for their hunting, and scientists say feeding the bears may be an option, while the local Inuit people are urging that nature be allowed to take its course.
Edmonton Journal (Canadian Press); Feb. 13

BLM crews take a chop at invasive juniper in Oregon's desert
Mismanagement of grazing and fire suppression by early settlers in Oregon allowed Juniperus occidentalis to take root, and Bureau of Land Management officials said that the thirsty conifer has gained ground on 9 million acres in central and eastern Oregon.
Portland Oregonian; Feb. 13

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"T hese systems are basically playthings for the upper middle class. You don't see any of these (projects) in a trailer park. … Who's going to pay for it? It's going to be other customers on the system."

John Fitzpatrick, NorthWestern's chief lobbyist, testifying against Senate Bill 247, which would raise Montana's cap on net-metering projects from 50 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts.
- Missoulian

On The Bookshelf
Barbara Theroux provides a preview of coming book attractions for 2016


Mountain West Perspectives
The TransPacific Partnership could affect Rocky Mountain States' local measures


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