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Rocky Mountain Front
Photo courtesy of Rick and Susie Graetz
Monday, Feb. 25, 2013
produced daily by Shellie Nelson

Editor's Notes...

West map In the Rockies today, Montana legislators herd bison bills through the Legislature, while in Wyoming, a pro-gun group draws the ire of a Senate leader.

There are seven bills dealing with bison before the Montana Legislature and all take aim at the state's bison management plan.

One would keep bison in Yellowstone National Park or the National Bison Refuge, while another would require the permission of a county before wild bison could be relocated within that county.

In Wyoming, House-passed legislation that would exempt the state from a future federal ban of assault weapons was killed by the Senate floor majority leader after he said a pro-gun group crossed a line in targeting lawmakers who opposed or sought to amend the legislation.

A report from Montana-based Headwaters Economics predicts that future costs of fighting wildfires will double if development in the wildland-urban interface in Western states continues apace, and in Utah, the state's natural beauty is being smudged by increasingly bad air along the Wasatch Front.

And finally, as the budget wrangling continues in Washington, D.C., warnings about how states will be affected by sequestration increase, and we provide a roundup of articles discussing the effects of the automatic budget cuts in our In-depth section.

Rockies today

Effects of U.S. drought cascades through feedlots, meatpacking plants
The nation's financial crisis shuttered some feedlots in the United States, and the drought that forced ranchers to sell their herds has kept those closed and others are closing, and with a lack of cattle to process, meatpacking plants are shutting down as well.
Edmonton Journal (AP); Feb. 25

Wyoming Senate leader says gun group's behavior torpedoed legislation
Senate Majority Floor Leader Sen. Phil Nicholas said he killed legislation that sought to exempt Wyoming from future assault weapons bans after the Wyoming Gun Owners Association targeted lawmakers that tried to amend or opposed the legislation, with Nicholas saying he took the action to make a point about what he viewed was outrageous behavior.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); Feb. 23

Half a dozen bison bills are in the hopper of Montana Legislature
Among the bills still under consideration before the Montana Legislature is one that would prohibit the relocation of bison from Yellowstone National Park anywhere in the state but the National Bison Range.
Ravalli Republic; Feb. 25

Report warns cost of fighting wildfires in the West could double
Bozeman-based Headwaters Economics released a report evaluating costs of fighting wildfires in Montana and other Rocky Mountain West states that said, if homes continue to be built in the wildland urban interface, the cost of fighting wildfires and defending those homes could double, but Andy Stahl, who leads the Oregon-based Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, said Headwaters' stance that changing land-use methods would save money is not borne out.
Missoulian; Feb. 25

Bad air days besmirch Utah's natural image
Along Utah's Wasatch Front, air pollution has exceeded federal limits 22 days so far this winter.
New York Times; Feb. 24

Nation's governors have mixed reactions to sequestration warnings
As the White House stepped up its warnings about the effects of sequestration on states' budgets, those warnings elicited a mixed response at the Sunday meeting of the National Governors' Association in Washington, D.C., with one governor calling across-the-board cuts "stupid," and another calling the warnings "malarkey."
New York Times; Feb. 25

Beartooth Capital buys ranches in the West, improves them, sells them
Bozeman-based Beartooth Capital is an investment firm with a conservation bent in that the company buys ranches in the West, makes improvements, works with state and federal agencies to protect some of the acres with conservation easements, and then sells the ranches, which have so far been located in Montana, California, Idaho, Wyoming and Colorado.
Casper Star-Tribune (Billings Gazette); Feb. 25


Bipartisan bill on 'dark money' in Montana political races deserves to pass
Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock supports veteran Republican legislator Sen. Jim Peterson's LC1821, which would address a number of problems with campaign finance in Montana that have surfaced since the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United decision, and legislators must act to pass the bill to avoid the dark money circus the state saw in 2012.
Billings Gazette; Feb. 25

Beyond the region

Report on leaking tanks at Hanford nuclear site alarms Washington governor
Gov. Jay Inslee said federal officials told him at a meeting on Friday that six underground storage tanks at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington state are leaking, after initially reporting that one of the tanks were leaking.
New York Times; Feb. 22

Experts doubt labeling genetically modified foods will be law of the land
There is a push on to require foods that contained genetically modified materials to be so labeled, but experts in the field doubt that such a law would pass muster before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Los Angeles Times; Feb. 25

New Mexico governor takes a hard line with legislators
Gov. Susana Martinez is the first Latina governor in the United States, and the New Mexico governor has become an envoy for the Republican Party.
New York Times; Feb. 24

In depth

BLM: Sequestration could delay 300 energy leases
The Bureau of Land Management estimates that, if sequestration occurs, permits for energy development on 300 onshore parcels could be delayed.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 25

Sequestration could slice $85M in federal aid to Colorado
If a budget deal isn't reached by the federal government by March 1, Colorado could see an $85-million reduction in federal funds and an $810 million decrease in defense-related funding this year.
Denver Post; Feb. 25

White House details costs to Idaho if sequestration occurs
On Sunday, the White House released a detailed list of cuts in federal funding, and what those cuts would affect, in Idaho, if Congress fails to pass a budget by March 1.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Feb. 25

Montana could lose thousands of jobs if sequestration takes effect
According to a state-by-state analysis of the Budget Control Act of 2011 by George Mason University in Virginia, if sequestration takes effect on March 1, Montana could lose 981 defense jobs and 4,064 non-defense jobs.
Great Falls Tribune; Feb. 24

Federal budget cuts could hit Utah hard
The location of Hill Air Force Base, the Internal Revenue Center in Ogden and the high percentage of federally owned lands in Utah means that sequestration could have a wide impact on the Beehive State.
Salt Lake Tribune; Feb. 25

Mountain West News is a program of the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
at The University of Montana.
"I t's obviously cause for serious concern. We are a very federally dependent state and that stems from our long established defense industry in our state, [that] we're a public-lands state and we have the IRS facility in Ogden and other centers of federal workers."

Natalie Gochnour, chief economist of the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce, discussing how sequestration could affect Utah.
- Salt Lake Tribune

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


A Look Ahead
2013 Wilderness Institute Lecture Series, University of Montana-Missoula, Room 122, Gallagher Business Building, 7 p.m.
  • Feb. 26:The Force of Wilderness within the ubiquity of cyberspace by Albert Borgmann, UM Regents’ professor of philosophy

  • March 5: David Campbell, from the Bitterroot National Forest West Fork Ranger District will present, "Wilderness and Fire: Lessons learned from 40 years of success in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness"

  • March 12:  "Wild salmon, wild lands," by Sam Mace, inland Northwest Director of Save Our Wild Salmon

  • March 19:  Author and journalist Emma Marris will lecture on "The New Wild," developed from research from her latest book, "The Rambunctious Garden."

  • March 26:  "Wilderness, Wildness, and Biodiversity", by Reed Noss, research professor at the University of Central Florida and president of the Florida Institute for Conservation Science

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