- Mountain West News
- Bear minimum
THE BIG STORIES UP AND DOWN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
A curated newsletter from the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
Feds to explore delisting of Greater Yellowstone and NCDE grizzlies
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Friday that it is exploring whether grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone and Northern Continental Divide ecosystems are sufficiently recovered to no longer be considered as an endangered species.
Grizzly delisting back on the table as feds reconsider state management
Acting on disparate petitions from Northern Rockies states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service OK’d Montana and Wyoming propositions, but dismissed Idaho’s plans.
Idaho’s grizzly petition rejected by the feds
Idaho’s audacious bid to strip grizzly bears of Endangered Species Act protection was rejected by the Biden administration Friday.
Survey finds Montanans support grizzly bears, some form of hunting season
New research diving into the human factors impacting wildlife conservation found that grizzly bear management is less polarized than researchers originally thought.
Montana legislators take up bills on grizzlies as feds consider delisting
Republicans are hoping to get some support from Democrats on bills setting policy around grizzly bears post-delisting from the Endangered Species Act.
Chris Servheen, the former U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service grizzly bear recovery coordinator, fought to remove grizzlies from the endangered species list — until Montana Republicans changed his mind.
On the Great Salt Lake’s salvation
How the LDS Church could prevent its headquarters from becoming a toxic wasteland
A dying Great Salt Lake could make the historic home of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uninhabitable. What is the Utah-based faith doing to prevent it — and what do environmentalists think it should do?
Utah Republicans block resolution to create target level for the Great Salt Lake
A resolution to create a target level for the Great Salt Lake was voted down by a Senate committee despite widespread public support.
Tribes still not consulted as state tries to save Great Salt Lake
State leaders say they want native perspectives included in conversations about the lake, but action to date shows otherwise.
Opinion: The Great Salt Lake is disappearing. Utah has 45 days to save it
Salt Lake City's namesake is evaporating, and with it a resource crucial to the West's economy, weather and health — not to mention millions of migratory birds.
Colorado River crisis is so bad, lakes Mead and Powell are unlikely to refill in our lifetimes
“To think that these things would ever refill requires some kind of leap of faith that I, for one, don’t have,” said Brad Udall, a water and climate scientist at Colorado State University.
Why California is so far apart from other states in Colorado River water cuts plan
How to divide Colorado River cuts: A breakdown of how California's proposed water reductions compare with an offer submitted by six other states.
As Lake Powell shrinks, the emergent landscape is coming back to life – and posing new challenges
Lake Powell’s existential crisis is a unique opportunity to save a treasured landscape.
Is pumping Mississippi River water to Lake Powell and Lake Mead a solution or dream?
“We can move water, and we’ve proven our desire to do it. I think it would be foolhardy to dismiss it as not feasible,” said Richard Rood, professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan. “But we need to know a lot more about it than we currently do.”
What happens when an affluent Arizona suburb’s main water supply is cut off?
As the Colorado River crisis worsens, an unregulated housing development faces a reckoning.
Rainmaking experiments boom amid worsening drought
Scientists and companies are scrambling to find new ways to squeeze more rain from the skies as climate change intensifies drought.
Dispatches from the energy transition
Gov. Little, Idaho delegation share 'deep concerns' about Lava Ridge Wind
Six local legislators, in a letter of opposition, said the Lava Ridge Wind Project would "forever negatively impact the Magic Valley in unalterable ways with nebulous benefits for far-away electrical consumers.”
BLM to conduct meetings on proposed Lava Ridge project
The Bureau of Land Management’s Shoshone Field Office has scheduled both in-person and virtual open-house meetings to help evaluate the proposed Lava Ridge Wind Project, which calls for installing up to 400 wind turbines on federal, state and private lands northeast of Twin Falls.
Judge backs federal approval of massive lithium mine
A federal judge in Nevada on Monday upheld the federal government’s approval of the largest proposed lithium mine in the nation, dismissing arguments that the Thacker Pass project would degrade nearby aquifers, air quality, and habitat for the imperiled greater sage grouse.
Nevada monument will shield sacred tribal land — from renewables
President Joe Biden is expected to designate land in the Mojave Desert as the next national monument. Advocates ramped up their push for those protections as renewable energy developers began eyeing parts of an area that Native American tribes hold central to their beliefs about creation.
There’s almost unlimited clean, geothermal energy under our feet. New tech could help unleash that potential in New Mexico.
Modern drilling capabilities developed by the oil and gas industry are opening the gateway to deep underground geothermal energy.
Colorado’s natural gas industry pushes back on gas stove study that sparked national debate
A recent study connecting natural gas stoves to childhood asthma is flawed, officials for Colorado’s gas industry say. But scientists behind the study stand by their work.
Coal and natural gas plants will account for 98% of U.S. capacity retirements in 2023
In 2023, operators plan to retire 15.6 gigawatts of electric-generating capacity in the United States, mostly natural gas-fired (6.2 GW) and coal-fired (8.9 GW) power plants.
BP slows transition to renewable energy as oil bonanza continues
The company said it would slow its shift to lower-carbon energy, increasing spending on the oil-and-gas production that helped push the company to a record profit last year.
More on Indian Country
Showtime documentary focuses on Montana cases of missing, murdered Indigenous girls
Series details the murder of three girls who went missing and were later found dead in Big Horn County.
Tribal support for off-reservation hunting pact ‘evaporates’
Wyoming’s effort to sort out Native Americans’ off-reservation hunting rights in the wake of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Herrera v. Wyoming, has lost official tribal support.
'For the bison and for our people': CSKT marks one year since regaining control, management of the Bison Range
Jan. 2 marked the first anniversary since CSKT officially took over management of the Bison Range from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, bringing the land back into tribal control.
Interior: $580M headed to 15 tribes to fulfill water rights
Fifteen Native American tribes will get a total of $580 million in federal money this year for water rights settlements, the Biden administration announced Thursday.
Court: U.S. needs to consider effects of drilling near Chaco
A federal appeals court has sided with environmentalists, ruling that the U.S. government failed to consider the cumulative effects of greenhouse gas emissions that would result from the approval of nearly 200 drilling permits in an area surrounding Chaco Culture National Historical Park.
Native Americans left out of 'deaths of despair' research
During the time that deaths from addiction and suicide among white Americans rose by about 9%, deaths among Native Americans shot up by about 30%, a new study shows.
'Changing the future of rural medicine:' Montana hospitals working toward Native health care equity
More and more, hospitals across Montana are using Native American liaisons to increase and promote the education and outreach to local Native communities.
How to report on the repatriation of Native American remains at museums and universities near you
A journalist’s guide to reporting on institutions that still hold Native American remains, using ProPublica’s NAGPRA database as a starting point.
What else we’re reading today
Colorado considers using public land for affordable housing
The legislature is considering a new proposal to free up vacant parcels of state-owned land that could be leased or sold at a discount for affordable housing projects. If passed, one project near Vail would build 80 units of affordable housing in the first phase, and potentially hundreds more.
Wyoming bill would allow ‘physical force’ to ‘terminate’ suspected trespass
The measure’s smooth sailing through the House comes as trespass is on the minds of Wyoming hunters and ranchers following a corner-crossing criminal trespass trial in Carbon County.
Freshwater fish are filled with ‘forever chemicals’ at alarming levels, researchers find
A new study shows that eating a single serving of freshwater fish in the U.S. can be equal to drinking a month’s worth of water laced with “forever chemicals.”
Bison roam where they aren’t wanted. Is year-round hunting the answer?
Utah’s bison are roaming into places where they aren’t wanted. One lawmaker is proposing year-round hunting to keep bison off rangeland used by ranchers.
Two wolves captured, collared by Colorado wildlife biologists in North Park
The two males, the only GPS-tracked wolves in Colorado, will provide CPW with insight on future wolf behavior in the state.
Common landscaping plant is likely to blame for 19 elk deaths in Utah town
"Yew plant is a common ornamental shrub-like plant used in landscaping. But it's also very toxic to animals.”
911 dispatchers inundated with distress calls from Apple watches on skiers who are very much alive‘
A Colorado county has seen emergency calls double this winter, threatening to desensitize dispatchers and divert limited resources from true emergencies.
A love letter to winter in Colorado's small mountain towns
Snow totals have surpassed the 300-inch mark in parts of the high country, and that’s just fine.
‘Loving nature drove the success of my photography’: John Fielder on donating his life’s legacy to History Colorado
The 72-year-old is now donating a gift of the best of those photographs to the state he has called home for nearly half a century. He is giving his life’s work to History Colorado and thus to the people of Colorado. It will be free for anyone who wants to see Fielder’s work digitally. It will also be part of rotating displays at History Colorado.
Edited by Matthew Frank, associate director of regional journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana
What do you think of this edition?