THE BIG STORIES UP AND DOWN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
A curated newsletter from the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West
On bias and resilience in Indian Country
'A huge, huge issue': Despite gains, anti-Native bias beliefs still plague Montana hoops
Natives and non-Natives alike interviewed for these stories agree that barely a generation removed from an era of “No Dogs, No Indians” signs tarnishing storefronts in reservation border towns, it’s folly to suggest high school gyms are immune.
Montana tribal leaders remind Congress of treaty obligations
“You know, we're the first people of this country, yet we're still treated like secondhand citizens, always overlooked or stepped over, always an afterthought,” said Jeffrey Stiffarm, Fort Belknap Indian Community president.
Indian Country gains momentum in addressing data gaps
Tribes lean into traditional knowledge to advance today’s needs.
Bringing co-stewardship to Wyoming’s Red Desert
A Q&A with the Indigenous Land Alliance of Wyoming’s Yufna Soldier Wolf.
How do you grow crops with no water? A rancher on the Gila River is trying an old approach
Dax Hansen's family has been working the land along the Gila River for decades, but he's turned to methods used by Indigenous farmers for centuries.
660 tons of radioactive waste from Estonia arrived in Utah last year
The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe has long been concerned for the health of its 300 members living within sight of the mill, as well as the ecology of nearby Bears Ears National Monument.
Book celebrates Indigenous resilience, identity and hair
“(The book) is about reclaiming your identity and also about how intergenerational trauma really does impact us in these invisible ways that are hard to explain to outsiders."
The Biden administration just approved a huge oil project in Alaska
“It seems that despite its nod to traditional ecological knowledge, BLM does not consider relevant the extensive knowledge and expertise we have gained over millennia.”
Hitting the gas
As enforcement falls short, many worry that companies are flouting New Mexico’s landmark gas flaring rules
In 2021, New Mexico adopted regulations that were viewed as a model for reducing methane emissions from the flaring and venting of natural gas. But on the ground, watchdogs say they don’t see much of a change in oil and gas companies’ practices.
Major gas leaks in the Uinta Basin are contributing to waste and pollution
Researchers have discovered that seven percent of the gas produced in the Uinta Basin is being leaked into the atmosphere.
Natural gas production likely cause of southern Colorado earthquakes, experts say
Raton Basin’s surge in seismic activity since 2001 follows drilling of wastewater injection wells.
An invisible climate killer is lurking behind B.C.’s LNG boom
Notoriously difficult to track, methane emissions disproportionately fuel the climate crisis. As B.C. prepares for an uptick in gas projects, stricter regulations and existing technologies could help the province stick to its reduction targets.
An unexpected source of methane? Your local sewage plant.
A new study reveals that wastewater treatment plants need to be part of any serious plan to reduce methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
U.S. natural gas consumption set nine monthly records and an annual record in 2022
In 2022, U.S. natural gas consumption averaged a record 88.5 billion cubic feet per day — the highest annual natural gas consumption, according to records beginning in 1949.
DOE invests $47 million to reduce methane emissions from oil and gas sector
Funding supports 22 projects to advance technologies to monitor, measure, and mitigate methane emissions across the u.s. natural gas supply chain.
How Utah scientists rang the alarm about the Great Salt Lake
The shrinking Great Salt Lake puts Utah at risk of an ecological and public health emergency. Local scientists are stepping up, sharing actionable steps to help save it.
Farmers are skeptical about participating in water leasing to save the Great Salt Lake. Here’s why.
Agriculture is often criticized as the state’s biggest water user, but irrigators face mounting pressure from rapid urban growth.
How the drought revealed this Utah ghost town
Low levels in the Rockport Reservoir revealed the foundations of the forgotten ghost town, Rockport.
More moisture is headed to Utah, the West. Will it help Lake Powell?
A briefing from the drought integrated information center of the NOAA said there is wet relief on the way for Lake Powell, which typically gets its maximum flows well into July.
Colorado's healthy snowpack promises to offer some relief for strained water supplies
As of Monday, Colorado’s statewide snowpack was 127% of median from 1991 to 2020, according to SNOTEL data compiled by the Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Meet the Colorado man who always knows when — and where — it’s going to snow
OpenSnow forecasts precision snow reports for ski resorts across the country. And it all started with one lost powder day.
Why rain on snow in the California mountains worries scientists
Another atmospheric river is hitting the state, raising flood risks as rain falls on deep snowpack. Rain on snow is also a growing problem as the planet warms.
On growth and development
Montana has a habitat problem
Given the development pressures from the population surge, there's a real worry in Montana: The very thing drawing many here — open space — could become fragmented and destroyed.
Bills aim to repair Montana’s housing woes
Legislators and nonprofits are partnering on measures designed to lower zoning and construction barriers amid the state’s continuing housing crisis.
Montana Democrats pitch $500 million housing trust fund
Bill would put state dollars into subsidies for housing set at prices affordable to low-income residents.
Gov. Little interview: On housing and property tax Idaho 'literally victims of our own success'
“We are literally victims of our own success. All our kids want to stay here, and other people want to move here. Perhaps if some of our surrounding states wouldn’t be so hostile to business, there wouldn’t be so many people moving here.”
Billionaire’s Bondurant makeover hits a snag
Sublette County Board of Commissioners that has favored development on agricultural lands pivots, denying Joe Ricketts’s request to build out the riverbank at the head of the Hoback.
White River National Forest approves access road to proposed 19-home Berlaimont Estates community above Eagle River Valley
White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams has approved final plans for a road across federal land to access a proposed development of luxury homes above the Eagle River Valley.
‘Urban farm’ development planned for far west Bozeman
Developers are proposing about nine acres of residences as one part of a larger development in the far west corner of Bozeman.
What else we’re reading today
EPA’s proposed change on PFAS limits would deem dozens of Colorado water sources unsafe
Dozens of water sources across Colorado previously thought to be safe would now violate the federal maximum contaminant level for PFAS, or toxic “forever chemicals,” under a new standard proposed Tuesday.
Ski wax chemicals found in Park City’s aquifer and groundwater wells
Park City officials enacted a drinking water regulation that prohibits using or selling a certain kind of ski wax they believe is causing contamination of groundwater wells and an aquifer. Fluoro ski wax, which is usually labeled with LF and HF on packaging, contains polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS.
Watchdog dings EPA on wildfire air quality work
Wildfire smoke emits a host of pollutants, but its impact on air is not closely monitored, a GAO report says.
A Louisville family begins construction on a new home where the Marshall fire destroyed their last one
Louie Delaware and his family said their idea to build a new “living in place home” helps soften the blow of what they lost in the 2021 fire.
In a first, coal company agrees to use social cost of carbon
Environmentalists said a deal involving the Canyon Fuel Co. of Utah marks the first time a coal company has voluntarily agreed to calculate the climate damages of its mining on federal land.
Barrasso, Lummis try again to ban Russian uranium
Wyoming's U.S. senators hope the ban would help domestic uranium mining resume.
China owns little U.S. farmland, but many lawmakers are worried
Nearly a third of states have laws prohibiting certain foreign businesses and governments from buying agricultural lands within their borders, and more states are looking to join them.
How does Idaho count wolves? Critics say state uses ‘smoke and mirrors,’ misleads public
For the last several years, the agency has used cameras placed throughout the state to record timed and motion-triggered images to count the number of wolves in Idaho. Critics have said its methods — in particular the motion-triggered photos — are seriously flawed.
Interior Department to put $25 million toward bison restoration
The agency described bison as a keystone species that is “inextricably intertwined with Indigenous culture, grassland ecology and American history.”
Attorneys debate USFWS inaction in Bitterroot grizzly recovery
A Missoula federal judge heard oral arguments last week on why the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to recover the Bitterroot population of grizzly bears for the past two decades.
Why Colorado’s ski industry wants you to buy lift tickets like you do airplane tickets
According to the National Ski Areas Association , daily lift tickets in the Rocky Mountain region have increased from an average price of $97 in 2013 to $197 in 2022. That figure aggregates prices from Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana.
Edited by Matthew Frank, associate director of regional journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana
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