Conservation News Story Archive Nov - December 2000


12-24-2000 BLM in Wyoming may Delay Grazing Next year due to after effects of the drought. Associated Press. The year 2000's drought effects are not over yet.
12-23-2000 Crowding from concentrated winter feeding of elk and bison raises fears of wildlife disease in Jackson Hole. Associated Press.

Alberta adds 13 'special places' to protected list: Not enough for wildlife, critics say. By Geoffrey Vanderburg, The Edmonton Journal. Note for Americans: a hectare is a metric unit of measurement equaling 2.471 acres.

Delay of snowmobile ban stirs disagreement. Associated Press. Wyoming Senator Thomas says it does stop the Yellowstone Park ban. The Park Service says "not."

12-22-2000 Judge says Flathead National Forest failed to enforce snowmobile ban in areas where their 1986 forest plan prohibited them. Missoulian. This is another example of snowmobiler lawlessness and the Forest Service winking at it. Is it any wonder environmentalists sue that agency constantly?

Babbitt to recommend two national monuments in Montana. By Bob Anez. Associated Press. Congressman Hill's protest that this will block access to petroleum reserves is a line of argument we are going hear more and more of as politicians try to shift the blame for high OPEC oil prices and the chaos in electricity due to its deregulation. This round was fought in the energy crisis of the 1970s. The arguments and their answers are very old, but there are a lot of folks, including media, who haven't heard them before.


Bitterroot Forest releases fire report. By Carlotta Grandstaff. Missoula Independent. "Interestingly, the most severe burns occurred on private and state land, contradicting Gov. Marc Racicot’s claims that the Clinton Administration and the Forest Service mismanaged federal lands and in turn caused the disastrous fire season."

Racicot Declines Bush Offer to be Attorney General. Missoulian. Was it really just that he wanted to live in Montana with his family? 12-23. As we now know Senator John Ashcroft has been nominated Attorney General.  Many political commentators are saying Racicot was not conservative enough for the job because as  Montana governor he had vetoed a "Right to Work Bill" (this is a type of anti-labor union measure, in the pantheon of right wing ideas ever since the 1940s).

Whitman Seen as Strong Choice to Lead E.P.A. New York Times. By DAVID M. HALBFINGER with ANDREW C. REVKIN


12-20-2000 Moderate Christine Whitman to head EPA. ENN News. Gov. Christie Whitman, R-New Jersey has told lawmakers she will resign as governor to be Bush's EPA head. In other news Montana Gov. Marc Racicot has told Bush he doesn't want the AG job.
Whitman gets mixed reviews on green record. ENN News. By Dunstan Mcnichol, The Star-Ledger, Newark, N.J.

Easing of Montana Environmental Laws Feared. Erin P. Billings. by Erin P. Billings. Billings Gazette.

BLM's motorized plan is stuck in reverse by John Adams. Writers on the Range. Has "The Bureau of Livestock and Mining has morphed into the Bureau of unLimited Motorization."

People for the USA Disbands. by Heidi Walters. High Country News. What a crying shame! Such a nice bunch of rural reactionaries. But we could have expected it after they changed their name from People for the West to one so bland.


Making the roads safe - for elk, bears, and wolves. By Todd Wilkinson. Christian Science Monitor.

Congressional rider will not stop YNP Snowmobile Ban! Billings Gazette.

Congress passes bill protecting Black Rock Desert in NW Nevada. Reno Gazette Journal. This was a real sleeper, and a last minute gift from retiring US Senate Bryan to Nevada and to America. The protected area is very large.

12-18-2000. The new law ends 41-year effort to save Nevada desert. Nevada conservationists amazed it happened. Las Vegas Sun

North America's lone wolf unmasked: Researchers, using DNA, have discovered a new species of wolf in Canada, one that continues to evolve by Philip Lee. The Ottawa Citizen. The wolves in Algonquin Park are a separate species, not gray wolves, nor wolf-coyote hybrids.

Forest Service approves controversial Wyoming land swap to ski resort. By Jennifer Langston, Post Register.

Lands group submits proposal: Idaho would manage projects on federal land. Spokesman Review. By use of "trusts" Idaho is proposing to take over management of 11-million acres of national forest land under a proposal that has seen little publicity from conservation groups. Details?

What do Voters Love? The Land. ENN. Love of the land and wildlife spreads across all political views with land trusts being a device that stirs less political controversy.

Oil industry gets set to lobby for more drilling on U.S. lands. By The Associated Press. “I think the oil and gas industry is going to have its way with the federal government,” said David Alberswerth of The Wilderness Society. 
I would expect the borders of the Yellowstone Country and the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana to suffer the most under an oil-company dominated executive branch.

Montana Businesses target environmental law. By Charles S. Johnson. Billings Gazette State Bureau. Wow, what a blast from the past! They want to return to the policies that have kept Montana poor, backward, and with a population under a million people.
This is not your grandpa's economy. The Missoulian opins that pumping up the natural resource segments of Montana's economy at the expense of the environment is not a policy that will cure Montana's economic ills.

12-14-2000 Sierra Club Statement on Bush and the Environment. ENN. The Sierra Club labored hard for candidate Gore. Because the Club is not a tax deductible organization, it legally can get involved in partisan politician campaigns. I have to wonder if its very public support of Gore is designed to slacken the anger of Democratic Party office-holders toward those environmentalists who supported Ralph Nader and almost certainly created the Bush Presidency.

Judge tells BLM to reconsider grazing rules by Succor Creek: Environmentalists contend bureau fails to protect Owyhee County area. Idaho Statesman. The Owyhee Country is the largest place in the West without a paved road. A number of Idaho groups are promoting it for Clinton's last national monument designation, but others contend the danger to the Owyhee is decades of overgrazing, something monument status would not check and might even enshrine. This article is about the continuing actions of those enviros who seek to reduce the grazing.

12-13-2000 Cleaner snowmobiles slated for Yellowstone. Associated Press. It's a clear case of tokenism, but even this would not have happened were it not for the clamor for a ban.
  • Montana Wilderness Association Blasts Draft Off-road Policy. Billings Gazette by Clair Johnson.
  • 12-11 BLM Authorizes new plan to regulate vehicles on BLM public lands throughout the West. Associated Press. While this may sound like something, I have yet to hear from a conservationist who thinks the proposed plan is worth the paper it is printed on.  Their proposal is open to public comment until Jan 3., 2001. Here is the link to the BLM web site: National OHV Management Strategy


12-11-2000 Mike Clark Steps Down from head of Greater Yellowstone Coalition. GYC news release. I'd like to add that at a time when there seems to be few heroes, I have had the immense privilege of working with one. Fortunately Mike is not leaving the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.
12-10-2000 Mike Jimenez Tells Jackson, Wyoming Crowd Wolf Recovery is Big Success. Billings Gazette.
12-8-2000 A New, Western Crime: Sagebrush seed rustling. Oregonian. With the increase in range fires and the consequent decline of sagebrush, sagebrush seed for rehabilitation has become a valuable commodity, one that some provide illegally.
  • Snowmobile manufacturers, Blue Ribbon Coalition file Suit Against Park Snowmobile Phase out. Associated Press.
  • 12-9-2000. Clean and Green Snowcoaches for the Winter Olympics may point the way for post-snowmobile Yellowstone by Jeff Tollefson. Billings Gazette.


12-6-2000 New House Resource Committee Chair Drafts Legislation to allow local politicians to alter national monument boundaries. Salt Lake Tribune. The story mentions the coal in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Of course, to prevent that huge coal mine was the major reason President Clinton established the national monument in the first place. Perhaps we are going to return to the days of Reagan's Secretary of Interior James Watt who said Americans should be able to see the nation's great industrial sites as part of the national park experience.

Audubon Society leases The Beartooth Ranch, seized from convicted drug dealer. Billings Gazette

12-5-2000 Montana snowpack doesn’t ease pile of worry about drought. By Lorna Thackeray of the Billings Gazette Staff. To elaborate on the effect of the winter on wildlife consider this: the summer drought meant that little forage grew this summer to provide wildlife through this winter; but a hard winter that would help out for next summer will mean the death of many grazing animals, and then later the death of predators that feed on the deer and elk. We saw this play out in Montana and Yellowstone after the severe winter of 1996-7.

Snowmobilers Look to Bush. Billings Gazette. By Jeff Toffefson.

12-4-2000 Bitterroot Valley Becomes a Lab of Sorts After the Fires. Billings Gazette.
12-3-2000 Plum Creek Timber signs huge ESA Pact. Spokane Spokesman-Review. Plum Creek, a spin-off of Burlington Northern Railroad, is one of the largest timber holders and loggers in the Pacific Northwest. They have signed a "habitat conservation plan," a controversial measure than spells out a what the company will do in 96 areas in return for no additional endangered species requirements from the government for the next 30 years. My environmentalists are skeptical of these HCPs, but they may be the wave of the future. Plum Creek's HCP is the largest in the country so far.
12-2-2000 Best season in years for Montana hunters. By Mark Henckel. Billings Gazette Outdoors Editor. Just last year some people who claimed to speak for hunters were saying wolves had killed all the elk and deer. Others argued the warm weather simply had kept the big game much higher than usual for autumn. I guess we now know who was correct. Wyoming hunters had a good season too.
12-1-2000 It's final. Cantwell wins going away in Washington state recount. Arch-anti-environmentalist U.S. Senator Slade Gorton is defeated. Story 12-3 in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer 
11-30-2000 Preservation Action, Then a Bigger Fight. By Michael Janofsky. The New York Times. This is about national monuments that President Clinton may declare in Montana before he leaves office.

12-1-2000. Related Story:
Babbitt’s visit revives hopes for pillar; 1970 advocate for Rimrocks says Clinton has time to designate national monument. By Clair Johnson of the Billings Gazette. 
11-30-2000 Babbitt praised and reviled for his tenure. By Kirsten Searer Medill News Service. Bruce Babbitt served eight years in the position that amounts to being the Governor of the West. Like his boss, Bill Clinton, he was controversial.

11-28-00 Tree that was protester's home for two years cut by chainsaw. CNN.
11-30-00 Julia "Butterfly" Hill Revisits the Tree she saved only to have someone try and fell it. San Francisco Chronicle.

11-28-2000 Snowmobiles Leave Land Managers out in the Cold. ENN. 
11-27-2000 Love for Nature Has Guided Turner's Life. By Pete Bodo. New York Times. This is not about Ted, but his son Beau Turner.
11-23-2000 Maria Cantwell apparent winner in Washington US Senate Race. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Long time incumbent Slade Gorton, targeted by native Americans and environmentalists, has  probably been defeated as the last Washington State ballots are counted. This will make the U.S. Senate a 50 to 50 tie for the first time in 120 years. A recount is automatic under Washington State law. It began on Nov. 27.

Great Sands Dunes National Monument in  Colorado to become National Park. Denver Post.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton Solidify Their upcoming Snowmoble Ban. Billings Gazette.

Government says environmental lawsuits stymie endangered list. CNN



Central Idaho Moose Restoration A Success. Hunting moose in Wood River Valley Suggested. Idaho Mountain Express.

11-21-2000 Colorado approves wasting disease plan for deer. Associated Press.
11-20-2000 Montana Initiative to ban new game farms wins. This is news from 11-13-2000, updated. The Montana state initiative to ban new game firms won 52% to 48%. Opponents of the farms, who organized under the name MADCOW, maintained they are breeding grounds of disease for wildlife and cattle and that elk hunts in enclosures are unsporting. MADCOW referred to Montanans Against the Domestication and Commercialization of Wildlife. There are 92 "game" farms in Montana. The measure will also prevent owners from transferring their licenses.
Missoulian editorial in favor of the measure. Montanans take the initiative.


Nevada rancher convicted in fight over cattle on national forest. By Scott Sonner. Associated Press.
11-18-2000 Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks purchases huge conservation easement on Plum Creek Timber Lands. Associated Press. Purchase of a conservation easement is a partial property right that sets limits on lands uses. 

11-10. Southern Utah and Nevada "cowboys" seize national monument cattle  impounded by the BLM. By Brent Israelsen. Salt Lake Tribune. Were it not for the presidential controversy, this would be a major national story. 

11-13-00 Outlaw ranchers refuse to return cattle, despite federal prison threat. Arizona Republic. Free registration required to read.
11-15-00. Cattle Wrangle May Bring Sanctions.  By Brent Israelsen. Salt Lake Tribune.
11-17-00. Escalante Wilderness Asks Government to Stand up to Rancher Intimidation. News Release. It looks like the government may be backing down after the ranchers stole their cattle.
11-19-00. Cattle Imbroglio Fanning the Fire In Battle Between Ranchers. By Brent Israelson. Salt Lake Tribune. The irony of this situation is that the heritage these renegade livestock operators hope to preserve was created not by their community but by the Hollywood movies filmed in the area 30 years ago.

Babbit's Plan to Protect the Red Desert In Wyoming Criticized. Associated Press. Most folks have never heard of Wyoming's Great Divide Basin, but Dick Cheney knows this country. As congressman in Wyoming he would not abide this silly talk about antelope, sage grouse, mountain plovers, and desert scenery. He won't as VP either.

Microbial Transport At Yellowstone: By Land, Sea Or Air? Science Daily.




Arctic refuge fate may hinge on presidential result. CNN.


11-15-2000 Remember the story about the monster trucks mashing the mountain meadows near Boulder, CO? Well the radio "personalities" who promoted the destruction are facing criminal charges. Here is an editorial from the Denver Post applauding their prosecution.

British Columbia Government Adds 20,000 Square Kilometres (5 Million Acres) to Spectacular Muskwa-Kechika Conservation Area From Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (CPAWS). This is the country the Idaho and Yellowstone wolves came from in the second (1996) release of wolves.

Here is another story on the enlargement of Craters of the Moon National Monument, the first with a map. Craters expansion finalized Monument grows by 600,000 acres. By GREG STAHL Idaho Mountain Express.

Wolf Activists Want Wolf Reintroduction to Southern Rockies. Rocky Mountain News.


The big story today is the release of the preferred alternative in the President's plan to protect Forest Service roadless areas. See my Idaho Wildcountry Page.


Defenders wants to lease private pasture in Paradise Valley for ranchers who have federal grazing allotments in nearby wolf range. Associated Press. 

Proposal for placer mining in Yellowstone River just north of YNP draws criticism. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. By Scott McMillion.

Clinton creates new monument in Arizona, greatly expands one in Idaho. By Matt Kelly Associated Press Writer. The Idaho monument is a huge 660,000 acres. This is great news and it indicates the President truly believes in protecting the environment and will not retaliate for Nader screwing up the election. The next question is will the President declare the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge a National Monument to keep it away from the intent of a Bush administration to drill for oil?               Photo of area. Updated 11-12-2000


Reflections on the 2000 election by Ralph Maughan

Election 2000: gray day or heyday for greens?  By Margot Higgins. ENN News

GOPost-Mortem. Now that Republicans have swept the [Montana] election, what’s next? By George Ochenski of the Missoula Independent. 



President's National Monuments spur Western congressionals into some protective legislative measures. Steen's Mountain in eastern Oregon the most significant. High Country News. By Michelle Nijhuis and Oakley Brooks



Science Magazine. Dam removal: Too little, too late for salmon? ENN News. Keeping these old pork barrel dams has become a major GOP theme in the Washington US Senate race with Republican Slade Gorton defending them and challenger Maria Cantwell hedging. Is it already too late?

Salmon debate stirs as Election Day nears. ENN News. The debate also figures in the Washington State governor's race. 


11-3-2000 Idaho caribou keep federal protected status Bonners Ferry chamber loses battle to remove animal from endangered list. Spokesman-Review. I spent about 3 weeks near Bonners Ferry this summer in the backcountry. There are a lot of closed logging roads, but that's because there are so many logging roads in total. These Chamber of Commerce folks have plenty places to drive. Most Americans would rather see a mountain caribou than another eroding logging road in the Selkirk Range.


11-2-2000 Alert! Snowmobile Rider Refuses to Die. National Parks and Conservation Association Alert.


11-1-2000 Judge chastises both sides in Shovel Brigade dispute, urges settlement. By Scott Sonner. Associated Press.

Chronic wasting disease: FWP will again test deer, elk. Agency wants heads from hunters' kills. of the Missoulian.