©1999 Wolff Den Design - Lady Wolf - Ralph Maughans Wildlife Reports

Conservation News Story Archive May - June 2000


6-29-2000 The people's initiative to prevent future game farms in Montana has qualified for the November ballot. Here is a feature article Gary Homquist who spearheaded the initiative. Big Game on the Ballot by Ruth Thorning of the Missoula Independent.
6-23-2000 Preservation vs. timbering key issues in Missoula area By SHERRY DEVLIN Of The Missoulian. More on these nationwide hearings on my Idaho and Northern Rockies wild country page. 
6-22-2000 Boulder White Clouds Council hosts wolf forum before packed audience in Ketchum, Idaho. Idaho Mountain Express by Kevin Wiser.
6-21-2000 Idaho wolf recovery leader to retire. By GREG STAHL Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. Roy Heberger is retiring July 3.

Fish and Wildlife approves wolf deterring rubber buckshot by Greg Stahl. Idaho Mountain Express. After much talk about the changing the rules about harassing away wolves, it appears the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will approve "injurious harassment."  This may sound bad on the surface to the who support wolf recovery, but the present alternative is waiting unless a wolf actually has its teeth in livestock and then the farmer can kill the wolf, but otherwise only try to scare it away by making noise, etc.  But will rubber bullets work?

6-21-2000 Story about this website -- Idaho professor creates Internet site on wolves. This article originally appeared in the Post Register on June 19.  Because there are some folks who will think this web site is part of my job, please note the disclaimer at the bottom of the this web page. 
6-20-2000 Public Interest Research Group gives the lowdown on the Blue Ribbon Coalition. The Blue Ribbon Coalition: Protector of Recreation or Industry? I had always wondered why this group said so much about the laudable goal of public access, and yet did so little to protect the growing blockage of public lands by private landowners with adjoining boundaries.  According to PIRG, it seems they have another goal unrelated to access per se -- promoting the views of the dirt bike, ATV and snowmobile industry, plus those of the extractive industry which has no particular interest in public recreation. 
6-19-2000 Montana Senator Conrad Burns (an opponent of popular CARA) and his opponent Brian Schweitzer debate CARA. Billings Gazette. Burns' views. Schweitzer's views.
6-19-2000 Wildfire season looking mild for Northwest. While Oregon soaks, bigger, meaner and more frequent blazes threaten the rest of the country. Oregonian. This article talks about more than the fact the Oregon and Washington will be spared a bad fire season this year. As the article says, not just drought, but bad logging practices in past, overgrazing and the resulting spread of flammable exotic grasses, have led to flammable situation in the southwest which could also affect Wyoming and Idaho south of the Salmon River this year. It is important to understand this because the timber and grazing industry are using the recent fires to argue that logging and grazing prevent fires, when they are in fact a major indirect cause.
6-19-2000 UM prof says road ban wonít hurt state of Montana economy By Sherry Devlin of the Missoulian. Professor of Economics Power has long been a thorn in the side of the Montana timber and mining industry with his calm appeal to the fact that people live in Montana not to log but because they like it, and the Rocky Mountain scenery is this resource poor state's largest natural asset. Read Power's book: Lost Landscapes and Failed Economics: The Search for a Value of Place. Island Press.  
6-18-2000 Idaho split over Craters proposal Craig, Chenoweth-Hage question plan to protect an additional 700,000 acres. By Rocky Barker The Idaho Statesman.
Idaho U. S. Senator Craig thinks the Antiquities Act is itself antiquated. The  original Craters of the Moon National Monument was proclaimed by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924.  One wonders if the Senator thinks the number of people looking for open space has declined since then, or that the threats to the space that remains have decreased.
   The proposal for an enlarged Craters national monument (or even a national park) is not a new suggestion emanating from Washington D.C. During the 1980s and early 90s, Idaho's U.S. Representative from the area where this land lies promoted a large Craters of the Moon National Park.  Senator Craig gave Representative Stallings no help, however.  I wonder if he was invited to testify?
   The present Idaho delegation likes to argue that local people were not involved by Secretary Babbitt, but local environmentalists only got 60 seconds each to testify at Craig's hearing. It appears those local folks in the Burley, Idaho that area trying to jump start the depressed rural economy with a little tourism, got brushed aside too.  The major of Arco, Idaho hated Clinton and Babbitt, but could see the virtue of a big monument for the always shaky Arco economy.  The Blaine county commissioner, Mary Ann Mix, the county where most the enlarged monument is located, was enthusiastic, but Blaine Country folks are not Craig or Chenoweth's kind of local people. "Local" seems to be defined more by one's political correctness than by where you live in Idaho.
   I do have a suggestion for a congressional reform because too many of these sham hearings are being held. It should be a rule of the US Senate and the House that no standing committee is empowered to hold field hearings unless a member of both the majority and minority party is in attendance to make sure democratic fairness is upheld.  Idaho conservationists were told they had 60 seconds each  to speak at this Craig hearing.
   Regarding the complaining ranchers, there is probably no place in Idaho less suitable for livestock grazing than the Arco Desert where this monument lies.  The scant native grasses there did not evolve under heavy grazing pressure from large ungulates; so the argument that cattle grazing merely replace bison is not valid.     Cattle and sheep have been destructive forces in the area, spreading non-native annual, cheatgrass which is very flammable, resulting in large (several hundred thousand acre) range fires almost every year which further spreads the cheatgrass and kills off the sagebrush and native grasses on which the local wildlife (like sage grouse) depend. Unfortunately, Secretary Babbitt has already said he will grandfather the destructive grazing.
6-18-2000 House protects new national monuments from Western Republicans, but the President is still expected to veto rider-laden Interior Appropriations bill. Washington Post.
6-18-2000 Wooden Polls: A conservationist takes stock of the recent Montana primary election. By Steve Thompson. Missoula Independent.
6-18-2000 Wolves adjust attitude. Growing in number, they're getting bolder, biologist says. By Sherry Devlin of the Missoulian. Some wolves, like many other wild animals, are becoming habituated to humans. That means they expect to see people and don't run when they do.  It doesn't mean they are going to attack, but the fact that a wild animal doesn't run when a human approaches has and will lead people to do stupid things.  The Druid Peak Pack has to be highly habituated to people. Every time they cross the road they have to run a gantlet of a dozen or maybe a couple hundred people.
6-13-2000 Friends of the Northern Yellowstone Elk Herd has a web site (link).  Folks may remember these who the folks who were (and remain) convinced wolves are wiping out the northern Yellowstone elk herd. A brief look at their web site indicates to me that they are another rural Western reactionary group fond of conspiracy theories.  They have been busy. A list of their accomplishments. Note that the one recognizable place photo with elk on their home page is of the Madison River elk herd, not the Northern Range.
6-12-2000 Editorial Opinion. Billings Gazette. Burns ignores Montanans Senator snubs debate to attend Virginia fund raiser. Burns is a leading US Senate anti-wildlife, anti-environmentalist.  He usually raises about three times as much campaign money as his opponent.  He is expected to win reelection this year. Find out who gives to your members of congress at: Opensecrets.org
6-12-2000 Idaho Conservation League releases Boise-Cascade memo urging its workers to monkeywrench the roadless areas process. News release from ICL 6-13-2000. Idaho Statesman. (Boise). Boise Cascade accused of roads plot. 
6-11-2000 Game farm ban initiative nears ballot. Missoulian This is great news for protecting Montana wildlife from disease and for ethical hunting. 
6-11-2000 Clinton creates four more national monuments. Washington Post. More great news about protecting our public lands! More information from the Oregonian. Soda Mountain devotion pays off. Dave Willis has fought tirelessly for a national monument designation for the diverse wilderness area. Saturday, June 10, 2000. By Michelle Cole of The Oregonian staff. Deal might save Steens Mountain without monument tag. Oregon congressmen work on a plan with traditional use of the mountain area. Saturday, June 10, 2000. By Jim Barnett of The Oregonian staff.
6-10-2000 Convoy will convey 'outrage' at roadless plan: Pro-timber forces will arrive en masse in trucks, cars. By Sherry Devlin of the Missoulian. You can make sure these exploitive ranks of the past don't prevail by attending your own local hearing.  Here is the national list of public meetings.
6-10-2000 Ranks of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition Swell. Billings Gazette. Link to the GYC.
6-8-2000 Who Runs Glacier [NP]? by RON SELDEN Photos by CHAD HARDER. Missoula Independent.
6-5-2000 Jackson residents launch campaign to block chopper tours. Billings Gazette. This is probably the most obnoxious proposal to affect the area in years.  Low flying helicopters are the most disruptive to people and wildlife of any aircraft except low flying military gets.  This operation would be a daily insult to residents and visitors.  The notion that the country east of U.S. 89, the "Jackson Hole Highway," is not noise sensitive, is absolutely false as anyone who has spent a day outside of Grand Teton National Park, but in the mountains to the east, can tell you.

This operation will cause far more noise disruption than snowmobiling does.

June 10. Jackson Hole helicopter tours wonít be stopped by opposition, Vortex Aviation CEO says. Billings Gazette.

6-5-2000 The Westís hottest question: How to burn whatís bound to burn? by Tony Davis. High Country News.
6-5-2000 Opinion: Killing the cancer-eyed cow by Penelope Reedy. Writers on the Range. Reedy lives in my home town of Pocatello. She is a journalist and former editor and publisher of the Redneck Review of Literature.
6-5-2000 15 per cent of the West Yellowstone voters sign petition to Congress to BAN SNOWMOBILES in Yellowstone. Billings Gazette. Not all in West Yellowstone favor snowmobiles.  Signing a public petition against them in a town so dominated by the snowmobile industry requires substantial commitment and  some bravery.
6-4-2000 BPA buys out grazing privileges in critical Bear Valley Creek/Elk Creek area of central Idaho. Idaho Watersheds Project news release. Although this grazing allotment was bought out to restore salmon spawning habitat, it is incredibly good news for all wildlife in the area, including the elk, deer, moose, bear, and the Landmark, and other wolf packs. The only wild salmon in Idaho I ever saw was last summer in Elk Creek. 
In June, before the cows come in, the Bear Valley and Elk Creek area has elk in numbers similar to the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone. June 6, the story in Oregonian.
6-1-2000 ĎLetís pray for rainí Montana fire season could be bad, report says. Billings Gazette. Meanwhile, wildfires are already being fought in Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado and Utah.
6-1-2000 NATIONAL PARKS Snowmobilers searching for allies By Michael Milsteain. Gazette Wyoming Bureau. Will taxpayers' dollars be used to mislead the public about snowmobiles in Yellowstone?
6-1-2000 "Old West" Parade in Jackson mocks backpackers, wolves, and minorities. Billings Gazette.
5-31-2000 :Idahoans split evenly on idea of breaching Snake River dams. Division interpreted differently by foes, supporters of idea By Charles Etlinger  Idaho Statesman. Unlike Professor Freemuth quoted in the article, I am not surprised that Idaho public opinion on this issue has not changed in a year despite massive publicity and many public hearings. The reason is this: the position most people take on the dams versus the salmon reflects their commitment to friends, community, political party, and political ideology.  Unless one of these things change, opinion won't change.  Public opinion on this issue is very much like opinion on wolves which is the same now in Idaho as it was before reintroduction (also split about equally). 

Dams may kill salmon, destroy river systems, and cause earthquakes, but at least they don't contribute to global warming, right?  "Wrong" says article in New Scientist. Raising a stink. Rotting vegetation in hydroelectric dams stokes global warming

5-30-2000 Snowmobiles Keep Out! Editorial from the Washington Post.
5-25-2000 Babbitt's map of Craters plan draws rapid fire Some ranchers, Sen. Craig object By Rocky Barker The Idaho Statesman. In reality Babbitt talked with all interests except environmentalists. The only enviro to show up with Babbitt's meeting with the ranchers claims she was threatened and chased by the ranchers, in an incident the media has not reported even though they were present. 5-28-2000. Babbitt will wait before deciding on Craters expansion A public hearing is slated for June By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. "Consensus and trust can only be forged through an open public process," [Senator] Craig said."  My views on consensus (Opinion by Ralph Maughan)
5-26-2000 Snowmobiling in Parks Draws heated testimony before U.S. Senate Committee. By Korey Karnes. Billings Gazette.
5-22-2000 Hecla troubles watched closely. Costly cleanup near Salmon River raises concerns about Coeur d'Alene basin effort Becky Kramer - Spokesman Review Staff writer.  I visited Hecla's cyanide lake yesterday in the headwaters of the Yankee Fork of the Salmon.  It is one scary place.  Millions of cubic yards of tailings, saturated with water laced with cyanide and zinc are perched precariously on a shelf beneath a tall mountain just above the Yankee Fork of the Salmon.  The lake is leaking cyanide water right now.  A summer cloudburst or earthquake could spell disaster to those downstream on the Salmon River, Snake River and even the Columbia.  I will have photos of this lake up on this web page in about a week or so. Feature article: Poison in Salmon Country: Emergency Action Ordered for Removal of Cyanide Lake in Idaho. Cascadia Times.
5-21-2000 Feds: Wolves to go to Turner ranch. Any wolves that cannot be caught will be killed. Missoulian. Although the aversive conditioning is regrettable, I support this attempt as much better than continually killing wolves the migrate north of Yellowstone where they have plenty of habitat, but where there are always cattle and sheep.  
5-18-2000 Stanley wolves face uncertain summer Conservationists fear Sawtooth [Stanley] pack could be next for lethal control. Idaho Mountain Express by Greg Stahl.  One thing Stahl doesn't mention is this fine article is that the Stanley Pack is the pack that could generate wolf tourism in Idaho, much as it has in Yellowstone. Idaho images: wolf killers, skulking arsonists, Aryans Editorial Idaho Mountain Express by Dick Dorworth.
5-16-2000 High Court gives Public Land Ranchers a Rare, but Stinging Defeat. Public land ranchers have long argued that their grazing permits on public lands are property rights, not privileges subject to regulation in the public interest and possible revocation. This decision, if I interpret it correctly, says the grazing permits are privileges.

High court OKs public land grazing regulations. Ranchers fear justices' ruling could jeopardize livelihoods. Spokane Spokesman Review.

High court upholds grazing restrictions. By Nancy Lofholm Denver Post Western Slope Bureau, May 16, 2000
Grazing is not a Right. Denver Post editorial on the Supreme Court decision. May 23, 2000


5-16-2000 Anti-game farm initiative gets go ahead for Montana ballot. By Erin P. Billings. Billings Gazette State Bureau. The game farm lobby is tough to beat, but this initiative could halt the danger of game farm diseases escaping to wildlife, livestock and humans from these rapidly proliferating "farms."
5-14-2000 Wyoming U.S. Senator Thomas enlists more senators in protesting snowmobile ban. Billings Gazette. 
5-13-2000 Three pregnant elk escape from game farm by Scott McMillion. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. The specter of chronic wasting or "mad elk" disease increasingly haunts Montana. The escape of elk farm elk feeds the fear.
5-11-2000 House Passes  CARA (Land Conservation Measure). Washington Post. Ignoring complaints the government already owns too much land, the House agreed Thursday to create a $45 billion, 15-year conservation fund to buy parks and open spaces, pay for wildlife protection and restore environmentally damaged coastal areas. This is great news for all who value wildlife, open space, and room to roam. A sad note is that Montana's U.S. Representative, Rick Hill, who is retiring because he would be defeated got an amendment making it so the government can't purchase any new land in Montana without first selling an equal acreage.  This will make it almost impossible to use the fund to protect critical wildlife habitat in the state that is becoming the "Big Sprawl" rather than the "Big Sky."

5-12-2000 Bill limits federal land in Montana by Scott McMillion. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. 5-15-2000 Here is the story from Utah. Utah's Parks Pin Hopes on Senate, Bill would fund badly needed repairs, aid wildlife habitat by Tom Wharton. Salt Lake Tribune. Conservation groups troubled by Rick Hill's measure by Duncan Adams. 5-25-2000

5-11-2000 Plan for Great Rift National Monument in Idaho may move forward. Spokane Spokesman-Review. When you are out in this lava rock wilderness, you would think nothing would ever change it.  There's no need for protection, you'd think, but it is big open places like this that the military looks at for bombing ranges, and others for waste dumps or unusually dangerous facilities.
5-10-2000 Clinton plan aims to ban roads in pristine forests. CNN.  It's finally out -- the President's roadless area initiative.  It's a lot less than enviros hoped for, but much better than the Forest Service's past business as usual.
5-9-2000 CARA bill nears vote in House  By Margot Higgins. ENN News. This is one of the most important bills for wildlife and open space to come before Congress in many years.
5-8-2000 A growing movement in green by Rebecca Clarren. High Country News.  The timber industry is beginning to understand that Americans don't want forest plunder.  Soon the only true believers will be the Western Republican Senators whose minds are stuck in the 1950s and their eyes focused on the past.
5-3-2000 Steamboat Geyser, Yellowstone's tallest, comes back to life. Billings Gazette by Michael Milstein.
5-2-2000 Snake River dams defy Clean Water Act, EPA says. CNN.

Conservation News Stories in Western Wolf Country

May - June  2000

Please be aware that not all articles and links will be working as some of the sources do not keep archives.  

The comments about each story are mine -- RM

Ralph Maughan's Wildlife Reports

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