The stories below are arranged in rough chronological order. Be sure to scroll down so you don't miss updated stories. Unless it is in quotes, the commentary is mine. . . Ralph Maughan
Please be aware that not all articles and links will be working because some of the sources do not keep archives, or if they do keep them, they charge for them.
Archive July - December 1999
12-24-99).Grizzlies to Remain on Endangered Species List. Billings Gazette. Government grizzly committee predicts it will take at least four more years to clear hurdles for grizzly delisting. Note: there is an error in the headline -- grizzlies are on the "threatened" species list, not the endangered.
(12-23-99). Slouching Towards Polebridge. Feature by STEVE THOMPSON. Missoula Independent. A Montana environmentalist seeks shelter at Polebridge for Y2K. This is in the North Fork of Flathead backcountry, an still nice place threatened by Montana U.S. Senate Conrad Burns and misc. grubby B.C. politicians.
(12-17-99).Logging Does not Contribute to Forest Health. Opinion Billings Gazette by Prof. Arthur Partridge.
(12-14-99).Debate rages over roadless lands: Miners, hikers show divided needs in Idaho by Rocky Barker - The Idaho Statesman.
(12-12-99).Grizzly deaths increase [in Wyoming] but human-bear confrontations and property damage are down. Billings Gazette. Grizzly bear deaths were up in Wyoming (outside of Yellowstone Park) this year, six compared to one in 1998. However, maulings and property damage were down. It was a good food year for grizzlies in Wyoming. All-in-all, it was pretty good for bears, especially compared to the very high death years 1994-7.
(12-11-99).Evironmental groups give Gallatin N.F. 60 days notice of suit on ORVs. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. by Scott McMillion Yes the use of ATVs has exploded. Their illegal trails and hillclimbs scar the landscape. It may also be an explantion for the poor elk hunt (addition to the warm snowless weather). Elk see hunters are predators similar to bears, wolves, cougar, etc. ATV hunters, however, unlike their more nimble counterparts afoot or on horseback, give elk a long loud warning sound of their approach, allowing them ample time (maybe 20 minutes) to find cover.
(12-9-99).Outdoors groups seek policy on off-road vehicle use. Billings Gazette. The Wilderness Society and numerous others groups have petitioned the U.S. forest Service for stricter controls on the burgeoning off road vehicles on the public lands, nationwide. The use/restrictions on these ever-more-powerful off road vehicles is getting to be the major battle over the use of public lands.
(12-7-99). Governors want voice in roadless forests plan: Resolution blasts administration for leaving West out of planning. Spokesman-Review. Of course the Western governors are angry. They don't like protecting the public lands of the United States and they are all Republicans waiting for George Jr. to come rescue them once he gets elected and figures out where all the states and foreign countries lie.
(12-6-99). Winners of first annual "Golden Cowpie" award announced the by the Idaho Watersheds Project. Joking aside, the uncontrolled and unsupervised grazing on the Lost River Ranger District is a big threat to all wildlife including the wolves that are just of the north of the area. A former grazing manager on this district once told me it was the worst he had ever seen, even including his stints in Nevada and southern Utah. He estimated overstocking at over 50%. "Overstocking" is a nice word for ranchers stealing grass by putting on more cattle than they pay for or are permitted. I understand that there is one allotment in particular that stinks -- literally -- the Wildhorse grazing Allotment -- which includes the headwates of the Big Lost River, Wildhorse Creek, and Kane Creek. According to the Boulder-White Clouds Council (a group formed to protect much of this area) the Wildhorse grazing allotment has 1900 cow/calf pairs where similar size allotments have 500 and they are degrading too.
(12-6-99). Big rockslide closes north entrance of Yellowstone. Billings Gazette. 12-8-99. The road has now been reopened. Here are pictures of the slide.
(12-5-99). Sunlight Basin Pack kills a pet German Shepherd. Billings Gazette. This is too bad. It's sad to lose an old family pet, but from the article it looks like the dog was left out at night, and Reef Creek is thick with grizzly bear, lion, and it is in the core of the range of the Sunlight Basin wolf pack. Update on 12-6-99. Biologists say a new wolf pair is in the area, and it may have been them rather than the Sunlight Basin Pack that killed the dog.
(12-1-99). Good News! DNA analysis shows Glacier N. P. grizzly population larger than thought. Missoulian.
(12-8-99). New stuff on this Nevada so-called "sagebrush rebellion." I have arranged the stories, however, so that the oldest come first.
(11-21-99). Grizzlies in Bitterroots? Experts want proof by SHERRY DEVLIN of The Missoulian
(11-20-99). Sierra Club announces campaign to protect millions of acres of our wilderness heritage along the route of Lewis and Clark. Missoulian. Sierra Club web site on their Lewis and Clark Wild American campaign.
(11-18-99). Sierra Club turns in 15,000 comments to USFWS to protect grizzly habitat. Perhaps I should have rewritten that. The USFWS service says it will protect grizzly habitat. I agree with the Sierra Club that the federal proposal -- the "draft criteria" -- are insufficient. Link: Sierra Club Grizzly Bear Ecosystems Project. Text of Sierra Club News Release.
(11-16-99). Adopt Citizen's Solution and ban snowmobiles in Yellowstone says Salt Lake Tribune.
(11-14-99). Wolves not pushing elk herd to extinction, officials say. Billings Gazette. There is a group that has organized north of Yellowstone that insists wolves are pushing the northern range of Yellowstone elk herd to extinction. Official deny this, and they are right. The evidence cited for this "extinction" hypothesis is that hunting has been very poor this fall. The explanation for this is simple -- the weather has been abnormally warm and dry. High temperatures throughout October and November have been in the 60s and 70s, when normally they are in the 30s to the 50s. The elk are up high and way back in because there is no need for them to migrate to winter range. Haven't the folks signing this petition noticed the weather? Everyone else is talking about it. Or do they have an agenda that was predetermined and just waiting for a pretext?
(11-13-99). Problems seen in grizzly bear management plan. Billings Gazette. I think this criticism of the government plan is on the mark. It's not so much that the bear population is at high point in the last 50 years, so much as it is protection of the habitat, and the grizzly recovery area no longer matches the distrubiton of the bears -- some parts of the recovery had bears, but now do not. More often the bears have expanded their range. This is especially true to the country south and southeast of Yellowstone NP. The grizzly recovery zone, IMO, should include all the land south of Togwotee Pass to the Green River, i.e., southward to the north end of the Wind River Mountains. Here is a map I drew of the existing Yellowstone grizzly bear recovery area, broken into the various "bear management units," or BMUs.
(11-8-99). Wolf Population in Glacier National Park Collapses. Missoulian By MICHAEL JAMISON. While some folks seem to think that wolf populations will grow to an unlimited size unless they are controlled, the collapse of the wolf population in Glacier NP due to the winter die-off of their prey shows that wolves may well cycle with their prey. The population is expected to start to rebuild soon.
(11-5-99). While Montana DOL obsesses about bison brucellosis, mad-elk disease creeps into a Montana elk farm. Montana Wildlife Federation attacks DOL for complacency. Billings Gazette. It's not clear if the Montana DOL does anything except kill bison and attack Yellowstone National Park, but their tunnel vision is a clear threat to the all of Montana's deer and elk and perhaps to hunters, not to mention those who buy game farm venison. Here is the mad-elk disease story from the Missoulian.
(11-3-99). Are there grizzlies in central Idaho? There have been two stories on this in the last two days. My view is that it is likely that a grizzly occasionally migrates from Yellowstone or NW Montana into central Idaho, i.e., into "the Bitterroots," but single grizzlies will never repopulate the area, nor will two or three bears. A reintroduction is needed. The views of the Alliance for the Wild Rockies, and similar groups, regarding the ESA and grizzly reintroduction sound scarily like those the Farm Bureau used against the Idaho and Yellowstone wolf introduction. The Alliance's heart is in the right place, but their central Idaho grizzly recovery strategy doubtful. (11-3-99). Grizzlies in the Bitterroots: Groups Announce the "Great Grizzly Search." Billings Gazette by Sherry Devlin. 11-3-99. Expert chides enviros' conspiracy claim, says there are no big bruins in the Bitterroots. Missoulian by Sherry Devlin.
(10-31-99). Cleaner snowmobiles pivotal to their future in Yellowstone. Editorial Bozeman Daily Chronicle. History of Yellowstone Winter Use. (10-31-99) Billings Gazette by Joe Kolman. It seems that snowmobile use was put on its destructive path in Yellowstone without any foresight as to where it would lead. (11-2-99). Editorial from the Post Register. Park Must Set Snowmobile Limits. Here is another editorial from a major newpaper near Yellowstone against the current policy of letting them run rampant in the Park. It seems like the only folks in favor of snowmobiles in the Park are interest groups funded by snowmachine manufacturers and politicans, but such is the condition of democracy at the end of the 20th century -- what votes. . . money! 11-4-99. Ban Banshees in Yellowstone. LA Times. All right! The national newspapers are starting to pick up on how the snowmobiles are trashing wintertime Yellowstone.
(10-30-99). Montana government pushes its anti-bison program. Billings Gazette. It looks like another unpleasant antagonistic winter ahead.
(10-27-99). Defenders Rep sets the Record Straight on Idaho wolves- Idaho Mountain Express. I haven't reported much on the latest central Idaho silliness, because I'm not sure it's true -- parents in central Idaho are afraid that wolves will eat their children while waiting at the school bus stops. If this fear is true, it says more about the people than the wolves. Anyway, in this opinion piece Sue Laverty of Defenders rebuts the claim.
(10-21-99). Montana's Supreme Court upholds the Right of Montanans to a Healthy Environment. Missoulian. Before the browns took over Montana's state government, Montana's voters protected themselves by passing a constitutional amendment guaranteeing them a healthy environment -- a environment to be protected proactively, not just compensated for when it had been damaged, says the Montana Supreme Court. Why don't Americans write something similar into the U.S. Constitution? In fact it might already be there. The Ninth Amendment clearly states that the specific rights listed in the Bill of Rights are not an exhaustive list, but Justices like Antonin Scalia stand in the way.
(10-20-99). Snowmobiles make wintertime Yellowstone air twice as Polluted as L.A. by Scott McMillion. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. You can help put an end to these noxious machines in our first national park by commenting on the draft of the new Yellowstone winter use plan. Support the Citizen's Solution to the problem. (10-21-99). Snowmobile manufacturers mum on Yellowstone report, and cleaner machines. Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
(10-18-99). Idaho Watersheds Project wins another one in Idaho Court. IWP News Release. Those who follow the remarkable legal victories of IWP, coupled by the unified political resistence from Idaho's political establishment, will remember this case. It stems from the very first time IWP dared to bid against a rancher. (10-20-99) Here is the same story from the Post Register. Conservationist gets second bid on grazing lease - Judge grants state's request to reopen bidding on 640 acres in Custer County
(10-17-99). Wired Kingdom By Mark Obmascik Denver Post Staff Writer
(10-14-99). Forest Protection Plan Is Unveiled: Clinton Initiative Aims to Ban Road-Building, Logging on 40 Million Acres.Washington Post by Charles Babington. While the detail are not clear, the President's proposal may be the largest effort at protection of our national forests since they were created (mostly) by Theodore Roosevelt. (10-15-99). Editorial from the Washington Post on President Clinton's forest initiative. They say his plan underscores the importance of the year 2000 race for environmental issues.
(10-11-99). Yellowstone Struggles Under the Weight of Alien Species. Billings Gazette. Yellowstone Grizzlies may take a big hit from alien species. (10-13-99) Billings Gazette. The declining habitat for grizzlies, is in my opinion, a major reason why additional lands need to be added to the boundaries of the Yellowstone grizzly recovery area -- lands to the south and east of Yellowstone. Under the weight of these alien speices and diseases, grizzlies will need more land to persist. The country south of the Park is great habitat. It already has grizzlies. The only problem is the livestock operations. If they were gone, it would be wildlife paradise. New Zealand Mud Snails take over Yellowstone Park waters. (10-13-99) Billings Gazette.
(10-10-99). Not worth their Salt. Article by an outfitter about unethical hunting practices along the southern boundary of Yellowstone. (10-12-99). Outfitter speaks against elk baiting in Bridger-Teton. Billings Gazette. Once the salt is out there in the wilderness, there is little that can be done to stop elk from coming to thse unnatural salt licks. One thing that could be done, however, something that would teach these outlaw outfitters a lesson, would be to close the are to hunting. The no hunting area could extend for perhaps three miles all along the southern boundary of Yellowstone. The closure could come from Wyoming Game and Fish, or more controversially, the Bridger Teton National Forest. Unfortunately, the B-T Forest is showing a real lack of leadership on this. They did not have a forest supervisor until two weeks ago. She is new to the area, and just learning about these issues. (10-21-99) More on the issue . . .Elk baiting hard to prove, officials say. Billings Gazette.
(10-6-99). Yellowstone Moose in Decline due to lack of food. CNN.
(10-6-99). Idaho Fish and Game Commission Shelves Controversial Plan to Reduce Predators. Idaho Mountain Express. It is shelved for now, but they will probably be back with something. Their continuing desire to reduce predators in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness will go nowhere. The Wilderness Act of 1964 prohibited any general reduction of predators in Wilderness areas.
(10-5-99). Confine off-road vehicles to trails. Editorial by the Post Register (Idaho Falls, Idaho).
(10-5-99). Crush of off-road vehicles plies West's public lands. Christian Science Monitor. It would be nice to control these vehicles, but unfortunately they have bought themselves some politicians.
(10-4-99). Yellowstone Collects 0.5% Royalty On Bio-Deal. Salt Lake Tribune. Critics say the Park got a rotten deal, especially in view of its financial plight. (10-5-99) Park officials refuse to confirm details of bio-tech deal. Billings Gazette.
(9-30-99). Anti-griz rally held in Salmon, ID. 500 said to attend. Post-Register. Most folks in the United States probably can't figure out this kind of rally because the government doesn't plan to reintroduce griz near Salmon, and regardless, the growth rate of a reintroduced grizzly population would be much much slower than the wolves. The key to understanding rallies like this is social-psychology. The traditional extractive nature of the economy in the area islong gone due to unstable and/or low prices for gold, beef, and timber, and it's a place that is not very productive anyway. Blaming things on the abstract forces of the market is not psychologically satisfying. So a scapegoat is needed (especially because Salmon folks might turn on the local politicians). The federal government, wolves, bears, and "eastern environmentalists" (such as we folks in Pocatello, "Eastern" Idaho) are good targets. Scapegoats won't help their economy, but it makes them feel better.
Regarding Mr. Mealey . . . while he was a bear biologist a long time ago; I think most people think his subsequent career, such as his trashing of the Boise National Forest as its supervisor, blotted out any credentials he once had on the grizzly.
(9-29-99). Greater Yellowstone Coalition calls for control of snowmobiles in Yellowstone. Public hearings to be held in region this October. 10-1 Story on the upcoming hearings and their dates.
(9-27-99). Idaho Man caught Illegally Hunting in Yellowstone. Park News Release.
(9-27-99). Republican lawmakers in Alaska snub voters and governor to support aerial shooting of wolves. CNN. Alaskans passed an initiative to stop this practice, but the GOP legislature repealed the law over the governor's veto.
(9-27-99). Moose kills a man in Beartooth Mountains. Billings Gazette. As of 9-29 the moose was still on the loose.
(9-24-99). Seattle man mauled by Yellowstone Grizzly. Billings Gazette. This defensive attack took place in the core of the territory of the Chief Joseph Pack. Hunters warned about traipsing through bear country by Scott McMillion. Archery hunters are at particular risk in grizzly country and should definitely have a can of pepper spray. Note: McMillion is the author of the best-selling book, "Mark of the Grizzly," a book about unpleasant human/grizzly encounters. Grizzlies are very smart when it comes to food, and they know all about the annual elk hunt -- that a rifle shot often means fresh elk.
(9-23-99). Idaho Fish and Game Declares War on Predators: Ketchum, Idaho-based citizens group mounting protest. Idaho Mountain Express. As we are about to enter the 21th century, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission is returning to a 19th century attitude toward predators. . . . and it's these guys to whom the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service seems hell-bent in a hurry to turn wolf management over to!
(9-20-99). Wyoming Lynx being studied. Boulder Daily Camera. There are lynx in Wyoming, in or near wolf country.
(9-19-99). Yellowstone Country Grizzly-Livestock Incidents Rise in the 1990s. Billings Gazette. Anyone who follows this page knows that grizzlies are tougher on livestock in the Yellowstone area than wolves. This article examines the controversy. I should add that as with wolves, a rancher is in luck with grizzly predation as compared to coyote, cougar, black bear, poison-plant and disease caused deaths, because Defenders of Livestock compensates in Montana and Wyoming Game and Fish in Wyoming. Relocating the bears is not a particularly good solution because it disrupts the social behavior of all the bears in the area where the new bear is relocated, often resulting in the death of the relocated or other bears.
(9-18-99). Battle Brewing over Sage Grouse. Oregonian. The sage grouse may be heading for the threatened species list. Would anyone have believed that the sage grouse and the big sagebrush that it requires would ever be in jeopardy? It shows how degraded the western rangelands have become. Putting it on the threatened species could lead to a restoration of the western high desert, but more likely it will result in a lot of politics.
(9-18-99). Local counties write an alternative proposal to the draft Yellowstone winter use plan. Billing Gazette. Counties adjacent to Yellowstone have drafted an alternative to the plan the Park Service proposes for future winter use. Environmental groups are also drafting a "citizens plan." This matter is going to be one of great controversey. The draft plan from the Park Service is on-line at: http://www.nps.gov/planning/yell/winteruse/010.html
(9-14-99). Old Faithful Slows but Grows. Billings Gazette. The famous geyser may not erupt every hour any more, but eruptions are a bit larger.
(9-10-9). Week of News - Two articles on wolves from the Missoula Independent. One article is about the Bass Creek Pack and the Bitterroot Valley as a place for wolves. The second article asks if they are trying to stiff ace wolf trapper Carter Niemeyer.
(9-7-99). Bangs suggests weaker wolf recovery goals Billings Gazette.
(9-3-99). Sewage leaks continue to threaten Yellowstone. Billings Gazette.
(9-3-99). Violent attacks against public employees increase in the West. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. While many of the death threats, bombings and assaults are by criminals, anti-environmental groups bear some of the responsibility.
(9-1-99). Land deal with the Church Universal and Triumphant finalized. Governor Racicot spoils the occasion with his retrograde views on bison. Billings Gazette. The acquisition of this critical winter range adjacent to the north entrance to Yellowstone has almost been completed. Unfortunately Montana governor Racicot spoiled the occasion to vow he would continue his war against free roaming bison on the grounds that some have brucellosis. Racicot's views are important to all Americans because he is angling to be George W. Bush's Vice President or Secretary of Interior. Do we want this sorry tool of the livestock industry who can't tell what diseases are dangerous and which aren't? No one gets brucellosis anymore except careless veterinarians. No one gets it from bison. However, Montana had a case of anthrax this spring and a case of mad-elk disease. Does the governor care? Does he even know?
(8-23-99). Idaho Watersheds Project wins again. This time in the 9th Circuit. News Release The 9th Circuit Court has reversed the grazing decision by Idaho federal judge Lynn Winmill. This is another big victory for the Idaho Watersheds Project. Folks should also understand that there is a big effort by Western Republican congressionals to take Idaho and Montana out of the environment-friendly 9th Circuit Court (which is located in San Francisco) and create a new "cowboy circuit court." The idea is that the the ranchers, miners, timber barons, and developers would have a federal court that excludes them from the laws other Americans have to live by, unless the hard-pressed average Idahoan is able to get the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
(8-23-99). Clinton charges GOP tax cuts would jeopardize national parks. CNN. The national parks are arguably the most popular program of the federal government. Why Republican politicians keep going after them must puzzle both Democrats and rank-and-file Republicans alike. A recent national poll showed that protecting parks, wilderness and open space was currently the most important environmental issue for Americans.
(8-21-99). Moderate earthquake shakes Idaho/Montana border. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. A moderate earthquake shook the sparsely populated Idaho/Montana border Friday. 40 years ago last Tuesday was the anniversary of the giant Hebgen Lake earthquake of 1959.
(8-20-99). STILL ENDANGERED? Grizzly roars back from brink by Todd Wilkinson. Special to The Christian Science Monitor.
(8-18-99). BIG IDEAS. Baby, We Were Born to Roam: A bold new plan to give wildlife the run of the continent. Outside Magazine August 1999. How about a corridor for wildlife migration from Yellowstone to the Yukon? This article gives information on the Wildlands Project.
(8-16-99). Sunlight Basin Pack acquires a third adult member. Reactions to the Pack in the Sunlight Basin are Varied. Story in the Billings Gazette.
(8-15-99). 40 years after the Hebgen Lake earthquake, memories are still fresh. Stories By Donna Healy. Billings Gazette. On Aug. 17, 1959, a giant earthquake struck the Madison Range just west of West Yellowstone, Montana. Nineteen people died when a mountain fell on their campground. Nine others died in the tremblor.
(8-15-99). New Montana group hopes to organize the Montana "green" vote. Billings Gazette.
(8-15-99). A New Push to Protect the White Cloud Mountains of SE Central Idaho? Idaho Mountain Express. This is the largest unprotected roadless area on the national forests of the lower 48 states, and the range of both the White Cloud and Stanley Basin wolf packs.
(7-30-99). Grayling to be planted in the Beaverhead River and maybe the Madison. Bozeman Daily Chronicle by Scott McMillion. The nice thing about Grayling is that this fish is immune to the whirling disease that is hammering rainbow and cutthroat trout populations throughout Montana and the West. More: U.S. Government Seeks to Keep Gray Wolves in Yellowstone. Yahoo News.
(7-30-99). Wolf Foes and Supporters in Court. Here is the story on the long-awaited oral arguments before the 10th Circuit Court. The case was heard yesterday on the appeal of the wolf removal order from Wyoming federal district judge William Downes.
(7-28-99). News release on 10th Circuit Court wolf hearing tomorrow. This is from Predator Project and the Earth Justice Defense Fund. They are the plaintiffs arguing to give full endangered species protection to "native" wolves in Idaho and Montana.
(7-17-99). Livestock-killing grizzly trapped and killed in the upper Green River. This was one big bear. The grizzlies have been ranging down into the northern end of the Wind River mountains in recent years. A fair number of sheep and cattle have killed. Maybe all of them were from this old fellow.
(7-13-99). Bozeman area businesses protests Big Sky's plan to dump treated sewage in the Gallatin River. Bozeman Daily Chronicle by Scott McMillion. I understand that Big Sky's request has sparked intense opposition, much of it sources that usually don't get involved in environmental issues.
(6-20-99). Expert calls weeds major problem for [Yellowstone] ecosystem: Spotted knapweed could spread without control, specialist says. Billings Gazette. Sometimes I fear knapweed, spurge, and musk thistle and yellow star thistle will take over all the west. Everyone needs to pay more attention to this fearsome biological pollution. I found and dug up some knapweed right at Rose Creek. In case you don't know what this stuff looks like. Spotted knapweed. Leafy spurge. Yellow Star Thistle. Yellow Toadflax is clearly out of control in Yellowstone. It is all over the Mammoth Hot Springs area. Weeds could indirected endanger the growing wolf population. New 7-13-99 from the Missoulian. A special on the "weed invasion" of Montana.
(7-13-99). Folks need to understand that alien species of plants and animals are biological pollution, and just as serious as air and water pollution and hazardous waste. Read Alien Species: A slow-motion explosion. CNN Nature
(7-5-99). Geothermal effects mean park sewer lines anything but faithful by Michael Milstein Billings Gazette. Yellowstone National Park has had many problems with aging sewage systems the last two years. This problem is complicated by the Park's hot springs.
(7-4-99). Grizzly bear committee tells hikers to carry pepper spray. Post Register. This is good advice. I just ordered my can of pepper spray for the summer. I've never had to use spray (or the pistol I used to carry) in the backcountry.
(7-3-99). Judge rules names of public who submitted comments on grizzly plan must be made public. Government may appeal. Missoulian. A judge has ruled that the names of people who commented on the plan to reintroduce grizzly bears to central Idaho must be made public. The Forest Service argued that those who write in favor of grizzlies in small towns might be subject to local reprisal. A case in point is Salmon, Idaho where the lone local person testifiying in favor of grizzlies had to receive protection. I was in Salmon that other day. I saw a bumper sticker on a truck that read, "Environmentalists: Welcome to Salmon. We haven't had a good hanging since 1954."
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