Recent Conservation News Stories in Wolf Country
Updated last on Friday, January 5, 2007 1:14 PM

The stories below are arranged in rough chronological order. Be sure to scroll down so you don't miss updated stories. Not all articles and links will be working because some of the sources do not keep archives, or if they do archive them, they the URL Unless it is in quotes, the commentary below each link is mine. . . Ralph Maughan 

Wolves have killed all the elk in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming?  Yeh right!

  • Jan. 17, 2006. Thinning Ungulates? A look behind the question of excessive numbers of elk.
  • Feb. 13, 2006. Wisconsin deer herds immense despite the recovery of the wolf there.
  • April 8, 2006. Wyoming elk numbers are 9,000 over state's objective.
  • June 11, 2006. Are Idaho's most controversial predators decimating its elk herds?

THE Land grabber web page-

Current to Nov. 8, 2006

stories about representative richard pombo and others who want to sell or give away america's public land heritage.

Bye Bye Pombo!

Good riddance
The Earth-raping congressman was defeated on Nov. 7!

9-1-2006. Hard times for humans are good for wolves [at least in East Germany]. By Erik Kirschbaum. IOL

8-31-2006. Secret Forest Service plans leaked to obliterate or privatize thousands of campgrounds nationwide. By Bill Schneider. New West. The Bush Administration doesn't like the free and rudimentary camping millions of Americans do on their public lands. So plans are underway to make folks pay for high end campsites with no option for rustic ones. The process has proceeded in secret with no public comments solicited.
As for myself I wouldn't camp in a fully developed commericial campground even if it was free. This is another blow against freedom on our public lands and a move toward privatization.

8-31-2006. Stillwater area Montana residents scramble to get out of the way of the Derby Fire. Billings Gazette. This fast moving fire is on the Beartooth Front. The article has lots of good photos. The fire also required closure of Interstate 90.

8-31-2006. Kempthorne touts energy development during tour. Interior secretary proposes plan to ready national parks for centennial, 100 more years. By Noah Brenner and Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide. Sublette County, WY has long supported natural gas development, but as it has grown at an accelerating rate, darkened the pristine skies of western Wyoming, impinged more and more on scenic places and harmed wildlife, calls for a slow-down and more consideration of other values has grown. Two years ago I wouldn't' have believed Republican US Senator Craig Thomas calling for limits, not to mention governor Dave Freudenthal. Kempthorne, as governor of Idaho has had no experience with oil and gas because Idaho is almost devoid of them. Kempthorne's call for "public-private" partnerships in Yellowstone worried folks about Park Service becoming more and more run by volunteers and corporations.
8-31-2006. Park Service to Emphasize Conservation in New Rules. By Felicity Barringer. New York Times. This article indicates that Sec. Kempthorne is not moving the Park Service more in the direction of industrial r.ecreation.

8-30-2006. Dry, windy weather fans Idaho fires. Firefighters didn't get any breaks from the weather Tuesday, but they kept things under control. Idaho Statesman.
8-30-2006. Fires still raging in Central Idaho. Middle Fork Complex is now highest priority. Idaho Mountain Express. By Dana Dugan.

8-29-2006. Firefighters get read for wind in NW Wyoming too. AP. The large Purdy 20 miles east of Jackson could burn mountain subdivisions near Dubois.

The Trailhead Fire (near Stanley, Idaho)
So what has happened since? Well, calm and cooler weather made the fires "lay down," they are still there spreading slowly where their edges have not been contained. However, higher temperatures and strong winds are predicted 8/29-30 in advance of a cold front. It could be a bad day.
Note: today the nearby Red Mountain fire put up a big plume.

8-25-2006. Photos of the Trailhead fire (taken on 8/24). In recent years there has been a huge die-up of lodgepole pine, which is plenty flammable when it is green, not to mention when dead, in the mountains around the Sawtooth Valley and Stanley Basin. Nowhere is the die off more visible to people than the vast apron of pine that cloaks the lower slopes of the Sawtooth Range. Everyone knew it would die someday, and in recent years many (not all) of the folks who own summer homes and cabins have thinned the trees around their places, and the Forest Service has conducted some fire danger reduction and salvage operations, but the supply of dead timber is so vast! Last year, to my surprise it was the Valley Road fire in the nearby White Clouds that blew up briefly threatening Clayton, downriver from Stanley. This year the Potato Fire (see the second photo below -- scroll down) mushroomed in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon, also downriver from Stanley. Now the forest beneath the Sawtooths has finally caught fire and burned 3000 acres on August 24. The fire didn't start on the front of the Sawtooths. It started on the lesser known west side of the Sawtooths near Grandjean. It has been declared "controlled" in July, but two days ago it reignited and "spotted" over the top of the range into the area a few miles south of Stanley Lake -- Iron Creek and Crooked Creek.
Just the other day, when I was there, a person commented "I wonder how many homes a fire in Iron Creek would take out?"
Read about it in the Idaho Mountain Express.
Government web site on the Trailhead fire (source of the most detailed information)

The dense forest at the base of the Sawtooth Range (back in the days it was green)
The dense forest at the base of the Sawtooth Range (back in the days it was green). The lake is Redfish Lake.
I took the photo from Boundary Creek in the White Cloud Mountains. Copyright Ralph Maughan. How much of it will burn?

red lodgepole pine, extremely flammable



Red lodgepole pine near Stanley, Idaho. Photo Aug. 06.
Ralph Maughan

The first year after a lodgepole dies, its needles turn red. Lodgepole pine are born by fire and renewed by fire.

It is most flammable while the needles are red. After they have fallen off, it is still very flammable, but less so than when red. Red lodgepole catch fire so easily it's almost like they were dripping with gasoline.

You can light red lodgepole branches with a match even when they are soaking wet.







8-25-2006 More on Idaho fires from the Idaho Statesman. By Health Druzin

8-12/25-2006. Latest on the Potato Fire. It may be near containment.
Potato Fire blows up near the Yankee Fork of the Salmon, Idaho
Potato fire blows up on the afternoon of Aug 10. Photo from Stanley Creek. Central Idaho. 800 people fighting the fire.
The fire is about 8 miles away in the photo. Copyright © Ralph Maughan

8-24-2006. Oregon moose population is booming. AP. The Seattle Times. The reason is migration from adjacent Idaho where the moose population recovery over the last 50 years has been just short of amazing.

8-24-2006. Smoke from Montana and especialy Idaho fires, smothers air quality in SW Montana. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle.
Lots and lots of fires. National Fire News website.

8-23-2006. Wolves Making Sheep Too Scared to Eat. USAgNet. And the story based on anecdotal information continues on and on. Do a Google News search and see.
8-20-2006. Blaming wolves: Ranchers' claims need further proof. Salt Lake Tribune Editorial. Finally someone in the MSM does more than repeat anecdotal speculation by a handful of Idaho livestock owners.
8-15-2006 Wolves hit bottom line. By Jesse Harlan Alderman. Associated Press writer with staff reports. Jackson Hole Star Tribune
. We see that the assertion that wolves cause livestock weight loss has gone to fact (see the headline) just like that. Are we really going to have steaks that are more bone and less meat? Does the writer know how much beef in the U.S. comes from the public lands, much less wolf country? Does he know that cattle are usually fattened up at feedlots after a summer on the range?
-It started here. 8-14-2006. Ranchers say livestock are losing weight from fear of wolves. The Olympian. By Jesse Harlan Alderman. The Associated Press.
It is a reasonable hypothesis (and so it should be tested scientifically). That means the validity of the claim must not be assumed to be the case at this point in time. My hypothesis is that if they do lose weight, it isn't very much. I also would like to see tested whether the cows adapt to the presence of wolves. I think they do.

8-23-2006. Hope for the westslope cutthroat. Yellowstone poisons yellowstone cutthroat trout to preserve its cousin. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide. Cutthroat trout are in general not fairing well. Disease, introduction of competing trout, pollution, drought, all have taken their toll, but in this case the yellowstone cutthroat trout(not doing so well) is being poisoned out in a high Yellowstone Park lake so that the original westslope cutthroat trout can be restored in the lake.

8-23-2006. Hunting ranch? More like a slaughter pen. Editorial Idaho State Journal. If folks could get an initiative on the ballot, there is little doubt these operations would be outlawed in Idaho like the good folks in Montana did, but without paid signature gatherers it's very hard to do. This editorial is about the controversy described below.
8-15-2006. No wildlife was saved from Idaho ranch to be turned into a "shooter bull" operation. By John O'Connell Idaho State Journal writer. It is not fair chase. These are springing up all over Idaho for rich out-of-state pretend-to-be hunters. Native Idaho wildlife is destroyed so fat rich incompetents can pretend they are something they are not -- hunters.

8-23-2006. Fall Chinook salmon runs nearly extinct in Idaho. Idaho State Journal (Pocatello). By Harry Morse.

8-23-2006. Winds fan flames on the Flathead (Montana). Missoulian. By Michael Jamison and Michael Moore. The Flathead are of Montana was one of the last places to dry out this year, but dry lightning has now started several fires. Forest fires in the Northern Rockies have, after a slight lull, picked up again. Regarding this see: Fire Update: Idaho's Red-Flag Fire Warning and Other Fire News in the State. By Jennifer Gelband. New West. Note that Aug. 23 is another "red flag" warning day for Idaho.

8-29-2006. Sample of Montana eagles shows toxic levels of mercury in their blood. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette Staff. I have a feeling that mercury is going to be a real problen, kind of an ultimate pollution because it is an element, not a biodegradable organic compound like most pesticides.
8-23-2006. Our View: Let's keep monitoring imported mercury levels. Idaho Statesman.
8-22-2006. Idaho Group says Nevada gold mines need to clean act on mercury. Environmentalists, industry see recent data in different light. By Judy Fahys. The Salt Lake Tribune
. I'm sick of these north central Nevada gold mines polluting me, my relatives and my friends with their mercury compounds. Because gold, unlike most metals, is used primarily for jewelry and as store of value, it is not clear the United States or the world benefits from the production of any more gold. If production keeps the price of gold down, who does it help and who hurt? It is certainly a mixed bag.
This is a classic environmental problem. The mines benefit from lowered costs of production by not cleaning up pollution. Others, such as those in Idaho and Utah pay for the mines artifically lowered costs with a threat to their health. Economists calls this effect "negative externalities." When people understand the essentially exploitive nature of pollution, they are not so likely so say things like "it smells like money."
Note that the other major source of mercury in Idaho is a polluting cement plant just over the border in Oregon.

8-21-2006. Cougar Range Map Expanded To Include North Dakota Badlands. "The Cougar Network announced today that it has modified its "Big Picture" map of known cougar range to include the Badlands region of North Dakota. This decision was made after a careful review of the available data and consultations with biologists from the North Dakota Game & Fish Department."

8-21-2006. The Long Burn: Warming drove recent upswing in wildfires. Ben Harder. Science News on-line. I missed this story in July. My impressions travelling around the forests of the West the last six years that we are witnessing the conversion of forest to grassland and high desert to noxious weed infested nearly pure desert.

8-16-2006. Winds force Casper Mountain emergency to be declared Winds push wildfire toward homes south of Casper, WY. By The Associated Press.
8-16. Purdy Fire fills Jackson Hole with Smoke. Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster.

8-15-2006. Scientists: Aspen Trees in West Dying. Scientists Say Something Is Killing Aspen Trees Across the West, Leaving Bald Patches. ABC News. By Chase Squires. This article has gotten a lot of attention, but it is not clear at all that Western aspen are overall seriously declining. Where aspen clones die, there may be many causes, but one not mentioned is probably the major culprit — cattle grazing.
The effects of large numbers of elk on aspen regeneration in Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park are well known. Every spring there are suckers that sprout from the old aspen, and every year elk eat all of them (maybe not quite all of them since wolves have come back to Yellowstone).
It is no different on private, BLM and Forest Service lands where cattle are grazed (that is most of these lands that contain aspen). Aspen regeneration projects which cut or burn the mature aspen usually produce thousands of sprouts per acre. Yet in a year or two, they are almost all gone. What happened? Even casual observation shows that cattle ate them. Walk through the regeneration in October, and it is obvious. If they want to not only regenerate but have new aspen trees, cattle must be excluded for about a decade. Otherwise, the aspen grove will put up new sprouts every spring, regeneration project or not. Every year most will be eaten and finally the mature trees die and so does the clone (the aspen grove).

8-15-2006. Gash Creek Fire above the Bitterroot Valley shows extreme behavior. Missoulian. By Perry Backus. This medium sized fire on the Bitterroot Front has been burning for about 3 weeks,  but showed a big increase on Aug. 14.

8-14-2006. Judge Issues Injunction on new [Bush] Grazing Rules. By Chase Squires. Associated Press. The Washington Post. We got a preliminary injunction on the public participation portion of the new grazing rules, preventing this travesty from going into the effect. The "individual" mentioned in the story is yours truly. See the earlier stories on this (down the page at about July 12-14.). The story says "Federal officials say the new regulations, the first overhaul of rules since 1995, will make management of public lands more efficient _ in part by limiting public comment on day-to-day rangeland management decisions." [boldface mine].
But it is the day-to-day rangeland management decisions that matter. The BLM's fancy plans (on paper) would still be open to public review and comment, but these planning documents are mostly ignored. It's a process that just wastes your time. What counts is when you tell the BLM you are sick and tired specifics like Rancher Smith using the trout stream as his manure lot and you are filing a protest or a lawsuit. That might get the cattle out of the stream. With the new rules, you would complain and all they would give you is a "Dick Cheney" finger salute.
8-16-2006. BLM’s new grazing rules blocked by court Western Watersheds Project scores early victory in ongoing battle. By Steve Benson, Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

Unfortunately, Judge Winmill did not enjoin the other obnoxious, economically inefficient and environmentally destructive aspects of the regulations.

8-14-2006. Mercury pollution blows into Idaho from other states. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Idaho's Governor Jim Risch has taken a strong stand against new mercury sources in Idaho by opting out of the federal mercury pollution trading program, but the poisonous mercury salts already pollute Idaho from neighboring states.

8-10-2006. Oil and gas Industry laments hurdles to development in the Rockies. By Judith Kohler. Associated Press. " 'Through lawsuits and other actions, it's more and more difficult to get leases on public land,' Duane Zavadil of the Bill Barrett Corp." This is an outrageous lie. The industry has gotten into places they never would have had a chance under previous administrations. The BLM in the energy producing states has become little more than a rubber stamp for handing out leases or auctioning them. Private property rights are ignored, wildlife is ignored, and a good part of the least populous state, Wyoming, is being industrialized miles from town.
Industry says things like this because they know the average person knows little of what land is leased and what is proposed. It also gets them off the hook for ignoring other things people deeply value.
8-13-2006. A closed door: Memo reveals BLM, energy companies too cozy. Salt Lake Tribune Editorial. This story bears out my commentary above.

8-9-2006. Governor Risch says Idaho won't be part of the federal mercury trading program. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. This means Idaho won't become the dumping ground for coal-burning electrical generating plants (which release much mercury as one of the pollutants). Idaho will remain as one of the few states without these pollution spewing facilities.

8-9-2006. A wolf friendly Montana ranch decides it has two shoot two wolves. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle. The Sun Ranch was been a wolf friendly progressive place and has harbored wolves for a number of years. It is a friendly place for all wildlife. The Wedge Pack lives on the ranch and the mountains behind it (Madison Range). About a week ago, however, the pack starting killing heifers. Here is the news release the Sun Ranch issued.

8-9-2006. Let the Antelope Roam. By Joel Berger and Kim Murray Berger. Op Ed. New York Times. You would think that the Trappers Point antelope migration bottleneck just west of Pinedale, WY could be kept open given its huge importance for antelope in Jackson Hole to the north, but it is anything but certain that some gas well or subdivision won't block it, ending 6000 years of migration.

8-9-2006. Global warming changes the Great Salt Lake. Salt Lake Tribune. By Tom Wharton.

8-9-2006. Is West Nile Virus killing squirrels in Boise, Idaho area? Kathleen Kreller. Idaho Statesman. It has been a bad year in Idaho for West Nile, and not to igore the human toll (I worry about it when the mosquitos bite here in Pocatello, ID), the infection of squirrels is unusual.

8-7-2006. Crews battle fires across Idaho. Firefighters contain most of Foster Gulch Fire burning across Idaho-Oregon border near Hells Canyon. By staff at the Idaho Statesman. I traveled and hiked extensively in central Idaho this summer, the first real good look at it since we finished on-the-ground research for Hiking Idaho in 2000. I was astonished at how much of it has burned since. The increase in the number of fires actually began in 1980, and it has (with exceptional wet years here and there) accelerated. I expect there will be and have been significant ecological changes.
A central Idaho burn
Union Creek from Marshall Mtn. July 2006, a typical remote central
Idaho burn. © Ralph Maughan

8-3-2006. Editorial by the New York Times. Delusional Thinking in the Senate. About the offshore drilling bill. Like almost every action taken by Congress and the Administration regarding energy, it is useless, expensive, and largely of symbolic action--crafted to get them reelected and their buddies' pockets filled.

8-1-2006. Potato Fire burns on near Stanley, Idaho. Trailhead Fire under control By Dana Dugan. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. The Potato fire is in the Yankee Fork of the Salmon River Country. The Trailhead fire near the west side of the Sawtooth Wilderness.
More on 8-4. Potato Fire threatens historic site, structures Slow-moving blaze burning near Stanley. By Greg Stahl. Idaho Mountain Express.

7-28-2006. Report: US Senator Burns called firefighters lazy. Original account revealed; senator issues apology for altercation at airport. By Charles S. Johnson Billings Gazette State Bureau. I'd say the Augusta Hot Shots were pretty cool in the face of the mouthy Burns.
7-30-2006. Horse Sense. By Charles S. Johnson. Helena IR State Bureau. "Time will tell just how badly U.S. Sen. Conrad Burns has hurt himself politically with his latest outbreak of foot-in-mouth disease."
8-2-2006. Sen. Burns' comments detailed in reports. By Charles S. Johnson. Missoulian State Bureau

8-2-2006. Glacier NP fire grows; gains made near Livingston [Paradise Valley]. AP. Billings Gazette.

With the northern Rockies forest fire season well underway, a good place to follow all the fires is the government's National Fire News. For fires in Yellowstone NP, check out Wildland Fires in Yellowstone.

8-2-2006. Forest Service hears little agreement over Little Belt travel plan [Montana]. By Sonja Lee. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer.

8-2-2006. Hunters and anglers turn GOP "greener." The Denver Post. By Mike Soraghan. "Republicans have often ignored the drilling concerns of environmentalists they view as left-wing radicals."

8-1-2006. View of the Idaho Statesman: Pollution exemption for dairies stinks.With help from Idaho's two US Senators, much of the southern part of the "potato state" is getting better known for its aroma.

7-31-2006. What's Idaho Fish and Game to Do? Wolf Pack Keeps Eating Their Radio Collars. By Jennifer Gelband. New West. This is one of the best explanations I have seen for this fairly common (among some wolf packs) practice. An interesting question was posed to me today, do wolves who disperse from their own collar-chewing packs pass this on to other packs as a kind of social knowledge?

7-30-2006. Wolves in Montana [doing well this year]. By Jimm Mann. The Kalispell Daily Interlake. After the Montana wolf population declined in 2004. It appears to be growing again, (as it did in 2005) although this story gives more of an impression than hard data.

7-31-2006. Tinder-dry forests near 2000 levels in Montana. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian. The Montana fires of 2000 burned millions of acres in western Montana and north central Idaho and was just days of exploding like the great fire of 1910.
7-31-2006. Livingston [Big Creek] fire now at more than 10,000 acres. By Ed Kemmick. Billings Gazette. Photo of the Big Creek fire from Paradise Valley, MT. Photo taken mid-afternoon on July 30.

7-31-2006. Middle Fork logjam dislodged by explosives Rafters finally allowed to pass. By Jason Kaufman, Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. Here is a story on the log jam (see opinion piece below).
7-30-2006. Blasting of logjam in Frank Church Wilderness renews debate over wilderness. When, if ever, are humans justified in intervening in the processes of nature? By Rocky Barker. The Idaho Statesman. A violent thunderstorm last Sunday caused a big log jam on the remote Middle Fork of the Salmon River in the Frank Church Wilderness. This stranded hundreds of people who were floating the Middle Fork. Hiking out of this Wilderness canyon is many miles and many thousands of feet. Many would not have made it, so the log jam was dynamited. Did this action violate the Wilderness Act? The answer is clearly "no." The Act explicitly provides for the use of motorized equipment "in emergencies involving the health and safety of persons within the area. . ." Therefore the article is based on a false premise.

7-29-2006. Filming of oil, gas site emissions blasted. Okla. senator rips EPA over monitoring tactics northeast of Denver. By Todd Hartman, Rocky Mountain News. Unseen pollution emissions are, of course, what most people think dirty industries resort too. Oklahoma's Inhofe obviously didn't like his buddies getting caught red-handed in Colorado.
Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is very powerful, but in the pocket of the oil industry. He actually had a science fiction writer, Michael Crichton, who has increasing become a right wing crank, address the committee about global warming. Crichton's science fiction novel makes global warming a plot by environmentalists.
Interestingly, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has been getting flak when he admitted his only material he had read about climate change was Chrichton's novel, "State of Fear."

7-28-2006. Montana, Idaho still seek delisting of wolves despite rejection of Wyoming's management. Federal government wants Wyoming included in plan. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette. Wyoming's bid to gain approval of its plainly deficient wolf management plan was turned down again. Idaho and Montana are still trying to get the wolf delisted without Wyoming, but animals don't abide by state boundaries.
— Story on the latest denial of Wyoming's petition from Defenders of Wildlife.

7-16-2005. Smoke from Montana wildfires degrade air quality in parts of the state. Air quality web site set up. AP

7-16-2006. The real threat to elk (it's not wolves). Garden Valley,Idaho grapples with proposed growth Residents question impact of development on wildlife, Payette River and way of life. By Heath Druzin. Idaho Statesman.

7-15-2006. U.N. takes up proposal to declare Waterton-Glacier in danger due to its melting glaciers . By Susan Gallagher. Associated Press Writer.

7-15-2006. Killing critters to help others. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star-Tribune staff writer. This big increasae in money for killing "predators" in Wyoming should probably be called "killing critters to satisfy old prejudices."

7-15-2006. Wyoming's first ever cougar management plan is out for public review. Casper Star Tribune. By Jeff Gearino.

7-15-2006. Wildlife friendly easement being worked out for the Sun Ranch at the base of the Madison Range in Montana. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle.

7-15-2006. Increased Risk Of Hantavirus Forecast For U.S. Southwest this year. Science Daily.

7-14-2006. Proposition 2: Chaos for your [Idaho] town. Editorial by the Idaho Mountain Express.

7-14-2006. BLM's new grazing rules spark lawsuit. Regulations affect 261 million acres of public land. Idaho Mountain Express. By Steve Benson.
7-12-2006. Dept. of Interior issues a final rule on new grazing regulations. News Release.
It's a giant step backwards. They cut out the public from any meaningful input, make it very hard to discipline ranchers who ignore the law, and they tie up the BLM in red tape so it can't move rapidly on anything. Update: Western Watersheds Project to sue.

These new regulations will effectively eliminate the voice of the public from public lands ranching. If you are a hunter, hiker, angler, etc. you are out of luck when if comes to cattle and sheep, and once against politics has trumped science.
Here are the final regulations (which will undergo litigation)-

Listen to the story on National Public Radio. I'm getting tired about hearing how ranchers will go out of business and sub-divide if they don't get their way. Where's the data on this oft told tale? Most ranchers will sub-divide regardless if it is scenic country, and if it is not, they won't be able to sell it to sub-dividers. How many ways do we have to subsidize public land ranchers, and what about the private land ranchers> We never seem to hear about them and subdivisions. It should also be noted that in terms of number of livestock on the public lands, the industry is dominated by corporations, not "mom and pop" outfits.

7-13-2006. Orphaned Wolves Lost in Idaho. Listen to this story. by Elizabeth Shogren. National Public Radio. It was the Big Water Pack in the Soldier Mountains north of Fairfield.

7-13-2006. Custer County, ID denies a dozen tax protests, exemptions. By Todd Adams. Challis Messinger. This may seem like a parchoial story, but it is not.
One of the major tax exemptions denied by Custer County is the wildlife exemption for the Greenfire Preserve, owned by Valley Sun LLC. Valley Sun is related to the Western Watersheds Project which is probably the most successful group in America dealing with overgrazing on public lands. The Greenfire Preserve is on a former beaten out ranch that has been turned into the best private wildlife habitat in Custer County (central Idaho). In the winter, its 500 acres accommodates hundreds of elk and deer, a herd of wild horses, and the occasional wolf is welcome too. The East Fork of Salmon River runs through the Preserve, and its critical riparian zone has been restored after many years of abuse by cattle. In the summer black bears come to fish its waters. Peregrine falcons have nested in nearby cliffs, although they are being threatened by a rock quarry on adjacent public land run by a California buddy of Earth-raping congressman, Richard Pombo.
Last year Custer County tried the same tactic, and got slapped down in court and even had to pay attorney fees to those representing the Preserve. I hope that political retaliation can be beaten down again.

7-13-2006. Woman bitten near Fairbanks by a what was likely a habituated wolf. Anchorage Daily News. AP

7-12-2006. Wetland protections drying up in Montana. Jessie McQuillan. Missoula Independent. In fact they are drying up everywhere after the Supreme Court decision in Rapanos v. United States.

7-12-2006. Ruling cheers foes of Wyoming Range drilling. By The Associated Press. Although it is temporary, the foes of the drilling this scenic mountain range have been very persistent, and it is not just the usual environmental groups but many conservative local people. The raid on the Wyoming Range might be a turning point in Wyoming politics. For more information see: The Wyoming Range: Wyoming’s Hidden Gem. A portrait of Wyoming’s namesake mountains.
7-12-2006. Leasing halted in Wyoming Range. Federal land court rules forest’s environmental analysis falls short. By Noah Brenner. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

7-11-2006. Grazing program on Idaho's state lands costs more than it earns. Critics say state is failing public schools, while ranchers blame shortfall on red tape. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Idaho's Constitution requires maximum revenue from the state "school" lands, and these lands do earn money for the schools, but it all comes from the timber program. In terms of acres, grazing is the overwhelming use, and on these 2-million acres, the State of Idaho loses money. The ranchers' defense in the article above, that they must build and maintain fences and deal with "red tape," is not relevant. The story is about the state that is unconstitutionally losing money, not ranchers. It is the grazing fees ranchers pay and state's administrative costs that determines whether the state makes a profit, not whether any given rancher makes a profit.
7-13-2006. Losing your money. Editorial by the Idaho Falls Post-Register. Why is the state of Idaho still in the cattle grazing business?

7-11-2006. Yellowstone Park to begin project to restore westslope cutthroat trout to the Northwest corner of Yellowstone . Billings Gazette. By Mike Stark.

The Rocky Mountain Front drilling controversy-
7-4-2006. Senator Conrad Burns moves to prohibit Rocky Mountain Front drilling. By the Associated Press
. In the past Burns had not been very supportive of action to protect this Montana gem, but he has a close reelection race. Montana's other U.S. Senator, Max Baucus, has long sought to protect the Front.
7-4-2006. Rehberg splits with Burns over Front drilling. By Jennifer McKee. Billings Gazette State Bureau. Rehberg, Montana's lone US Representative, probably does not face a competitive race this fall.
7-4-2006. Energy company donates Rocky Mountain Front petroleum leases to Trout Unlimited. AP
7-4-2006. Guest Opinion in the Billings Gazette: Burns takes right stance. By Stoney Burk.
7-4-2006. Energy Company Donates Leases, Is It a Harbinger for a Western Shift? New West. By Courtney Lowery.
7-6-2006. Conservation conversion. Burns and Rehberg do false battle on the Rocky Mountain Front. By George Ochenski. Missoula Independent.
7-11-2006. Burns' amendment would exempt forest projects from input. By Noelle Straub. Billings Gazette Washington Bureau. Lest anyone think Burns has really found a green streak, this is a proposal to rub out citizen's comments on post-wildfire projects, one of the most important projects the Forest Service does because burned land is very susceptible to harm from heavy machinery and erosion if post forest fire work is not done with an eye to all of the forest resources.

7-9-2006. North Slope musk oxen face extinction due to unexplained changes. By Alex deMarban. Anchorage Daily News. After reading the article it seems that while climate change is not the direct cause, it is probably a cause or "the" indirect cause.

7-7-2006. Climate change link seen in surge of Western blazes. Study correlates warming trend with wildfires. Dennis O'Brien, Baltimore Sun.

7-6-2006. Feds gunning for wildlife predators [in designated Wilderness areas]. By Kim McGuire. Denver Post Staff Writer. This is by no means just "housecleaning." Predator control and legally designated wilderness areas completely contradictory concepts, and since the Wilderness Act passed in 1964 there has been almost no predator control in any Wilderness area. The rules allow for it on a case-by-case basis and not by using high tech tools. This proposed rule, which will probably be found to be illegal if adopted, throws all that out the window. Motorized vehicles, helicopters, poison, all the things allowed outside Wilderness (and maybe more) are included in these proposed regulations. I have a strong suspicion this is related to proposals to kill wolves in Idaho Wilderness area where they are said, with scant evidence, to be decimating elk herds. The Forest Service is willing to open up all our precious Wilderness areas to high tech predator control to accommodate the wishes of a few central Idaho county commissioners and hunters who don't understand the concept of ecological succession.

7-5-2006. Pond flaws halt [for a time] controversial Idaho mine project near Sawtooth Mountains. AP

7-5-2006. View of the Idaho Mountain Express. Crumbs for environmentalists? Or a real change? This is on President Bush's sudden, and first, flurry of pro-environment actions.

7-5-2006. Off road vehicle play areas may serve to increase deadly Hantavirus. University of Utah news release. This is yet a hypothesis to be tested, but as the vehicles denude vegetation it crowds deer mice (the major rodent that carries the virus) together in the intact vegetation, thus facilitating virus spread. The ORV kicked up dust may also contain deadly hantavirus.

7-1-2006. Out of state interests get "property rights" compensation plan on Idaho ballot to make land speculation a sure bet at the expense of Idaho's land, water, and taxpayers. New West (and reported in many other news sources). It is claimed, and probably true that you can get any measure on a state initiative ballot if you pay people to gather signatures. Two interests from outside Idaho barely qualified a ballot initiative that would require compensation if any state land use law reduces the value of someone's (and they mean land speculators or developer's) property. There is a good chance this will pass because of the current climate of hostility toward government and the fact that the measure sounds benign, even protective of the homeowner. |
Of course, Idaho will not pay developers off. Zoning, land use planning, etc. will simply be abolished. It should be called the "bad-neighbor empowerment" measure. Oregon already has such a measure and it is devastating the state's countryside and budget. Billions of dollars of claims have been filed aginst the state. The article above claims the one planned for Idaho is worse than Oregon's

   Conservation News Stories Archive-

Lynx Links

  • My Lynx News Archive  (Reintroduction of lynx to Colorado and other lynx stories). Latest is April 10, 2006. Lynx Home Page. Colorado Div. of Wildlife.
  • Story on the lynx "scandal" that was manufactured by the Washington Times. "Debunking Lynxgate". Outside Magazine. This is important because anti-wildlife politicians keep referring to this phony story 5 years after it supposedly happened.

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