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.

Articles from June through December 2005-

12-31-2005.  Review of the year: Climate Change. Mercury rising, stormy weather - our world is taking a battering. By Michael McCarthy. The UK Independent.

12-29-2005. Bald Eagle Numbers Soaring. By Bill Schneider. New West.. Read this and weep, Richard Pombo and all endangered species act haters. The act has saved our national bird.

12-28-2005. Idaho DEQ faces cut in federal funds. Shortfall could cause delays, less oversight. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. The air quality in Idaho's largest urban is poor almost all winter and the state's waters were getting a huge load of toxic mercury from somewhere . . . Nevada gold mines? China?  Talk about "streamlining" regulations to protect the public is so common and so stereotyped that anyone following the issue knows it is a just code word for "give polluters what they want and do it quickly." As far as the "common sense" goes, and the state legislator who talks about . . . "common sense." The word has no objective definition. A person's "common sense" represents the basic assumptions about the world that every person has due to their occupation, culture and personality. So everyone has a different "common sense."

12-28-2005. Casper Star Tribune editorial. "Wyoming should cut its losses and abandon its dual classification plan for wolves." I think Wyoming politicians are not going to do it, however, because their irrational plan serves the more rational political goals of governor Freudenthal -- getting reelected and getting some Democrat legislation passed in a heavily Republican state. For others in Wyoming, kicking at the feds and yelling about wolves provides excellent emotional release. Freudenthal knows this. He takes his stance against wolves because he is like the legendary fox.

12-27-2005. Wolves Thrive, but Animosity Keeps Pace. Wildlife officials fear that hunters will move in for the kill if federal protection is dropped. By Julie Cart, LA Times Staff Writer (free registration required). I think this article overstates its premise. My criticism . . .
  1. The vast majority of wolves killed in Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming have always been legal kills, sanctioned or carried out by the government, not wolf haters. Idaho now has 600 wolves, nevertheless! There is no organized campaign to shoot and poison wolves in Idaho.
  2. Efforts to illegally poison wolves have ended up poisoning few wolves, but lots of dogs, and probably other animals too, greatly angering local dog owners. I don't think those who lost their dogs feel, as Sundles was quoted, it was just "collateral damage."
  3. If rural Idahoans are so upset with wolves, why are the only people ever quoted Ron Gillet and Tim Sundles? -- probably because bombastic statements are the best way to get your name in the news.
  4. The article says Sundles is a new face in the anti-wolf view, but in fact he has been around since 1999 when he shot a wolf deep in the Frank Church Wilderness, claiming it was about to attack.
 5. Sundles is quoted in the LA Times article, "
'I'm shocked that human blood hasn't been spilled on this issue,' Sundles said in an interview. 'I'm surprised there hasn't been a gunfight. I'm surprised that the feds who've done this haven't been hunted down and killed,' he said of the reintroduction of the wolves."
Although in the third person, this kind of talk was common in the 1990s before the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building.
  6. Most Idahoans have learned to be realistic about wolves over the last decade. That's why Gillet and company sound increasingly shrill.
  7. Note Governor Freudenthal's quote that "the Endangered Species Act is no longer in force and that the state 'now considers the wolf as a federal dog,' unworthy of protection" is a hoax circulated on the Internet about a year ago after being posted to some web boards.
Note that this article is also in the
Boston Globe.

12-26-2005. Study: Climate change may melt permafrost. AP in Seattle Post-Intelligencer. You've seen those ads how oil exploration and development doesn't hurt the Arctic because it remains frozen just a few feet underground even in the summer. Time to rethink that . . . mass instability instead, not to mention the effect thawing the peat bogs will have releasing enormous quantities of greenhouse gases -- methane, and carbon dioxide now locked in the frozen ground.

12-25-2005. Cecil D. Andrus: Selling public lands to cover Katrina's costs is not the answer. Opinion Idaho Statesman. Andrus was a conservationist and 4 term governor of Idaho, plus secretary of Interior for four years! He was perhaps the most popular politician ever in Idaho, amount city and rural folks alike. Now retired, he worries about land grabers, and the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for Idaho governor in 2006 (congressman Butch Otter) is a land-grabber. He actually co-sponsored a bill to sell off our public lands to pay for Katrina. The likely Democrat candidate (Jerry Brady) believes in our public lands.

12-24-2005. The Coming Meltdown. By Bill McKibben. Thin Ice: Unlocking the Secrets of Climate in the World's Highest Mountains. by Mark Bowen. Dancing at the Dead Sea: Tracking the World's Environmental Hotspots. by Alanna Mitchell. "The year 2005 has been the hottest year on record for the planet, hotter than 1998, 2002, 2004, and 2003. . . . Arctic sea ice is melting fast. There was 20 percent less of it than normal this summer . . ."

12-23-2005. Mascot madness. By Paul Peters. Missoula Independent. Kalispell, Montana community school has run into local anti-conservation political correctness. "Wolfpack" is too controversial, and after all a female wolf is a bitch. Although not too controversial for the University of Montana, apparently "grizzlies" and "mountain lions" might offend local anti-greens. Maybe they should just name them "the poachers."

12-22-2005. Denver Post editorial. Energy lab should be expanded, not cut Congress is cutting funds for the Energy Department's renewable energy lab in Golden, just as the need for its work becomes more urgent. This Administration hasn't the slightest interest in the science of alternative energy and Congress has abandoned its long time practice of funding projects according scientific criteria and awards scientific project as pork barrel. For example, if a powerful senator thinks cancer research is best done is his hometown of Hog Run, that's where the money will go. As a result the U.S. falls further and further behind China and India as American scientific research falters.

12-21-2005. Sequoia National Forest decides not to authorize livestock grazing in Sequoia National Monument. News release.

12-21-2005. Forest Service seeks skier input on bighorn sheep. Bridger-Teton wants to protect isolated bighorn herd from winter disturbance. (link restored). By Rebecca Huntington. Jackson Hole News and Guide. Backcountry skiers disturb this isolated herd, although 4 recent buyouts of domestic sheep grazing allotments on the west slope of the Tetons (Targhee National Forest) should help because domestic sheep are a huge disease threat to bighorn.

12-21-2005. Senate rejects drilling in Alaska wildlife refuge. Republicans fail to garner enough support to avoid threat of filibuster. MSNBC. Associated Press. This was on the first vote on  cloture (a motion to end a filibuster). The cranky old Alaska senator and most Republicans want to drill, but they are 4 votes short. They are using nefarious means -- holding our armed forces (defense appropriations bill) and money to prepare for avian flu hostage -- so they can pursue their 20-year ideological crusade to open the Arctic Refuge even as the permafrost has started to melt and most oil companies are losing interest.

12-20-2005. Alaska Senator Stevens takes armed forces hostage in effort to drill Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Washington Post. Senator Stevens from Alaska, known for exceptional nasty personality, has added the drilling to Arctic National Refuge to the Defense Appropriations bill, in effect taking our armed forces hostage to his oil efforts. He became famous earlier this year when he said if Congress deleted funds for his 200-million dollar "bridge to nowhere" he would resign from the Senate. A lot of folks would be happy to say "bye bye," but somehow he got the money back, although now it is just for Alaska, but he vows it will go for his bridge. Stevens is just one more example of how rank some members have become.
12-20-2005. Alaska drilling's Senate crusader. Opening refuge is his mission, but critics lambaste his tactics. Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau
12-20-2005. Arctic drilling forces tough choices. By Alicia Mundy Seattle Times Washington bureau. Putting all kinds of measures in bills that should be "stand alone" bills, like they are doing destroys representative democracy because you can't really hold your member of Conress accountable as to how they voted. If they vote for the bill, they can point to the good things in it they felt were necesssary (like funding the military). If they vote against it, they can point to the bad things, like drilling the Refuge and cuts to student loans and Pell grants. This bill is a tough choice only because Senate leaders made it that way.

12-20-2005. Wolfless Nevada. By Scott Sonner. Associated Press writer. Nevada is not terrific wolf habitat, but some Idaho wolves could migrate there. It's possible they might be there now. Nevada is better wolf habitat than it is cattle range, yet marginal ranches continue to exist in Nevada, often to the great detriment of this dry state's interesting ecology.

12-19-2005. Idaho to take over all wolf management in January. Idaho Statesman. AP. Idaho Fish and Game Dept. will gain full wolf management authority Jan. 5. The federal government will still investigate and prosecute wolf poaching cases, a good idea because in the past poachers of wolves and other wildlife have sometimes been local elected officials. You can imagine the difficulty in a state where the poacher has powerful friends in elected office. If the state wants to reduce wolf numbers to reduce "harm" to big game herds, they will have to petition the federal government and back their request up with science, not barroom opinions. The petition will be peer reviewed, which is supposed to mean by neutral experts in wildlife management and biology.
The big battle will be over elk and wolves in the upper Clearwater River basin, a huge area, where elk populations crashed as predicted 15 years ago (habitat problems), and have not come back. Scuttlebutt is that wolves are preventing a rebound, but the scientific evidence so far says its bears and habitat.

12-19-2005. Conservationists, Ranchers and the BLM Settle Owyhee Grazing Dispute On The Hardtrigger Allotment. News release. Western Watersheds Project.

12-18-2005. Oil shale may be fool's gold. Extraction hurdles are high By Randy Udall and Steve Andrews. Denver Post. I'm old enough to remember all the hype about oil shale in the late 1970s and then the collapse of fool's good dream. It is different today?
The environmental impacts of large scale oil shale development will be enormous unless some method is devised to extract the hydrocarbons from it without making an open pit mine. Even then it would take a huge amount of energy to extract the oil energy in oil shale, probably more than in the oil extracted. It's net energy that counts -- the amount of energy fuel you have produced after using energy to produce the energy fuel. Members of Congress and the Bush Administration should repeat this as a mantra . . . "Only net energy counts, only net energy counts, only . . . . "

12-18-2005. Public comments on Yellowstone snowmobiling oppose it again. By Mark Stark. Billings Gazette. Once again, another comment period on Yellowstone snowmobiles. Once again a huge margin against them, and you can bet once again the public comment will be ignored.
12-20-2005. Snowmobile noise still a problem in Yellowstone. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette.

12-17-2005. Male wolf found dead near Marias Pass. The Daily Inter Lake. It was probably a disperser. Marias Pass is just outside Glacier NP on the highway that runs across the Continental Divide and follows the south boundary of Glacier NP.

12-17-2005. Northern Range elk herd in Yellowstone is aging. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle. "Recruitment" of new elk into the northern range herd has been well below replacement level for about 4 years now, so the population of elk is declining and it is aging due to high elk calf mortality. I haven't read this study (is it in a research paper?), but to those with a passing knowledge of statistics, I'd venture that the elk herd's age standard deviation is dropping too because wolves take down much of the oldest age class. The elk calf survival study showed that bears were by far the largest predator on elk calves, followed by wolves, coyotes, and cougar. My brief figuring indicates that the recruitment rate would still be below population stability if there were no wolves. In addition, there has been a very large human take (hunt) of the elk herd as part of it winters north of the Park. This year the "harvest" allowed has dropped about ten-fold. There has always been a furious debate over the northern range elk -- too many, too few, destroying their habitat, etc. It has been going on for over a hundred years. During the period when the overpopulation argument raged, Park rangers shot elk every winter, bringing the herd down to just half of what it is now in a vain effect to get regeneration of aspen and willows. After they stopped shooting elk inside the Park, the population increased, once reaching 20,000. This year's official elk count should be in, in a couple weeks.
I would like to see a study of the interaction of elk and the growing bison herd. There are so many factors!

12-16-2005.Time to pass the baton, Sen. Burns. Opinion of the Missoulian. Burns has long been an anti-conservation bully and loudmouth, but what is finally sticking to him is association with corrupt lobbylist "Casino Jack" Abramoff. Burn's was the senator who predicted the new wolves would eat a little girl before the first year passed. He also held the recent one-sided hearing on forest planning in Missoulian where those in favor of conservation were threatened by off road vehicle thugs.

12-16-2005. Four Wolves Suspected in Man’s Death in Remote Area of Canada. By Jess Edberg, Information Specialist. International Wolf Center. I put up this story when it first appeared last Nov. 12. Now with more analysis, it is as I suspected. The wolves were probably habituated to getting food from people or their garbage. I'd expected a bigger howl from the anti-wolf folks, but I haven't heard much. It's nice to think that a reasonable assessment of the dangers of the outdoors may be setting up.

12-15-2005. L&W Stone sale, mining reforms pulled from bill. By Todd Adams. Challis Messenger. This is the story about the stone quarry. The quarry, owned by a California corporation, (hence Pombo's interest) does employ quite a few people in fairly unpopulated Custer Country, Idaho, although I understand most are not from Custer County or even from the United States.
Unfortunately, blasts from the quarry and potential sedimentation of the Salmon River and East Fork of the Salmon River and effects on nearby private properties have proven controversial, and a suit by the Western Watersheds Project which owns a former ranch, being restored as the Greenfire Preserve, have resulted in rulings by Idaho federal district judge Lynn Winmill that they will have to obey the BLM's rules (yes it is on public land), and the BLM will have to produce an environmental impact statement.
To indicate what is at stake, a former beaten out ranch near the mouth of the East Fork of the Salmon River (about 500 acres) is being restored to native riparian vegetation and upland native vegetation. Slowly, then increasingly, wildlife have starting using the Preserve -- bears fishing for steelhead trout, numerous birds, but most importantly winter range in a big river drainage where cows get most of what's good to eat on private and public land alike. On Monday, Dec. 12, about 400 elk and a hundred deer were on or near the 500 acre Preserve.
Then there's the quarry on what was a small mountain adjacent, now increasingly being nibbled down to rubble for quarrying decorative stone. The mining language would have sold it to L and Z Stone, but now it remains in public hands.
There is an irony. Pombo is a self-described champion of private property rights, so how does his lack of interest in the property rights of those nearby fit with his much-publicized principles?

— Here is an earlier story about the quarry and the mining language before it was pulling. It has pictures. Congressional bill would sell public lands -cheap. By Gary Stivers. Sun Valley on-line.

12-14-2005. Caribou County, Idaho among nation's worst for air pollution health risk. By Christopher Smith. AP in Twin Falls Times-News. It is commonly thought that Idaho has clean air. That's one reason Idaho has been targeted by energy companies for huge coal plants (currently Idaho has no coal plants and it is not cursed with coal reserves), but they think it has clean air they can use up. Nevertheless, Soda Springs, Pocatello, Boise, Lewiston, and formerly Kellogg have been pollution sore sports, with many residents of Kellogg (in northern Idaho) formerly suffering from lead poisoning.

12-14-2005. FrankenFido. Our creepiest genetic invention, the dog. By William Saletan. Slate Magazine. Some folks will like this article and some dog lovers just hate it. It is true that I favor the unmodified wolf over the wolf that came to live with us, which we then changed to suit us by creating the many breeds of dog. Warning that there is one link in the article above that will offend folks who don't want to see sexual content on this web page.

12-14-2005. Senator Craig's way or else. Commentary in the Idaho Mountain Express. Pat Murphy says this is an example of how, as  Senator McCain puts it, Congress has become very corrupt.

12-13-2005. Breathless in N. Utah. Mild storms, expected today, could bring some relief. By Judy Fahys. The Salt Lake Tribune. I grew up in Northern Utah in clean air. Now it is the dirtiest in the U.S. in the winter. This is due to temperature inversions that trap the pollutants in the mountain valleys. However, the pollution itself is mostly non-industrial, based on a culture that refuses to plan, resulting in enormous sprawl requiring and promoted by the use of automobiles.

12-13-2005. Wastewater, litigation and jobs still flow from reclaimed Zortman-Landusky gold mine in west central Montana. By Sonja Lee, Great Falls Tribune.

12-11-2005. Interest waning in wildlife work for state, federal agencies. Fewer young people are entering careers in wildlife management, sad.

12-11-2005. Gas activity kicks up dirt throughout the West. By Bob Moem. Associated Press writer. If they find oil or gas (especially natural gas) near your property, you can kiss your peace and quiet, maybe your health, and your property values goodbye (unless you own the mineral rights). It's happening all over the interior West (except Idaho, most of Nevada, and eastern Oregon and Washington).
Related 12-11-2005. Methamphetamine fuels the West’s oil and gas boom. By Patrick Farrell. High Country News. While the world needs the oil and gas, in the West and around the world, discovery of oil or gas is almost always a social and environmental disaster. Drugs are usually part of it.

12-11-2005. Ninth Circuit rules against Lolo National Forest's plans to log timber burned in 2000. By Perry Backus. Missoulian. Unless post-fire logging is done in a very careful way, based on research discoveries, it can do more harm than the forest fire by spreading weeds, increasing erosion, and harming wildlife. Apparently the Lolo's plan was so cavalier that the Circuit Court ruled it "arbitrary and capricious." Courts don't like to rule against the substance of agency decisions, indicating the Lolo's plan must have been pretty awful.

12-11-2005. Yellowstone [northern range] a haven for winter recreationists. By Camden Easterling, Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. I have spent 3 Christmas's there. It's wonderful except for about about third year there can be an intense cold snap, putting it down to -40 F at night. There are no snowmobiles in the northern range and your can drive your winter equipment auto or truck all the way to Cooke City, MT (at the NE Entrance). Wildlife viewing is incredible.

12-10-2005. Montana may redefine what a trophy elk is. AP. Poachers can end up paying a lot. This would increase the fine some a larger number of the big antlered bulls by 800%
Related 12-9-2005. Poachers’ paradise by Paul Peters. Missoula Independent.

12-9-2005. Oil drilling divide threatens GOP budget plans: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge may hold up to $500 billion worth of oil. MSNBC. And of course, this might be the "compromise" on Pombo's mining language . . . we won't allow the sell off of America's public lands if we get to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge."

12-9-2005. Abramoff 'is a bad guy,' says Burns. By Jennifer McKee. Billings Gazette State Bureau. Will the "ties" between the anti-conservation Montana US Senator and "Casino Jack" Abramoff bring Burns down?
Related 12-8-2005. The great divide: Persuasion yields to passion at Burns’ hearing. By John S. Adams. Missoula Independent. About Burn's recent hearing on the Forest Service's forest plan revision process.

12-9-2005. Grant Creek logging [near Missoula] proposed for fuels reduction. By Perry Backus. The Missoulian

12-9-2005. Alaska Again Targets Wolves for Aerial Killing. First Six Wolves Killed by Aerial Gunners in Tok Region State Ready to Issue More Permits in Other Areas. Yahoo. Defenders of Wildlife news release.

12-8-2005. The two oil and gas leases were sold on Dec. 6 for $10.5-million. Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster. My impression of the drainage they were sold in (North Horse Creek) is that it is all sliding downhill.
11-23-2005. Groups protest Wyoming Range oil, gas leases. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune. The Wyoming Range is perhaps the prettiest mountain range in Wyoming you haven't seen. The landforms are also extremely unstable, especially in the area they want to lease.

12-7-2005. Privatizers reach for our public lands. By Daniel Borgström. SF

12-5-2005. Senator Craig eliminates fish center to curb flow of information. Opinion in the Idaho Statesman by Bert Bowler, retired Idaho Department of Fish and Game biologist now working as native fish program director for Idaho Rivers United, a nonprofit, statewide river conservation organization.
Earlier. 11-30-2005. Zeroing Out the Messenger: Idaho US Senator Eliminates Funds for Center on Salmon Survival. By Blaine Harden. Washington Post Staff Writer.
" The Fish Passage Center, with just 12 employees and a budget of $1.3 million, has been killed because it did not count fish in a way that suited Craig."

12-3-2005. Study finds economic gains in greenhouse gas rules. USA Today. Los Angeles (Reuters). "Tough guys" like Dick Cheney think conservation is for the weak. Reality-based policy says it's smart.

12-3-2005. Togwotee Pass construction permit OK'd. Associated Press. This is going to be one bad project -- hugely expensive, unneeded, it will delay traffic for a decade, and harm wildlife. Wyoming DOT loves it.

12-2-2005. Deer attacks: Nature, civilization lock horns. By Martin Kasindorf. USA Today. It wasn't supposed to be this way. When wolves were reintroduced, Senator Burns of Montana warned darkly that a little girl would probably die at their fangs before even a year was past. Fear of wolf attacks has long been a staple of some ag and "hunter" groups'  strategy to keep wolves out of the West. . . but Bambi ??! It's true. Numerous deer live in towns and cities in much of the U.S., and bad interactions with deer are becoming common, even deer attacks. This page recently featured 4 deer trapping a Helena, Montana boy under a car for an 20 minutes until the deer were killed. See the Helena story (again) from Oct. 28.

12-7-2005. "Mining bill raises alarms: Critics say budget provision would result in federal land "giveaway." By Rebecca Huntington. Jackson Hole News and Guide. "Wyoming's political leaders are getting an earful from sportsmen angered by a provision to lift a ban on selling land tied to mining claims ­ a move hunters say could erode access to public lands. The outcry has Wyoming's two Republican senators vowing to keep tabs on the provision and possibly seek its removal from a budget bill now before Congress." Regarding Wyoming's lone representative Republican Barbara Cubin, who favors the bill, here is a bit of what she is remembered for  (from Slate Magazine)

11-29-2005. Speeding on Hwy 191 will get you a higher fine and a mandatory court date. By Marlo Pronovost. West Yellowstone News. It's about time, US 191 has been a wildlife slaughterhouse.

11-28-2005. Wyoming: Poaching near oil, gas sites worries officials. Associated Press. First the natural gas developments displace the elk, deer and pronghorn from their winter range, then some of the rig workers shoot or run down the animals for fun. They need to keep rifles, dogs, and dope off the rigs.

11-28-2005. Montana's US Senator Conrad Burns now part of probe of influence peddling for corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.  Missoulian. Earlier some folks might have though I was engaging in excessive partisan rhetoric when I called him the "corrupt senator from Montana." This story bears out about the ethics of this dispoiler of our outdoor heritage.

11-26-2005. Yellowstone cutthroat trout numbers still declining. By Scott McMillion Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. This has been a huge blow to angler, grizzly bears, and many species of wildlife that depend on the spawning Yellowstone cutthroat. The problem is that someone introduced lake trout into the deep lake. Mature lake trout eat the cutthroat but provide no sustenance to birds or land animals in return because they are almost never near the surface.
The Yellowstone cutthroat, like trout throughout the West, are also being devastated by the exotic parasite that causes whirling disease.
Despite the importance of trout fishing to people and wildlife, this seems to be another matter the Bush Administration can't find money for.

11-25-2005. Group lobbies for fewer roads in Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument. By Brett French. Billings Gazette. "More than 99 percent of the [monument] would within two miles of a road under the Bureau of Land Management's proposed alternative for managing the area."

11-24-2005. West Nile carriers flourish in coalbed methane ponds.
By Evelyn Boswell MSU News Service. Bozeman Chronicle. Another way the oil and gas industry pollutes the west -- pollution through habitat change promoting disease.

11-23-2005. Little Belt tug of war.

11-23-2005. 'Scorched Earth' offers new vision of Yellowstone and West: Idaho author contemplates how national park's fires shape conservation. By Greg Stahl. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. This is an excellent book.

11-23-2005. Greater Yellowstone trumpeter swan numbers rise 22% over 2004. AP

11-22-2005. Some Eastern Oregon ranchers claim they have closed their land because the don't Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission's position on wolves. AP. Sounds like a stunt to me. They haven't suffered any wolf losses. There are likely no wolves in the area, and Oregon doesn't have an adopted wolf plan, just a proposal, so USFWS is the managing agency. Just some ranchers who are trying to show they can push the public around, I suppose. Does their pique even merit a story?
I should say the Oregon wolf debate has been hostile, mostly on the side of the stockgrowers. They have been doing a lot of name calling and showing hostility toward Oregon city folks. Defenders of Wildlife pays ranchers in other states for lost livestock, and Defenders says their policy holds for Oregon too. I  guess that isn't good enough some folks who insist the the taxpayers should pay any tab.

11-22-2005. What's killing the elk in Yellowstone? By Dan Vergano, USA Today. There is nothing new in this article, but it puts the many factors together fairly well, pointing out one seldom mentioned factor -- that was the large elk hunt Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks had just north of the Park for several years after the big elk die-off of the winter of  1996-7 and even with an expanding wolf population and the drought in full swing.
Ken Hamlin of Montana's Fish, Wildlife & Parks (quoted) says he is inclined to blame the wolves, "noting that elk in areas with few, or no, wolves, seem to do better. And species that wolves prey on far less often, such as mule deer and bison, haven't seen big drops in numbers, he says, despite going through the same drought and severe winters." What Hamlin forgets is the grizzly bears. Grizzlies are not nearly so abundant outside the Park in Montana and while Park grizzlies kill most young elk calves, they rarely kill bison calves, so speaking of the growing bison population (which does not have significant predation) is not relevant.

11-21-2005. Hook and bullet folks discover Pombo's plot. Denver Post. Pombo has assured them that access to hunting and fishing opportunities will be protected [assuming any such opportunities remain].

11-21-2005. What's Yours Is Mine. Mining-law revamp could put millions of public acres up for sale. By Amanda Griscom Little. Grist Magazine. Note that this was written just (11-17) before the 217-215 passage of the deficit reduction act which contained the Pombo and Gibbons language.

11-20-2005. Let's be generous with public land ranchers one last time. By Jon Marvel. Opinion in Casper Star Tribune.

11-19-2005. Crackdown on poaching just north of Yellowstone Park. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle. This was published on Nov. 5. I missed it.

11-20-2005. Don't privatize the public lands. By David Gowdey. Perspective. Casper Star Tribune. Gowdey is e.d., of the Wyoming Wildlife Federation.
11-19-2005. Bill Authorizes Private Purchase of Federal Land. By Kirk Johnson and Felicity Barringer. New York Times. This article points out that the bill may not even truly exempt national parks from the phony mining privatization.
Note, the New York Times has become link unfriendly, you will probably have to go to their main page to find the article.

11-19-2005. Controversial bill passes in the House with help from Montana's Rehberg. By Scott McMillion, Bozeman  Chronicle Staff Writer. Earlier Rehberg said he opposed the Pombo language, then he voted for it and it passed the House by 1 vote. I guess the other measures in the huge bill -- the assault the bill makes on college students and those who can't afford medical care, splitting the 9th circuit court, etc. just made it too attractive for him to resist. Or more likely, it's my Party comes first.

11-18-2005. Your birthright up for grabs. LA Times. By Mike Dombeck. Dombeck served as the acting director of the Bureau of Land Management from 1994 to 1997 and chief of the U.S. Forest Service from 1997 to 2001.

11-18-2005. Pombo's public lands giveaway passes House buried deep in the deficit cutting measure 217-215. U.S. Newsire. Statement by the National Environmental Trust. It now moves to a conference with the U.S. Senate. If leadership appoints Pombo to the Conference, the giveaway of your lands is likely to become law.
For details on this stuff see: "Westerners for Responsible Mining."  If this isn't killed we can kiss goodbye our national forests and BLM land.

11-18-2005. Montana deer hunter kills lion that stalked him. By Sonja Lee. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer.

11-17-2005. Corrupt US Senator from Montana plans rigged hearing on national forest management. Billings Gazette. AP Conrad Burns, recently named as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress, and part of the DeLay-Pombo-Abramoff axis of corruption plans a hearing to polarize Montanans to begin his reelection bid.

11-15-2005. Public Lands: Golden giveaway. Editorial by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The major Seattle newspaper warns its readers to beware of Pombo's fake mining reform. It will privatize our public lands and to add insult raise a relative pittance in revenue for the US Treasury.

11-12-2005. Bill would open public land. Thousands of acres could be privatized. By Robert McClure. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Another story on Pombo's phony mining reform, public giveaway bill. This one has a Washington State Perspective. Despite the headline that says "thousands", the text of the story is correct saying 350-million acres of your public lands in the West could be privatized.

11-14-2005. Feds question Idaho's efforts to keep manure out of waterways: EPA will visit beef feedlots in coming months despite state assurances that its pollution enforcement program works. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Like many other state's, Idaho have been beset by huge livestock feeding operations.

11-14-2005. Wyoming Game and Fish Commission will let employees talk about wolves as long as they don't criticize Commission's wolf plan. By Joan Barron. Casper Star Tribune. But the Game and Fish employees had better not talk about the state's USFWS-rejected wolf plan)unless they can lie and say it's great!

11-12-2005. Westerners are changing the way they see animals, study shows. CSU study indicates many cherish game as 'extended family'. By Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News. A nice headline, but a more accurate one based on the data might be, "Westerns polarized about wildlife."

11-12-2005. House bill would sell public land at low price.
By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. 20-million acres of public lands could be at risk of privatization in Montana alone. Newspapers are finally waking up to what Pombo sneaked into the budget bill 2 days before the vote.

11-12-2005. Wolves suspected killing man in northern Saskatchewan.

11-12-2005. BLM's Conservation System scrutinized. Insufficient funds said to put lands at risk. By Steve Benson. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer. The defunding of our public lands from the lesser know BLM lands to the national parks is not due to necessary fiscal constraint, it is feigned constraint by a congressional and White House leadership that has no use for public lands, and little use for the concept of public in any regard.

11-11-2005. Democrats are lining up to take on Pombo. Lodi News. Pombo's corrupt assault on our natural resources has been allowed to continue because of weak challengers. 2006 should be different, and his opponent will raise money from outraged citizens all over American. But how much damage will he do to our natural heritage before he's defeated?

11-10-2005. Pombo's fire sale of public lands seems to be still intact. Parks and Public Lands Would be Up For Sale. Environmental Working Group. This is a far more serious threat than drilling in Alaska. The provisions to allow so-called mining companies to stake mining claims on non-mineral public lands and buy them for $1000 an acre seems to be intact. If made law, it will be the end of our public lands. I'm irritated that the major  environmental groups worked so hard to keep drilling out of Alaska and have done little to alert folks to this many times greater threat in our own backyards.
11-11-05. Pombo's proposal is stuck in 1872. By John Leshy. Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

11-10-2005. GOP to Strike Arctic Drilling From House Bill.
By Jonathan Weisman. Washington Post Staff Writer. My guess is this good news is the result of Tuesday's GOP election losses. They might get thrown out of office in 2006 unless they show a little moderation. There is likely still a lot of awful stuff in this complicated bill launched to pretend to show fiscal discipline.

11-10-2005. National Pork Service. By Richard Cohen. Op-ed columnist. Washington Post. Alaska's Senator Ted Stevens, known as one of the nastiest guys to ever be a senator, took himself hostage and won according to columnist Richard Cohen.

11-9-2005.  Residents at Hoback Ranches, WY object to leasing decision. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter. The residents in this scenic and wildlife rich area are upset that they weren't even notified, but oil companies run things now. Where are all those right wing "property rights" advocates? Naturally no where to be seen because they only believe in property rights for those who do objectionable things like powerful corporations.

11-9-2005. Opinion. Writers on the Range: When a forest goes feral, it?s time for volunteers. By Richard Knight in Headwaters News. My view is this. No one should think the poor funding of public lands is an oversight or the necessary result of huge government deficits. Forget that stuff. The poor funding is deliberate, an effort to make Americans think badly about the public lands, from the BLM to the national parks, and to prepare the way for their privatization.

11-7-2005. Changes in snowmobile regs resulted in better winter air quality in Yellowstone NP. Billings Gazette. AP.

11-7-2005. Adult Mountain Lion Killed Near Gretna, Nebraska. Nebraska State

11-5-2005. High mercury levels found in Idaho reservoir
Nevada gold mines located downwind of Salmon Falls Creek could be source. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Idaho is the only state in the nation that doesn't have a coal-fired electrical generation plant. These plants are potent sources of toxic mercury compounds, and in fact the coal utilities have targeted Idaho is a place with clean air "going to waste." However, the air is not as clean as they hope. Nevada gold mines are spreading mercury pollution to both Idaho and Utah.

11-5-2005. Mountain lion, housecat electrocuted in apparent chase atop power pole. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. Photo of the cougar and the cat. Outdoor Weblog.

11-4-2005. Climate warriors and heroes. Meet the 28 leaders -- scientists, politicians, activists, celebrities and inventors -- who are fighting to stave off planetwide catastrophe. A special Salon/Rolling Stone report (subscription). We know the enemies of our future. What about those who care that we have one?

11-3-2005. Another Bush Administration crook? This time in Dept. of Interior! Washington Post. J. Steven Griles was second only to Secretary of Interior Gale Norton. Griles is being accusing  attempting to help Jack Abramoff, the crooked lobbyist friend of disgraced House majority leader Tom DeLay.
11-4-2005. More on Dept. of Interior sleaze. "Abramoff fire hits DoI." By Josephine Hearn. The

11-3-2005. Senate Backs Drilling in Alaska Refuge. ABC News. The drilling provision has already passed the House. The senate vote on the amendment to take out the drilling was 48-51. On the drilling amendment, it was a party line vote except for the following. A "no" vote was a vote against drilling the wildlife refuge. Republican senators who voted against the budget bill were Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Susan Collins of Maine, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Olympia J. Snowe of Maine. The Democrats voting for the bill were Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska.

11-3-2005.  Greens blast new Forest Service off-road vehicles plan. By Matthew Day. Associated Press writer.  The new policy may reduce the rate of increase in off-road vehicle damage, but it may legitimize damage done in the past. Long use of an illegally made route does not reduce the erosion or unsightliness, or violation of public and private resources it causes. It may well serve to increase the damage.
Here at Pocatello, Idaho the city and the BLM spent a lot of money closing numerous long -used illegal routes on the mountainsides west of town. The reduction in erosion and the increase in value of nearby private property in the just one year pays for the bother of closing the routes.
11-3-2005. Forests Get New Rules for Off-Road Vehicles. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer.
11-3-2005. Here is the Forest Service News Release.

11-2-2005. Editorial: Oil drilling an insult to Valle Vidal legacy. Albuquerque Tribune. New Mexicans stand up to protect precious land from the amoral energy companies and Bush Administration.

11-2-2005. Judge Alito's judicial philosophy expected to be very harmful to protecting the environment. By Amanda Griscom Little, Grist Magazine. It is very irritating that the  only thing about nominee Alito that seems to attract attention is how he might rule on abortion. His philosophy is likely to lead him in many instances to declare the federal government lacks the constitutional power to protect the environment. It's not that he's against environmental protection. It's that he has an 1880s view of the meaning of the "commerce clause" of the Constitution.

11-2-2005. Wolves spotted in Bridger Canyon near Bozeman. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. This is good news because the wolf population in the Montana portion of Greater Yellowstone has dropped alarmingly in the last year, and Montana's entire wolf population is down to just 153 wolves. Update 11-10-05. No confirmation of this sighting (that is, no second sighting has been made).

11-2-2005. Senator Thomas of Wyoming, others are skeptical of Park Services' plans to allow more vehicles, gizmos and pollution in the National Parks. Casper Star Tribune. By John Heilprin. Related story: Senators grill Park Service. Congressional hearing questions rewrite of parks manual. By Rebecca Huntington. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

11-1-2005. "Rock snot" or "didymo," a pesky algae is making its way into waterways across the West, threatening ecosystems. Denver Post.

11-1-2005. "Bucket biologists" introduce new predator of trout in the Green River in Wyoming. AP.

11-1-2005.The Eco-Cowboys: Big land buys signal greens are  moving into ranching. Environmentalism and the New West. By Joe Baird. The Salt Lake Tribune. It is very hard to retire a federal grazing lease. You have to graze a minimum number of cattle on your lease every so often, and you have to own the cattle. Most of the canyonlands of southern Utah and northern Arizona should have never been grazed by the exotic beast, the cow, but it has been and the federal rules say it must continue to be grazed despite the extremely low productivity of the land. Conservation groups are buying ranches. With the private "base property" of the newly purchased ranches comes the nearby public grazing allotments. There's more . . .

10-31-2005. Utah coal could go begging. California's decision to shun 'dirty' power will hit entire West. Salt Lake Tribune. Oh, what a shame, those clean environment-minded folks in California will kill a number of coal plants in the Rockies. An investor wants to put a coal gasification plant 5 miles from where I live (Pocatello). They claim it's clean coal technology, but a lot of us don't want to be a guinea pig.

10-31-2005. Earthquake rattles SW Montana and east central Idaho. AP. The quake was on the Continental Divide.

10-29-2005. Disaster potential in Gallatin County, MT (Bozeman area) is spelled out. BY Ted Sullivan. Bozeman Chronicle.

10-28-2005. Wardens kill four aggressive deer in Helena, Montana city limits. Associated Press.

10-27-2005. Gardiner-area, MT poacher is facing a year in prison and a $25,000 fine. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle.

10-26-2005. Glacier National Park getting squeezed from all directions. By Chris Peterson. Hungry Horse News. If President Bush and the neocons had not squandered American's moral capital in his foreign policy misadventures, maybe some pressure could be put on rape and pillage coal companies in Canada that are threatening the national park.

10-26-2005. BLM seeks input on winter drilling proposal on Pinedale Mesa. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune staff writer. It's the classic bait and switch. They come in promising protection of land, air, water and wildlife (have you seen the great TV ads they run?). They strike oil or gas and soon all that nice stuff is out the window. Deer are already abandoning the Mesa, and this will probably drive the rest of them out.

10-22-2005. Gas drilling closes in on Jackson Hole. Companies apply to drill three gas wells near Bondurant, WY. Associated Press. I guess we don't have to worry them yet actually drilling in Jackson Hole as long as Cheney is VP and wants to enjoy the scenery from his compound there, but seriously, they will be drilling soon right on the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park unless there is a huge public uprising.

10-20-2005. Judge?s ruling upholds park snowsled limits. Associated Press. I think many conservationists are coming to grudgingly accept continued use of snowmobiles in Yellowstone now that their numbers have been limited. Limits allow other forms of winter use to grow when they are not driven out by overwhelming numbers of snowmobiles, and I think that strikes terror in hearts of the snowmobile industry.

10-20-2005. 'Comeback Wolves' is inspirational. Photo by Special to the Daily. By Kimerly Nicoletti. Summit (Colorado) daily news. 50!! writers write about wolves coming back to Colorado, which, of course, probably hasn't happened, except for ill-fated former Yellowstone wolf 293F.

10-19-2005. Wildfires getting harder to hand in the west; scientist tells YNP confab. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle.

10-19-2005. Idaho's junior senator Crapo sees good odds for reform of Endangered Species Act. Passage of House bill a chance to craft compromise. By Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman. No one should get the idea that Pombo's bill has a problem with being just a little bit "too far." Because it creates a positive incentive for land developers to find endangered species habitat and hold it hostage, Pombo's bill is worse than no endangered species act at.  Pretty much anything Crapo came up with would be less bad, but no guarantee of even slightly good.

10-19-2005. Idaho, Montana governors submit plans to delist the wolf in the Northern Rockies.
By Mike Stark. The Gazette Staff.

10-19-2005. Summit in Bozeman, MT to try to develop a national energy policy. By Walt Williams. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. Sitting here reading about a new category 5 hurricane (Wilma) and the likelihood of a world killer-flu pandemic (no stock of life-saving drugs), paying $3/gal for gas and reading any solution is up to the states, it is pretty clear why the Administration's favorability is in the toilet -- total incompetence! Some have suggested Montana's governor for President. He would be an improvement to what we have.

10-14-2005. New Administration order requires political screening of all mid-level national park employees for political loyalty. PEER news release. "It is downright creepy that now every museum curator, supervising scientist and chief ranger must be okayed by a high-level political appointee.?

10-11-2005. WY Game and fish discourages north route on Togwotee Pass road reconstruction. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune environmental reporter. This is a little bit of good news about a highway that doesn't need to be reconstructed. All they need to do is straighten a few curves, and they can keep repairing the unstable section in Blackrock Creek forever for the cost of the reconstruction.

10-11-2005. Green measures by CA, OR and WA may stymie big electrical transmission line from Wyoming. By Dustin Bleizeffer. Casper Star-Tribune energy reporter. Oh, wouldn't that be a shame!

10-11-2005. National park system is under attack. By Pat Williams. Senior fellow and regional policy associate. O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West. Bush, Pombo, and their system of corrupt, crony capitalism threaten to cremate our national park system.

10-7-2005. The New Republic names Paul Hoffman as one of the Administration's worst cronies. The latest New Republic has an article "Welcome to the Hackocracy."
There rarely has been an Administration with as many hacks, cronies, and "good 'ol boys" and gals as this one. Of course every President needs his friends to give him honest, straight advice, but the problem comes when friends of his friends get positions, and their friends too. The article lists the 15 worst hacks in the Administration. They are people you haven't heard of, and won't unless something like a hurricane comes requiring them to perform their jobs. There are some exceptions. The hack rated number one is old gal Harriet Miers, Supreme Court nominee. Folks will recall "hack no. 12" -- Paul Hoffman, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, Department of the Interior. He has already proved his meddle by trying to turn the national parks into amusement parks. His qualification is he worked for 4 years for former congressman Dick Cheney.
Note: the New Republic is available by subscription on-line.

10-6-2005. Choice for Head of US Fish and Wildlife Service Provokes Dissent. By Juliet Eilperin. Washington Post Staff Writer. This guy, Dale Hall, will oversee administration of the ESA, including wolves and grizzly bears. I can't print what agency personal and others have to say of this anti-science wildlife politician.

10-5-2005. Lion spotted again on outskirts of Cody, WY. By Amber Peabody. Cody Enterprise. This is one of those gee whiz! stories. Pretty much every town near backcountry in the West has cougar on its fringes. It's true of Pocatello, ID (population over 50,000) where I live. Because the cougar are secretive and most sightings not reported, it might make this Cody story seem like a big exception.

10-5-2005. Three long-standing Montana conservationists consider suit over USFS flap. By Perry Backus. Missoulian. The Bitterroot National Forest, some say, has become flat out anti-democracy. Three conservationists were excluded by force from a public news conference where only those supporting the Forest Service were allowed.

10-4-2005. Editorial by the Denver Post. Riding the coattails of Katrina. "The House Resources Committee has rubber-stamped a radical plan by Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Calif to waive environmental rules if energy supplies are disrupted."
Related 10-5-2005. Wyoming's Cubin and WY Gov. Freudenthal differ on US House actions on drilling. Both are supporters of the big energy expansion Wyoming, but Cubin supports GOP efforts to use Katrina to remove all environmental controls on oil and gas drilling and production. Freudenthal argues a better way is to speed up regulatory permitting and increase domestic energy production by increasing funding for staff and use technical expertise on permitting and environmental analysis. The governor wants protection for wintering wildlife.
Cubin has close ties to the culture of corruption and cronyism that has emerged in the US House.

Ringed by wolves (on the wolf conference). Colorado Springs Gazette. The state of Colorado is hardly as "ringed by wolves" as this article implies. Otherwise it would have wolves by now.

10-4-2005. Beartooth Highway to reopen this week. Billings Gazette. The scenic highway was closed all season due to enormous mudslides last May. The reopening for this year is mostly a token of success because snowstorms will close it for the year soon, perhaps even before its reopening.

10-3-2005. Rangers watch for rogue ATV riders in Wind River Wilderness areas. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune. ATV riders are increasingly disregarding the law and also irritating traditional hunters who value a quality hunt. I hope no one shoots an ATV lawbreaker, though folks may be tempted.

10-3-2005. Colorado overrun with elk. By Gary Gerhardt. Rocky Mountain News. Colorado has 2 1/2 times as many elk as Wyoming. Runaway mountain sub-divisions help build elk numbers by keeping hunters at bay, wolves could trim the population around the houses.

10-3-2005. Tsunami of growth besets Bozeman and Belgrade, Montana. By Kellyn Brown. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

9-30-2005. House votes major changes to Endangered Species Act. Senate unlikely to take up measure that drops requirement for saving critical habitat. Zachary Coile, Chronicle Washington Bureau. The important thing to remember about this is that the landowner compensation part is window dressing because there is no chance Congress will appropriate money to fund it.
How did your U.S. Representative vote? Check here.
The fight now moves to the US Senate (still not settled as of Dec. 3, 2005)
Related Oct. 1. Anti-ESA leader Pombo rated one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress. Link to the 13 most corrupt members of Congress at  You can see if your member of Congress is corrupt by going to Beyond

9-30-2005. Two species of duck in Utah are too toxic to eat. By Patty Henetz and Brett Prettyman. Salt Lake Tribune. Both Utah and southern Idaho are being filled with toxic methyl mercury due to boom of gold mining in northern Nevada.

9-30-2005. Number of small earthquakes soars in Western Idaho. Idaho Statesman. By Cynthia Sewell.

9-30-2005. Rebirth of a river. By George Ochenski. The Clark's Fork River in SW Montana is no longer an industrial sewer for the mining industry.

9-29-2005. Breaking news from the Cougar network -- Fifth mountain lion sighting of the year for Nebraska.

9-27-2005. What's the rush? LA Times examines Pombo's bill to "reform" the Endangered Species Act.

9-27-2005. Montana poacher gets 5 years in the pen. Missoulian. By Michael Moore.

9-27-2005. Drilling in Colorado is at a record pace. Energy output sets state record. By Theo Stein and Kim McGuire. Denver Post Staff Writers. Property owners shouldn't be surprised when the oil and gas industry ruins their property. These are people who topple nations. They don't have to answer to anybody except perhaps Bush and Cheney.

9-26-2005. Randy elk antlers removed. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

9-26-2005. Studying Mount St. Helens still excites scientists. By Donna Gordon Blankinship. AP. Seattle Post-Intelligencer. At the rate it's growing Mt. St. Helens could get its cone shape back in a couple decades.

9-25-2005. Many sides, all divided on wolves for Colorado. Colorado Daily News. By Casey Freeman.

9-25-2005. New studies paint disturbing picture for area. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman [Montana] Chronicle Staff Writer. "Two studies released this week paint disturbing futures for the Bozeman and Livingston areas, for Montana and for other parts of the West. One study looks at how global warming is affecting the Rocky Mountains and predicts all sorts of water problems. And since this is the West, that means social and political problems."

9-22-2005. Next phase in protecting species: living with them. Large predator populations are growing across the US, raising concerns over how to manage healthy biodiversity. By Brad Knickerbocker. Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor. There is some irony in this feature article running at the same time Rep. Pombo (R-CA) is doing his best to try to kill off the endangered species act.

9-21-2005. Stop Representative Pombo's Extinction Bill for the ESA. Alert from the Endangered Species Coalition. Talk about predators in the old fashioned use of the word . . . Don't let Pombo and his buddies slink in and gut the ESA while our attention is diverted by hurricane disasters.

9-21-2005. SW region of US Fish and Wildlife Service accused of botching efforts to save fish. Rio Grande silvery minnow is deep trouble because the Service let the river run dry. Free New Mexican. Meanwhile, the regional director of the poorest run region of this agency has, in keeping with Bush policy of promoting the most incompetent, just been nominated to head the entire agency. I talked to a number of government employees and local activists about the promotion of Dave Hall to head the agency. They had reservations about him (such as how strong a cuss word to describe him).

By Tim Korte The Associated Press. 9-20-2005. Ferrets' progress in Colorado encourages biologists. Casper Star Tribune. Another ESA success.

9-20-2005. The ESA is a soaring success. For examples of the Endangered Species Act's success, one need only look up. By BEN LONG. Tidepool. As we watch the bald eagle soar, the symbol of our country, Rep. Pombo is fixing to do in the law that protected the eagle to recovery. Journalist Ben Long is much to charitable to Pombo. Pombo needs to do more than look up at the success. Pombo needs to have his personal values redone.

9-20-2005. Rewriting Endangered Species Act. House Resources Committee's 'OK' is expected. Foes of extinction are outraged. Zachary Coile, San Francisco Chronicle Washington Bureau. Chairman Pombo tells how his bill will "modernize" the ESA and make it land-owner friendly.
None of this is true. This is more of the Orwellian language we have come to expect from the anti-wildlife, anti-conservation crowd.
Pombo, who not surprisingly is another ethically challenged member of the current Congress, has crafted a bill that requires compensation to landowners if they decide that they are blocked from using their land because of the presence of an endangered species. Pombo's bill appropriates no money for this, and we all know the federal government is flat out of money.
A truly landowner friendly bill would allow the government to offer money to landowners in advance to protect a species, not wait until some developer finds land with a species and then proposes a development that would destroy it so as to extort money from us all as a condition to save it. The bill strips the government from designating "critical habitat" for a species, when we all know that lack of habit is the usual reason for extinction.
The writing of this bill has been discussed in detail outside the mass media. Input  came from "property rights groups" who have long opposed trying to protect animals or plants from extinction. No groups like the National Wildlife Federation or the Sierra Club were allowed to have any say. What Pombo has done is cobble together deliberately ineffective measures to some valid criticisms of the Act. His purpose seems to be to kill off species, not solve any problems. In case you haven't heard of Pombo, here are some links.

9-19-2005. Hungry Horse Ranger Station and several parcels of surrounding land sell for about $1.3 million. Hungry Horse News. Selling off "surplus" Forest Service land is a new Administration initiative that many think is a first step at privatizing our public lands. This land will now go to subdivision in a area of NW Montana where subdivisions are already a problem. By cannibalizing itself the FS will get a new ranger station. This is not an isolated instance. It is happening all over the country.

9-19-2005. BLM must manage its land in accordance to federal law. Guest editorial. Idaho Statesman.  Western Watersheds Project won a big victory in the sorry, yet huge, Jarbidge area of the BLM in SW Idaho. WWP confronted Simplot, who has long been one of the most powerful businesses in Idaho. A "deal" was worked out, which was characterized by the media as an interesting and perhaps a great compromise. See the article below for one such appraisal. Many grazing reform activists are not so sanguine, as the editorial above indicates. Idaho congressionals had hinted darkly that a legislative "fix" might be in the works in Congress.
Example of news media article. Environmentalists, Simplot strike deal. Buying peace in the Jarbidge. By Michelle Dunlop. Times-News writer. August 31, 2005.

9-18-2005. A Polluter's Feast. Bush has reversed more environmental progress in the past eight months than Reagan did in a full eight years. By Tim Dickinson. Rolling Stone. Bush has portrayed himself as strong, steady leader and protector of the American people. We excused his failure to anticipate 9/11. We excused the seemingly impossible-to-end war in Iraq and failure to find WMDs.  What is the excuse for Hurricane Katrina? Is he prepared for the coming avian flu? I would bet he is not. Meanwhile his Administration takes advantage of every opportunity to savage our environment, even when the disaster is partly due to past environmental inattention.
9-18-2005. E-mail suggests government seeking to blame environmental groups for New Orleans levy break. By Jerry Mitchell. The Clarion Ledger.

9-18-2005. Father and son fall (or jump?) to their deaths from Gardner River Bridge in Yellowstone Park. By Michael Becker. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer and the Associated Press.

9-15-2005. On the Idaho forest fires. . . I took down the photos and updates on the fires. Everyone had seen them that wanted to. Here are two new stories from the Challis Messenger and one from the Mtn. Express about the big fire in the White Cloud Mountains, and potential for more next summer.

9-15-2005. Montana Dept of Fish, Wildlife & Parks asking the Forest Service to end off-road motorized travel in the Rocky Mountain Front. Great Falls Tribune.

9-15-2005. Court backs Park Service closure of Salt Creek Road in Canyonlands National Park. By Joe Baird. Salt Lake Tribune. In a desert where riparian areas are few, and in a national park, there should not a 4 x 4 road up a stream bed. The comment by the spokesman for the off-road group must think the Utah public is very stupid.  "Unfortunately . . . the average citizen will have to find other places to recreate with vehicles and that is becoming harder and harder to do," Swenson said. Salt Creek is a long drive from any Utah city and Utah has far more public land than even most western states. Rather than build hiking trails, vast systems of ATV trails have been created in the state, a place where they were already few restrictions of off-road vehicles.

 9-14-2005. View of the Idaho Statesman: Wyoming must join Idaho, Montana with a wolf plan. I'll bet Wyoming won't.

9-14-2005. Industry wants to drill over 1000 gas wells in semi-undeveloped area of Wyoming desert. Casper Star Tribune. These huge proposals keep coming in one after another.

9-12-2005. State [Wyoming] will buy new wolf collars. By Jeff Gearino. Casper Star-Tribune staff writer. This story is based on a WY Game and Fish news release. The news release left out some very important details. The Yellowstone Park wolf team has proposed a $100,000 study of wolf predation and locations in the SE Corner of Yellowstone and the adjacent Teton Wilderness. This is of the very-hard-to-keep-collared Yellowstone Delta Pack, which lives in an area where moose are still abundant, but whose habitat was greatly harmed by the fires of 1988. The wolves would be fitted with expensive Argus GPS collars. Wyoming Game and Fish has apparently agreed to pay for about 13% of the study. The rest is contingent on a grant from the US Geological Survey. The study won't be done unless USGS comes through with the bulk (87%) of the study's cost.

9-11-2005. Colorado wolf advocates pressing for animals' return. Supporters point to polls in urging state to foster plan. By Gary Gerhardt, Rocky Mountain News. It's clear to me too, that wolves from Wyoming or Idaho are not going to break through the barrier of SW Wyoming and wander into Colorado in sufficient numbers to reestablish a wolf population in any reasonable time. For that reason Colorado citizens should do what the ballot initiative was meant to do -- by-pass an unresponsive legislature and a backwards thinking governor.  Vested interests are so strong that the will of the people can otherwise be defied indefinitely.

9-10-2005. Wyoming Wildlife Federation: Seismic studies, hunting don't mix. Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster. "Bridger-Teton National Forest officials agreed late Friday afternoon to suspend all natural gas seismic exploration activity near LaBarge on Sunday, and that suspension will be in effect for the rest of the 2005 hunting season."

9-10-2005. Endangered Species: A law that works. By the editorial board of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

9-8-2005. National parks grapple with surge of illegal off-road vehicles. By Mark Clayton.  The Christian Science Monitor

9-7-2005. Yellowstone wolf space inadequate. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette. Reporters don't write headlines for newspapers, and this article is much better than its misleading title. It is about the declining wolf population in Yellowstone Park and the stabilization of the wolf population in all areas except Idaho. Over the Labor Day weekend there were several other articles with misleading headlines, like "wolf population sharply up." Apparently the headline writer only read the first paragraph wherein the total population was reported.
Is there anything to the headline? It is obviously true the Yellowstone Park itself, where some anti-wolf extremists would like to see wolves relegated, is not large enough to securely restore wolves to any part of the West.
For the details on wolf population, see my news story on it.

9-6-2005. Idaho wants wolves delisted in Idaho and a number of nearby states (except Wyoming). By John Miller. AP Missoulian. I'll have a more complete story on my wolf page soon. It's very important because Idaho not only wants them delisted but is gearing up to kill wolves. Idaho is also meddling with other states.

 9-3-2005. Hurricanes and Global Warming - Is There a Connection? Real Climate blog. Real Climate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists. [They] aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary. The discussion . . . is restricted to scientific topics and will not get involved in any political or economic implications of the science. Everyone interested in objective analysis of climate change should bookmark

9-2-2005. Wildlife deaths spark cry for attention on US Highway 30 [SE Idaho]. By Dan Boyd. Idaho State Journal Writer. I just hate to drive this 2-lane highway at night because of all the deer, but the big trucks just go 65 - 70 all the way, killing deer without so much as a pause.

9-1-2005. Montana's Schweitzer makes a date with B.C. premier. By Michael Jamison of the Missoulian. B.C. is entertaining a host of proposals to screw up the North Fork of the Flathead River which runs into the U.S. and forms the boundary of Glacier NP. If we had any kind of President in America, his people would be doing this.

9-1-2005. National Park goals under attack. Former Cody chamber director Hoffman is once again at center of firestorm. By Rebecca Huntington. Jackson Hole News and Guide. More on Paul Hoffman and Bush Administration's efforts to subvert the mission of the National Park Service.
9-1-2005. Bush's secret agenda for marketing the national parks. by George Ochenski. Missoula Independent.

Earlier elements of this story-
8-27-2005. Blog on Bush Administration Rewriting Mission of National Park Service. By Naturegal.8-26-2005.

8-27-2005. Park officials in uproar over suggested policy changes. By Julie Cart. Los Angeles Times. "The potential changes would allow cell phone towers, low-flying tour planes and renewed mining claims into parks where they were previously prohibited."
8-26-2005. Top Dept. of Interior Official Urged Change in How National Parks Are Managed. By Felicity Barringer. New York Times. Fortunately senior national parks employees rejected the proposals by Paul Hoffman, formerly of Cody, Wyoming. Hoffman wanted to create new opportunities for off-road use of snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles throughout the park system, including Yellowstone. Wouldn't that be great - ATVs riding around in the Lamar Valley?  Hoffman has been called patronage appointee of VP Dick Cheney (he was a former aide to Cheney). He is cited as one of the principle forces keeping snowmobiles in Yellowstone Park.
When Hoffman was with the Chamber of Commerce in Cody, he wanted to build a 4-lane highway to the Park's East Entrance and greatly increase admission fees so a "better class of people" would be in the Park.

9-1-2005. Shifting values and the return of the real wolf. Orion Magazine. By Thomas Reed Petersen.

8-31-2005. Global warming may be to blame for more destructive hurricanes. By Andrew Buncombe. UK Independent. The anti-science Bush Administration doesn't believe in it. Instead they've named it climate change." Reality is in the flooded streets and dying people in New Orleans, not in their spin rooms.
I should note that global warming, strictly speaking will never be responsible for any natural catastrophe.  It will simply increase the probability of fearsome events like storms, droughts, floods. The Gulf of Mexico is unusually hot this hurricane season. That allowed a small hurricane to grow into a monster in one day. If there had not been a small hurricane late last week, New Orleans, Louisiana and Mississippi would be doing fine right now. Will there yet be more small storms that mushroom in the unusual 90 degree plus waters of the Gulf of Mexico before the hurricane season ends? The argument that there have been monster storms in the past is not relevant. It's the frequency of them that counts. Here is the news release every is talking about. National Science Foundation release. Originally released on July 31, 2005.
Secondly, development of coastal areas under the belief that developers are entitled to do anything, led to the withering away of much of the hurricane storm surge absorption power of the Mississippi River Delta's marshlands that used to suck up storm surges like a sponge. This story deals with the loss of wetlands. New Orleans: Loss of wetlands opens floodgates to disaster. By David Usborne. UK Independent. 8-31-05.

8-31-2005. Slow forest fire season begins to move in Montana, Idaho. Winds fan flames in Bitterroot; fire restrictions remain in effect. By Michael Moore. Missoulian
8-31-2005. Idaho fires blamed for hazy Montana skies. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer.

8-30-2005. Let there be dark. Light pollution is encroaching on Idaho's skies. By Nicole Stricker. Idaho Falls Post Register. See

8-30-2005. White House wants nature off the UN agenda. Washington Post (reprinted in the San Francisco Chronicle). "U.N. delegates were puzzled by the U.S. initiative. 'Nature is something which needs a lot of respect,' said Yuri Fedotov, a senior Russian diplomat."
8-30-2005. Iraq Women, Bolton, Nature Get No Respect. By Molly Ivins.

8-26-2005. A number of new books about Yellowstone. Billings Gazette. By Mike Stark.

8-25-2005. Montanans Register a Complaint. Entrepreneur's Bid to Trademark Slogan Angers Montanans.
By Blaine Harden. Washington Post Staff Writer. What Montana's thought-to-be populist government does about this will help us understand if he is a populist or another oily politician like former Montana governor Marc Racicot.

8-23-2005. Avalanche of [snowmobile] studies wouldn't help. Missoulian's opinion. "SUMMARY: Another study of snowmobiles in Yellowstone? What's lacking is political consensus, not facts."
Did you know the Park Service is doing yet another multi-million dollar study of snowmobiles in Yellowstone? In fact your comments are due Sept. 1.

8-22-2005. Lightning kills a dozen elk in Wind Rivers near Lander, WY. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune.

8-21-2005. Changing course: Yellowstone transforms from world-renown to forgotten river. By Jeff Welsch. Bozeman Chronicle. The Yellowstone River is perhaps the longest river in the 48 states without an impoundment reservoir on it. Its upper reaches are famous, but is runs into obscurity long before it reaches the Missouri River.

8-20-2005. Dunraven Pass over Mt. Washburn reopens. Yellowstone Park news release.

8-19-2005. Unlike optimistic early reports, the washout of the Beartooth Highway significantly hurt Red Lodge Montana businesses this summer. Billings Gazette. By Brent French.

8-18-2005. Agencies release a management plan for the greatly enlarged Craters of the Moon National Monument/Preserve. By Michelle Dunlop. Times-News writer. This will be the management plan for Craters of the Moon National Monument Preserve which was expanded in size over 1000% by President Clinton. The plan is soft on grazing and many think the plan should be litigated. Of course the lava flows themselves are not grazed; there is no real forage. Cattle or sheep can't even walk on them, but there are islands of vegetation.  Some are pristine, but others are severely degraded, and others have some invasive cheatgrass despite never being grazed or hardly visited. My page on Craters of the Moon wilderness.

8-17-2005. Rocky Mountain West isn't rural. Montana's leading economist says time to stop thinking West is cowboys. Helena Independent Record. I've been preaching this for 30 years. Glad the perception of the real West is spreading.

8-17-2005. Idaho, Montana fires fill skies with smoke. By Betsy Cohen. The Missoulian. Most of nation's forest fires are on the Idaho/Montana border and the skies are smoky in places. Nevertheless, this year's forest fire season in the northern Rockies has been far less than expected and nothing compared to most of the last 5 years when individual fires routinely burned 50,000 acres or more.

8-12-2005. Efforts sprout to save aspen trees. By John Ritter, USA Today. Like sagebrush, quaking aspen is on the decline in the West, despite both being Western icons.

8-11-2005. BLM airs out position on air quality on Roan. By Dennis Webb. Glenwood Springs Post Independent Staff. The West is really starting to see the overall effects of the Bush/Cheney energy plan (See this,  and the articles below). I visited the Roan Plateau last week. It is an immense, hardly known region of Utah and Colorado.  
8-11-2005. BLM admits drilling will bring haze to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks and Wilderness Areas. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune environmental reporter. The BLM has finally admitted the obvious -- that all the natural gas well drilling and operations near Pinedale will degrade the air quality in NW Wyoming, including the 2 national parks and 5 designated wilderness areas. This is a flat out violation of the PSD (prevention of significant deterioration) provisions of the Clean Air Act.

8-11-2005. Insects take over thousands of Yellowstone acres. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette. In recent summers I have also seen a number of very large forest insect epidemics in Idaho and Utah too. These usually get started when the trees are old and/or under stress such as the 5 year drought. Although the drought may be ending,  it takes several years of wet to end the epidemics, and damp weather is not certain to end them. The exact conditions that launch them and end them are not clear.
Perhaps the most serious situation is in central Idaho where most of the lodgepole pine in the Sawtooth Valley and Stanley Basin have died. When these trees are red (before needle drop), they are incredibly explosive such fire get started. It's amazing luck that this hasn't happened and burned many vacation and other homes to the ground. I have been able to light red lodgepole pine needles to get a campfire started during a rainstorm lasting a week!

8-11-2005. Horse, cow disease [vesicular stomatitis] hits Montana. By Jan Falstad. Billings Gazette. "Shipment of horses and cows into and out of Montana and Wyoming is becoming more difficult and expensive with Wednesday's announcement that a highly contagious disease similar to foot-and-mouth disease has been found in both states."

8-10-2005. Elk: A Science Fiction Story. By Robert Hoskins. New West. Hoskins, a hunter and conservationist from Crowheart, Wyoming, writes a dark tale of what the future could hold for the Jackson Hole elk herd if Wyoming and federal politicians don't do something real about their disease prone elk feedgrounds and the arrival of chronic wasting disease

8-10-2005. Montana fire approaching critical power line. Billings Gazette. AP. 8-11. The powerline's energy has been turned off due to the fire which is increasingly severe.
8-8-2005. Lightning sparks 33 fires in Bitterroot National Forest. By Sherry Devlin. Missoulian.
8-8-2005. Fire on Kootenai National Forest forces evacuations. By Sherry Devlin. Missoulian.
8-8-2005. Fire danger closes Mount Jumbo, Mount Sentinel, North Hills near Missoula. Missoulian
8-8-2005. Blazes near Interstate 90 still [extreme NW Montana] dangerous, officials warn. By Tristan Scott. Missoulian.
8-8-2005. Scientists learned a lot from the fires of 2000. By Perry Backus. Missoulian.

8-9-2005. Wyoming, feds to release more endangered black-footed ferrets in Shirley Basin. AP
8-9-2005. Related. Toughing It Out in the Badlands. Black-footed ferrets battle for survival in the nation's heartland. By Paul Tolme. Defenders of Wildlife Magazine.

8-9-2005. Expert changes his mind: [Snake River] Dams should come down. Fisheries biologist Don Chapman says the impacts of global warming on the region call for drastic action if Idaho's salmon are to survive. Idaho Statesman. By Rocky Barker.

8-9-2005. How much new US oil? Not a lot. "The energy bill [became] law Monday, but won't spur exploration." By Kris Axtman. Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor.
8-9-2005. After 5 years of trying, Bush gets the so-called "energy bill." Conceived in secret meetings with energy industry lobbyists held by VP Dick Cheney, just as he left as CEO of oil industry giant Halliburton, this bill has been amended many times in efforts to put together a majority. Drilling the Arctic Wildlife Refuge was left out. What was in has been called the "sum of all lobbies." That is not quite fair, however, because many industry wishes were subtracted from the bill. It is mostly a pile of subsidies and exemptions from the law for traditional energy producers, with a fig leaf of coverage of meager subsidies to alternative energy. Efforts at energy efficiency, especially dealing with motor vehicles were not included -- not every the modest step of rating tires according to their energy efficiency (most people don't know that makes a difference). It is still hard to say what is in this bill due to its complexity and its largely "midnight authoring." An extension of daylight savings time was a last minute addition. The 1,724-page bill was not handled in a regular legislative process, and every member of Congress can seemingly justify their vote for or against the bill by pointing to a couple things in it they liked or didn't. In other words, it is difficult to hold your member of Congress responsible due to the way the bill was developed, changed without floor votes, and passed. It is, and was, an affront to democratic process from the start. Its completion marks a sad day for American politics.
Provisions to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge are expected to be added to the budget bill later this summer (budget bills cannot be filibustered).

8-8-2005. A sense of deja boom. By Todd Wilkinson. US News and World Report. "The word frenzy wouldn't really begin to describe what's going on in and around this county seat of 1,400, where active gas wells outnumber residents by almost 2 to 1."

7-30-2005. Air currents make Oregon/Washington's Columbia gorge one of the most polluted natural areas in country. By Michael Milstein. Oregonian. A Portland power plant and a livestock feedlot are the major culprets.

7-27-2005. Saving the Snake River. Park Service, boaters want river preserved for future generations. By Rebecca Huntington. Last in a series. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

7-28-2005. Update. Quake triggers eight aftershocks. By Sonja Lee. Great Falls Tribune Staff Writer.

7-26-2005. Northwest leaders petition House to save fish agency from Senator Craig's amendment to abolish it. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. Another attack on science, this time by utility waterboy Idaho Senator Larry Craig.

7-21-2005. Plan to reduce the feeding on the National Elk Refuge is controversial.  Jackson Hole Zone.
7-25-2005. WY Game and Fish mum on elk and bison feeding plan. Casper Star Tribune. By Whitney Royster.

7-20-2005. Dam makes raft season. Wyoming boaters built an industry on Idaho farmers' irrigation flows. By Rebecca Huntington. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

7-17-2005. Huge Ranch in Utah's Book Cliffs Going on Auction Block. John Hollenhorst Reporting. KSL News. The Book Cliffs would probably be the best place in Utah for wolves in terms of prey base.

7-17-2005. Glacial Cover-Up Won't Stop Global Warming. By George Jahn. Associated Press Writer. Newsday. We might be able to cover some of glaciers with big tarps, but this is a good example of the costs of the global warming George Bush and Karl Rove claim doesn't exist.

7-17-2005. Medicine Bow National Forest throws out grazing plan. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star-Tribune correspondent. "The supervisor of the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest has overturned part of a grazing plan to avoid damaging streams and streamside habitat."
It is very unusual for a forest supervisor to side  with conservationists in the appeal of the forest's decision, although higher officers are more likely to overturn a subordinate's decision. My take is it must have been a very bad grazing "plan."

7-17-2005. Opinion of the LA Times. Nature on the Edge: Endangered protections.
7-16-2005. Pombo's House Bill Would Downsize Endangered Species Act. E&E Publishing. NRDC. The ethically challenged chair (Richard Pombo) of the House Resources Committee has introduced a bill that would gut the endangered species act. It may move in this Congress, especially if attention is diverted to Supreme Court nomination battles, searches of CIA name leakers, etc.
On Pombo's Ethics, see "Rep Pombo Denies He's Corrupt As DeLay." This originally appeared in the LA Times, but the link is dead. Fortunately, the Native Forest Council picked it up.

There is a good chance Pombo's constituents will toss him out of office in 2006. Conservation groups must make this a priority.
Pombo paid kin from campaign. Wife, brother received $465K from lawmaker's fund since 2001. By Hank Shaw. Capitol Bureau Chief. 12-5-2004.

7-13-2005. Huge coal generating plant near Las Vegas might have to close after 30 years of polluting the Grand Canyon area. By John Edwards. Las Vegas Review Journal. Although it generates a lot of electricity, the plant (Mojave generating station) is far from being state of the art, and its decades of exemptions are running out. Coal plants can be designed to be less harmful and need to be located to pollute America's scenic treasures.

7-12-2005. Air quality permit for disputed Montana power plant lapses. Plant thought to be threat to YNP air quality. By Susan Gallagher. AP. Good news for Yellowstone Park and the surrounding scenic country!

7-11-2005. Oregon state wolf plan fails to pass legislature. AP. By Niki Sullivan. I've linked to many articles about Oregon crafting their own plan based on their state endangered species act. It didn't pass, but legally any wolves that migrate into Oregon are presently very well protected by the federal ESA.

7-11-2005. Is This Worth a Dam? There's a movement afoot to pull down old or ecologically unsound dams, starting with this one -- Hetch Hetchy. By J. Madeleine Nash. Time Magazine. There is a growing movement to tear down O'Shaughnessy Dam in Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park. Little known to most Americans, Hetch Hetchy was a scenic rival to Yosemite Valley. After what was perhaps the first national conservation struggle, this national park valley was filled with an ugly reservoir back in 1913.

7-10-2005. Developer drops plans for big Livingston subdivision. Cites planned expos? by Bozeman Chronicle as reason. By Scott McMillion. Bozeman Chronicle.

7-9-2005. Yellowstone cutthroat dwindling in the park. By Mike Stark. Billings Gazette. Competition from illegally introduced lake trout and whirling disease have taken their toll, and will change the ecology of Yellowstone Park. This problem was predicted long ago as this blast from the past shows. June 18, 2000. Yellowstone Grizzlies Depend on Cutthroat Trout. Billings Gazette.

7-8-2005. Groups appeal Green Mountain grazing plan. By Brodie Farquhar. Casper Star Tribune. This is the largest unfenced area in Wyoming, but condition of the range is poor.

7-7-2005. Controlling wildlife trade is the most cost effective way of preventing world wide disease epidemics (pandemics). Science Daily. The failure of the Administration to make threats like this a priority provokes cynicism as to whether their "war on terror" is at best incompetent, and at worst just a way to advance the administration's domestic policies through use of fear, rather than a true effort to protect people. Millions of lives versus a couple score in subway bombings, etc.

7-7-2005. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks lists the 60 species in Montana most in need of conservation help. Bozeman Daily Chronicle. By Scott McMillion.

7-7-2005. More wildlife getting helped across the highway. Funding, studies, new attitudes combine to push innovative structures. By Mike Stuckey. Senior News Editor. MSNBC. This is an important innovation. Too bad Wyoming seems to either not know or care because highway construction around Yellowstone is resulting in faster highways with more and more habitat degradation and more large animals being killed.

7-6-2005. Park's geology watched intensely. By Allison Batdorff. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau. "Could a basalt flow erupt from Yellowstone National Park without warning? Yes, it could, says geologist Henry "Hank" Heasler."

7-6-2005. Raging fire puts Iberian wolves at risk. IOL.

7-5-2005. Sierra Club, industry at odds over Wyoming's Red Desert. Associated Press. The oil industry says "Environmentalists are relying on hysteria to achieve their goals." Then the article points out that the oil industry plans plans to drill 10,000 coal-bed methane wells, traditional gas wells, and oil wells in southwestern Wyoming. It is a lot more than the Sierra Club alarmed at the development. Even Wyoming's governor has suggested some moderation from the oil industry.

7-4-2004. Biological Investigators Discover Wolf Ancestry. Eastern Coyotes Are Becoming Coywolves.
By David Zimmerman, News Correspondent. Caledonian Record (St. Johnsbury, Vermont). If a general reintroduction of wolves were proposed for the Eastern U.S., there would be outrage. Instead coyotes have mixed with wolves, probably from Canada, and are sometimes almost as big as small wolves and prey on deer as much as rodents like the western coyote.

7-4-2005. A dangerous disregard for scientific truth. By James R. Hebert. Guest columnist. The State. The political attack on American science continues, a phenomenon unprecedented in a Western democracy. It's is something all Americans should ponder on Independence Day, and one which we may suffer from as soon as this winter as the Avian flu mutates and there is neither a vaccine available, nor a sufficient supply of Tamiflu.

7-4-2005. Yellowstone Park announces major upgrade to their Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs web cams. Park news release. To see them, go to

7-4-2005. Bozeman June rainfall breaks three-year record. By Greg Ainsworth For the Bozeman Chronicle. All of Montana, previously suffering from a 5 year drought, is very green (although the groundwater is still somewhat depleted). This rainfall should be a major benefit to ungulates, and in Yellowstone add data to the controversy over why the elk calf numbers on the northern range are so low.

7-2-2005. View of the Idaho Mountain Express. Senator's salmon solution: Hide the facts. A number of Idaho newspapers have slammed Senator Craig, a die hard fan of of fish-killing dams. This is a sample.

7-2-2005. Montana officially takes over wolf management in the state. Billing Gazette. Of the 3 states, Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, it is generally conceded that Montana has the best wolf management plan. Of course, Wyoming's was rejected as "unacceptable" by the federal government.
7-2-2005. Another article. "Wolf return one step closer" By The Helena IR. "The long, slow effort to rebuild wolf populations in Montana took another step toward a successful conclusion last week when the federal government turned over control to the state."

6-24-2005. West's wet weather brings increase in deer mice and hantavirus. Billings Gazette. So far this spring and summer, I have noticed a large increase in not just deer mice, but most rodents. Raptors will eat well as will coyotes and fox, but predators populations don't grow until next year.

6-23-2005. Authors detail wolf's journey back to Yellowstone. By Lisa McClendon. Billings Gazette Staff. Doug Smith and Gary Ferguson have written a great new book about following the return of wolves to Yellowstone. As an aside, author Ferguson, tragically lost his wife in Canadian canoe accident a couple weeks ago.

6-21-2005. Lightning strikes near Old Faithful Geyser, numerous injuries. Associated Press. I noticed today was the first that summer monsoonal moisture made its way north to Idaho and Wyoming. It came in with a bang in Yellowstone Park.|
6-23-2005. One lightning victim still in serious condition. Bozeman Chronicle. By Nick Gevock.

6-21-2005. Agitated moose charges Yellowstone campers, injures children and puppy. AP. Actually this happened just east of the East Entrance.

6-20-2005. Wildfires may be late, but season could still be wicked. Spring rains give firefighters more time to prepare. Joe Jaszewski. The Idaho Statesman.

Proposed restrictions on motorized use on the Gallatin wouldn't have much impact, study shows. By Scott McMillion Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer. A new study shows non-motorized recreation generates twice as much money as motorized recreation on the scenic Gallatin NF. I think some people, including politicians, think that big noisy machines must generate money. Those who engage in quiet travel don't spend. But it's not true -- noisy travel machines make noise, not money.,

6-19-2005. Noxious weeds choking Eastern Oregon. By Richard Cockle. The Oregonian as published in the Seattle Times. Alien invasive weeds are one of the biggest ecological problems in the West, and a major threat to wildlife, a fact totally over looked by the wolves-will-kill-our-game-herds crowd. A bright spot, my recent trip to the Salmon River country in central Idaho did find an unexpected, pleasant reduction in the presence of spotted knapweed.

6-19-2005. Black-footed ferret program may have its budget eliminated. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star Tribune. The bringing of the black-footed ferret program back from the bring of extinction has been successful, but the number of ferrets is still small. The plight of the ferret is not all that different from many other government programs, from the smallest to the greatest, such as social security. The creation of a huge budget deficit due to tax cuts that didn't pay for themselves was deliberate. Bush and his friends knew what would happen -- money would be redistributed upwards and government programs that help average folks, or to help fish and wildlife would be starved. The excuse would be "sadly there is no money." Not for ferrets. Not to monitor pollution. Not to monitor food sanitation. Not to pay veterans benefits. Not to meet the obligations to pay Social Security.

6-18-2005. Unsettling Times: Buffalo commons idea lingers. By Lorna Thackeray. Billings Gazette. The continuing loss of population in the rural areas of the upper great plains has reduced the population density to that of the 1890s.

6-17-2005. Forest Service drops fees at 500 picnic areas, trails. Associated Press. The Forest Service may need the money, but charging for minimally improved camping areas, etc. simply makes most people move their vehicles to completely informal camping areas. I've seen it hundreds of places. People pull up with their RVs, set up their camp place, and tell the kids "go ride around on your ATVs while mom and I have some brewskis."

6-18-2005. Administration altered critical portions of a scientific analysis of the proposed grazing regs. LA Times. By Julie Cart. Just like the report on global warming, when government scientists reported findings that were not politically acceptable, the Administration changed them. As a note, it appears the same was true about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction. As the new "Downing Street memo" indicates, the Administration decided to go to war, and then made up the "facts."
6-17-2005. New Grazing Rules Will Rip Up Public Land. Natural Resources Defense Council.
6-17-2005. Conservationist: Changes 'lock out' public. By Whitney Royster. Jackson Hole Star-Tribune environmental reporter.
6-17-2005. Here is the BLM's page on the new grazing regulations.

6-17-2005. EPA Sets New Rules for Cleaner Air in Parks and Wilderness Areas. ENN. Under pressure the EPA has set rules to begin the reduction of haze in many national parks and wilderness areas. PSD, or "prevention of significant deterioration" of clean air in these protected areas is mandated by the Clean Act Act, but obviously the air quality in most has been going downhill anyway.

6-16-2005. Oregon compromise wolf plan crumbles, seems to be finished. It said wolves could be shot only when attacking livestock. The Associated Press. I was amazed at how intolerant Oregon ranchers turned out to be. Always thought of the state as moderate. They were especially rude and ignorant to a group of school children who favored wolves at a hearing.

6-9-2005. Yellowstone's wolf expert addresses standing room only crowd in Cody. Casper Star Tribune. " 'The park, in simple terms, is full,' Smith said. He predicts that another decade will find half as many wolves in the park."

6-9-2005. White House defends editing of climate reports. By Dan Vergano, USA TODAY. The conclusions of the scientists were modified before their release by a White House staffer who is a lawyer and former lobbyist with the American Petroleum Institute. He has no advanced degree.

6-8-2005. Greater Yellowstone Coalition holds their annual conference June 9-11 in West Yellowstone. Billings Gazette.

6-7-2005. Congressmen get an earful on Snake dams and salmon. Breaching foes and supporters both want 'working river' By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman. This hearing was in relation to the recent decision by a federal judge that Bush's "keep-the-dams" salmon plan was illegal.
Previous stories on this:
6-1-2005. Bush's "fishy" Northwest salmon plan thrown out by federal judge. Seattle Times. By Craig Welch and Hal Bernton.
6-1-2005. A win for salmon. Editorial by the Idaho Mountain Express. I want add it is also a win for the truth against the politicians' lies that their useless pork barrel dams on the lower Snake River don't imperil salmon.

6-5-2005. What Bush's "ownership society" means for the public lands. By George Ochenski. A few problems with Bush's "ownership society." Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded. . . John Muir.
What their buzzword, "ownership society," means, of course, is that Bush doesn't believe in public lands. In fact, does the President ever use the word "public" in any context?

6-4-2005. Goshen County, WY is a hot spot for West Nile virus carrying mosquitoes. By Denise Heilbrun. Casper Star-Tribune. While many species of the disease can transmit it, culex tarsalis is the prime vector.

6-4-2005. Montana aims to fix the Beartooth Highway by the end of the year. By Becky Shay. Billings Gazette Staff. The goal is Oct. 15. Of course, this is about the usual closing date of the highway for the winter, so the earliest possible real date for through travel is about June 2006.

6-2-2005. The 'other' wolves. By Jim Mann. (Kalispell) Daily Inter Lake. This is a good and detailed story about the wolves of NW Montana, about which I rarely report on (in part due to my lack of on-the-ground knowledge of the area.). Management of these wolves recently reverted to endangered status due to the decision of the federal judge that USFWS had erred in created the new wolf population segments in the United States. These wolves were not introduced, but migrated in from Canada, although today they are mixed with the offspring of the introduced wolves. Of course, there is no biological difference between the "natives" and those that came a decade later by plane from Alberta and British Columbia. The numbers of NW Montana wolves have gone up and down a number of times since about 1993.

6-1-2005. Conserving private land in the West is a matter of the those of great wealth. By Ray Ring. High Country News. Given that right-wingers controlling the state and federal governments have taken them out of the incredibly important business of conserving private land, it has fallen to those with the will and the means to do so. Related Conservation easement statistics.
6-2-2005. Related. "Ego gates" get my goat! and that's just the beginning. by Linda M. Hasselstrom. Opinion in the High Country News. Have you noticed that just before a real ranch gets cut into parcels, they erect a fancy wooden portal proclaiming you are at the entrance of something like "Bear Meadows Ranch estates?"?

6-1-2005. Red Lodge, Montana wonders how it will deal with Beartooth Highway closure. By Brad Fjeldheim. Billings Gazette.  This article also has a series of photos. It looks like the highway will have to be almost rebuilt along the steep-sided edge of the plateau from which the debris flows came.
6-1-2005. Tremendous mudslides prevent opening of the Beartooth Highway. By Brad Fjeldheim. Billings Gazette (May 25). Big storms have wiped out portions of this scenic, high elevation NE Entrance road to Yellowstone Park. Alternative access is still available to Cooke City from Cody, Wyoming.
6-1-2005. Wyoming side of damaged Beartooth Highway has been opened. YNP new release. This is the normal season opening. The highway was not damaged on the Wyoming side. This year will be a chance to drive up to the Pass without a lot of through traffic.

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