Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rockies Today, Oct. 24

Posted By on Thu, Oct 24, 2013 at 12:03 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Montana Commerce Dept. awards $500K in tourism grants
The Montana Department of Commerce issued $500,000 in grants from its Tourism Infrastructure Investment Program to eight tourism sites, including $132,500 to Bridger Bowl Ski Area for the construction of the Alpine Cabin near two upgraded lifts on the mountain, $54,000 for improvements to the Yellowstone Wildlife Sanctuary in Red Lodge, and $80,000 to help restore the Blackfeet Tribe's Chewing Blackbones Campground near Glacier National Park.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Oct. 24

Another Montana homeowner wins lawsuit for Corral Fire damage
The landowner whose slash pile fire reignited in 2012 and sparked the Corral Fire near Helena that burned 1,800 acres and destroyed four homes has $1.3 million in insurance to pay claims resulting from the Montana wildfire, but so far two lawsuits filed have resulted in $2.4 million in judgments, and with more than 30 other property owners seeking compensation, the insurance money won't go far.
Helena Independent Record; Oct. 24

Montana PSC rejects utility's claim of lost revenue due to conservation
On Tuesday, the Montana Public Service Commission ruled that NorthWestern Energy had overstated its claims of lost revenue due to conservation programs, a claim that the utility's officials said sends a conflicting message about conservation programs, and an official with the Montana Environmental Information Center said the ruling indicated the PSC's hostility toward conservation programs.
Montana Standard (Lee State Bureau); Oct. 24

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rockies Today, Oct. 23

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Yellowstone Park's winter-use plan ready for Dec. 15 opening day
The new winter-use plan for Yellowstone National Park that takes effect Dec. 15 allows a mix of snowmobiles and snow coaches into the park, and will set new limits for the 2014-15 winter season, and ups the standards for machines used to the best available technology by the 2015-16 season.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Oct. 23

Federal appeals court issues injunction on Montana logging project
On Monday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a two-week injunction to halt a logging project in the Kootenai National Forest in Northwest Montana to give U.S. District Court Judge Donald Molloy time to consider the Alliance for the Wild Rockies request to halt the project until the group's appeal of Molloy's decision allowing the Grizzly Project is resolved.
Flathead Beacon (AP); Oct. 23

USGS report details best habitat for sturgeon survival in Idaho, Montana
A report issued by the U.S. Geological Survey said that flow changes caused by Libby Dam and other human activities make it less likely that white sturgeon eggs in Idaho and Montana will survive as the eggs adhere best to algae-free rocks and waterlogged wood, and not at all in sand and the algae on rocks put the eggs at risk of contamination from bacteria.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Oct. 23

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Oct 23, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Find Rob Brezsny's "Free Will Astrology" online, every Wednesday, one day before it hits the Indy's printed pages.

ARIES (March 21-April 19): "I’m greedy," says painter David Hockney, "but I’m not greedy for money—I think that can be a burden—I'm greedy for an exciting life." According to my analysis, Aries, the cosmos is now giving you the go-ahead to cultivate Hockney's style of greed. As you head out in quest of adventure, here's an important piece of advice to keep in mind. Make sure you formulate an intention to seek out thrills that educate and inspire you rather than those that scare you and damage you. It's up to you which kind you attract.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Happiest Hour: Date Night at Montgomery Distillery and Wilma Theatre

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Here's to no more Tuesday night blahs.

What you’re doing: It can be tough to muster much enthusiasm to leave the house on a typical Tuesday night. Montgomery Distillery and the Wilma Theater are hoping to change that by luring locals downtown for a screaming Date Night special. This month the two businesses began offering two cocktails and two Wilma Theatre movie tickets—on Tuesday nights only—for $20.

What you’re drinking: A cocktail selected from the distillery’s eclectic menu. Choose from the sweetly delicious Moscow Mule served in a copper cup and The Dude Abides, featuring vodka, coffee and coffee liqueur. Nearly everything on the menu is tasty, but if you’re looking to get lucky, Montgomery’s Michael Lattanzio recommends the “Damiana Dare Me.” “We infuse our vodka with damiana, which is an herb and known to be an aphrodisiac,” he says.


How Date Night works: When you purchase drinks, you’ll also receive your two movie tickets. After enjoying cocktails at the distillery, just walk around the corner to settle in for one of the Wilma’s films. This week, the theater is showing The Summit, which documents, as the filmmakers say, “the deadliest day on the world’s most dangerous mountain,” and Inequality for All, featuring former Clinton cabinet member Robert Reich bemoaning income inequality in the United States. (A full review appears in this week’s arts section.) If death and economics feel a little heavy for wooing, check out the humorous love story, The Spectacular Now.

Happiest Hour celebrates western Montana watering holes. To recommend a bar, bartender or beverage for Happiest Hour, email

Tuesdays with "Camp Sleepover"

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 11:50 AM


Josh Quick's "Camp Sleepover" appears every Tuesday online, and can be seen in the Indy's printed pages every Thursday.

Rockies Today, Oct. 22

Posted By on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Cleanup of PCB contamination in Montana's Big Spring Creek complete
Sixteen years after a 10-year-old doing a science experiment discovered high levels of the chemical PCB in Big Spring Creek, the work is done to remove the contamination, which came from paint containing PCB used to paint the raceways at the Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Big Springs Trout Hatchery along Big Spring Creek. Contains a sidebar about the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission's Oct. 10 decision to buy 24 acres in three parcels along the creek.
Billings Gazette; Oct. 22

Montana DEQ: Muddy Creek no longer living up to its name
Years of restoration work have paid off as the 40-mile long Muddy Creek, a tributary of Montana's Sun River, is no longer as clogged up with sediment as it was when it earned its moniker, and today the state Department of Environmental Quality will hold a public meeting in Great Falls to discuss raising the state's designation of the stream, which is now the lowest.
Great Falls Tribune; Oct. 22

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Rockies Today, Oct. 21

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 11:35 AM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Revett Minerals' copper, silver mine in NW Montana won't open this year
The copper and silver mine in Montana's Lincoln County won't reopen this year as Revett Minerals had predicted as the new route to the ore vein became unstable, but Revett President and CEO John Shanahan said the mine will reopen, just not until the end of 2014.
Flathead Beacon; Oct. 21

Disputes over public access over private land in Montana on the rise
The Public Land/Water Access Association, which advocates for public access to lands, said private landowners in Montana are increasingly blocking access to roads across their lands that have existed for decades, and PLWA is tracking at least 10 such closures in Darby, Fergus, Madison, Meagher, Ravalli, Sweet Grass, Teton and Toole counties.
Great Falls Tribune; Oct. 20

RMEF buys, sells easement in Montana's Big Snowy Mountains
The 10-foot-wide, 40-acre easement the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently purchased and sold to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will ensure public access to No Name Canyon and the East Fork of Big Spring Creek, as well as to 18,000 acres of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Ravalli Republic (Billings Gazette); Oct. 19

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How courts handle the living dead (and more from In Other News)

Posted By on Mon, Oct 21, 2013 at 9:00 AM

Curses, Foiled Again
Samantha Ellen Ward, 24, presented a driver’s license and debit card to withdraw money from a bank in Boynton Beach, Fla., but the teller looked up the account, noted the license had been reported stolen and summoned police. Ward pointed to a Chevy Tahoe in the parking lot and told officers that three black women driving it had given her the stolen identification and forced her to withdraw the money. Officers checked the vehicle and saw it belonged to an elderly white couple. (South Florida Sun Sentinel)

A city bus driver in Barrie, Ontario, who searched a knapsack that a passenger had left behind, hoping to discover the owner’s identify, found it contained about a pound of marijuana. Soon after, the knapsack’s owner called Barrie Transit looking for his property. When he showed up to claim it, police were waiting and arrested the 21-year-old Port McNicoll man. (The Barrie Examiner)

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Rockies Today, Oct. 17

Posted By on Thu, Oct 17, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Western states search for reason mule deer populations declining
A recent report from the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies found mule deer populations in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Saskatchewan were in decline, and that, while Montana's mule deer populations in the central and eastern regions of the state were generally stable, the numbers in Western Montana were decreasing.
Billings Gazette; Oct. 17

Lawsuit filed to classify bison that roam off Mont. reservations as livestock
The debate about free-roaming bison in Montana moved into another chapter this week as Citizens for Balanced Use, United Property Owners of Montana, Valley County commissioners, Sen. Rick Ripley and other landowners asked a state district court to classify bison that roam off reservations as livestock.
Great Falls Tribune; Oct. 17

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Which Western politicians are to blame for the shutdown?

Posted By on Wed, Oct 16, 2013 at 1:36 PM


Hotels, raft guiding outfits and other tourism-dependent businesses in and around Western national parks have collectively lost millions of dollars each day that the government has been in partial shutdown. According to the Arizona Republic, the biggest hotel near Grand Canyon National Park had about half the occupancy it normally does this time of year, and rafting outfitters were predicting a loss of nearly $1 million in revenue from cancelled trips. In southern Utah, counties have declared a state of emergency, thanks to the impact of closed parks. The Western tourist economy, after suffering through wildfires and flash floods this year, is now getting flushed down the toilet by political wrangling in Washington.

It’s left many a small business owner wondering whom she can hold accountable for this shutdown (or, in Fox News parlance, the “slimdown,” as though this assault on livelihoods is merely a visit to the weight-loss spa). I suppose she could, like Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Tex., berate the National Park Service rangers for doing their job. Or she might buy into much of the mainstream media’s false equivalence and blame all of the politicians in Washington.

But most of us know better: This shutdown was a long-planned act, perpetrated by extremists and funded by the Koch brothers and other ideologues, as detailed in a New York Times report. Its goal is to cripple the Affordable Care Act that was passed by both houses of congress, signed by a president who was later re-elected, and ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court; a law that could — albeit imperfectly — heal some of the wounds inflicted by this nation’s health care crisis. And the pawns in this Tea Party game are a coalition of politicians apparently intent not only on disabling their nation’s economy, but also on bringing down the Republican party from within.

Depending on what criteria you use, the coalition of the extreme is made up of anywhere from 20 to 80 or more members of the U.S. House of Representatives — mostly white men, who represent mostly white, conservative districts. The “suicide caucus” — so-termed by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer — are members who signed onto the letter by Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., which essentially lays out the plan to use the "power of the purse" as a "weapon" to defund "one of the largest grievances of our time," i.e. the Affordable Care Act. Not so deep in the extremist Inferno are an additional handful of representatives who did not sign the letter, but did co-sponsor Rep. Tom Graves’, R-Ga., bill to defund the Affordable Care Act. In a supporting role are a handful of senators who co-sponsored Sen. Ted Cruz’s similar bill, or signed a Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, letter, identical to the Meadows letter, or who just sit on the sidelines while their party is eviscerated by their own.

The majority of these “wacko birds” (Sen. John McCain’s label, for which he later apologized, though he continues to call them "bullies") or “lemmings in suicide vests” (the label given them by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif.) are not from the West. Yet a handful of them have not only made their nests in the West, but are also from districts getting hit hardest by the shutdown — suicidal lemmings, indeed. The most obvious are the Utah contingent of Sen. Mike Lee and Reps. Jason Chaffetz and Chris Stewart, who represent the people of southern Utah, an area that is getting battered by the shuttering of national parks and monuments. Colorado’s Scott Tipton, whose district includes Mesa Verde National Park, is also a co-sponsor of the Graves bill, and if his Facebook page’s comments are any indication, many of his constituents are none too happy with him. Maybe they're not the ones he's trying to please. Tipton's friend and major campaign contributor, Robert Gaddis, told the Durango Herald that he'd like "to see the government shutdown go on for about six months." Great.

Here's our list of other Westerners who are holding the hard line in today's shutdown/healthcare battle.


TG = Co-sponsored Tom Grave's defund "Obamacare" bill.
MM = Signed Rep. Mark Meadows’ letter to pull government "purse strings" to kill the Affordable Care Act.
TC = Co-sponsored Ted Cruz's bill to defund the Affordable Care Act.
ML = Signed Sen. Mike Lee's letter, identical to Meadows'.
* = Listed among the New York Times’ 20 dissident Republicans who are leading the effort to use a shutdown to kill "Obamacare."

House of Representatives

Chris Stewart, R-Utah (TG)
Doug LaMalfa, R-Calif (TG, MM)
Steve Daines, R-Mont (TG, MM)
Mark Amodei, R-Nev (TG)
Paul Cook, R-Calif (MM)
Scott Tipton, R-Colo (TG)
Cory Gardner, R-Colo (TG)
Rob Bishop, R-Utah (TG, MM)
Paul Gosar, R-Ariz (TG, MM)
Steve Pearce, R-NM (TG, MM)
Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo (TG, MM)
Ed Royce, R-Calif (TG)
Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah (TG)
*Raul Labrador, R-Idaho (TG, MM)
*David Schweikert, R-Ariz (TG, MM)
Trent Franks, R-Ariz (TG, MM)
Doug Lamborn, R-Colo (TG, MM)
Tom McClintock, R-Calif (TG, MM)
*Matt Salmon, R-Ariz (TG, MM)


Dean Heller, R-Nev. (TC)
John Barrasso, R-Wyo. (TC)
Mike Crapo, R-Id. (ML)
Mike Enzi, R-Wyo. (TC, ML)
James Risch, R-Id. (TC, ML)
Mike Lee, R-Utah (TC, ML)

Cross-posted from High Country News, The author is solely responsible for the content.

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