Friday, January 31, 2014

Rockies Today, Jan. 31

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 2:52 PM

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Groups work to draw younger people back to farms in Montana
Concerned about the aging of Montana's farmers and ranchers, there are several programs designed to draw younger people back to the land, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Young Farmer program, the Montana Farm Bureau's young farmer and rancher program and Montana State University's Northern Agricultural Research Center Advisory Council.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 31

U. of Montana researcher a finalist for prestigious Indianapolis Prize
The Indianapolis Prize is awarded annually by the Indianapolis Zoo for animal conservation work, and Joel Berger, a University of Montana researcher whose work has focused on large predators in cold climates, and who helped protect Wyoming’s Path of the Pronghorn, is one of six finalists for the prize.
Great Falls Tribune (Indianapolis Star); Jan. 31

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From bison to birds, the National Park Service rethinks its approach to migratory species

Posted By on Fri, Jan 31, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Kittlitzs Murrelets are among the hundreds of migratory species that rely on Americas national parks. Photo courtesy of Alyson McKnight, US Fish and Wildlife Service.
  • Kittlitz's Murrelets are among the hundreds of migratory species that rely on America's national parks. Photo courtesy of Alyson McKnight, US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Imagine, if you will, that you’re a Kittlitz’s Murrelet — a tiny seabird, feathered in salt-and-pepper. It’s summer, or what passes for summer in a field of Alaskan glaciers, and you’re relaxing in the lap of luxury: Kenai Fjords National Park, where nobody can shoot you, set their dog after you, or lay a finger on your habitat. You’re living large, or as large as an eight-ounce bird can live.

Then winter hits. Reluctantly you depart Kenai and fly west, to the Bering Sea. Your existence takes a sudden turn for the perilous. Gillnets threaten to snag you as bycatch; giant cargo ships steam across your flight path. You live in perpetual fear of oil spills, like the slick that killed hundreds of your cousins back in 1989. Yikes, you think to yourself. Migration is terrifying.

Okay. Stop being a bird. Now you’re a biologist at Kenai Fjords National Park, and you’re worried sick about why your murrelets have declined by more than 80 percent since 1976. They’re doing just fine inside the park’s borders, but every year fewer return to nest on Kenai’s scree fields. You know something is killing them, but the problem lies far beyond your jurisdiction, so forget about being able to help. You’re just responsible for Kenai Fjords.

For scientists concerned about migratory species like the murrelet, the conservation challenge is simple in definition, complex in resolution: Animals move. Parks don’t.

“If you’re managing a park and you’re trying to protect its biodiversity, you have to start thinking outside your park’s borders,” says Steve Cain, senior wildlife biologist at Grand Teton National Park.

That’s the thrust of a new analysis, published by a team of wildlife experts last week in the journal Conservation Biology, that identifies a fundamental problem facing park managers around the country: “The fragmented system of national parks is not sufficient to maintain migratory species or processes.” Park-based migrants not only traverse private property, they also pass through an alphabet soup of public lands — USFWS, BLM, USFS­­ — where management strategies and threats may vary. Fortunately, the paper offers a blueprint for addressing that challenge — one that could substantially change how America’s best idea pursues its mission.

Among the paper’s strongest recommendations is for the “functional (not statutory) expansion of park boundaries” — expanding NPS’ influence without expanding its holdings. In practice, that means more cooperation with other agencies, land trusts and private landowners to secure conservation easements and protect adjacent areas. Under this new model, parks aren’t fortresses of biodiversity — as Elaine Lesline, Chief of the Biological Resource Management Division of NPS, puts it, parks must be “anchors for significant corridors” that span landscapes and are themselves managed by everyone from state governments to local conservation groups.

In a sense, it’s conservation for the austerity era. “I don’t know how much longer we’re going to see the top-down hammer of the government doing conservation,” says Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) senior scientist Joel Berger, the paper’s lead author. “If we don’t engage with private property, we have issues.”

Scientists have long understood that parks, with their inflexible boundaries and narrow conservation mandates, are inadequate for sheltering migrants. In 1893, the geologist Arnold Hague observed that Yellowstone’s boundaries didn’t encompass enough area to protect peripatetic moose, goats and elk. Yet Hague’s warnings went mostly unheeded, and migrants declined over the next century. “It is only a matter of time until the cumulative effects of increasing roads, trucks, heavy machinery, extraction, housing, poaching, people, and habitat alterations truncate a migration corridor,” wrote Berger in 2003, predicting the extirpation of Grand Teton’s pronghorn.

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Rockies Today, Jan. 30

Posted By on Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 12:24 PM

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Task force submits sage grouse recommendations to Montana governor
The 12-member task force appointed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to come up with recommendations to protect declining sage grouse populations in the state, and keep the bird off the federal endangered species list, submitted a 73-page report to the governor on Wednesday that said the state should establish no occupancy zones around leks, provide a conservation fund to reimburse landowners who protect sage grouse habitat and appoint a panel to ensure the recommendations made by the sage grouse task force are put in place and enforced.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 30

Founder of high-tech company said Montana ripe for new business
Greg Gianforte, who founded RightNow Technologies in a spare bedroom in Bozeman in 1997 and sold it to Oracle for $1.5-billion in 2011, told attendees of the Economic Outlook Seminar in Great Falls on Wednesday that Montana workers have the right work ethic, and that the state could easily become a leader in intellectual property businesses—despite naysayers' claims that the state doesn't have the bandwidth or capital to do so.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 30

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fight over Fish Creek

Conservationists critique FWP's grand plan

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants to turn Fish Creek State Park into a first-class tourist destination, but local conservationists question whether the site can handle such increased attention.

Courtesy of Montana State Parks
  • Courtesy of Montana State Parks
On Dec. 20, the agency’s Parks Division released a draft management plan that details its vision for the future of the 5,603-acre park, which is located near Alberton west of Missoula. The state’s proposed developments include 40 to 60 paved RV campsites, a handful of reservation-only cabins for overnight use and several trails for dirt bikes and off-highway vehicles.

Montana Trout Unlimited, along with other conservation groups, argue that the draft management plan would drastically increase pressure on the Fish Creek landscape and could threaten the wildlife management area adjacent to the park.

“It is really incredibly inappropriate for the setting, it ignores longtime expectations that people who have been using that area have had for a long long time and it is just really bad policy,” says Bruce Farling, executive director of Montana Trout Unlimited. “... The Parks Division wants to invite the world to come into Fish Creek and it is bad. It is bad for fish, it is bad for wildlife, it is bad for the public, it is bad for local government, and it is really bad for the landscape.”

Farling says Fish Creek is home to important cutthroat and bull trout populations that are already experiencing increased angling pressure.

The Parks Division says it has worked with a variety of groups, including the Mineral County Commissioners, who support the plan because it promises economic benefits.

“I want to hit home that [the park] is one-eighth of the total 41,000 acres [at Fish Creek]. We are talking about 5,000 acres,” says Jennifer Lawson, a Montana State Parks spokesperson. “...It is going to continue to be a place where local residents and visitors can continue to enjoy all those outdoors recreation opportunities and more, all while we move forward to help improve Mineral County’s economy.”

The Parks Division will accept public comments on the draft management plan until Feb. 7.

Rockies Today, Jan. 29

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 2:23 PM

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House panel advances bill to expand canoeing in western national parks
Legislation offered by Wyoming U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis to open more waters in Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks to paddling was advanced by the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 29

Montana U.S. Rep. Daines' North Fork bill advanced by House panel
On Tuesday, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee approved Montana Rep. Steve Daines' North Fork Watershed Protection Act, which would prohibit future mining and oil and gas development on 400,000 acres of land in northwestern Montana, moving the bill to the full House for action.
Flathead Beacon; Jan. 29

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Your future, a little early

Posted By on Wed, Jan 29, 2014 at 9:00 AM

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

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): On my fifteenth birthday, I finally figured out that eating dairy products was the cause of my chronic respiratory problems. From that day forward, I avoided foods made from cow's milk. My health improved. I kept up this regimen for years. But a month ago, I decided to see if my long-standing taboo still made sense. Just for the fun of it, I gave myself permission to gorge on a tub of organic vanilla yogurt. To my shock, there was no hell to pay. I was free of snot. In the last few weeks, I have feasted regularly on all the creamy goodies I've been missing. I bring this up, Aries, because I suspect an equally momentous shift is possible for you. Some taboo you have honored for a long time, some rule you have obeyed as if it were an axiom, is ripe to be broken.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who won a Nobel Prize in Economics, says that consulting experts may be useless. In his study of Wall Street traders, he found their advice was no better than information obtained by a chimpanzee flipping a coin. Meanwhile, psychologist Philip Tetlock did a 20-year study with similar results. He found that predictions made by political and financial professionals are inferior to wild guesses. So does this mean you should never trust any experts? No. But it's important to approach them with extra skepticism right now. The time has come for you to upgrade your trust in your own intuition.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): I'm a big fan of logic and reason, and I urge you to be, too. Using your rational mind to understand your experience is a very good thing. The less stock you put in superstitious head trips and fear-based beliefs, the smarter you will be. Having said that, I recommend that you also make playful use of your creative imagination. Relish the comically magical elements of your mysterious fate. Pay attention to your dreams, and indulge in the pleasure of wild fantasies, and see yourself as a mythic hero in life's divine drama. Moral of the story: Both the rational and the fantastical approaches are essential to your health. (P.S. But the fantastical needs extra exercise in the coming weeks.)

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Sorry, Cancerian, you won't be able to transform lead into gold anytime soon. You won't suddenly acquire the wizardly power to heal the sick minds of racists and homophobes and misogynists. Nor will you be able to cast an effective love spell on a sexy someone who has always resisted your charms. That's the bad news. The good news is this: If you focus on performing less spectacular magic, you could accomplish minor miracles. For example, you might diminish an adversary's ability to disturb you. You could welcome into your life a source of love you have ignored or underestimated. And you may be able to discover a secret you hid from yourself a long time ago.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Cosmopolitan magazine is famous for offering tips on how to spice up one's sex life. Here's an example: "Take a few of your favorite erotically appealing flavor combinations, like peanut butter and honey or whipped cream and chocolate sauce, and mix up yummy treats all over your lover's body." That sounds crazy to me, and not in a good way. In any case, I recommend that you don't follow advice like that, especially in the coming days. It's true that on some occasions, silliness and messiness have a role to play in building intimacy. But they aren't advisable right now. For best results, be smooth and polished and dashing and deft. Togetherness will thrive on elegant experiments and graceful risks.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): You are not as broken as you may think you are. Your wounds aren't as debilitating as you have imagined. And life will prove it to you this week. Or rather, let me put it this way: Life will attempt to prove it to you—and not just in some mild, half-hearted way, either. The evidence it offers will be robust and unimpeachable. But here's my question, Virgo: Will you be so attached to your pain that you refuse to even see, let alone explore, the dramatic proof you are offered? I hope not!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Rockies Today, Jan. 28

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM

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Idaho legislators: Governor's $2M plan will target 500 wolves
State Rep. Marc Gibbs of Grace and Sen. Bert Brackett of Rogerson told members of the Idaho House Resources and Conservation Committee on Monday that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's $2-million proposal will help the state reach its goal of having 150 wolves, roughly 500 fewer than it has now.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Jan. 28

Idaho Fish and Game pulls wolf hunter out of Frank Church wilderness
The Idaho Fish and Game Director Virgil Moore declined to explain why the state decided to pull the professional hunter and trapper it hired to remove wolves from the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness after nine wolves were killed.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Jan. 28

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Tuesdays with "Camp Sleepover"

Posted By on Tue, Jan 28, 2014 at 11:50 AM

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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Rockies Today, Jan. 27

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 12:08 PM

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Montana's Bitterroot Valley has 'circular' economy
The Market Place grocery store in Hamilton stocks locally roasted coffee, locally brewed beer and products from a local baker, and a local coffee shot uses milk products from a local dairy, which buys feed and other agricultural products from Lakeland Feeds in Hamilton, all adding velocity to the economy in Montana's Bitterroot Valley.
Ravalli Republic; Jan. 25

Local governments push back as states legalize marijuana
The legalization of marijuana for recreational use in Colorado and Washington state has some local governments in those states banning the retail sale or the cultivation of marijuana.
New York Times; Jan. 26

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Why gators make better guard pets than pit bulls (and more from In Other News)

Posted By on Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 9:00 AM

Curses, Foiled Again
Responding to a complaint that an armed neighbor tried to kick in the door and burglarize a home in Spokane, Wash., police found that suspect Brent Nouwels, 32, had returned to his home and turned off the lights. Officers repeatedly urged Nouwels to surrender peacefully, but he responded by climbing onto the roof and taunting them. Then he suddenly lost his balance on the icy roof and fell to the ground. Nouwels was treated for various injuries before being taken into custody. (Spokane’s KREM-TV)

After four armed men broke into a Los Angeles home, the homeowner saw the suspects on a home surveillance system and called 911. When police and SWAT units arrived, two suspects fled. Two remained in the home and ordered the homeowner to tell police they were victims and, to make their story credible, convinced him to tie them up. The homeowner then ran outside and told police what happened. After the trussed suspects “got tired of waiting,” Officer Norma Eisenman said, “they came out, still tied up, thinking that we were going to believe they were victims also. That’s what you call felony stupid.” (Los Angeles Times)

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Bake Sale and Blood Drive @ Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church

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