Thursday, September 5, 2013

Rockies Today, Sept. 5

Posted By on Thu, Sep 5, 2013 at 12:12 PM

Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

U.S. Attorney, Hutterite men reach deal on grizzly-bear deaths
Documents were filed this week setting forth a plea agreement reached by the U.S. Attorney's office in Montana and five men and the Pondera Hutterite Colony over the death of two grizzly bears that died from exhaustion after being chased from cornfields on the colony, with the men agreeing to pay a total of $19,368 in restitution, and the federal government agreeing not to seek more than $20,000 in fines against the colony.
Great Falls Tribune; Sept. 5

House Natural Resource meeting in Wyoming targets federal species act
Republican members of the U.S. House Natural Resource Committee: Wyoming U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, Montana U.S. Rep. Steve Daines, Colorado U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn and chairman U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings of Washington, held a listening session Wednesday morning in Casper, where they were highly critical of the federal Endangered Species Act and actions of the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management's taken under that act.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 5

Idaho wildfire ravaged thinned areas
Thinning and logging forests have, in some instances, pushed wildfires to the ground, allowing them to be corraled, but the extremely dry conditions in Idaho this summer, along with high winds, created ideal conditions for the Elk Complex Fire to ravage an area of the Boise National Forest where a timber sale was just completed, and 6,000 acres of adjacent state forest lands, a situation that forest scientists said proves what they've been saying for a decade: Climate is a factor in the increase in wildfires' intensity.
Idaho Statesman; Sept. 5

Research project in Wyoming grows rust-resistant limber, whitebark pines
In 2002, the U.S. Forest Service's Rocky Mountain Research Station began working on a project to cultivate whitebark and limber pines that had a natural resistance to white pine blister rust, and in August, hundreds of seedlings from that project were planted on Wyoming's Pole Mountain.
Casper Star-Tribune; Sept. 5

New report details decline of coal use in United States
SNL Financial analyses found that, in 2012, coal-fired units that produced a total of 8,800 megawatts of electricity were permanently shuttered, and that another 5,781 megawatts are projected to be closed this year, and that over the next five years, six coal-fired units in Colorado will shut down. Mark Jaffe's "The Balance Sheet," which regularly appears in the Denver Post.
Denver Post; Sept. 5

Federal judge signs off on road deal between BLM, Utah county
Utah counties and the federal government are embroiled in a tangle of lawsuits over ownership of routes across federal lands, and the first settlement of such a dispute was approved by a federal judge last week between Juab County and the Bureau of Land Management that gives the county authority over three routes up canyons on the West Desert range’s east slope, which includes regulation of ATV use on those routes.
Salt Lake Tribune; Sept. 5

Montana high court upholds $730K verdict for bungled backburn
Montana state forester Bob Harrington said the Montana Supreme Court decision handed down Wednesday affirming a state district court jury award of $730,000 to ranchers who had 900 acres of their land burned by a back fire would have little effect on future wildfire fighting effort, due in part to a change in protocols that occurred during the decade the litigation was in process.
Missoulian; Sept. 5

Task force ranks Colorado homes for wildfire risk
Recommendations from the Task Force on Wildfire Insurance and Forest Health are due to Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper by the end of this month, but on Wednesday, the panel released a preliminary plan that would require more than half a million homes built in the wildland-urban interface in the state be rated for their wildfire risk, and that those that ranked highest would have to undergo "mitigation audits" done by state foresters, who would list specific steps homeowners must take to reduce that risk.
Denver Post; Sept. 5

Report maps out West's wildland urban interface, development
For the purpose of its study on wildland-urban interface development in 11 western states, Headwaters Economics, a nonprofit research center in Montana, defined that area as any private property within 500 meters, or about a third of a mile, from forested public lands, and in the three counties in Colorado that are in the Roaring Fork Valley, the report indicates that the majority of those lands have yet to be developed, but if they are, the expense of fighting wildfires in those counties is sure to grow exponentially.
Aspen Times; Sept. 5

Mountain West News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

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