Hiking adjacent to Pocatello today

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One of the great things about living in a public state, especially a serious public land state like Idaho, is the backcountry quickly available. This is uplands today at 4:30 PM above Lead Draw, a 5-minute drive from my house and a one hour hike.

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Since the Sierra Club, the Pocatello Trail Machine Assn., the Forest Service, and Bannock County worked to block Lead Draw off to full-sized vehicles and ATVs, the mule deer herd has come back to the drainage. I counted 48 deer today in a 2-hour hike. Five years ago I hardly ever saw any in Lead Draw. Photo Ralph Maughan 4:13PM on 3-31-07

Former wolf biologist gets elected to Montana House and learns about real ferocity

I changed the headline.

Here is Todd Wilkinson’s excellent “Freshman Montana Legislator Learns Ignorance Not Blissful.” New West. It’s about Mike Phillips’ first year in the Montana House of Representatives where the Republicans rule, but only with a one vote majority (based on a third party extremist).

Jones Has Two Weeks to Get Wildlife Off Blackfoot Ranch

The photo in this New West article is worth a thousand words about the problems posed by elk farming and elk shooting enclosures.

This is the n-teenth article about Jones’ shooter bull operation controversy.  Jones Has Two Weeks to Get Wildlife Off Blackfoot [elk] Ranch. By Nathaniel Hoffman. New West.

Environmental review may halt giant coal pit mine near Glacier NP for 3 years

There is good news on the front to prevent the Cline Mine from being developed.

There will be a lengthy environmental review of the proposed British Columbia mine done by Canada’s federal government rather than the Province.

Story in the Billings Gazette. AP

Because the mine’s polluted waters will drain into the North Fork of the Flathead River, Montana is fearful of the impacts on fish and wildlife in one of the richest such places in the state.

Posted in Coal, Wildlife Habitat. Comments Off on Environmental review may halt giant coal pit mine near Glacier NP for 3 years

Judge halts Alaska’s wolf bounty

A bounty was against Alaska’s state law, and despite calling it an “incentive,” it was still a bounty.

Lack of snow made it hard for the wizards at the Board of Game to see as many wolves killed as it wanted, so the Board of Game and the governor came up with the “incentive” scheme for gunner pilots. They would get $150 for each shotgunned left leg of a wolf.

I wonder if lack of snow in Alaska’s winter made them at all thoughtful about nature?

Story Judge halts “bounty” on wolves. By Rachelk D’oro. The Associated Press

Editorial in the Fairbanks Daily News Miner. A mutiny on the bounty. By John Toppenberg. Even you like the idea of a bounty, bounties rarely work as intended. That’s one reason why most states stopped them long ago.

It looks like the governor is under the thrall of small group of trophy hunters rather than the average Alaskan hunter.

Posted in Wolves. 1 Comment »

Montana Wildfire arsonist receives 10 years

This 19-year-old set the Gash Creek Fire that smoked up Bitterroot Valley, Montana air for about 2 months last summer, and 18! other fires (most of which were quickly put out).

Story in the Missoulian. By Tristan Scott.

Federal judge tosses out new [Bush] rules governing national forests

The Bush Administration rewrote the rules and regulations that implement the laws that tell how national forest plans are to be done. The new regulations exempted the formation of new forest plans from NEPA (the most important forest decisions were regarded as not important enough to merit an environmental impact statement). The new rules reduced public participation and they also downgraded the standards for protecting wildlife.

AP story on the decision.

Most folks I knew thought the new regs were clearly in conflict with the law, and a judge has set them aside. However, this leaves forest planning in kind of a limbo — another Bush Administration mess-up (can I say sort of like the Iraq failure, but applied to the national forests?).

Posted in public lands management. Comments Off on Federal judge tosses out new [Bush] rules governing national forests