Middle of the Wood River Valley is under Mandatory Evacuation

Heavy winds pushing the Castle Rock Fire have led to a mandatory evacuation of what amounts to all residents of the Wood River Valley between Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho on both sides of highway 75 which runs up the middle of the valley.

The details are in this story. Mid-valley under mandatory evacuation. Windier, drier conditions challenge firefighters. By the Idaho Mountain Express Staff.

Updates starting mid-afternoon Aug. 26. Flames are bearing down on homes in Greenhorn Gulch. Idaho Mountain Express.

Aug. 26. Castle Rock Fire Near Ketchum Grows, Forces New Evacuations. By Gary Stivers and Dave Chase. SunValleyOnline.Com (mirrored in New West)

Updated Aug. 27. Greenhorn Gulch may have been saved, but fire has burned onto Bald Mountain, Sun Valley’s famous ski hill. Story in the Mountain Express — Bald Mountain on fire.

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Guest opinion: Western Watersheds not to blame for Murphy fires

Some time ago, this web site posted the opinion of public lands rancher and state legislator Bert Brackett on the Murphy fire complex.

Here again is Brackett’s opinion. Failed policy based on flawed science has gotten us here. Guest opinion in the Idaho Statesman. Brackett blamed the Western Watersheds Project because it won a lawsuit and then entered into an agreement that reduced grazing by 30% in the BLM’s Jarbidge Resource Area where a good deal of the fire burned.

The Statesman then published a guest opinion from Jon Marvel, executive director of the WWP.

Here is Marvel’s guest opinion. Western Watersheds not to blame for Murphy fires. Idaho Statesman. In addition to the extreme dryness and heat, Marvel blamed it in 100 years of mismanagement of ranchers and the BLM from over grazing that promoted the spread of cheat grass and the planting of exotic grasses like crested wheatgrass which did not, as predicted, retard fire. The end result was more fuel to burn than before cattle and sheep were brought to this land. The livestock also wiped out the green riparian areas that served as barriers to range fires. This included not just green grass, but green shrubs and trees that supported beaver ponds. The ponds created large hard-to-burn areas that were difficult for fires to cross over.

Challenge to Wyoming’s elk feeding/killing program fails in federal court

The judge ruled Wyoming’s program to test elk for brucellosis before they enter a winter feedlot (and kill the elk if it tests positive for brucellosis anti-bodies) was not an arbitrary and capricious decision. Indeed that legal standard is a high bar (that a government program is arbitrary and capricious).

Livestock groups were happy because it means they won’t have to share any winter range with elk (as ranchers do in most other Western states).

There is no way this test and slaughter will reduce the brucellosis infection rate because there are too many “false negatives” as well as even more “false positives” in the crude test they use.

I continue to be amazed that Wyoming’s version of the group “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife” continues to support this worthless elk killing program and yet keep a straight face when they talk about how horrible it is that predatory animals kill elk. I guess elk dying a natural death to predation is bad and a stupid bureaucratic-ordered death is acceptable.
Story in the Billings Gazette. Elk-feeding challenge rejected

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Idaho wolf pack of nine killed by government, west of Fairfield.

Wolf pack west of Fairfield eradicated. By Trey Spaulding. For the Times-News.

“Nadeau [the state’s large carninovore manage] said we are going to see more and more of these scenarios since the prime wolf habitat in Idaho is now all occupied by other packs.”

This prediction has in fact been made several times by past wolf managers in Idaho (as when the federal government was managing them). It didn’t happen. The rate of wolf “control” did not increase more than proportionately than the number of wolves, nor did the number of “depredations.”

August 27. The Times-News has taken down their story and the link above doesn’t work, but Idaho Fish and Game just released their own story. Here it is: wolf report: wolf pack removed

Idaho wildfires cost feds millions.

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Industry darling: Mining law of 1872 should be reformed

The Salt Lake Tribune has an editorial today against the 1872 general mining law, which has endured attempts to reform it since the 19th century. Its harmful consequences to our public lands is increasing because of the recent rush to stake new uranium and other “hard rocks” claims.

These minerals are basically given away free under this law and the surface of the law is permanently privatized if the mining claim is patented. Meanwhile oil, gas, phosphate, potash, sulfur, coal, and geothermal, are classified as leasable minerals and bo th the federal government and the state receive receive royalties from their development.

SLT Editorial.

The Tribune is not alone in covering this. Report: More Than 800 New Mining Claims Crowd Border of Grand Canyon National Park. Many Claims for Uranium: Yosemite, Arches, Canyonlands, Joshua Tree also Threatened. YubaNet.

From July 2007. Sportsmen want 1872 mining law revised. By Steve Lipsher Denver Post Staff Writer.

On Aug 27, the Washington Post had a warming article about the recent upsurge in claims under the 1872 law. Mining Our Treasures: An 1872 Law Paves the Way for a Rush of Claims in the West. By Jane Danowitz and Richard Wiles.  “815 active mining claims lie within five miles of the Grand Canyon, 805 of them staked since 2003. Just outside Arches National Park in Utah, 869 claims have been snatched up, almost all within the past five years.”