Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget in NW Montana

Plum Creek timber is the largest private landholder in Montana, and now since timbering no longer pays as much as remote subdivisions do, they are planning, asking and building a lot of them. Many are located in expensive-to-service, forest fire prone country. Most county commissions seem to think that they have to let developers do as they please with their land, but who pays for all this?

As long as the US Forest Service keeps fighting fires with the primary goal of saving homes, even the most remote, never-should-have-been built homes, the sprawl will never end (except perhaps now by financial collapse of the mortgage market).

This article explores the problem and suggests the reorientation of thinking of county commissioners will be when they have to assess their constituents the true cost of fire fighting.

Plum Creek subdivisions could strain fire budget. By Michael Jamison, Missoulian.

Kathie Lynch reports on the Druids and Sloughs as mating season nears

Kathie Lynch has another of her great northern range wolf reports. This one focuses on the fast approaching mating season, a time of year when new bonds are temporarily, and sometimes permanently formed, and as it has been discovered in recent genetic research on the Yellowstone wolves, there is much outbreeding from many packs (and no inbreeding). Ralph Maughan

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YNP WOLF Notes, December 22-29, 2007. By Kathie Lynch. Copyright.

The 16 wolves of the Druid Peak pack put on a great show over the holidays. The cast of characters includes the alpha pair (480M and 569F), plus everyone’s favorite beta male (302M). There are six yearling females (three grays: 571F, “High Sides,” and “Low Sides”—nicknamed for the depth of the dark saddle markings on their backs, and three blacks: “Bright Bar,” “Dull Bar,” and “Vertical Line”—nicknamed for their white chest markings). There are also four gray and three black pups.

Even though it is still a month before the breeding season, there is already a lot of jockeying for dominance position in the packs and interest in checking out the opposite sex. With six female yearlings who will be ready to breed for the first time in February, the Druids are already attracting a lot of attention. Read the rest of this entry »

Wood River Valley: Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007

The Wood River Valley is a long, many-forked drainage that rises in southern central Idaho mountains and flows southward across the Snake River Plain into the Snake River.

It drains a large area of very scenic backcountry, mountainous frontcountry, and contains the towns of Hailey, Ketchum, Bellevue and Sun Valley, giving the area a much higher average level of wealth than the rest of Idaho.

For environmental, economic and political reasons, it is a part of the state that gets more than average attention.

This article is an overview of “environmental” events there during 2007. Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express.

The biggest story, however, was the Castle Rock forest fire, which threatened Hailey and Ketchum and had a perimeter of about 50,000 acres. Castle Rock Fire brought valley together. Lightning-sparked blaze burned for 20 days near Ketchum. By Jason Kauffman, Idaho Mountain Express.

At the north end of the Valley begins the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, a large parcel of public land, managed by the U.S. Forest Service and set aside by Act of Congress in 1972 primarily for use as recreation and scenery.

Photo of Big Wood River near the southern boundary of the SNRA.

Posted in Fish, Idaho wolves, Motor vehicles wildlife, water issues, Wildfires, Wolves. Tags: , , , . Comments Off on Wood River Valley: Wolf howls and water woes. The state of the environment in 2007