Where Do the Veep Candidates Stand on Animals?

Here’s a story subject I didn’t think we’d see.

Where Do the Veep Candidates Stand on Animals? Michael Markarian. Huffington Post.

Nevada Governor Gibbons appointments rile sportsmen’s establishment

Nevada Governor Gibbons appointments rile sportsmen’s establishment. Wildlife Commission. Gibbons appointments rile sportsmen’s establishment New panel members align with group seen as radical. By David McGrath Schwartz. Las Vegas Sun.

As a side note, Governor Gibbons (R) has quickly become the least popular Western governor with just 23% saying he is doing a good job. As member of Congress Gibbons teamed up with Richard Pombo, chair of the House Resources Committee (defeated in 2006) to hatch a scheme that would allow mining companies to stake and privatize an unlimited amount of our public lands.

Posted in politics. Tags: , . Comments Off on Nevada Governor Gibbons appointments rile sportsmen’s establishment

Teton bear conflicts down, but failure of whitebark pine nut crop portends trouble this autumn

Teton County bear conflicts down from last summer. By Cory Hatch, Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Posted in Bears, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: . Comments Off on Teton bear conflicts down, but failure of whitebark pine nut crop portends trouble this autumn

Truce Is Reached in Battle Over Idaho Forest Land

The final roadless area rule for Idaho has been released.

There are many improvements in the rule, especially in Eastern Idaho where I live.

When President Bush tried to overturn the Clinton roadless rule (protecting all the national forest roadless areas as what you might call “backcountry” or sorts), western governors were invited to develop a plan for their states’ national forest roadless areas.

Idaho has more national forest roadless, non-Wilderness land than any other state — over 9-million acres. Conservationists feared the worst when Idaho became the only state to accept the Bush Administration’s invitation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Kathie Lynch: Yellowstone wolf report. July 11-Aug. 20, 2008

Below is Kathie Lynch’s detailed wolf report for the end of the summer. It sounds like the return of the Druids must have been one of the most amazing wildlife sights wolf watchers in Yellowstone have ever witnessed.

Yellowstone wolf report. July 11-Aug. 20. By © Kathie Lynch

Summer in Yellowstone meant hot, windy days, smoky skies, and early rising for wolf watchers, as the best viewing often occurred from 5-9 a.m. After the Druid Peak pack’s move to their rendezvous on July 8-10, we wondered if we would have any wolves to watch, but the Slough Creek pack saved the day.

The Sloughs put on an especially great show for about a week in early August as they fed on not one, but two, bison carcasses in Little America. The first bull died after getting gored in the side by another bull during the rut. He fell less than 200 yards north of the road and in plain view from the Pond pullout. For over a week, thrilled visitors thronged to the area to watch wolves and bears alternate feeding on the carcass, illuminated by the early morning light of the full moon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Governor Palin of Alaska, a big friend of oil, McCain’s VP choice

Senator McCain has announced that Alaska’s little known governor Sarah Palin will be his running mate.

As a “reform” governor, she was elected after Alaskans tired of the corruption and cronyism in the state, most of it involving kickbacks and bribes from the oil industry.

Despite her reputation for reform, she is a huge friend of big oil. She has spent most of her career in on capacity or another with the oil industry. Presumable she does out of principle what others did for a price.

Her image for clean government might have been tarnished by charges her office was behind the firing of her ex-brother-in-law, a state trooper. Her sister is in a child custody fight with the trooper. Story on firing.

She is a big advocate of drilling, disbelieves human-caused climate change, and is hostile to carnivores like polar bears and wolves.

A former beauty queen, she is 44 years old (3 years younger than Obama). Her husband Todd Palin is an oil production operator on the North Slope. He is also known for his prowess at snowmobile racing.

– – – –


Sarah Palin: Tough on polar bears. Posted by David Beard. The Green Blog. Boston Globe.
Bearing Up. By SARAH PALIN. Op-ed. New York Times.  Published: January 5, 2008

Choice of Palin Promises Failed Energy Policies of the Past. League of Conservation Voters.

Defining Sarah Palin. By Kate Phillips and Michael Falcone. New York TImes.

Investigators Are Looking at Governor About Firing. By Michael Luo. New York Times.

Aug. 31. Palin touts stance on ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ doesn’t note flip-flop. By Tom Kizzia. Anchorage Daily News.

Aug. 31. State leaders question Palin’s qualifications. Governor’s two years of experience raise concerns about vice presidential candidacy. By Pat Forgey. Juneau (Alaska) Empire

Black bear visits downtown Ketchum, Idaho

Bear visits downtown Ketchum. Ketchum police run the animal out of town. By Terry Smith. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

Posted in Bears. Tags: , . 1 Comment »

The Anti-Conservation Mission of the NRA

Wild Bill is taking on the NRA again.

Wild Bill. The Anti-Conservation Mission of the NRA. Will hunters continue to support the demise of their sport by contributing to the National Rifle Association?  By Bill Schneider. New West.

As for myself, I belong the American Hunters and Shooters Association. RM

17,000 acres purchased by BLM in Nevada for public use

The monies to buy the land came from the controversial Southern Nevada Public Lands Management Act. It is very important wildlife habitat.

17,000 acres purchased by BLM for public use. By Susan Voyles. Reno Gazette Journal.

Google Maps. The general area of the purchase.

Posted in politics, public lands. Tags: . Comments Off on 17,000 acres purchased by BLM in Nevada for public use

Oregon Hunters Association alert on a lousy land exchange

There is a bad land exchange, harmful to wildlife, in the works in eastern Oregon. It would be nice to get 1000 acres on Steens Mountain but not at the cost of 11,000 acres of prime wildlife habitat in and near the Silvies Valley.

This alert is from the Oregon Hunters Association. RM

Who: OHA needs your help in stopping a land exchange.

What: Land Exchange of 1000 acres in Steens Mt area for approximately 10,000 to 11,000 acres of BLM ground in and around the Silvies Valley west to within a couple of miles of Yellow Jacket Reservoir.

When: Currently On-Going

Why OHA Is Against: The portion of the Silvies River plus certain tributaries and access roads that would be affected by this proposed land exchange constitutes an important part of the Silvies Wildlife Management Unit. The Silvies Unit is well known for its premium big game hunting, offering about 1,000 deer tags and 2,100 elk rifle tags per year. The Steens Wildlife Management Unit also is well known for its fine hunting, but opportunity in Steens is limited to about 250 deer rifle tags and 600 elk rifle tags per year. Read the rest of this entry »

Three “wildland use” fires get out of control

Aug. 29, 2008. I have added some new updates (in red text)

The idea of letting fires in remote areas burn in order to save money and provide ecological benefits is one of growing popularity, especially given the toll fires are taking on the Forest Service budget (the later most a crisis manufactured by the Bush Administration in order to defund the Forest Service, in my opinion).

Due to high winds, 3 fires in Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming have escaped confinement — Gunbarrel in Wyoming, South Barker in Idaho, and East Sliderock.

There are stories in the newspaper today about two of them. First Gunbarrel. This is a fire we have been following for more than a week due to its proximity to Yellowstone and its size.


Gunbarrel managers drop beneficial use policy in favor of aggressive suppression. Casper Star Tribune.

‘It’s in our backyard’. By Chris Merrill. Casper Star-Tribune environment reporter. Note I have no idea why the dateline of this story is Lander, WY because the fire is no where near Lander.
8-28. Inciweb. Latest release on Gunbarrel fire.
8-28 update. Ash falls on Cody. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette.
8-29 update. Crews intensify efforts to fight month-old Gunbarrel fire. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau

East Sliderock

Conditions hamper firefighters near NV wilderness. By Sandra Chereb.  Associated Press Writer. This fire burned for a long time in the Jarbidge Wilderness just south of the Idaho border. Now it is threatening Murphy Hot Springs (a remote resort area), the town of Jarbidge, and it is also burning valuable (and rare)  sage grouse country.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gillett walks for now. Jury trial ends without a verdict

Finally some details about the trial in which Ron Gillett escaped being convicted (or exonerated) in his altercation with Lynne Stone.

Gillett walks for now. Jury trial ends without a verdict
. By Jason Kauffman. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer.

Rural legends. Examples?

It was suggested in another thread that it would be interesting, informative and useful to come up with a list and/or discuss what JB has called “rural legends.” These would be similar to the well known term “urban legends,” but they would be much more common in rural areas and deal with the outdoors — wildlife, hunting and fishing, farming, grazing, politics related to these things.

So let’s see if we can discover some.

Already a number or people have described the belief that the state wildlife department or the federal government is dropping, transplanting, turning loose, various kinds of undesirable animals in rural areas.

I first heard this rumor in Idaho in the early 1980s when there was the persistent rumor that Idaho Fish and Game was turning loose “bad” grizzly bears from Yellowstone Park onto Coolwater Ridge, which is a tall and broad ridge between the Selway and Lochsa Rivers in north central Idaho — hundreds of miles from Yellowstone Park.

– – – – –

– more (important) A rural legend would be a sub-class of urban legends according the the Wikipedia article on urban legends. “Despite its name, a typical urban legend does not necessarily originate in an urban setting. The term is simply used to differentiate modern legend from traditional folklore in preindustrial times. For this reason, sociologists and folklorists prefer the term \'”contemporary legend.’ ”

Urban and rural legends are not the same as myths, but they are related. Once again, from the Wikipedia,

The earliest term by which these narratives were known, “urban belief tales,” highlights what was then thought to be a key property: they were held, by their tellers, to be true accounts, and the device of the FOAF was a spurious but significant effort at authentication. The coinage leads in turn to the terms “FOAFlore” and “FOAFtale”. While at least one classic legend – the “Death Car” — has been shown to have some basis in fact, folklorists as such are interested in debunking these narratives only to the degree that establishing non-factuality warrants the assumption that there must be some other reason why the tales are told and believed. As in the case of myth, these narratives are believed because they construct and reinforce the of the group within which they are told, or “because they provide us with coherent and convincing explanations of complex events” For this reason, it is characteristic of groups within which a given narrative circulates to react very negatively to claims or demonstrations of non-factuality; an example would be the expressions of outrage by police officers who are told that adulteration of Halloween treats by strangers is extremely rare, if it has occurred at all, or the vehement responses.

Sudden wildfire destroys nine homes, damages 10 others in Boise subdivision

Sudden wildfire destroys nine homes, damages 10 others in Boise subdivision, Idaho Statesman. One resident was also found dead in the ashes.

This fire happened on a “red flag warning” day, and the winds made it very quick. Rocky Barker has some comments on the fire. The homes and yards had not been prepared to withstand a wildlife (no “firescaping”) according to Barker. The was lots of fuel in the yards and even shake roofs on the houses.

Boise fire was a textbook case of the need for firewise home protection. Letters from the West. Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

Posted in Wildfires. Tags: . 3 Comments »

Crews take more aggressive tack on Gunbarrel fire

Although we haven’t reported on it for a few days, the Gunbarrel fire has now burned a huge chunk of the North Absaroka Wilderness. It has been mostly managed as a needed “wildland” fire, but it is threatening to break out.

Despite its size, it has only cost $5.6 million dollars, much less than fires with a lot of recreational residences in the fire’s path.

Crews take more aggressive tack on Gunbarrel fire. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau

Inciweb’s page on the Gunbarrel fire (for detailed and daily updated information).

Posted in wilderness roadless, Wildfires, Wildlife Habitat. Tags: , . Comments Off on Crews take more aggressive tack on Gunbarrel fire

Gillett gets off on a hung jury

Alberta oil sands. Huge environmental cost divides Pres. Bush from U.S. Mayors

Critics: Canada’s oil boom an environmental bust. Extracting oil from Canada’s open-pit mines poses unacceptable risks to the region’s rivers and forests, critics of the projects say. By Rob Gillies. AP.

They might strip mine an area as large as New York state.

While oil sands does yield a lot of net energy, the ratio is poor compared to traditional sources, making synthetic oil from the sands even more damaging in terms of greenhouse gases.

Of course President Bush thinks the oil sands are great, but U.S. mayors have passed a resolution against their use.

Biden on environmental issues

This concise article showed up in Grist Magazine today.

Here is Grist’s analysis. Biden on the issues.

Western Turf, Wars: The Politics of Public Lands Ranching

Mike Hudak has written a book about what it is like for the citizen-activists who are fighting the livestock industry over livestock abuses on your western public lands. It can be pretty dangerous, especially to your job.

Review of the book. The Politics of Public Lands Ranching. Western Turf Wars. By Jamie Newlin. Counterpunch.

I hope some folks will pick this book up at amazon.com or better http://westernturfwars.com

Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border

The Jerritt Canyon mining and milling operations just south of the Idaho border have been shut down after it was found this gold operation was emitting 90 times as much mercury as your typical large coal-fired power plant.

Mercury pollution is one of the major arguments against coal-fired power plants.

Mercury pollution investigation shuts down Nevada gold mine near Idaho border. Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman.

– – –

Kudos to the Idaho Conservation League for helping stop this outrageous poisoning of Idaho.

[Justin] Hayes’ activism, tenacity forces mercury polluter to close. Letters from the West. Rocky Barker.

Added Aug. 25. Editorial from the Times-News. There’s a little less mercury to worry about today.

Utahans live in a desert. Green lawns are a huge waste of scarce water.

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And unfortunately, most Utah residents have always seen thick, green grass as drop-dead gorgeous. It is that, but the allure is also hideously unnatural.”

Utahans live in a desert. Green lawns are a huge waste of scarce water. Editorial by the Salt Lake Tribune.

Bison advocates go for space

Bison Advocates go for space. By Jeff Martin, USA TODAY

Posted in Bison. Tags: . Comments Off on Bison advocates go for space

Bison Brawl. Horse Butte residents seeks to shield animals from over-reaching lawsuit

Bison Brawl. Horse Butte residents seeks to shield animals from over-reaching lawsuit. By Matthew Brown.

Brown writes that the plaintiffs in this lawsuit, the Montana Stockgrowers Association who filed the suit on behalf of rancher Bob Myers and the Sitz Angus Ranch, run cattle near Horse Butte.

I did a Google search. The Sitz Angus Ranch has two locations, one near Harrison and the other near Dillon, Montana.

By what amazing stretch of imagination are Dillon or Harrison, Montana “near Horse Butte?”

No the people who live near Horse Butte are the people near Horse Butte where there are no cattle, or do cattle growers now get to rearrange geography as yet another of their privileges as well as impinge on the property rights of others?

“Idaho Wolves: Myths and Facts” replaced with new web site

For a long time we had a link to “Idaho Wolves: Myths and Facts.” Many people used it to get accurate facts on the number of livestock killed by wolves, effects on big game herds, etc.

Because of its success a new, much more ambitious web site of a similar nature has replaced it. It is Wolves in the West. The new web site gives more facts and does it for not just Idaho, but Montana and Wyoming too.

Posted in Wolves. Tags: . 36 Comments »

Wolves. A tale of two valleys

This article is about the difference between the Big Wood River Valley and the adjacent Sawtooth Valley.

Regarding the large effort being made so keep the Phantom Hill Pack out of trouble, I want to add that our organization, the Wolf Recovery Foundation, is a financial supporter of this project.

A tale of two valleys. Expense of proactive wolf measures makes duplicating local project difficult, officials say.” By JASON KAUFFMAN. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

Congress should pass a roadless area law

Protecting the remaining roadless areas on the national forests is not nearly as controversial as designating Wilderness areas, but these areas have no real protection under the Bush Administration, or before until the executive order by President Clinton.

The New York Times says “There Ought to be a Law” to protect them.

– – – –

I want to remind folks that there is now an excellent web site on roadless areas to which you can upload your photos and comments. http://roadlessland.org/

McCain addresses a truly Western issue and threatens to start a water war

Open up the 1922 Colorado River Compact? Fighting words!

This is probably the best piece on the implications of McCain;s statement.
Diary of a Mad Voter: Joan McCarter
McCain’s Water Woes

“For a Senator from a Western state, John McCain is showing some serious disconnectedness from the issues that matter out here. Is he really running for President of the United States, or President of Arizona?”


McCain stirs up water spat. He says the Colorado River Compact needs renegotiating, causing an uproar in the West. By Patty Henetz. The Salt Lake Tribune.

Republican senator Enzi ‘will be teaching’ McCain about water. Casper Star Tribune.

Gov. Freudenthal douses McCain’s water remark. Casper Star Tribune.

McCain: “To the rear, march!” by Bob Ewegen. Denver Post.

Fallout from McCain’s river compact comments. By Wally Edge. PolitikerCo.com

Montana air is now dirty from Idaho wildfires

All last summer Montana’s air was filthy from forest fires in Idaho.  This year has been much better, but enough fires have now been started by lightning in central Idaho and central Oregon that Montana is getting pretty hazy.

Smoke from wildfires turns air ‘unhealthy’ in region. By MICHAEL JAMISON of the Missoulian

You can view the air quality in much of Idaho, western Montana and western Idaho on my web cam page.

– – – –

Update. Aug. 21. There have been some very wet storms over northern and north central Idaho and NW Montana the last several days, and continuing today. These have dented and perhaps will end the fire season in those areas. That would be great news of late summer travelers.

Sockeye numbers reach highest level in decades in Idaho’s Sawtooth country

This is very good news!! They were almost extinct 15 years ago.

Sockeye numbers reach highest level in decades. A total of 386 sockeye salmon had arrived in the Sawtooth Valley by Tuesday [August 19]. By JASON KAUFFMAN, Idaho Mountain Express Staff Writer

20 years after Yellowstone fires: Black Saturday’s lessons still debated

Rocky Barker has written extensively about the Yellowstone fires and fire policy in general with a book (Scorched Earth) on the role of forest fires fighting and the history of the public lands.

Today he has a feature article on how the lessons from ’88 have been learned and applied and also not learned or applied. He discusses the response to the current fires of 2008.

20 years after Yellowstone fires: Black Saturday’s lessons still debated. Response to this year’s blazes shows how policies spawned by the fires of ’88 have been disregarded – or carried out. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

How wildlife fared in the Yellowstone fires of 1988

There have been a number of retrospectives on the great fires of ’88 on their 20th anniversary.  Here is one from the Salt Lake Tribune summarizing the effect on wildlife.

How wildlife fared in the Yellowstone fires.

Posted in Wildfires, Wildlife Habitat, Yellowstone National Park. Tags: . Comments Off on How wildlife fared in the Yellowstone fires of 1988

Ron Gillett to stand trial Friday

Building in disaster-prone areas should cost more

Pay to play: Building in disaster-prone areas should cost more. Salt Lake Tribune Editorial.

The editorial above is about Utah, but it uses California as the bad example (Utah is just as bad except that the population is smaller).

California’s current budget disaster is compounded by the costs of fighting the many fires — $13-million a day — with most of the high cost due to saving structures that never should have been built in wildlfire prone areas.

Why should others suffer monetarily because of obviously bad private decisions? In fact the bad decisions were made in part because the individuals and the developers understood that the costs of their decisions would not be borne by themselves alone.

Update (August 21) on the monetary effects of this on the Forest Service budget. Forest pinching pennies because of fire costs.  By Corey Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.
One effect we have seen is no monitoring of grazing and the livestock operators are running amuck.

Still more (August 22)- Defending Homes from Wildfire Costs Montana Millions. By Matthew Frank. New West.

Fired Idaho Fish and Game Director should have his say

In July David Parrish who was the Director of Idaho Fish and Game for the Magic Valley region lost his job after he commented on the wildlife impacts of the proposed by wind farm on public and private land near Brown’s Bench.

We covered the story, but the Idaho media didn’t seem to find this outright political repression very exciting. Our story on Parrish’s firing. Finally the Idaho Press-Tribune has an editorial.

F&G official should be allowed to have his say. Idaho Press Tribune. I think it’s a good editorial.

Update. A person named “Dave” sent me an editorial that recently appeared in the Lewiston Tribune (subscription only) criticizing the politicization of Idaho Fish and Game by the Governor and state legislators. So, my statement that Idaho media almost ignored this travesty with a lack of commentary should be modified a bit. RM

Brackett Cattle Company sign near Three Creek, Idaho

Brackett Cattle Company sign near Three Creek, Idaho. Copyright Ralph Maughan. June 2008

The last days of Alaska’s kleptocracy

Alaska is a state governed by a politically corrupt elite, but the FBI is closing in.  It is a systemic problem and not surprisingly this extends to the state’s management of wildlife.

Today the New Republic has an article on what could be the end of the era. I think this article raises the question whether Alaska should have even been made a state.

“Out of the Wild.” By Charles Homans. “The last days of Alaska’s kleptocracy.”

Glacier National Park gears up to celebrate its 100th Anniversary

8-19. Change marks Glacier’s approach to centennial. Park positioning itself to deal with new realities, emerging as a leader. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

8-20. Glacier grabs hold of uncertain future. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

8-21. Glacier Park: The next century – Threats from all sides. By Michael Jamison. Missoulian.

The 100th year celebration of the creation of Glacier National Park in Montana on the U.S./Canada border is approaching. It’s in 2010. The Missoulian is doing a series. Here are parts I, II and III

Posted in national parks, public lands. Tags: . Comments Off on Glacier National Park gears up to celebrate its 100th Anniversary

More details of ID cobalt mine ‘deal’

Earlier we had a conversation about the Idaho Conservation League’s decision to cut a deal green-lighting a cobalt mine near Salmon, Idaho.  Details of that deal were promised today (Monday) :

Formation Capital and Idaho Conservation League Reach Agreement on Conservation Programmarketwire

Mine, environmentalists hail ID cobalt mine deal – Todd Dvorak – AP

It appears that the company has agreed to post the bond the Forest Service was asking for and contribute $150,000 annually to watershed restoration projects for which the ICL and the mining company will meet annually to solicit suggestions from agencies and tribes and distribute monies.  In exchage ICL will not litigate and will highlight the positives of the mine in the media.

– – – – –


Brian Ertz posted above. This is my addition . . . Ralph Maughan

The article below was put up on the Idaho Statesman web site at 11:30 PM Monday (by Rocky Barker).

Mine company attracts a green partner. The Idaho Conservation League says it was won over by a commitment to cleanup at the new cobalt mine. By Rocky Barker. Edition Date: 08/19/08.

An interesting new items from Barker’s piece. An appeal of the project comes not from a conservation group but other mining companies. Barker wrote that Noranda and three other mining companies who are responsible for cleaning up the nearby old Blackbird cobalt mine have appealed.

The waters from the new mine and the old bleeding mine all run into Blackbird Creek. A spokeman for Noranda said that they can’t distinguish an increase in pollution by its source. Therefore, if Formation Capital’s mine causes an increase in pollution it can’t separated from the continuing historic pollution and  all 4 companies. will end up being responsible for it.

Germany hears the call of the wild as wolves return after 200 years

Good news from Germany!

Germany hears the call of the wild as wolves return after 200 years. By David Wroe. News.scotsman.com.

Trapping of wolverines continues in Montana

The trapping season on this rare, probably endangered animal, will continue this winter in Montana, the only state with a season on wolverine. There are only about 500 wolverine in the lower 48 states.

The Bush/Kempthorne Interior Department rejected endangered species status based on their highly   questionable legal notion that a species can’t be endangered in the United States if there is a viable population of an animal outside the U.S. (in this case Canada).

I think, along with others, that this violates the clear language of the Act.

Trapping of wolverines continues in Montana. By Susan Gallagher. Associated Press writer.

As suspected the “bigfoot remains” are a fake

“Bigfoot” fails DNA test. Science News Daily.

Bits of DNA that were provided to researchers turned out to be a little bit of human DNA and 96% opossum.

This story about the bigfoot remains, supposedly discovered in Georgia, was posted to our long-running thread, “Bear or Bigfoot.

Proposed reform to Endangered Species Act gets cool response

Kempthorne’s ridiculous ESA reform proposal is uniformly disdained by environmentalists.  He claims it’ll help “streamline” the process.  Sorta like “streamlining” the dodo.

Proposed reform to Endangered Species Act gets cool response Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

I’ll bet that process would be a whole lot more efficient if these political appointees spent half the time on enforcement as they do figuring out ways to avoid it.

Brackett’s Racket: Politicized IDFG defends decision to demote Parrish

Earlier, we explored the “number of factors” suggestion that Virgil Moore, Deputy Director of Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG), was floating around as justification for the demotion of Dave Parrish.  The demotion took place following Parrish’s Letter to the Editor questioning the impact that a windfarm, which promised much financial profit to powerful Idaho politicians and their families, would have on wildlife.  One of the politicians included Bert Brackett, an Idaho legislator and welfare rancher who’s been appointed to the statehouse as legislator (an elected position) over and over again.  Brackett was involved in the “conversation” about Parrish between legislators that turned into a phone-call to the governor ~ and the nod to Cal Groen, Director of IDFG.   Now, an article demonstrates another of the “number of factors” Parrish ran into which you or I might consider him doing is job, but that the politically privileged saw as opportunity to make an example:

Fish & Game defends demotion of ParrishTimes-News

Parrish had butted heads on occasion with ranchers in the area, one example coming over rehabilitation plans for the area burned by the Murphy Complex Fire last summer. Parrish was opposed to some limitations that the ranchers sought, recalled Mike Guerry of Castleford.

Of course, Brackett is one of the most prominant ranchers affected (check out his picture) by the Murphy Complex, you may remember his blaming the fire on environmentalists while posing for a photo-op in front of his burn-bloated cow, and one of those most fiercly insistant that cattle be turned out on that fire-wounded land immediately and in abundance.

What Westerners would love to ask the candidates

They say the West is going to be in play for once and and maybe decide the 2008 presidential race. However, the candidates are not really talking about Western issues. Yes, Obama came out against the Cline coal pit mine that would pollute the Flathead River as its runs into the United States. He also seemed to take a regressive stance on the 1872 general mining act when he was contenting with Clinton in the Nevada presidential caucus.

For me, most important are questions about the management of the federal public lands.

Aside from that, I can’t think of much they have said directly about real Western issues. Ed Quillen says much the same in this Writers on the Range piece. What Westerners would love to ask the candidates

Climate change to fuel wildfires in West

Seems pretty intuitive to me :

Report: Climate change to fuel wildfires in WestSignOnSanDiego.com

Fisheries Service Finds Three Pesticides Imperil West Coast Salmon

Three poisons that cleared the EPA are found to threaten the recovery of 28 threatened or endangered salmon stocks:

Fisheries Service Finds Three Pesticides Imperil West Coast SalmonMedia Newswire

This news comes right on the hind end of Bush Interior’s attempt to sidestep outside science with endangered species act decisions (Bush to relax protected species rules) and highlights the danger of such a move.

Canadian mine owners, Idaho environmental group cut deal

The Idaho Conservation League (ICL) has struck a deal with Canadian mine company Formation Capital Corp.’s plans to mine cobalt near Salmon, Idaho.

Canadian mine owners, Idaho environmental group cut deal – Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

The adjacent Blackbird mine superfund site has been polluting waters for a long time highlighting the potential of the new project to do significant damage to the waters of Panther Creek drainage.  It appears that the Canadian mine leasing American public land knows how to play politics under this shadow quite well – the Canadian mining company recruited former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus, who now sits on their Board of Directors – a political umbilical cord with some greens in Idaho.

ICL has relinquished legal leverage to contest the Forest Service’s Record of Decision regarding the mine and expects to highlight “environmentally friendly” aspects of the company’s endeavor in the media in exchange for mitigation projects elsewhere and for the company posting already legally required bonds.

Formation Capital is pleased to join with the Idaho Conservation League in announcing the creation of the Conservation Action Program to implement projects to further enhance and improve natural resource, environmental and wildlife resources and values in the Upper Salmon River watershed.

Says the CEO of the company.

Paparazzi in the Woods. Wildlife surveillance cameras

Paparazzi in the Woods. Wildlife surveillance cameras. Slate Magazine. By Etienne Benson

I think they are a lot less intrusrive than radio collars. RM

Montana and Wyoming fires fewer and milder so far this summer

Montana and Wyoming fires fewer and milder so far this summer. Billings Gazette. AP.

You can add most of the Western states to this list, except for California.

Posted in wildfire. Tags: . Comments Off on Montana and Wyoming fires fewer and milder so far this summer

Off-road rage

More people, more off-roaders (50 million?!), more off-road rage – standardNET

Uppermost West Fork of the Pahsimeroi

It’s hot where I’m at.  It’s good to think about where it’s not so much the case:

Snow melts in August in the uppermost West Fork of the Pahsimeroi.


August Snow © Katie Fite 2008

Wildflowers follow…

Read the rest of this entry »

Huge donation made to benefit Madison Valley

Roger Lang donated close to $4 million for conservation in the Madison Valley – hopes to eventually conserve one million acres

Sun Ranch Owner Donates Millions Toward Madison Valley Conservation. By Lucia Stewart. New West.

Note this is a new link above to replace the now dead one from the Bozeman Chronicle. RM

U.S. Judge in Wyoming Rules Against Ban on Forest Roads

The back and forth over Clinton’s Roadless Rule continues.

U.S. Judge in Wyoming Rules Against Ban on Forest RoadsNY Times

Wildlife disease debate: To act or to react?

Elk feedlots spread disease – including chronic wasting disease.  The National Elk Refuge wouldn’t be such a tourist attraction with the lot suffering a widespread infection.

Wildlife disease debate: To act or to react? – Jackson Hole News & Guide
Wyoming only monitors spread of chronic wasting disease while some call for action.

Posted in Elk, wildlife disease. Tags: . Comments Off on Wildlife disease debate: To act or to react?

The Etiquette of Gravel Roads

The Etiquette of Gravel Roads. By Bryce Andrews. New West.

One thing very important that Andrews doesn’t mention is raising your right hand’s index finger if someone pulls over a bit or slows down as you pass.

This is more for dirt roads than gravel roads, but it tells me “jerk” if they don’t acknowledge with this little gesture if I pull off or over a bit.

Bush to relax protected species rules

Another huge attempt by Bush’s Interior to make an end-run around using the best science in its Endangered Species Act determinations – this time the move just cuts third party independent scientific review out of the ESA process !  The administration believes it can do so without congressional approval.

Bush to relax protected species rulesMSNBC
Plan takes scientists out of decision making on species status

Ranching & Forestry industries send 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue Interior to prevent Polar Bear listing

The Pacific Legal Foundation (PLF) sent a 60-day Notice of Intent to sue the Department of Interior over its decision to list Polar Bears under the Endangered Species Act.  From PLF’s News Release:

The PLF letter is filed on behalf of ranching and forestry interests that, along with employers nationwide and the economy in general, would be harmed by heavy-handed regulations that could proceed from the listing of the polar bear.

Hunting Season is Open on Polar Bears’ ESA ListingMother Jones

Posted in Climate change, endangered species act, Grazing and livestock, Logging, property rights. Tags: . Comments Off on Ranching & Forestry industries send 60-day Notice of Intent to Sue Interior to prevent Polar Bear listing

New Paths Toward the Loss of Our Public Lands

Bill Willers describes the looting of your public domain :

Subsidies, Volunteerism and Outsourcing
New Paths Toward the Loss of Our Public Lands – by William Willers counterpunch

Gunbarrel fire clears out massive area of beetle-killed timber

Gunbarrel still on fire. Long-term plan uses fire to clear forest of beetle-killed trees. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette Wyoming Bureau.

The fire is now 50 square miles and serving to clear out a part of the North Absaroka Wilderness that was a deadfall jungle (not that access was ever easy, given the rugged terrain and lack of trails.).

The North Absaroka Wilderness forms a long boundary with Yellowstone National Park.

Posted in Trees Forests, Wildfires, Wildlife Habitat, Yellowstone. Tags: , . Comments Off on Gunbarrel fire clears out massive area of beetle-killed timber

Study: Midwest Wolves Avoid Humans

A Wisconsin study demonstrates a model showing that wolves are least abundant where there are roads or agriculture.  Road density and ag land good predictor of wolf presence (or absence, as is the case).

[Wisconsin] Wolves are lying low JSOnline

Grousing Around

Joan McCarter looks at some of Wyoming’s recent strategies to protect sage grouse, avoid ESA listing of Sage grouse to keep Oil & Gas happy.

Grousing Around
Is the sage grouse the 21st century’s spotted owl?NewWest

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Rocky Barker: White says climate change worse on range than ranching

Rocky Barker: White says climate change worse on range than ranching. Idaho Statesman.

I thought this might be joke. RM

Certainly a lesson in bad logic. Of course, a nearby supernova would be worse than climate change; duh.

White, of course, is trying to argue that conservationists should spend more time working on climate change and less on bad grazing practices. Unfortunately for White, grazing lands not suitable for grazing or overgrazing makes the effect of climate change yet more severe. Removing livestock, especially cattle, makes the rangelands more resistant to climate change.

Recent studies (cited on this blog by Brian Ertz), also indicate that the practice of grazing marginal and submarginal lands changes them from carbon sinks (meaning they take up a net amount of carbon from the atmosphere) into carbon sources (release a net amount of carbon and other greenhouse gases to the atmosphere).

Therefore, fighting to reduce grazing is an excellent way to retard climate change. So please volunteer to help.

More of Turner’s bison die in anthrax outbreak

Posted in Bison, wildlife disease. Tags: . Comments Off on More of Turner’s bison die in anthrax outbreak

Politicized IDFG: Official gets demoted for “a number of factors”

The message to employees is clear at Idaho Department of Fish & Game (IDFG) – when it comes to development projects on public lands that threaten wildlife – keep your mouth shut.

David Parrish, Magic Valley regional supervisor for IDFG former Magic Valley regional supervisor for IDFG, has a problem – a political problem.  Parrish took a demotion after writing a Letter to the Editor suggesting that the China Mountain windfarm project south of Twin Falls “will have negative repercussions on Idaho’s wildlife” responding to the paper’s endorsement of the project and suggesting that they wait until the consequences are understood before making such an endorsement.

Magic Valley Fish and Game supervisor demotedTimes-News

Update  . . .  more August 8. F&G supervisor suddenly demoted. Agency touts speak-with-one-voice policy. By Greg Stahl. Idaho Mountain Express Staff Write

Lawmakers call Parrish’s letter about wind farm ‘inappropriate’
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Southeast Idaho officials approve a big wind energy farm

Southeast Idaho officials approve a big wind energy farm. AP

“Construction of a 150-turbine wind farm on 20,000 acres along Wolverine Canyon [Blackfoot Mountains] has been approved by Bingham County commissioners.”

The turbines would be 490 feet tall!! I wonder if there are any taller ones anywhere?

This project is remaking some traditional political alliances in the area. Leading the charge against the farm is Frank VanderSloot, owner of Melaleuca Inc.  He is a major Eastern Idaho Republican influential and a landowner in the area

Mad elk disease heads toward Wyoming’s elk feedgrounds

We have been writing about his since 2006 on this blog. Recently, I linked to a site I named “How Now, Mad Cow“on my blogroll. RM

Mysterious, fatal disease bound for elk feedgrounds. A cousin of mad cow, chronic wasting disease is a worry for Jackson Hole’s wildlife economy. By Cory Hatch. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Oil falls as low as $118 on demand concerns

The price of crude has dropped from $150 to $118 in the last month due to an absence of bad news and reduced demand. Oil falls as low as $118 on demand concerns. By Madlen Read. Washington Post.

Still the campaign to increase the supply of domestic crude on public lands continues in order to reduce the price a penny a gallon 5 to 10 years from now.

Presidential campaigns very often seem to procede off in some alternative universe.

Regarding demand, does anyone recall how Dick Cheney sneered at the notion of conservation of fuel (energy efficiency) back in 2002 after his secret energy task force met?

Time to remember that supply always equals demand except in the very short run or when certain kinds of subsidies are paid, price ceiling or floors are set, or rationing imposed.

The Gunbarrel Fire moves closer to the Cody-East Entrance road

Winds have blown this backcountry/wilderness fire to the east of Yellowstone Park closer to the East Entrance road.

It was started by a campfire and has mostly burned in very rugged country filled with bug-killed timber, producing a huge plume of smoke.

North winds challenge Gunbarrel fire lines. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette.

Update. August 6, 2008. Lodges near Yellowstone Park evacuated as Gunbarrel fire expands. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette.

Pelican vs. trout: Idaho F&G’s still out

There was an increase in the number of the huge white pelicans in Idaho in 2007, although the number of nests is down this year.

These are not common, nor widespread birds, but some anglers (mostly reservoir anglers) want them destroyed, even though they eat far more trash fish than trout.

Once again, we face the problem that the state widlife department relies on money from birds, mammals and fish that people take.

Pelican vs. trout: F&G’s still out. The agency is considering a plan that could call for destroying eggs from some pelicans, which anglers say are devouring trout. By John Miller. AP.

White Pelicans on Chesterfield Reservoir in eastern Idaho.
Photo copyright Ralph Maughan. July 2008

Grizzly bear pounces on Yellowstone firefighter

Grizzly bear pounces on Yellowstone firefighter. AP. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Update. August 7. Firefighter back after griz encounter. Billings Gazette News Services.

A Push to Wrest More Oil From Land, but Most New Wells Are for Natural Gas

John McCain and friends are banking this issue to save them, but there is so much they don’t know (or more likely chose not to mention).

This is another. Most of the drilling is for gas, not petroleum.

A Push to Wrest More Oil From Land, but Most New Wells Are for Natural Gas. By Felicity Barranger. New York Times.

Regarding domestic discoveries of oil, those who think new petroleum discoveries in the U.S. will bring down the price of gasoline, they should read this article five times and post it on their wall.

Democratic candidate Gary Trauner supports protecting Wyoming Range from gas drilling

I am putting this up because last week comments from a Wyoming resident said that Trauner was opposing this bill to withdraw the scenic and very unstable Wyoming Range from leasing for natural gas development.

The bill, sponsored by Wyoming’s two Republican senators had been advancing nicely until McCain and most Republicans candidates decided drilling in America’s last best places was a great campaign issue.

It turns out that Trauner suppots the bill, so the information provided by “Wyoming Native” was incorrect.

Story: House candidates divided on Wyo Range protection. By Brodie Farquhar. Wyoming Business Report.

Alpine tourists attacked by Pyrenean dogs brought in to save the sheep

Alpine tourists attacked by Pyrenean dogs brought in to save the sheep [from wolves]. The Times on-line.

You always have to be careful around sheep guard dogs. They are not bred to be friendly to anything among the sheep.

Minnesota’s wolf population has stopped growing in size and range

Gray wolf range, population similar in Minn. Associated Press.

It has pretty much peaked out in Wisconsin too.

This casts a lot of doubt on the statements in recent years by Dr. Dave Mech who has been alarmed for quite a while at the growth rate of wolves in Minnesota, and took the side of the Bush Administration in his court statement about the much smaller number of wolves in the Northern Rockies.

There is no evidence the wolves are cannibalizing each other in any state either, as the wolf doom sayers say they will the do after they have eaten all the wildlife.

Time, Finally, for Real Fuel Economy

This editorial is in today’s New York Times. Time, Finally, for Real Fuel Economy.

The truck I use the most gets 25 mpg, pretty good, but it replaced one that got 30 mpg (I rolled that one). When I looked for a new truck, a 30 mpg was no longer made.

Good news: Maybe a fine sockeye salmon year for Idaho

A record summer for returning sockeye. By Scott Learn. Newhouse News Service

“Sockeye salmon, an oceangoing species that starts and ends its life hundreds of river miles inland, are swimming up the Columbia River this summer in numbers unseen in five decades.”

First sockeye comes home to Idaho. By Rocky Barker – Idaho Statesman

Web Tools for Forest Fires

There are a number of web sites that help people heading for the outdoors.

The one I use the most it the smoke plume web site (yes, it’s getting pretty bad). SSD Fire Detection Program.


National Fire News.

Yellowstone Park Wildland Fires

U.S. air quality (suggestion by Mike Post)

GeoMAC Wildfire Information (suggestion by Buffaloed)

Idaho Fish and Game Talking Points for Federal Court Decision on Wolves

This was leaked to me. It is what any Idaho Fish and Game employee is supposed to tell the public or the media if the ask about Judge Molloy’s decision. RM

– – – – –

Talking Points for Federal Court Decision on Wolves

Federal District Judge Molloy issued a preliminary injunction against wolf delisting on July 18, which reinstated federal ESA protections for the northern Rocky Mountain gray wolf pending final resolution of the case.

  • Idaho plans for wolf hunting seasons are on hold at this point and wolf hunting tags will not be issued by Idaho Department of Fish and Game. We do not know how long it may take for this case to wind its way through the court system. State and federal parties are reviewing legal options. The Commission and the Idaho Department of Fish and Game are extremely disappointed with the ruling and the resulting delay of state management.
  • The judge did provide positive support for Idaho’s management approach. He found Idaho’s depredation control law to provide a similar standard to federal regulations and he found that Idaho management would not threaten the continued existence of the wolf in Idaho.
  • The key basis of the preliminary injunction against delisting is lack of evidence of genetic exchange between wolf subpopulations, a recovery parameter established by the USFWS in the 1990s.
  • The Fish and Game Commission has done everything within its power to get wolves delisted. The judge found that the Commission’s wolf management plan provided adequate protections for wolves. The factors preventing delisting-the genetic viability of wolves in Yellowstone and the judge’s concerns with the Wyoming management plan-are out of Idaho’s control. Idaho will work with the state and federal parties to address those concerns and reinstate delisting as soon as possible.
  • The federal 10(j) of January 2008 is the controlling federal rule for wolves. As allowed under the federal 10(j), states and tribes with approved wolf management plans may manage wolves to ensure the health of wild elk and deer herds and to protect private property. The federal 10(j) rule allows individuals on private or public land to kill a wolf that is in the act of attacking their stock animals or dogs, except land north of Interstate 90 in Idaho, or land administered by the National Park Service, and provided there is no evidence of intentional baiting, feeding or deliberate attractants of wolves.
  • At the end of 2007, there were an estimated 732 wolves in Idaho and the population has been growing about 20% per year.
Posted in Idaho wolves, politics, Wolves. Tags: . Comments Off on Idaho Fish and Game Talking Points for Federal Court Decision on Wolves

Kempthorne unveils species banking system

Secretary of the Interior Kempthorne unveiled the Fish and Wildlife Service’s new “credit” and “banking” system for threatened and endangered species protections. The idea is that federal agencies will be allowed to take actions that inflict damage to protected species populations on federal land if they have accrued enough “credits” from conservation programs on private lands.

Secretary Kempthorne Announces New Conservation Mechanism for Threatened and Endangered SpeciesUSFWS News Release 8/1/08

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Big Oil makes the most money ever

Big Oil’s biggest quarter ever: $51.5B in all. By John Porretto. AP Business Writer.

So far Speaker Pelsosi has kept nervous Democrats in line on big oil’s plan’s to use the high price of gasoline to gain leases in fragile off and on-shore public lands.

The counterattack should be easy. The headline above shows the way.

In addition, look at the polling data. Who gets the greatest blame from the public? See Pollingreport.com.

It would be fun to do a little ad on the lifestyles of the oil company CEOs.

As for the substantial number who want to see more drilling off-shore and especially on-shore, opponents need to make ads showing what these lands are like and where.  It’s easy for someone to say give them more leases on public lands; but not so easy to say lease Grand Canyon National Park.

Coyote killing jumps in Wyoming: Infusion of WY state funding leads to record killing by federal agents