Northern Utah, the land of filthy air

Worst in the country in the winter-

“Oh ye mountains high and the clear blue sky . . .”  These are words from a Mormon hymn that isn’t sung in church much anymore. I don’t know the reason, but it is appropriate because northern Utah has slowly developed the dirtiest air the country in the winter. High emissions are one reason, but the biggest factor is the strong temperature inversions that form in the mountain valleys whenever high pressure builds. High pressure usually means good weather, but not in northern Utah.

Cache Valley is the best (or worst) example. In part, I grew up there. I still remember the dirty winter fogs and the cloud of black that hung over Logan, a large town, when I was in high school. The black is gone because coal isn’t burned any more for space heating, but the pollution is now more widespread and more toxic.

The population of Cache Valley has grown. This is in part because of its beauty 3 seasons of the year. This means more traffic. In the remaining agricultural parts of the valley, CAFOs have proliferated. The result is residents breathing sun-modified auto emissions and manure emissions throughout the winter.

Utah’s bad air. Opinion in the Salt Lake Tribune

http://www.airquality.utah.gov/aqp/  This URL gives real time pollution levels, and they are not bad in the springtime.

Tim DeChristopher Goes on Trial for Disrupting Oil Lease Auction

DeChristopher may get 10 years for unconventional method of protecting Utah’s beautiful canyonlands from oi companies-

We have had many stories on this, but not for quite a while. Tim DeChristopher could be punished far more than the Wall Street investment bankers who stole billions. He bid against oil speculators at a Department of Interior (BLM) oil and gas lease auction in 2008. He had no money, however.

Trial of eco-activist who punk’d BLM begins. Greenspace in the New York Times.

– – – – – – –

Note. He was quickly convicted. Webmaster.

They don’t make ’em much crazier than this.

This one is from Utah

Department of Natural Resources Director Michael Styler told a legislative committee Tuesday that the return of the wolves is comparable to “the resurrection of the T. rex and turning him loose on the landscape.”

Natural Resources director compares wolf to ‘T. rex’ The Salt Lake Tribune.

– – – – –

2/10/2011. A reflection on this. Upon reading the account of Styler’s testimony, I have to wonder if he wasn’t really protesting the fact that he was politically forced to take the policy position he did. Sometimes people will protest their coerced speech by giving a speech so bizarre that you wonder if they are sane, or not being serious. I don’t know of this man, but reading his comments it came to me that it was like reading something in The Onion.  Ralph Maughan

Later. No thinking about it and reading about him, he was serious. RM

Utah High court: State can be sued for 2007 bear attack

A sorry decision that will threaten all kinds of wildlife-

A result of this will be state agencies killing wildlife and closing campgrounds when a theoretically dangerous animal is seen within five miles of them.

High court: State can be sued for bear attack. By Donald W. Meyers. The Salt Lake Tribune.

We let unemployed homeless freeze on the streets but then baby people when they should be responsible.

Special interests are Utah politicians’ cash cows

Compared to the Utah legislature, members of Congress raise much more from their local constituents-

Only 5% of the campaign money spent by candidates for the Utah legislature came from the folks in the candidates’ home legislative district.

Special interests are Utah politicians’ cash cows. Salt Lake Tribune. By Lee Davidson

This is important because of the constant drum beat pounding out the tune that the state’s are closer to the people than the astronomically far off denizens of Washington D.C.  This matters plenty when wildlife issues are considered.

Natural restoration advances rapidly in the big Castle Rock burn near Ketchum/Hailey, Idaho

The 50,000 acre fire was 3 years ago-

The Idaho Mountain Express has an article detailing the regrowth in the big burn next to Ketchum and Hailey, Idaho. This is a very popular recreation area, so its restoration is noticeable to a lot of people. Similar articles could be written about several million more acres of burns in central Idaho — burns of the last decade.

The Idaho places where restoration is not going well are the millions of acres of rangelands (more properly sagebrush steppe) where cheatgrass has fueled vast fires, destroying native grasses, forbs and shrubs, creating more of itself for future fires. This year about 3/4 million acres of Idaho rangeland has burned.

Related. Utah has mildest wildfire season in a decade. By jason bergreen. The Salt Lake Tribune

More related. Rain, snow and lower temperatures help tame central Idaho wildfire. Idaho Statesman.

First wolf killed in SE Idaho

While the headline is not accurate, it is gratifying to see a wolf in Franklin Basin-

A sheepherder killed a wolf in the Bear River Range, east of Franklin, Idaho. This is right on the Idaho/Utah border and is certainly good news for wolves traveling south. I have had reports of wolves in the Franklin Basin area for ten years now. To avoid putting those killer radio collars on them, I have not reported them.

The headline in the story below (Idaho Statesman) is wrong. The body of the story below in fact indicates that. A wolf was shot by a Pocatello man back in 2003 in SE Idaho near Weston, Idaho, also right on the Utah border, but one mountain range to the west of this. That was in the foothills of the Bannock Range.

Wolf killed in Franklin Basin. Idaho Statesman. Note that there is a longer story in the Idaho State Journal (Pocatello), but it is not on line.

For those familiar with scenic Franklin Basin, they know it is overrun by domestic sheep.  I have been going there since I was a boy and the Logan (UT) Ranger District just lets it get worse and worse, harming recreation, scenery, and especially elk and deer habitat.  The Basin is mostly reduced to dust by mid-summer and inedible forbs like western coneflower and tall larkspur.  If folks would donate to the Western Watersheds Project, it should be known they have the goods on this disgusting situation and will sue their sorry butts.

Here is a photo of a nice spot in the Idaho portion of Franklin Basin.