Friday, October 03, 2003


USFWS to oppose motion filed by group A federal agency will oppose a motion filed by an environmental organization to stop logging projects that could affect the threatened Mexican spotted owl. The Center for Biological Diversity claimed that "fuel-reduction projects" by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service jeopardize the bird's habitat. The service on Wednesday filed a declaration in a U.S. district court in Arizona opposing the center's motion...Ski Industry Split Over Ads on Chairlifts The Forest Service has given the nation's ski resorts the OK to sell some advertising space on their chairlifts, drawing complaints that the messages will clutter up the great outdoors. The ads will be only a few inches in size and will consist of logos of companies that sponsor programs at resorts; they will not contain slogans or special offers... Court upholds decision tossing property rights case A federal appeals court on Friday upheld a lower court's decision that dismissed a case brought against the U.S. Forest Service over the use of a remote Upper Peninsula lake, a dispute that attracted the attention of the property rights movement. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals found that a claim by Kathy Stupak-Thrall and other plaintiffs that Crooked Lake wasn't a part of the Sylvania Wilderness Area and should be out of reach of federal regulation was brought beyond a 6-year statute of limitations for such cases... Forest Service helps forest’s rebirth along In the month since the frenetic firefighting efforts ended here, new labors are under way that Helena National Forest officials and others hope will raise a healthy forest from the fires’ ashes. Hundreds of charred, dead trees lie on private lands near the mouth of the Copper Creek drainage, dropped and stacked by a “feller/buncher.” Here and on the national forest farther up the drainage, the plan is to cut everything greater than 6 inches in diameter, with the thought that the winter snows will fell anything smaller. The merchantable timber will be loaded onto trucks and hauled to mills in Montana; the rest will be chipped into small pieces and scattered... Study focuses on money lost in Tongass timber sales The U.S. Forest Service should focus its energy on creating jobs in the seafood and tourism industries instead of losing money on taxpayer-subsidized timber sales, says a new report by the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council... Editorial: Invest now in healthy forests It will take money to fix the four big problems facing our national forests: invasive species, wildfires, loss of open space and unmanaged recreation. For starters, the Forest Service must fix its finances. This year was the first time the agency got a clean audit from federal accounting experts. But even U.S. Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth - who identified the four top problems facing national forests - knows the agency needs to improve its financial practices...Picking up the pieces A war had been fought here. It was a classic battle of man against nature, flame against firefighter, and the scars of their war blanketed parts of the mountainous battlefield in black ash. Like an oasis of life in a desert of destruction, the waters of Cascade Springs rushed down a hillside, green growth still thriving though the landscape around it was charred...Predator conference begins Some conservationists believe that conserving the remaining wildlife and wildlife habitat in Wyoming and the West is not enough. An additional step of restoration is also needed. And the restoration of America's native wildlife population must include key predator species like the wolf and grizzly bear...Wolf lawsuit hurts conservation cause, says attorney The return of healthy wolf populations to Montana, Idaho and Wyoming is a success story unequaled in the history of endangered species management, and yet conservationists seem intent on snatching “defeat from the jaws of victory,” a conservationist-attorney said Thursday. Tom France, general counsel for the National Wildlife Federation, told the 27th Public Land and Resources Law Conference he was dismayed when a coalition of 17 environmental groups filed suit Wednesday, hoping to stop the removal of wolves from Endangered Species Act protection... Lawsuit threatened over Preble's mouse A conservative legal group is threatening to sue Interior Secretary Gale Norton unless Preble's jumping mouse is taken off the government's endangered species list. The mouse, found only in Colorado and Wyoming, was listed as threatened under the act in 1998. William Perry Pendley, president of the Colorado-based Mountain States Legal Foundation, said he will sue Norton unless the mouse is taken off the list. Federal law requires 60 days advance notice of intent to sue...Legal deluge over dam Residents of the Little Thompson River Valley vowed Thursday to defend their homes against a plan to flood the area. "We will oppose every effort to take away our homes and property rights," Susan Pierce, whose home would be inundated, told leaders of the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District...Feds: Owl suit raises fire risk A Tucson environmental group's lawsuit to protect Mexican spotted owls threatens to boost wildfire risks on millions of acres in the Southwest, including parts of Southern Arizona, federal officials said. The lawsuit, quietly filed by the Center for Biological Diversity last month, seeks to hold Interior Secretary Gale Norton in contempt of court. If successful, the suit could block scores of tree-cutting projects meant to thin overgrown forests suspectible to devastating canopy fires, officials said. "We are very concerned, during the ongoing drought in the Southwest, that any delays in treating forest areas to reduce high fuel loads could put human life and property at risk of catastrophic wildfires," Dale Hall, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Southwest region, said in a written statement... Investors seek environmentally sound gas drilling A group of U.S. investors managing about $14 billion in assets have warned energy companies to rethink how they drill in the Rocky Mountains to mitigate environmental damage and the risk of future lawsuits. "Drilling in an irresponsible way can have significant long-term liabilities. We're saying let's look at how we're doing this and let's minimize the impact," said Steve Lippman, a San Francisco-based analyst at Trillium Asset Management...Plan to expand Silverton ski area divides residents A businessman's plan to allow unrestricted skiing in terrain above this mountain town has divided area residents, with some hoping for an economic boost and others fearing it will put skiers in danger. Aaron Brill has asked the Bureau of Land Management for a 40-year permit to expand his Silverton Outdoor Learning and Recreation Center to handle up to 475 skiers daily, except in areas his snow-safety expert says are too dangerous...BLM seeks public comment on plan for wetlands The Bureau of Land Management has released a management plan for the Overflow Wetlands area. The BLM is seeking public comment on the plan to protect parts of the more than 7,000 acres of wetlands located about 16 miles east of Roswell and adjacent to Bottomless Lakes State Park...Water guru claims SRP wants all of state's water Pine water guru John Breninger believes Salt River Project has designs on all the water in Arizona. Breninger also questioned the wisdom of pursuing the Blue Ridge Reservoir as a new source of water for the Rim country, and was critical of Gila County District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen's motives in dissolving the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District...Tribes, districts silent on A-LP costs Two water districts and both Ute tribes in Southwest Colorado have promised to keep silent publicly about what they know about cost overruns on the Animas-La Plata Project. At the request of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, lawyers for the water districts and tribes signed a nondisclosure agreement Aug. 21. They pledged to keep in confidence the information they share with the bureau as the federal agency prepares a report on the overruns for Interior Secretary Gale Norton... Rancher Wants To Sell Water Rights A rancher in south Routt County wants to sell water rights worth $5 million for use in the Vail Valley and Eagle County, the Steamboat Pilot & Today reports. The water would come from leftover irrigation water from the Yampa River used by the Flattops Water Company for irrigation on the Toponas Ranch. A water attorney for the proponents of the deal said it wasn’t likely to be controversial because the water is already lost to the Yampa Basin. "It allows a rancher to get some money off a second use of water that, right now, is just being wasted," attorney Glenn Porzak said. The sale could involve up to 1,250 acre-feet... Historic water deal approved In a surprise vote Thursday evening, the board of the Imperial Irrigation District approved a monumental water deal for Southern California that sets the stage for the largest sale of farm water to cities in the nation's history. Meeting in a packed room in El Centro, the Imperial board voted 3-2 to approve a pact that, in various forms, has been tensely negotiated for eight years. The pact, known as the Quantification Settlement Agreement (QSA), allows California to keep receiving surplus water from the Colorado River for the next 13 years. In exchange, California must gradually reduce its pumping from the Colorado -- mainly through a sale of Imperial water to San Diego that could net farmers $2 billion over 75 years...Supes vote to oppose wilderness legislation Amador County joined a growing list of nearby counties opposed to the controversial California Wild Heritage Act, voting against the bill in its current form at its meeting Tuesday morning. The vote ran counter to the wishes of nearly 300 petitioners from Amador County. The bill, which was reintroduced in August by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California), would protect 2.5 million acres of California wilderness and would designate 22 California river segments as National Wild and Scenic Rivers... McInnis defends grazing on public lands U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., urged Congress to reject a plan in which Arizona ranchers want to be paid not to graze on federal land. Several Arizona ranchers, meanwhile, said McInnis understated their plight and should give the pilot project a chance. McInnis circulated a "Dear Colleague" letter in Congress that called the pending legislation "the first step toward eliminating grazing on public lands." McInnis wrote his letter anticipating the introduction of a bill by Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz. The bill is expected to call for payments of $175 per animal-unit month to holders of existing grazing leases — bringing relief to drought-stung ranchers and, proponents say, a lighter burden on the national treasury. The bill was expected to be ready in the next week or so, officials from Grijalva's office said... Calling All Cows With growing international apprehension over health and bioterrorism threats—such as mad cow disease, foot-and-mouth disease, and anthrax—being able to quickly track the source of an infectious outbreak in livestock could make the difference between containment and epidemic. Hoping to improve ways of catching disease in time to stop outbreaks, Andresen's team has been developing an electronic device that each cow could wear throughout its life. The equipment could track its location via global-positioning-system (GPS) satellites and monitor the animal's vital signs—all in an electronic form that can be relayed to a farm-based, regional, or even national computer center. The collected data could be used in detailed medical histories of individual animals or as part of a disaster response during a livestock-disease outbreak... Storied South Texas ranch set for birthday celebration Bigger than Rhode Island and swaggering enough to teach Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor how to act Texan, the King Ranch is considered the birthplace of American cattle ranching. Saturday, ranchers from around the world will gather at the South Texas ranch for a 150th birthday celebration, which includes the first live auction since 1988...Texas Bootmaker to the Stars, Leddy, Dies at 66 James Leddy, the renowned Texas bootmaker to the stars of country music and ranchers in the state's flatlands, died earlier this week at the age of 66, his family said on Friday. Leddy, named one of the top makers of cowboy boots in the state by magazine Texas Monthly, was known for turning out custom-made boots in his Abilene shop that boasted delicate inlay patterns, sharp pointed toes and a sturdy construction...Wolf Kill Has Idaho Ranchers Demanding Re-introduced Wolves Be Removed The aftermath of a wolf pack attack that occurred last month north of McCall near Burgdorf has left 55 sheep dead and more than dozen maimed. The attack, which has been confirmed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, has also galvanized groups opposed to the federal government's efforts to re-establish grey wolves in the state... Near trail's end His voice has grown gruff with age, and a pair of hearing aids peek out now from beneath the cowboy hat. But even at 93, Frank Bogert still sits tall in the saddle. "I can still ride and do whatever I feel like," the real-life cowboy and two-time mayor of Palm Springs said in his plain-spoken style. On Saturday, Bogert will once again rise before dawn and set off for Mexico, where he will lead 40 or so friends on a 10-day horse ride through Sierra Madre mountain towns west of Mexico City. It's a 37-year tradition started by Bogert and his longtime friend Ray Corliss. Bogert doesn't plan to ride off into the sunset anytime soon, but he says the end of the trail is near for the annual ride...

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