Saturday, March 19, 2005

NEWS ROUNDUP

Forest service defends actions The U.S. Forest Service defended its actions Friday in a controlled burn that whipped out of control March 11 in the Pawnee National Grasslands. The Weld County Sheriff's Office opened a criminal investigation into the incident Thursday that could lead to arson charges. Weld District Attorney Ken Buck urged the office to open the investigation after receiving numerous complaints from farmers and ranchers in the Pawnee National Grassland area. Forest Service officials said that preliminary results of an administrative review indicate that officials "followed standard procedures" during the prescribed burn. The escaped fire burned approximately 900 acres, including 300 acres of private land. The fire burned 14 utility poles, worth $1,000 each, some fence and a small portion of a windbreak on private land. The fire didn't damage any buildings or cause any injuries....
Kane County ups ante in road feud with feds One month after erecting a series of signs designating off-road vehicle routes on federal land, Kane County is now posting the signs in a Wilderness Study Area. Photographs show the new county signs posted next to Bureau of Land Management signs prohibiting motorized traffic in a study area several miles northeast of Coral Pink Sand Dunes State Park. They signal the most recent attempt by Kane County to assert its control of local roads under the so-called RS 2477 statute. he Civil War-era law granted broad rights of way across public land until it was repealed by Congress in 1976, with existing roads being grandfathered in. Neither Kane County nor BLM officials were available for comment Friday afternoon. But word of the new sign postings drew a swift response from environmentalists....
Ranchers in line of migration say they'll let wolves set tone For the 86 years that three generations of McClarans have run livestock in the lower Imnaha Canyon, they battled drought, wildfire, coyotes and bobcats -- but never wolves. Bounty hunters and ranchers had already driven the predators out of the northeastern corner of Oregon by the time the McClarans arrived. Now, descendants of wolves reintroduced in Idaho by the federal government and managed there by the Nez Perce Tribe are well-established on the east side of Hells Canyon. Young wolves seeking unclaimed territory are expected to swim the Snake River to Oregon at any time. And in Oregon, that likely will lead them to the cows, calves and bulls the McClarans have scattered over more than 75,000 acres of private and federal ground on the Oregon side of Hells Canyon....
Watchers of wolves Lori Schmidt tips her face to the pale morning sky and starts to howl. She's quickly joined by five wolves, members of the resident pack at the International Wolf Center just outside this Boundary Waters town. Ms. Schmidt doesn't do this frequently; she doesn't want to become the woman who cried wolf. But when she does, these five wild canines respond. It makes the hair stand up on your nape to hear their wild song. As curator at the center, Ms. Schmidt raised most of these wolves – two full-grown Arctic males and three Minnesota (Great Plains) wolf pups. "I live with wolves," she says, hauling a frozen beaver carcass out of the freezer....
Column: Tale of a wolf hunt It's a gray, foggy morning in mid-April as the wolf silently pads her way over the pine-covered Montana mountainside. She weighs about a hundred pounds, a little heavier this time of year, but glides effortlessly on feet that appear too big for her body, her back undulating almost indiscernibly as she moves with a single purpose toward a place she will know immediately on sight. With all probability, she is the alpha female of a small pack, a group who, for whatever reasons, is seeking out new territory beyond the relative safety of Yellowstone National Park. In a chance encounter that belies fate, a Montana hunting guide (or an anachronistic rancher, or simply a ruddy-faced, squint-eyed defender of an aberrant, modern-day West) sees the lone female crossing a portion of his land and takes aim with a high-powered and well-scoped rifle, allowing himself to become judge and jury over the worth of the animal's life, not realizing that his knowledge of this, or any wolf, is highly subjective and may be inferior to that of a city-slicker who has actually read up on canis lupus....
Tubac Chamber Gives Resounding ‘Yes’ to Wilderness In a unanimous vote on Wednesday, the members of the Tubac Chamber of Commerce voted to support federal legislation that would permanently protect approximately 85,000 acres in the Tumacacori Highlands as wilderness. The group is the first chamber in the area to support wilderness designation for the Tumacacori Highlands in Southern Arizona. Before a vote was taken, Friends of the Tumacacori Highlands (FOTH), the local group driving the wilderness proposal, presented the Chamber with data supporting the benefits of wilderness to local economies, wildlife and hunting opportunities, and clean air and water. FOTH has been building a coalition of wilderness allies for more than two years using grassroots outreach to local communities, businesses, recreational groups, ranchers, and politicians....
Forest Service facing hard times The U.S. Forest Service may turn to private clubs or nonprofit groups to do things like maintain trails as the agency heads into a period of stagnant or declining budgets, the second in command of the agency told a group of foresters here Friday. "That will require us to find new partners and new revenue streams outside the federal government," Mark Rey, undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, told the Montana Society of American Foresters at the group's annual meeting. Rey said the agency has already partnered with trail clubs and given out millions in matching grants for trail maintenance. He said that while it is possible private corporations could work with the agency on projects, he expected the service would work with clubs or nonprofit groups more often. Rey, a former staff member of the U.S. Senate and timber industry lobbyist, gave the keynote address at the two-day event. He is on a two-state tour. He also met with Gov. Brian Schweitzer's natural resources policy director....
Ag official talks forest policy on visit Mark Rey took a whirlwind tour of Helena Friday, stopping along the way to outline the Bush administration's priorities for some of the country's 155 national forests and grasslands. In interviews after the conference, Rey said that some of the Bush Administration's priorities include trying to get Congress to pass a comprehensive energy bill as well as the president's Clear Skies Initiative. The Bush Administration also is considering urging revisions of the Endangered Species Act and trying to make restoration of public lands after catastrophic fires easier....
Nevada Senators Ask AG to Investigate Yucca Deception Nevada Senators Harry Reid, a Democrat, and John Ensign, a Republican, are jointly calling upon the U.S. Attorney General and the Director of the FBI to investigate falsely documented work at the Yucca Mountain Project (YMP). The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Thursday that for years, some employees working on the licensing of the only U.S. high-level nuclear waste repository have falsified their work and records. In a letter sent Thursday, Reid and Ensign asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and FBI Director Robert Mueller to protect any documents, correspondence or other information associated with the DOE’s work and to initiate an independent investigation....
UVSC professor accused of creating hazard with canoe race he U.S. Attorney's office has charged a Utah Valley State College professor over a canoe race he annually runs on the Green River. The government on Thursday accused Michael Shively of creating a hazard and failure to obtain a special recreation permit, both misdemeanors. A Bureau of Land Management report says hazardous weather during the race last April caused canoes to capsize. Some students or their companions who fell into the water suffered from hypothermia. In addition, the BLM and Emery County had to launch search-and-rescue efforts after some participants paddling along the 62-mile route of the "I'll-Do-Anything-For-A-Few-More-Points Canoe Race" became overdue. UVSC school spokesman Derek Hall said the activity was not school sanctioned and not related to course work....
Limited Water Supplies Force Balance of Interests in US Southwest The Southwestern United States has faced several years of drought, highlighting the region's reliance on limited water supplies. Record rainfall the past winter has relieved the short-term problem. Officials in California and neighboring Nevada must balance the needs of competing interests, all of whom need water. Much of the region is desert, and the scarcity of water has always caused tensions here. The American writer Mark Twain once remarked, "Whisky is for drinking. Water is for fighting over." The West has done its share of both. As cities such as Los Angeles became more heavily populated, new sources of water had to be found outside the city. Officials looked to the north and east, bringing water through aqueducts, and storing it in reservoirs....
State targets money to help clean up livestock pollution The state Board of Water and Natural Resources is shifting millions of dollars into helping South Dakota's livestock industry deal with water pollution. The board recently redesigned one of its finance programs so that local governments pay a lower rate of interest on water project loans. Then the savings can be used to subsidize better environmental practices by farmers and ranchers to safeguard local watersheds or for other watershed restoration work by the borrower. The Legislature also gave its blessing to a new $2.5 million program by the board to assist livestock auction markets in meeting federal clean-water regulations....
Sea levels likely to rise 25cm this century No matter what happens, sea levels and temperatures are going to rise over the next century, according to a pair of reports out of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Global warming will likely cause the sea level to rise by about 25 centimeters, or close to a foot, by 2100, while average temperatures will rise by at least a half degree Celsius, according to Tom Wigley, a researcher at the agency and an author of one of the studies released today. Researcher Gerald Meehl wrote the other. Wigley added that global warming is caused by greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by human activity. Even if humans stopped pouring greenhouse gases into the atmosphere today, sea levels will rise by 11 centimeters (about 4 inches) over the next century at a minimum, the studies predicted....
Shopping for Boots in Calgary People who work at the Alberta Boot Company in downtown Calgary say they don't smell the leather any more, but visitors to this emporium are enveloped by the aroma, rich and plain as roasting coffee. It summons images of stables and campfires, and cowpokes barging through saloon doors: the elements of a classic western film. Alberta Boot has shod movie stars from Kevin Costner to Jackie Chan, but the store and adjoining factory cater to a varied cast. There are 12,000 pairs in stock, assembled from ostrich, python, alligator, kangaroo, lizard, bull and cow hides. In stock cowhide boots start at $180; exotics retail for $400 to $1,400 (at 1.24 Canadian dollars to the United States dollar). The store prides itself on delivering odd sizes and individualized motifs through its custom business. In mid-February, workers were finishing an extra-tall pair with double leather over the instep and heel for a rancher in Saskatchewan. A Montana cowboy was awaiting a pair in black and blond cowhide with teal piping and ornamental teal stitching to match....

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