Monday, January 26, 2004


Fed hiring spree They would fill all the seats at Invesco Field at Mile High, with a few thousand extras left waiting outside. The crowd is 79,464 strong, representing all of the new civilian workers the federal government has added nationally since the end of 2000. Colorado has shared in the three-year boom in the federal work force, adding 1,180 federal workers, mostly on President Bush's watch. That includes new federal security at the state's airports, plus hundreds of new Colorado workers in the departments of Agriculture, Interior and Veterans Affairs. The Department of Agriculture's presence in Colorado grew by 19 percent, or a net gain of 649 workers. Among the additions were 452 new Forest Service positions and 187 in the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. There were smaller gains and losses in other divisions. The Department of Interior added 195 positions in the state. The gains were in the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and Indian Affairs, although other divisions lost Colorado workers. The number of government workers paid at least $130,000 annually has more than tripled - from 6,249 to 21,178....Campers charged for leaving fire unattended U.S. Forest Service officials have charged each of the four campers accused of building a campfire and leaving it unattended during last summer´s fire restrictions. The campers may also be asked to foot the bill for the $500,000 Falconberry fire near Challis....Plan to log Biscuit Fire draws flood of comments A lot of people have something to say about a U.S. Forest Service proposal to log and replant trees in parts of Southern Oregon's Siskiyou Mountains that burned in the Biscuit Fire of 2002. The Siskiyou and Rogue River National Forest received about 23,000 letters, e-mails and faxes by this week's deadline. The flood of comments came in response to the agency's environmental review of several alternatives, including Forest Supervisor Scott Conroy's preferred choice, to log 518 million board feet across about 30,000 acres....Forests file revisions The Lolo, Bitterroot and Flathead national forests would expand the use of intentionally ignited fires and allow more wildfires to burn in wilderness areas, under forest plan revisions proposed Monday. But social and economic concerns would trump ecosystem management in areas where national forests and private lands meet, according to the "proposed action." "The influx of people into the private land and forest interface has created a unique situation regarding fuels hazard and risk of wildfire," forest managers said....Disease Outbreak Intensifies Debate on Feeding of Elk In recent weeks, criticism of the feeding program at the refuge and at 22 other sites where Wyoming conducts feeding programs has intensified because of an outbreak of a bovine disease called brucellosis. Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can spread through a cattle herd, causing cows to abort young spontaneously. It also occurs in elk, and by concentrating the animals, the feedings enhance the mechanism for transmitting the disease, said Dr. Thomas Roffe, a veterinarian and the regional chief of wildlife health for the federal Fish and Wildlife Service. Among groups of elk in the area that do not receive the feedings, brucellosis occurs at a rate of 1 to 4 percent, said Dr. Roffe, whose agency oversees the elk refuge. Rates of infection among the fed animals average nearly 20 percent and rise as high as 50 percent. Primarily, brucellosis is transmitted when animals come in contact with fetuses aborted by the disease. A single fetus can spread the disease to dozens of other elk....Resort owner: Sled ban will cost millions The owner of a resort between Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks told a federal judge Monday that he stands to lose nearly $2.7 million by the end of the decade if snowmobiles are banned from the parks. "The fun and enjoyment of Flagg Ranch is reaching the zero point, at least for me personally," resort owner Bob Walker told U.S. District Judge Clarence Brimmer. Walker was one of several witnesses the state called to testify before Brimmer, who has granted Wyoming's request to reopen a lawsuit filed by the Snowmobile Manufacturers Association....The power of fun The day Peter Metcalf decided to take on the governor of Utah, the lieutenant governor of Utah and, well, most of the population of Utah, he looked at his hands — hard and scarred from years of climbing, the right index finger missing above the joint — and wondered if they were up to poking powerful people in the chest as he plunged into the contentious argument over the future of the state's wild lands. Metcalf, 48, had been instrumental in bringing the twice-yearly Outdoor Retailer trade shows, Utah's largest conventions, to Salt Lake City in 1996. The conventions alone inject $24 million a year into Salt Lake City's hotels and restaurants. That leverage gave Metcalf an idea: "There are many, myself included, who believe it is time to consider pulling these [shows] out of Utah in protest of the message the state has sent the outdoor industry and community," he wrote in the op-ed piece....Bridger-Teton forest to hold lynx meetings The Bridger-Teton National Forest is planning a series of meetings on a proposed plan to protect habitat for Canada lynx in Wyoming and three other states. A draft environmental impact statement issued Jan. 16 detailed possible restrictions on activities in 18 national forests and four units overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Those areas total 50 million acres of federal lands in Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho....Watershed group identifies obstacles in plan Members of the Gila Watershed Partnership identified the key obstacle to accomplishing the goal to their water plan: Litigation. Bill Allred of the Gila Valley Irrigation District said the primary obstacle standing in the way of the plan to protect Graham and Greenlee counties' water supply is the case commonly referred to as the Globe-Equity-59 case. The court case pits the Gila Valley Irrigation District against the San Carlos Apache Irrigation and Drainage District, but includes hundreds of parties that fall under both titles, according to Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) Deputy Counsel Gregg Houtz. The parties stretch from Kearny to Virden, N.M., he said....Kerry lands key environmental endorsement Saturday’s historic endorsement of New Hampshire Democratic primary front-runner John Kerry by a major environmental group was cold comfort to Democratic rival Joe Lieberman, who a month ago was judged just as qualified. League of Conservation Voters President Deb Callahan said the replacement of President George W. Bush is her organization’s top priority and this is the right time to get behind the Democrat best able to win. “We can say with conviction that George W. Bush was never meant to be recycled. The American people need a president who will take bold steps to protect the environment,’’ Callahan said in announcing the group’s endorsement at the New Hampshire Technical Institute. Kerry, a four-term senator from Massachusetts, hugged Callahan and vowed if nominated to make the environment a defining issue against Bush in the fall election....Forest Service: Illegal grazing still occurring in Gila The U.S. Forest Service is preparing to impound cattle that are illegally grazing on two allotments in the Gila National Forest. U.S. District Judge William Johnson ruled last month that the government has the right to remove and impound the cattle. He gave Kit and Sherry Laney 30 days to remove the animals, but Forest Service officials say the cattle are still illegally grazing. Officials say the animals could be impounded as soon as February 7th.... Rancher tries to keep another's cows off acreage A southern Utah rancher is trying to stop a fellow rancher from running cattle on a grazing allotment held by an environmental group inside the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Trevor Stewart, of Kanab, says Kane County rancher Brent Robinson should not be allowed to graze cattle on the Clark Bench allotment, currently held by the Grand Canyon Trust but which Stewart wants. This week, attorneys for Stewart filed a motion with the U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Hearings and Appeals asking that no grazing occur on the allotment until an earlier appeal filed by Stewart has been adjudicated. That appeal, filed last fall, challenges a U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) decision denying Stewart's application for a permit to graze livestock on Clark Bench, a 25,000-acre allotment east of Kanab in the southern portion of the 1.9-million-acre national monument....1,200-page energy bill would change America The national energy policy that President Bush and most congressional Republicans want to enact would bring about major changes in the way the nation uses and protects its coastal areas; air and water; and public lands. The 1,200-page legislation now sitting on the Senate calendar - ready for approval if the president manages to switch a few Senate votes - would have a profound impact on public health; the oil and gas industry; the automobile business; coal mining and nuclear power; and the U.S. economy. It also has sweeping foreign policy implications, as the administration argues that producing more power at home would mean less reliance on foreign sources, namely Middle East nations. The Bush administration also contends that the bill's conservation provisions could lead to more power from rivers and winds, and it might alert Americans to be more aware of how they're wasting energy. But when sweeping claims from both proponents and opponents are set aside, the details of the pending legislation are unknown, even to many members of Congress. The bill's full impact is buried in microscopic legislative modifications of current law and some new ideas that the Republican drafters inserted, at times over the objections of even the White House....Editorial: Pesticide controls to aid salmon now Like a salmon struggling upstream, protection for the Northwest's endangered fish sometimes seems to leap forward, other times to tread water. A federal court order imposing tighter controls on pesticide spraying counts as one of those surges ahead. Credit environmental and fisheries groups for demanding action and a federal judge for a ruling that will protect salmon quickly....Citigroup And RAN Reach Agreement After four years of grassroots mobilization, Rainforest Action Network today declared victory in its campaign to transform the environmental practices of the world's largest financial institution, Citigroup (NYSE: C). The release of "Citigroup New Environmental Initiatives" ( raises the bar for the financial sector in areas related to deforestation and indigenous rights, endangered ecosystems and no-go zones, greenhouse gases and climate destabilization, and clean energy and sustainable development. Rainforest Action Network today also sent letters to ten of the most destructive U.S. banks challenging them to catch up with modern social values and "meet or beat" Citigroup's policies. A first for the financial services sector, Citigroup has agreed to deny financing for commercial logging in tropical rainforests, a significant victory in the worldwide movement to stop deforestation. In another first, Citigroup is now the only private U.S. bank to recognize the need for environmental "no-go zones," areas of high ecological value that are integral to a healthy planet....Cougar reported in Southeast Boise Cougars are becoming a fact of life in Boise. That became apparent early Sunday morning when Idaho Statesman newspaper carriers spotted what they are sure was a cougar in a subdivision off South ParkCenter Boulevard. Idaho Fish and Game has recorded about 30 sightings in Southwest Idaho over the past year, the first year the agency has kept track of cougar reports. The large predators, also called mountain lions, are following deer and elk to lower elevations and that puts them in direct contact with urban life, wildlife officials say....Destruction of elk herd urged Wildlife and agriculture officials are calling for the destruction of a captive elk herd at a Western Slope hunting ranch after an animal died and tested positive for chronic wasting disease last week. "I think both the state Agriculture (Department) and U.S. Department of Agriculture, along with the Colorado Division of Wildlife, are in unanimous agreement that the 200-plus elk on the Motherwell Ranch should be destroyed," said Jim Miller, spokesman for the Colorado Department of Agriculture. But, Miller said, that agreement alone won't get the job done. "For one thing, we have to see how much money the USDA has in its indemnity fund to pay for the herd (if it is to be slaughtered)."....Ranchers fight jets The residents were worried the proposed changes would devalue their land; create increased noise over their ranches; allow for debris from flares and chaffs to land on their property; and create anxiety among their livestock. Roughly 50 area residents, many of them ranchers, showed up to listen to briefings from Cannon and environmental officials. None were more outspoken and opposed to the changes than A.S. Elliott, a rancher who owns about 28,000 acres 18 miles southwest of Fort Sumner. Elliott expressed his concerns over a myriad of issues that have caused him displeasure with Cannon over the years, from the frequency of super sonic booms over his land to Air Force pilots he claims frequently fly below mandated altitudes. Much of his diatribe focused on issues related to an Air Force plane crash on his land in December of 2002....Sheep-killing Azalea cougar caught after two-year hunt For nearly two years, John Cullett chased an elusive cougar that had slowly depleted his small flock of sheep. The cat had picked off nine of his Jacob sheep, a horned breed with black-and-white faces and a spotted body. It hunted at night, coming out of a thick stand of timber into a fenced pasture that originally held nearly two dozen sheep. Cullett had tried to capture the cougar, having friends come over with dogs to track it. They'd pick up the scent and follow it, but never could find the animal. They'd either lose the scent or it would start raining, washing away signs of the cat....NCBA looking for input on mandatory price reporting National Cattlemen's Beef Association is in the final days of collecting responses to a Web survey about Mandatory Price Reporting, before discussion at the group's Annual Convention. The law is set to sunset next fall unless reauthorized. Producer input is needed to help shape the organization's comments during the reauthorization process. The law requires that the prices paid for livestock and the form of each transaction be reported to USDA. The information required under the law added to the information that USDA had been reporting under the previous existing voluntary system. The law was authorized for five years. It is scheduled to expire on October 22, 2004....Mom-and-pop cafes dished it up on Route 66 Well, I just happen to know a few stories to fit this category as I have spent many years on old Route 66. These places of business have kept travelers and the working people well fed through good times and bad. Route 66 was famous for its small "mom-and-pop" roadside cafes. Anyone living close to the road could open an eating place. Just put up a sign and let Mama serve whatever was in season. After the watermelon crop ripened, roadside stands or wagons opened up anywhere vehicles could park....'Wooly Boys' #1 in North Dakota WOOLY BOYS, a comedy-adventure set and filmed in North Dakota, opened this past weekend with the highest grossing per screen average in the state. The film averaged nearly $10,000 per screen which is two to three times higher than most successful theatrical releases. WOOLY BOYS was shown exclusively on five screens in Bismarck, Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, and Minot and herded up record crowds of all ages. Starring Peter Fonda and Kris Kristofferson, WOOLY BOYS is a contemporary family film that tells the comedic and moving story of two cantankerous sheep ranchers, Stoney (Peter Fonda) and Shuck (Kris Kristofferson). Facing ill health, Stoney is tricked by his estranged daughter Kate (Robin Dearden) into traveling from his North Dakota Badlands ranch to Minneapolis where he reconnects with his over-programmed, over-protected teenage grandson Charles (Joe Mazzello)....

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