Friday, April 16, 2004


New Energy Drilling Proposals Target Montana's Front One of America's most stunning landscapes, Montana's Rocky Mountain Front, faces a new round of natural gas drilling proposals. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced late yesterday that it had initiated the review process [Environmental Impact Statement] required for new drilling permits on several existing leases located on public lands in the Blackleaf area, right in the heart of Montana's Front. "Montanans understand that the Front is a special place, and we've worked together for generations to protect it," said Karl Rappold, a rancher from Dupuyer, Montana. Rappold is a member of the Coalition to Protect the Rocky Mountain Front, an organization of ranchers, hunters, anglers, local business owners, public officials, conservationists, and other Montanans who are working to protect the Front.... U.S. Forest Service to plant over illegal trails Off-road vehicle enthusiasts who have created and enjoyed a spiderweb of trails in the Lindon foothills will soon have to find a new place to ride. The U.S. Forest Service plans to plant over about 13 miles of roads and trails created by motorized vehicles in about 330 acres of National Forest. The project includes planting native grasses and plants where the topsoil has been rubbed off; building fences; and placing large boulders in the former paths to prevent off-roaders from creating the trails again.... Fire control, goat style These fire-prevention specialists can't be blamed for eating on the job. That's because it is their job. San Diego unleashed a small herd of goats on a Tierrasanta hillside yesterday to test their ability to clear brush that can fuel fires.... Trout Protection Data Questioned: Costs But No Benefits Published In a report analyzing the economics of protecting a threatened fish in the Pacific Northwest, the Bush administration this month deleted all references to possible monetary benefits. Instead, in releasing the report on bull trout and their vast habitat in four states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made public only those parts of an analysis that detailed the costs of saving the fish. They were put at $230 million to $300 million over 10 years, adversely affecting hydropower, logging and highway construction. Gone from the published analysis, which was written for the Fish and Wildlife Service by a Missoula, Mont., consulting firm called Bioeconomics Inc., were 55 pages that detailed the benefits of protecting bull trout.... Tortoise on fed's radar The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is threatening penalties against developers for disturbing desert tortoise habitat in Pahrump Valley, Nye County Natural Resources Director Jim Marble said Tuesday, urging the adoption of a countywide habitat conservation plan. Jody Brown, deputy field supervisor for the Wildlife Service, said a meeting has been set up with Marble in Las Vegas Thursday to discuss the plan.... Earth Day Event To Highlight Bush Administration Assault On Environment, Public Health Leaders from national environmental and public health organizations will convene an April 21 Earth Day press conference to inform the American people of the Bush administration's continuing assault on virtually every safeguard that protects America's air, water, public health, wildlife, forests, and public land. Speakers will describe pending regulatory decisions affecting these issues, and their campaigns to convince the Administration to adopt pro-environment alternatives.... Proposed rule would free EPA to determine pesticide safety The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have proposed a new rule eliminating the requirement that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) must always consult with them when determining whether a pesticide is likely to adversely affect endangered species. The newly proposed process would allow the EPA to consult with FWS and NOAA on an as-needed basis, but would not require it to do so with each new pesticide. FWS and NOAA would monitor EPA's performance to ensure it continues to adhere to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and uses the best available science.... Former arsenal becomes wildlife oasis A chunk of the former Rocky Mountain Arsenal, once home to the most contaminated square mile in the nation, opens this weekend as a national wildlife refuge. Rolling prairie where defense workers produced deadly sarin nerve gas, mustard gas and napalm for four decades is now home to more than 300 species, from white pelicans to foxes to bald eagles.... Trespassing charge filed against wolf biologist Criminal trespassing charges have been filed against a federal wolf recovery official and another man who were found with four wolves on a private ranch. The men may have inadvertently landed their helicopter on private land Feb. 14 to place radio tracking collars on four wolves that had been tranquilized, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials have said.... Official: Irrigation season looks better Officials predict there will be enough water stored in upstream reservoirs to supply irrigation farmers served by the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District until the end of August and perhaps into early September. "It looks to me like this year will be better than last year," Jack Garner, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation's Albuquerque area manager, told about 100 people attending a meeting Thursday evening. The topic was the federal government's 2004 reservoir operating plan for the Rio Grande basin. The irrigation season starts each year on March 1.... Anti-grazing group targets Grand Teton An anti-grazing group is challenging a cattle grazing in Grand Teton National Park by arguing that it may not be not legal and creates a risk of infecting cattle with the disease, brucellosis. Western Watersheds Project questioned plans to allow the Porter-Gill family to run about 400 cow-calf pairs in Grand Teton this summer in separate letters, dated April 5, to the National Park Service and the governor. A letter to interim park Superintendent Ralph Tingey asks him to review the legality of issuing the permit.... BLM proposes drilling halt in southwest Wyoming Oil and gas drilling must be stopped on 312,000 acres in southwest Wyoming to protect underground soda ash miners from flooding, cave-ins and other disasters, the government says. After 11 years of work, the Bureau of Land Management has unveiled a proposal designed to resolve conflicts between the two industries by halting area oil and gas development until trona mining is complete.....

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