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New West Daily Roundup for Oct. 16, 2015

Photo courtesy of Denver International Airport

Today’s New West news: Denver International Airport excluded from enterprise-zone, Stanford cautions Vail Enterprises, Albuquerque craft beer is taking off, and The Wyoming Stock Growers Association is grousing about new federal regulations for greater sage grouse.

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Allan Savory: Holistic Management in Grassland Management

cattle herding

For forty years Allan Savory has been promoting the idea that rangelands suffer from too much rest—in fact, Savory claims that if ungrazed by livestock grasslands will become decadent and die. His faith in Holistic Management to stimulate grassland health was examined at a recent conference in Boulder.

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Opportunity Spawned: New Proposal Protects Bull Trout and Water

On January 13th, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) released a new critical habitat designation for bull trout throughout the Northwest, including western Montana. The new draft — offering four-to-six times more protected waters than a previous proposal -- includes 21,694 miles of stream habitat and 533,426 acres of reservoirs and lakes in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon and Nevada. Protecting and restoring bull trout habitat will help this threatened species recover. It will also improve water quality throughout the Northwest, spur investment in watershed restoration, and help support Montana’s $226 million fishing industry. This designation goes a long ways towards achieving those goals. In Montana, the proposal includes 3,094 stream miles and 223,762 acres of lakes and reservoirs. The plan covers federal lands, reservoirs and even currently unoccupied habitat necessary to maintaining migration routes between isolated species. The new draft is seen as an improvement over the last two proposals in 2002 and 2005.

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Oregon Senator Fears Plastic

In a never going to happen, total waste of time innovative idea, an Oregon legislator suggested to ban single-use plastic bags from the state's checkout stands. A man who visited Missoula once said: The Earth didn’t know how to make plastic. Could it be the only reason we are here? Could be the answer to our age old philosophical question of why are we here; plastic! Anyhow, the measure being led by Sen. Mark Hass, D-Beaverton, would still allow paper sacks, but is aimed at getting people to use reusable bags.

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Struggles Continue For Kootenai River Sturgeon

The first time I crossed the path of sturgeon it scared whatever wits I have straight out of me. It happened several years ago while I was boating on Oregon’s Rogue River. The giant creature sprang from the cool water and my heart skipped a few beats. And then the freakish fish swam back to the trenches from which it came. Not all species of sturgeon are rare in Western waters, although news from the federal government this week is white sturgeon in the Kootenai River are facing extinction. Efforts to save North America's largest freshwater fish - they can reach 19 feet in length and weight more than 1,000 pounds - continue as officials hope to stave off extinction by sending more water down the river so the fish can spawn in the wild.

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Wild Homage: Photos of Flathead Valley Travel to Washington, D.C.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a group of conservation photographers is giving the Flathead an ample voice as an exhibit on the values of and threats to the valley heads to Washington, D.C. The International League of Conservation Photographers, along with the National Parks Conservation Association, spent two weeks in the Flathead River Valley in British Columbia and parts of Glacier National Park documenting the animals, plants and landscape. But, along with the beauty, the photographers also attempted to capture the threats the valley could face in the future. “Here’s a million acres that is pretty much the way it always has been. It’s a very unique valley in that respect,” said Will Hammerquist, Glacier program manager for the NPCA.

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Pollution Altering Alpine Lakes

What seem to be pristine alpine lakes high in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park are getting greener, and not in a good way. A report in the current edition of Science finds that those lakes are being swamped with nitrogen from the atmosphere, caused by pollution from cars, factories, feed lots and fertilizer. The nitrogen is essentially fertilizing lakes that aren't used to being fertilized, causing a growth of algae and threatening to harm the fish at the top of the food chain. In addition to our carbon footprint, researchers say, human activity leaves a more subtle nitrogen footprint that is affecting natural systems around the world, even in some of the most remote places.

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Plans Unveiled for First-Ever Forest Service Museum

The U.S. Forest Service has been around for 104 years, said a bevy of speakers who gathered today under blue skies on a stubbled field in Missoula. And as important as the USFS has been all that time, it's never been honored with a museum. "Why is that?" one of the day's dignitaries asked audience members munching sandwiches under a tent. Missoula Mayor John Engen had an answer. "You actually have to let your stuff get old before you can have a museum," he told the crowd, to applause and laughter. It seems the USFS and its stuff are plenty old enough to deserve what they're finally getting: a museum that honors the legacy, hard lessons and achievements of one of the nation's most important agencies. The end result will be the National Museum of Forest Service History (NMFSH), a $12 million, 300,000-square-foot, energy-efficient building in Missoula with a theater, research and meeting rooms, exhibits, education center, a collection of some 40,000 artifacts, and more.

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Wolves Shot, Boycotts Called, Fur Flies

Game officials and wolf hunt fans often say the same thing when it comes to the wolf hunt in Idaho and the upcoming one in Montana. Don't worry, they say. Wolves are fast, nocturnal and darn hard to draw a bead on. The question of just how tough they are to shoot even came up in federal court, where U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy on Monday heard a plea by environmental groups for an injunction to stop the wolf hunt seasons. “Isn’t there evidence ... that with fair-chase hunting, not many wolves will be killed?” Molloy asked. Yes, that's right, as Steven Strack, attorney for the Idaho Fish and Game Commission, explained during the hearing. "There are nine million acres of wilderness areas in Idaho," Strack said. It's hard to even spot a wolf without using a helicopter, traps, baits or motor vehicles like ATVs (which are not legally allowed in the hunts), he noted. The news from Idaho this week seemed to, well, blow a hole in that theory.

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Three Views of the Wolf Wars: A Hunter, Advocate, and Game Official Speak Out

Twenty five miles upriver from St. Maries in the town of Calder, John Walters eats a burger in the cafe. On his table by the window newspapers are opened to pages with wolf pictures. A recent ruling by the Idaho Fish and Game Commission that establishes the latest attempt at a hunting season for gray wolves in Idaho is the top story. Walters, one of the directors of the Idaho Anti-Wolf Coalition, planned to be first in line to buy a hunting tag when they went on sale Monday for $11.25 per resident. He called his attorney a few days before an injunction was filed Aug. 20 by Earthjustice to stop the hunt. Thirteen groups were named in the suit. He asked his attorney whether he could sue Fish and Game for fraud if the heavily advertised wolf hunting season didn't transpire. "He said no, because an injunction hasn't been filed yet to close the season," says Walters, between bites of his burger. Walters has been fighting for years for the right to kill wolves or sue the federal government for what he calls an illegal introduction of wolves into the state. A barrel of a man with long hair going gray, he's a former construction worker who was injured on the job and now collects disability. The Coeur d'Alene, Idaho native moved to the St. Joe Country in 1983 after years of advocating for the Fish and Game department that he is now at odds with. The agency, in Walters' opinion, has turned tail on the hunting public -- people who buy hunting licenses and who expect Fish and Game to manage the herds so hunters can bag bulls and bucks.

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