Friday, November 28, 2014
What's New in the New West
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Land & Water

Report Urges Senate to Look Critically at Water in the West

A report published this week by Western Resource Advocates and the Environmental Defense Fund details the possible effects of climate change on Western water supplies and profiles smart water-use projects. “Of all the implications of a hotter climate, the water implications are the most dramatic or long-term,” Bart Miller, the director of Boulder-based Western Resource Advocate’s water program told Julie Sutor of The Aspen Times. The report, which intends to capture a sense of environmental urgency, was released on Monday to coincide with the Senate’s return to Washington to begin discussions on energy and climate change, according to the report’s co-author, Stacy Tellinghuisen of Western Resource Advocates. “Meeting the water demands of the region’s vibrant cities, burgeoning recreational industry, and agricultural sector—the bedrock of our rural communities—is already a challenge,” begins the report, Protecting the Lifeline of the West: How Climate and Clean Energy Policies Can Safeguard Water. “But scientists project that climate change will make the West both hotter and drier, with longer and more intense droughts—exacerbating today’s challenges.” Read More »

Cleaning Up Boise For The Minnesota Vikings

With the finest of intentions, I spent Sunday morning cleaning up trash in Boise. I would be lying if I said it was for the purpose of keeping the planet and community clean. I did it to generate good karma for the Minnesota Vikings. A Minnesota Vikings fan since my youth, I will remain so until my hair is either gone or gray. The first collection of rubbish I came upon was scattered on the side of the road. It was a hideous mess of crushed and empty Coors cans. Also mixed with the rubbish were several pieces of mail, an empty bottle of Ensure and some plastic bags containing absolutely nothing. Where had this mess come from? There's no evidence to prove this, but I'll bet the trash was left by two people: an idiot, and another idiot. Read More »

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. Read More »

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. Read More »

Flathead Lakers Grapple With Conservation

The fate of the north shore and a warming lake were two issues attendees were greeted with at the Flathead Lakers annual meeting at Flathead Lake Lodge last week. More than150 landowners and conservationists honored one of the Flathead’s key attractions and heard testimony to the importance of its continued preservation. The shallows, wetlands and sloughs found along the north shore of Flathead Lake, between Somers and the Flathead River, provide for a rich ecosystem frequented by more than 200 species of birds. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service maintains a Waterfowl Production Area along 7 miles of shoreline, but speakers at the meeting voiced concern about the surrounding acreage of farmland that remains at risk of encroaching development. Read More »

Countdown 320

I've got dry bags strewn across the house and flies poking out of my carpet. I've got all my shirts and shorts laid out, and I've been spreading out my map of the Clark Fork across the kitchen table every night after dinner. I'm as ready as I'll ever be to put in for the adventure of a lifetime this coming Saturday. On Saturday, June 27th, I'm starting a float of epic proportions-- the Clark Fork 320. I'll be putting in at Racetrack near Butte, Montana, for a 20-day float of the entire length of the Clark Fork River. Read More »

Tom Tidwell is New Forest Service Chief

The new Chief of the U.S. Forest Service will be Tom Tidwell, the Region 1 Forest Supervisor, according to a Missoulian news story by reporter Rob Chaney. In February 2007, the U.S. Forest Service promoted Tidwell to regional forester for the Northern Region, which includes more than 25 million acres of public land in Montana, Idaho and North Dakota. Prior to the promotion, Tidwell had been deputy regional forester in the Pacific Southwest Region. Read More »

New Report Questions Fire Plan Logging

A new report on the effectiveness of thinning forests under the National Fire Plan shows that most logging occurs far from communities, thus questioning their effectiveness. Plus the majority of lands that should be treated lie not on federal lands, but private lands. The report gives new credence to critics such as myself who maintain that most fuel reduction logging operations are wasting tax dollars and causing more harm than good. Read More »

Crews to Dig Up Radioactive Wasp Nests at Hanford

Workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation in Washington this month are going to dig up scores of radioactive wasp nests spread out over six acres, according to Tri-City Herald reporter Annette Cary. The newspaper says the, ahem, sting operation involves some heavy lifting. “There are so many radioactive nests spread over six acres by H Reactor in northern Hanford that six to 12 inches of top soil are being dug up to remove the nests,” Cary reports. Read More »