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Riparian Refuge Seeks Volunteers

Are you dying to save the environment but not sure where to start? Here is an idea: Stewardship Saturdays! Jim Clapp of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service in Washington is looking for a little help (or a lot of help) to replant three small National Wildlife Refuges on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge - Steigerwald Lake near Washougal, Franz Lake near Skamania, and Pierce between Beacon Rock and North Bonneville. I spoke to Jim Clapp this morning and he assured me these work parties are completely kid friendly. So why not make a family day of it? When I brought my boys to a Pick up the Giff work party last fall, it was fun and environmentally rewarding. Plus, because I’m desert born and raised, it was a chance to apply a parental homily: “When I was a kid we didn’t have Beautiful Forests to play in.” But more apt perhaps is this sentiment: “Someday, when you have kids, I want them to have Beautiful Forests to play in.” Here is the official Press Release...

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Idaho’s White Clouds Wilderness Debate Airing on PBS

The PBS crew in Idaho's White Clouds Wilderness. Photo by Eric Zamora.

The controversy in Idaho over how to manage hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in the White Cloud and Boulder Mountains represents, in many ways, a commentary about the status of the modern wilderness movement in America. This week, journalist Jon Christensen makes his debut as a television field correspondent when he profiles the White Clouds debate on the PBS program NOW scheduled to air Friday night on public TV channels across the country. Read about Christensen's documentary and the New West interview with him.

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Golden Eagle May Set Record

Bridger-Teton National Forest employee Jack Hatch releases the 18.5 pound golden eagle in Buffalo Valley, Wyo. 
Photo by Bryan Bedrosian.

Kelly, Wyo.-based biologists caught an 18.5 pound golden eagle over a month ago. Records show the eagle may be the heaviest golden ever caught in the wild in North America.

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Sportsmen Ask Guv to Reconsider Roadless Petition

Hunters and anglers are adding their voices to the chorus of those asking Gov. John Huntsman to reevaluate his development plans for roadless Utah. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership along with Trout Unlimited released a study showing an indisputable link between successful recreational hunting and fishing and the abundance of “undisturbed” backcountry. Bill Greer, the former director of the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources and TRCP organizer said in a statement, “There’s simply no refuting this data that shows hunting and fishing is better on large, undisturbed tracts of backcountry land,” adding that open space provide “needed cover for migratory game animals.” These wilderness lands provide habitats which according to Greer would be greatly disturbed should off-road activities and development take over Utah’s roadless wilderness. Hunters have experienced great success in Utah’s backcountry in the past, but if Greer’s fears are to be realized and widespread development takes place, many of Utah’s natural wildlife could begin to seek refuge elsewhere.

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Annie Proulx Discusses History and Decline of Wyoming’s Red Desert

Author photo by Karen Cipolla, courtesy of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Hundreds of people braved the snow and below-freezing temperatures last night to hear Annie Proulx deliver a talk in the packed Glenn Miller Ballroom on CU's Boulder campus. Proulx served as this year's Center of the American West Distinguished Lecturer, and shared with the audience an excerpt from a project she's been working on for several years. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning novelist revealed that she hasn't written any fiction for three years. Instead, she has been collaborating with a group of Wyoming scientists and historians to produce a forthcoming book on the state's Red Desert.

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Gov. Huntsman Gives Utah’s Wilderness the Bird

It should come as no surprise that Governor Huntsman plans to submit his proposal for Utah’s Roadless wilderness area to the federal government, just in time (states have until November 13 of this year) to beat out any restraints that would be placed on the state by the reinstatement of the National Forest Roadless Rule. The Roadless Rule, which originated during the Clinton Administration, was put in place to protect millions of acres of America’s wilderness areas, including 8.1 million pristine acres in Utah. The Roadless Rule was abruptly repealed by the Bush Administration in 2005 and replaced with a state petitioning program. Huntsman has always been clear that he prefers a more “balanced” approach when it comes to conserving Utah’s open spaces; which in most cases translates to more “access;” access to both private development and off-road recreation. Balance is one thing, but according to some, Huntsman’s petition for Utah goes too far. Richard Warnick of One Utah writes, “The petition basically says that the State of Utah does not recognize the need to conserve roadless areas (except for designated wilderness).” A letter-writing campaign to stop the petition is already underway.

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Mom and Dad Dodge Red Eagle Fire, Return Home Safe From Babbfest

Babb, Montana is about nine miles from St. Mary, Montana, on the eastern edge of Glacier National Park. Every year the tiny town holds its 'Babbfest,' an outdoor music shindig boasting as much PBR, hemp t-shirts, Indian tacos and gourmet tequila shooters as any 20- or 30-something could possibly desire. Bands play all day long, local wares are sold in booths, and everyone generally has a jolly old time. Babbfesters camp at the festival, which makes sense: this year tickets were $40, and admission meant an all-you-can-drink party that reached its pinnacle of fun around 1 A.M. when the headlining band, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band out of New Orleans, began playing. My parents love Babbfest. I've never been, so I tune in with a keen ear to their stories. They're fond of saying things like 'We were looking to win the award for the oldest people there' when they talk about it. I don't know why; they're fun. Not, you know, mosh pit fun, but they're fun.

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Hiking with a 1-Month Old: Possible, Apparently

Outfitted for hiking.

There's nothing like 100-degree weather to motivate you to head for the hills, even if you have a new baby and you've not yet tested your wilderness parenting skills. On Saturday as our house grew unbearably hot, my husband and I quickly made a plan to escape town and head for the Indian Peaks Wilderness, about an hour's drive away from Boulder. We weren't sure how cooperative the baby would be, but we thought if we could at least leave the house for the hottest part of the afternoon and walk a few paces with her in the woods, we'd feel like we'd accomplished something. To our surprise, the baby comported herself admirably and we were able to complete an easy, almost five-mile round trip from the trailhead to Lake Isabelle.

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Whatever Happened to Wilderness for Wilderness’ Sake?

Designation of big "W" Wilderness is not what it used to be. In the past, large swaths of undeveloped land were designated for their wild and pristine nature — championed first by progressive public land managers (Gila Wilderness in New Mexico) or citizens' groups (Great Bear Wilderness in Montana), and then handed off to influential politicians who brought them to Congress for approval. In many cases that has changed.

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New Big Mountain Master Plan More People-Friendly

Whitefish’s Big Mountain presented its new master plan to the Whitefish City-County Planning Board on April 20th, but decisions on the plan were postponed in order to sort out zoning issues. The new plan, which is intended to make the ski area’s village more people-friendly, includes three new lifts, dispersing development around a downsized village concept, and establishing an enlarged beginner skiing area away from the village.

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