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Columbia Gorge

New West Daily Roundup for Nov. 28, 2016

Courtesy of Johnson Nathan Strohe Architects

Today in New West news: Bozeman leaders discuss planning documents, MSU registers newly discovered bacterium for commercial use, federal dams and Northwest salmon, and Englewood’s new economic incentives program.

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Why Federal Regulators Should Do More To Protect The Sagebrush Sea

It is time to give some love to the vast Sagebrush Sea that dominates the western landscape between the Sierras and the Rockies. For too long, federal conservation policy has favored “scenic” mountains, verdant forests, rushing streams, and procreant wetlands. Even the hotter, drier Sonoran and Mojave deserts enjoy more protection than shrubsteppe. Despite its size, the Sagebrush Sea remains the least known and least conserved landscape in the American West. We need a new federal conservation vision that provides long-term protection for the Sagebrush Sea for the benefit of native flora and fauna and the people who live there. The Obama Administration should use the occasion of the recent listing decision for greater sage-grouse to designate a new system of sagebrush reserves on public land.

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The Muskies of Minaki

Beware of Muskie Fever. It can ruin the life of a perfectly normal fishaholic. And contagious? You betcha. I caught it even before I went anywhere near water where the mighty muskellunge lurks. Then, last year, I finally had my first chance at a muskie, and what an introduction! Six long days and 8,600 casts without a single hook-up. (Click here to read the gory details.) But even such a royal butt kicking can't come close to curing Muskie Fever. Instead of giving up and going back to trout, I couldn't wait to go back for another beating. Catching a muskie was high on my life list, so it had to happen. All I needed was a better time and place, eh?

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Selwyn Lake Lodge: Remote Island Paradise Surrounded by Trophy Fish

I've had all kinds of fishing experiences, and some of them--perhaps too many of them--have been in somewhat primitive, if not brutal, conditions. Roughin' it is okay, I guess. I've done plenty of it, but now, as I get older every year, I've discovered that a little relaxation and indulgence goes just fine with fishing. Which is one reason I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Selwyn Lake Lodge.

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Ena Lake Lodge: Secluded Luxury and Good Fishing, Too

Way up north in northern Saskatchewan on the 60th Parallel within sight of Northwest Territories is a massive body of almost-virgin fishing water called Ena Lake. The owners describe it--and the overall experience--as "unspoiled, uncrowded, and unforgettable." Since I was fortunate enough to spend a few days this year, I know that slogan isn't merely marketing hype. It's more like an understatement. Ena Lake Lodge is the only speck of civilization on the enormous lake and many miles of trackless wilderness in every direction, so you not only get that feeling of remoteness, you know Ena Lake and several other smaller lakes lodge guests can fish have incredibly low fishing pressure.

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Now Anti-Wolf Groups Are Blowing It

No reasonable deed goes unpunished, eh? That must be how wildlife managers or advocates who actually want to resolve the wolf-delisting impasse must feel. On September 23, I posted a commentary with the title, Pro-Wolf Groups Blew It where I criticized the left-leaning plaintiffs in the various lawsuits for pushing too hard, too long, and turning fence setters and most western politicians into the anti-wolf camp and possibly endangering the integrity of the Endangered Species Act. Now, the pendulum has swung to the far right.

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Forest Service Moves to Intimidation to Collect More Entrance Fees

On September 29, I wrote about a historic court decision overturning the Forest Service's (FS) policy of charging an entrance fee to visit or park in the Red Rock High Impact Recreation Area (HIRA) in Arizona's Coconino National Forest. In my commentary, I not only urged the FS to forego appealing the ruling but also to throw in the towel and comply with the court decree and stop charging the fee--and then purge the National Forest System of all 95 HIRAs. I'm one for three.

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Why the Baucus/Tester Wolf Delisting Bill is the Better Choice

The political wrangling over wolves since the latest relisting in August is now in full force. It’s unfortunate that we’ve arrived at a place where the only solution that most Montanans see regarding wolves is political in nature. Looking back over 100 years of wildlife conservation in the state of Montana, political solutions have rarely helped wildlife. In the past, hunter-conservationists struggled mightily to remove political influence from wildlife management, and we were largely successful. The management scenario that was developed, known as the North American Fish and Wildlife Conservation Model, has resulted in the largest rebound in wildlife populations around the globe. This is the model that would be applied to wolves if we could get to a sustainable delisting, and get beyond the pettifogging and the political grandstanding. But for now, we’re at a stalemate. This stalemate has led to congressional efforts to delist wolves:

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NRA Still Getting it Right, Except on Tester

Here's something that isn't news to anybody. The number of guns Americans own has skyrocketed, but how is this significant? An incredible--and later proven unfounded--paranoia swept the country starting back in 2008 when it started to look like a perceived anti-gunner, Barack Obama, might become Commander-in-Chief. The rest of the economy tanked, but thanks to Obama, the gun industry flourished and had its best three-year run ever. Firearms manufacturers worked three shifts per day and still couldn't make enough guns, especially handguns, to meet demand. Not only has the number of handguns owned by private citizens at least doubled, to more than 100 million handguns, about one handgun for every two adults, but sales of long guns and shotguns has also soared. Americans now own at least 250 million guns, more than one per adult, including at least 20 million firearms gun control advocates might call "assault weapons." The number of privately owned firearms continues to go up by at least 4 million per year, and interestingly, many new handgun buyers are women.

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Leading Sportsman Blasts Montana Senators for Derailing Wolf Delisting

The founder of Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW), a multi-state conservation group that has been aggressively pushing for a congressional resolution to the wolf delisting controversy, claims Montana Senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester, both Democrats, are not his allies. Instead, he insists, both the Montana Senators worked behind the scenes to actually derail delisting efforts at the same time they were jointly introducing a bill to delist the wolf. No, I'm not making it up.

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