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Whitefish (c466)

Western Chambers of Commerce Petition Gov To Start Outdoor REC Act Economic Study

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Numerous western chambers of commerce and local governments are petitioning the U.S. government to move forward with an Outdoor REC Act economic study.

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New West Daily Roundup for Sept. 6, 2016

Courtesy of KIVI-TV

Today in New West news: $180M general obligation bond for College of Western Idaho (CWI) to be on November 2016 ballot, hops in Bozeman, and “hive-to-plate” in Utah.

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Idaho Doesn’t Deserve Delisting

Last Thursday, the so-called Idaho Sportsman's Day, was a sad day for hunters--and not just in Idaho; all of us, everywhere. But at least young people now understand why and how the wolf was wiped out in the early 1900s. They say we should understand history so we don't repeat our mistakes, but are political hysteria and irrational, factless hatred once again turning the wolf into a four-legged devil in the public consciousness? Under these circumstances, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service should not move forward with delisting the wolf from the protection of the Endangered Species Act, not until Idaho can display some sense of rationality and guarantee we can expect professional, balanced wolf management. Right now, Idaho does not deserve delisting.

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What Happens Next? Outdoor News Predictions for 2007

This time of year you see lots of writers reflecting on what happened during the year just ended, but how hard is it to look into the past and be a visionary? Being a forward-looking sort of guy, I prefer to look ahead and predict what will happen instead of looking back to predict what did happen. As far as wildlife and outdoor issues in the New West, and in particular to the subjects I've covered in my column, I predict the following will be the biggest stories of 2007--and what will or will not happen in the coming year.

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New Year’s Resolutions for Fun Hogs

You've probably heard about people who never do today what they can put off to tomorrow. Well, I've been guilty of that of late. I’ve been putting it off for months, but I finally made myself go back and look at my new year’s resolutions, posted precisely a year ago, to see how I was progressing in my self-improvement efforts. And it seems like a good time to make a few more resolutions that really matter for 2007. First, as promised a year ago, here are last year's New Year's Resolutions for Fun Hogs and my truly honest status report.

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Comments Worth Repeating, 2006

As I'm sure many of you have noticed, has engaged readers who take the time to make excellent comments that frequently add value to stories. This week, I read through the hundreds of comments I've received on my weekly columns this year and picked out some gems worth repeating. The hard part was narrowing down the list of insightful, well-written comments to a manageable size. Even though there are obviously many more comments worth repeating, here, in chronological order, are some of my favorites from a whole year of Wild Bill columns. Enjoy.

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The Most Pro-Wolf State of Them All

Mirror, mirror, on the wall. What is the most pro-wolf state of them all? What state has done more for wolf recovery than any other? What state made it possible to have twice as many wolves than even avid wolf fans expected? What state wants the feds to keep the wolf on the endangered species list for years longer than expected. What state prevented state agencies from unleashing aerial gunners to kill more than half of the wolf population? And most of all, in a wolf lover’s dream-come-true, what state is making it possible for the wolf to expand its range into Colorado, Oregon, Washington and Utah where it will be considered endangered for many years into the future? My answer might surprise you.

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Rocky Mountain Front Not “Saved”

Last week, the old purple Congress did something unusual. They actually worked on Friday. December 8 was the last day of the 109th Congress, so I guess it seemed like they should actually do something. Our political leaders passed a tax extender bill with a load of riders and earmarks on it. One rider banned fossil fuel leasing on public land on the famed Rocky Mountain Front in west central Montana, which is great news for anybody who enjoys outdoor activities on the Front. Immediately after passage, the main ball carrier, Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) had this to say: “We finally got it done,” Baucus proclaimed in an interview with the Associated Press. “We finally protected the Rocky Mountain Front forever. Thirty years from now, our kids and grandchildren will thank us." Yes, Max, I’m sure our grandchildren appreciate what we will not do to the Rocky Mountain Front, but we still have a lot of work to do. We have not saved it forever. Not yet.

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Montana Ski Town Looks Overseas to Fill Labor Pool

Last week, we wrote about whether affordable housing might be possible in a ski town. Towns in Wyoming and Colorado faced with no place affordable for workers to live are trying to fix the problem by developing their own affordable housing, with mixed success. But another problem is plaguing some ski areas: a lack of workers. Without employees, cheap employee housing isn't really an issue. But without employees, neither is running businesses in those communities where employee housing is hard to find. Traditionally when an area or industry sees a crunch in employee pools, that lack of supply increases demand and thus increases pay rates. Employers looking to fill jobs will offer higher salaries to entice workers to work for them.

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Park Fee Media Coverage Sparks Concern Among Agency Reps

Lately, there has been a barrage of news and concern about new and increased fees charged for access to public lands, particularly national parks. I have suggested that high fees contribute to serious declines in national park visitation, but instead of seeing fees as a big factor, the agencies have, it seems, gone the opposite direction by increasing fees, with special note to the introduction of the $80 American the Beautiful Pass for annual access to national parks and other federal lands. Or is the perceived increase actually a decrease? After posting several articles on and receiving many insightful and critical comments from the engaged readers, the National Park Service (NPS) contacted me and invited me to have a conference call with key agency reps to clear up what they view as “misinformation.” I’m always for that, too, so I had a long phone chat earlier today with Jane Moore, fees specialist for the NPS, Ben Simon, an economist for the Department of the Interior (parent agency for the NPS) and Daniel Jorjani, chief of staff for Lynn Scarlett, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, all set up by NPS public affairs specialist, Joan Moody.

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