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New West Daily Roundup for Mar. 16, 2017

Brett French, Billings Gazette

Today in New West news: chasing thunderbird art in Wyoming, Idaho wildlife plan approved, and Secretary Zinke finalizes controversial Utah coal lease.

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Foreman: Conservation Movement Must Return To Roots

As NewWest.Net readers have realized by now, Dave Foreman never pulls punches. He tells it like he sees it, even if it means ruffling the feathers of his activist compatriots. These days, Foreman, the founder of the Rewilding Institute, suggests the mainstream conservation movement is adrift in the ocean without a clear course and the time has arrived to launch a new campaign called "Take Back Conservation." Despite a common perception to the contrary promoted by anti-environmentalists, the modern green movement is a mosaic —not a monolith—of similar and dissimilar interests stitched together in ways that are not always complementary. Foreman warns of "enviro-resourcists" slowly taking over major conservation organizations. In this piece, he argues that modern nature conservationists in the West need to re-embrace the ideals of those who came before and recognize that in refugia like national parks, wilderness areas, and other protected landscapes, resides the last, best hope of safeguarding America's natural heritage.

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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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Former Bush Interior Secretary Takes Job As Attorney For Shell

Gale Norton is back providing oversight of energy development issues on public lands in the American West, this time as a key legal advisor for a major global oil company. Months after she resigned her cabinet post as President Bush's Interior Secretary—and then seemed to disappear from public view—the Coloradan apparently has accepted an offer to serve as counsel for Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

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Saving Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front A Gift To Future Generations

Longtime public school teacher Gene Sentz always taught his students that when someone does you a favor, you say thanks and mean it. Sentz, who is also a sportsman, outfitter and conservationist in Choteau, Montana, has for years led a local grassroots effort with Friends of the Rocky Mountain Front, state and national groups to protect the Rocky Mountain Front in the Big Sky state from oil and natural gas drilling. Following recent action in Congress to safequard this important piece of the West where the stunning views of the Rockies yield to the dramatic roll of the Great Plains, Sentz has written this public thank you as a Christmas card in time for the holiday. President Bush signed the bill protecting the Front Wednesday. Read more here in a story from the Great Falls Tribune. Many neighboring states have closely watched efforts to protect the Front because it represents an important precedent that could reach all the way to the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

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Why I Live in Moscow, Idaho

The title of my first novel is Idaho Code: Where Family Therapy Comes With a Shovel and an Alibi. I began my talk in Amsterdam by asking if anyone in the audience had ever been to Idaho. No hands were raised. I then asked if anyone knew where Idaho was. A few hands -- there were a couple of transplanted New Yorkers in the crowd. I decided that before I read from my book and its sequel, From Hell to Breakfast, I'd try to give a brief description of my adopted home state. I said that it took about twelve hours to drive from the Canadian border in the north to Idaho Falls in the south, and that was if you didn't mind getting a speeding ticket. I pointed out that our state population only recently topped the one million mark. I said that Idaho was a libertarian place; that although it was technically Republican Red, it was wild and open and free. Finally, I told them about a fellow I knew whose grandmother had been eaten by a grizzly bear. That's when they began laughing. They laughed harder when I explained that when I'd expressed my condolences, the man had said, "No, it's okay. That's the way she'd have wanted to go." And that, I believe, captures the true spirit of this state. What are we like? This is what we're like. We're odd and strange and funny and tough. We are real live cowboys.

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Help Wanted: Teton County Planner. Wisdom of Solomon, Must Work Well With Others

There are lots of tough jobs in the West, but one of the toughest is open in Jackson, Wyoming, where they're looking for a new planner for Teton County. Here's the mix: incredible natural beauty; great wealth paying vast sums for a piece of Paradise; housing too expensive for a middle class (teachers, cops, nurses, etc.); huge political pressures to do something (but not too much) about the situation; worker bees commuting in from trailer parks in Riggs or waaaaay down valley in Alpine; conservation easements that preserve scenery but drive up real estate prices and the dynamic tension inherent in "we've got to save this place from ourselves."

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Hooked On Human Food, Grizzly Bear No. 141 Is Put Out Of His Misery

"When the plunger fell on an oversized hypodermic needle Monday," the story begins, "grizzly bear No. 141 took his last breath. The 500-pound bruin had been euthanized, put to sleep like a giant dog. But his march toward death started earlier, when somebody in the West Yellowstone area allowed him his first bite of human food. It's a common story, one that happens all too often." As if writing about a state-sponsored execution, reporter Scott McMillion, a staffer with the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, began this tale about the final moments of a grizzly bear's life—a bear that had become habituated to food in no less a perilous way than a teenager hooked on meth.

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Sierra Club Submits 25,000 Comments Opposing Grizzly Delistment

An attentive bear mascot watches researcher Chuck Jonkel explain the dangers of grizzly de-listment.

The Sierra Club announced Thursday the submission of 25,000 public comments opposing the federal government's plan to take Yellowstone grizzlies off of the Endangered Species list in a press conference at the University of Montana. The Sierra Club’s grizzly project manager Heidi Godwin was joined by bear researchers Chuck Jonkel and Margot Higgins, as well as a furry bear mascot, to explain why it is too early to de-list the bears. The speakers said that while the rise of the Yellowstone grizzly population is promising, more needs to be done to expand habitat and sustain the species.

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Fish and Wildlife Service Line Items Taxpayer Spending On Imperiled Species

As the debate over the success and cost of recovering imperiled species continues to heat up on Capital Hill, the US. Fish and Wildlife Service this week presented a report that offers some insight into how much taxpayers spend on trying to safeguard certain listed species. The estimates are certain to spark even more controversy as some say not nearly enough is being spent to protect plants and animals from extinction while others say that if species can't persist as a result of human intrusion they deserve to wink out.

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