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New West Daily Roundup for June 8, 2016

Today in New West news: Skullcandy pairs up with The Berrics, Denver-based LongPoint Minerals LLC raises $525M in capital, Stabilizing Indigenous Language Symposium in Billings, and an update on the Montana Artesian Water Co.

Audio giant Skullcandy Inc., based in Park City, Utah, has announced a new collaboration with The Berrics, a Los Angeles-based skatepark and skateboarding competition organizer. According to Utah Business, the pair are corunning a campaign entitled #SkateWithBuds, where skaters can enter photos of themselves and friends skating to win pairs of Skullcandy’s Ink’d® Wireless Bluetooth earbuds. In addition, the audio company also donated a concert-level sound system to the skatepark. Finally, Skullcandy and The Berrics are also pairing up on a new AM program. From Utah Business:

Skullcandy is also launching their new development program, No Label, with three up-and-coming skateboarders to be announced throughout the month. Through this new program, Skullcandy’s mission is to support previously undiscovered talent who are pursuing their passions. The No Label program will provide support through mentorship from professional athletes, performance training resources, and contest support among other things.

“The partnership with The Berrics and the launch of the No Label program are special to us because it’s part of our heritage,” said Hoby Darling, Skullcandy President and Chief Executive Officer. “From the day Skullcandy was founded, skateboarding and action sports have been an important part of who we are, and we remain invested in that community and in the future of the sport.”

Over in Colorado, according to the Denver Business Journal, Denver-based LongPoint Minerals LLC has raised $525 million in capital, which it will put toward the acquisition of oil and natural gas interests in the United States. The bulk of the funding ($450 million) came from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s CPPIB Credit Investments Inc. For the time being, LongPoint plans to focus on the Mid-Continent Basin (spread across Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas), Permian Basin (western Texas and southeastern New Mexico) and Denver-Julesburg Basin (mainly in eastern Colorado). From the DBJ:

“This is an important partnership for LongPoint. With CPPIB’s strong financial backing along with other institutional investors, we can deploy our differentiated technical model for strategic mineral and royalty acquisitions in the targeted basin areas,” said George Solich, LongPoint president and CEO, in a statement.

“Our multi-year commitment represents an attractive entry into the mineral interest and royalty sector,” said CPPIB executive Adam Vigna. “In owning royalty interests, we are able to participate in production revenues without the burden of associated capital or operating costs.”

LongPoint said that over the last year, it “has been actively acquiring assets in the core areas of the Mid-Continent … and Western Anadarko Basins as well as in the Midland and Delaware Basins.

“As of this date, completed and pending acquisitions give LongPoint a strong initial footprint with over 15,000 net mineral acres producing over 2,000 boe/d with hundreds of future drilling locations,” the company said.

In February, Solich and his FourPoint Energy LLC said it’s buying about 3,500 wells in Oklahoma and Texas from Chesapeake Energy Corp. for $385 million.

Up in Montana, the annual Stabilizing Indigenous Language Symposium took place Monday and Tuesday at the Billings Radisson Hotel, according to the Billings Gazette. The focus? Finding a place for native languages in the public school system. Language immersion, of course, is steadily gaining popularity. However, the focus is generally on teaching children Spanish—not languages like Crow and Mandan. From the Gazette:

[Leslie Harper, who helped create a set of language immersion schools in Minnesota] advocated for an approach similar to the one she helped build on the Ojibwe’s Leech Lake Reservation, where she and other tribal members created a language immersion program within the existing Bureau of Indian Affairs-operated school. The program was featured in a PBS documentary.

“We had to get rid of those ideas of what the American public school system wants us to do,” she said. “It was just kind of reframing our thinking. We had grandmas and grandpas with no formal education training, but they had a lifetime of Ojibwe skills.”

The program began as just kindergarten in 2004 but expanded each year until it became K-6.

Having cultural foundations is just as important as linguistic ones, said Lanny Real Bird, an instructor at Little Big Horn College who’s developed materials for teaching the Crow, Hidatsa and Mandan languages.

“Some of the needs that they have are with their cultural foundations,” he said of existing immersion programs. “Even though some of us might be able to speak Spanish, that doesn’t make me Hispanic.”

Part of that solution is filling more teaching roles with Native Americans, he said. Multiple studies, though not focused on Native Americans, have linked increased achievement for minority students to having a teacher of the same race.

Both Harper and Real Bird added that, if native language immersion doesn’t take off in the public school system more broadly, tribes might have to consider other avenues for teaching tribal languages outside the public system.

Finally, in northern Montana, we previously reported on plans for a water-bottling plant along the Flathead River. Residents and environmentalists have voiced opposition to the plant, saying the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation had failed to factor in how the plant would impact other water users. Indeed, opponents have called on Flathead County commissioners to place a moratorium on commercial water bottling opeartions, according to the Flathead Beacon:

The opposition is centered on Lew Weaver, the owner of Montana Artesian Water Co., who is seeking a water right permit from the state to pump up to 710 acre-feet, or 191.6 million gallons of water annually from an underground aquifer near Egan Slough along the Flathead River.

Weaver’s request, and his goal to produce up to 140,000 water bottles per hour, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at a facility on his farmland, drummed up considerable attention, fueling concerns among neighbors and residents across the valley, and prompting DNRC officials to extend the period for objections.

Of the 85 objections the state agency received, it determined that 39 met the proper criteria and were deemed valid.

Many of those objections came from nearby water users, but the state agency also ruled that objections were valid from the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Flathead Lakers, and others.

John Grassy, a spokesperson for the DNRC, said a hearing to consider the objections is slated for July 7, but given the volume of objectors it will likely be pushed back following a scheduling conference set for June 24.

The crux of the argument from residents, who are all represented by Bozeman attorney Ryan Mattick, is that the DNRC should have employed a higher threshold of scrutiny when it issued its preliminary permit, in part because Mattick says Weaver intends to export the bottled water to out-of-state markets, triggering an elevated evidence threshold under Montana law.

“The DNRC applied the same standard that it would to any other application for a water right permit, but what makes this different is that Montana Artesian Water Co. is going to sell out of state,” Mattick said. “That requires a higher standard that the applicant has to meet, and the DNRC did not use that higher standard.”

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