On the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Westerners are commemorating the day, remembering the soldiers who have died since and taking another look at how secure the nation is — and how much money the region has to ensure that security. In Colorado, the Rocky Mountain News focuses on the more than 20 who died on September 11 with Colorado ties, and in Utah, the Deseret News writes about the Utahns who survived the attacks. The Salt Lake Tribune today reports on how the state’s religious communities look at war and terrorism five years later and Jennifer McKee at Lee Newspapers in Montana reports on the number of deployments for Montana Guard soldiers, who are now spending more time abroad. Elsewhere, the focus is on homeland security. The Great Falls Tribune reports on Montana’s $110 billion injection of security money and the questions it begets and the AP reports on Wyoming’s $60 million slice of the pie.
Elsewhere in Western news, the New York Times’ Jim Robbins looks into the fight between Montana and Wyoming over coal-bed methane water — and the irony that for once, ranchers are talking about too much water, because it is the wrong kind.
The West’s fire season is on track to be the worst in decades, reports Gwen Florio in USA Today. And while the acreage is astonishing — nearly 8.7 million already burned — it’s the length of the season, and the unusual late-starts of some of the larger fires, that has most folks concerned. In Montana in particular, the fires haven exceptionally destructive, the Billings Gazette’s Mike Stark reports. Here, the fires have been explosive, to say the least, which has fire ecologists worried about the trend the season seems to be following.
Gov. Jim Risch has authorized the killing of the elk that escaped a private reserve in Idaho — animals that officials say could threaten the genetic purity of wild herds in and around Yellowstone. And as KBCI in Boise reports, the blame abounds in the case, sportsmen pitting themselves against game farmers. Meanwhile, Jesse Harlan Alderman at the Casper Star-Tribune uncovers the history of the owner of the animals, including the state letting him off the hook in 2002.
And finally, in Utah, the Outdoor Industry Association is throwing its weight into the battle over the controversial growth plan for Washington County. The retailers have put themselves in the corner of the conservationists, saying the plan offers to little protection.