Nov 28 2014

Will lame duck Congress pass any Montana lands bills?

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Will any of the languishing Montana lands bills get passed by year’s end? . . .

In the lame-duck weeks of December 2010, Sen. Jon Tester tried to get his Forest Jobs and Recreation Act attached to any must-pass legislation likely to make it out of Congress before the end of the year.

The effort failed.

But this December has a much larger slate of Montana-related lands bills looking for a vote, and a Democratic Senate caucus about to lose its majority status in January. That’s got a lot of congressional watchers wondering what last-minute legislation might wind up under President Barack Obama’s Christmas tree.

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Nov 26 2014

Flathead Basin pollution model completed

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

A long-awaited model for nutrient pollution in the Flathead Basin has been released, with mixed results . . .

A long awaited computer model for nutrient pollution in the Flathead Basin is completed. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency contracted with TetraTech to support development of the model, and a draft report on the model was released Nov. 3.

Deficiencies in the model are described in the draft report. While the model reportedly did well in simulating point sources, nonpoint source modeling proved difficult, an issue with political ramifications for the Flathead’s cities and towns, where officials are concerned about spending millions of dollars on treatment plants that will provide small incremental benefits to the watershed.

“There is uncertainty associated with the simulated loading results from many of the nonpoint sources,” the report concludes. “Given the lack of source-specific monitoring data, quantifying the uncertainty is not possible.”

Many nonpoint sources are caused by natural changes in the watershed, and the report states that “additional work outside of this modeling framework would be necessary to quantify the split between natural and anthropogenic (manmade) nonpoint sources.”

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Nov 25 2014

Glacier Park to get new Chief Ranger

Published by under News

Glacier Park is getting a new Chief Ranger . ..

Paul Austin has been named chief ranger for Glacier National Park, the National Park Service announced Nov. 24.

Austin, the current chief ranger at Saguaro National Park in Arizona, will oversee the law enforcement, fire and trails programs, among other duties within the park’s visitor and resource protection division.

He will begin his new duties in mid-December and is replacing Mark Foust, who stepped down in spring to become superintendent at Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah.

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Nov 24 2014

Dead grizzly reported in North Fork

Published by under News

Sounds like someone killed a grizzly bear somewhere up the Moran Creek drainage off Hay creek Road . . .

Montana Game Wardens and U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agents are seeking information on a grizzly bear that was shot and killed recently.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks received an initial report from a hunter on Nov. 12 that the dead bear was in the Hay/Moran Creek area in the North Fork of the Flathead Drainage.

The U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to the conviction of the person responsible for killing this grizzly bear. Anyone with information is encouraged to call the USFWS at 406-761-2286; or 1-800-TIPMONT. Callers may remain anonymous.

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Nov 23 2014

NYT: Climate change threatens to strip the identity of Glacier National Park

This morning’s New York Times has a survey article — with a photo spread — discussing the potential impact of climate change on Glacier National Park specifically and the Northern Rockies in general . . .

What will they call this place once the glaciers are gone?

A century ago, this sweep of mountains on the Canadian border boasted some 150 ice sheets, many of them scores of feet thick, plastered across summits and tucked into rocky fissures high above parabolic valleys. Today, perhaps 25 survive.

In 30 years, there may be none.

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Nov 22 2014

Wolf travels from Northern Rockies to Arizona

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Those rumors about a wolf near the Grand Canyon turn out to be true . . .

A female gray wolf from the Northern Rockies traveled hundreds of miles into northern Arizona, marking the species’ first appearance in the region in more than 70 years and the farthest journey south, wildlife officials confirmed Friday.

A wolf-like animal had been spotted roaming the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and the adjacent national forest since last month. Biologists collected its scat and sent it to a University of Idaho laboratory for testing, verifying what environmentalists had suspected based on its appearance and a radio collar around its neck.

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Nov 21 2014

Reports says sage grouse needs 3-mile buffer from energy projects

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

A recent government report calls for a 3-mile buffer from energy development activities to protect sage grouse. This is not just a drilling restriction, it also applies to other activities such as solar arrays and wind farms . . .

A government report with significant implications for the U.S. energy industry says a struggling bird species needs a 3-mile buffer between its breeding grounds and oil and gas drilling, wind farms and solar projects.

The study comes as the Obama administration weighs new protections for the greater sage grouse. The ground-dwelling, chicken-sized birds range across 11 western states and two Canadian provinces.

A 3-mile buffer for the birds represents a much larger area than the no-occupancy zones where drilling and other activity is prohibited under some state and federal land management plans.

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Nov 21 2014

Forest Service to hold public meetings in early December

Published by under News

A couple of public Forest Service events are coming up the first week in December.

The fall Northern Continental Divide Grizzly Bear Ecosystem (NCDE) Meeting is planned for Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014. The focus of this annual meeting is to share available information from within the NCDE. The meeting is in Missoula. Read the official press release for details.

On December 3 and 4, the Flathead National Forest is hosting two open house sessions in December on the topic of Vegetation Modeling Efforts for Forest Planning. These sessions are a follow-up to the two sessions that occurred last August. The first meeting is at the forest supervisor’s office in Kalispell, the second is at at the Swan Ecosystem Center in Condon. Again, the press release has the details.

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Nov 20 2014

Study estimates 36 wolverines in Glacier Park

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

A recently concluded study found Glacier Park to have the third highest density of Wolverines in North America . . .

Results from a multi-year DNA study of Glacier National Park’s wolverines show a relatively high density compared to other regions where the rare carnivores are known to exist.

Park biologist John Waller, along with about 50 volunteers, set up “hair traps” for wolverines from 2009 to 2012.

The traps consisted of a deer leg from roadkill bolted to a pole. Wire brushes were attached to snag hair from any animal that tried to climb the pole to gnaw on the leg.

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Nov 18 2014

B.C. coal mining pollutants increase in Montana watershed

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

In case anyone wonders why it was so important to oppose resource extraction activities in the transboundary Flathead watershed, just take a look at events in the nearby Elk River drainage . . .

With renewed plans to expand coal-mining operations in southeastern British Columbia’s Elk River drainage, located upstream from one of Montana’s world-class transboundary watersheds, researchers and government agencies are intensifying scrutiny on environmental hazards spanning the border.

The concerns center on increasing amounts of coal waste byproducts leaching into the heavily mined Elk River and its many tributaries, which drain into two bodies of water shared by B.C. and Montana – Lake Koocanusa and the Kootenai River – both of which are showing increased levels of mining contaminants like selenium in the muscle tissue of fish species.

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