Jan 28 2015

Oregon wolf population hits threshold for delisting

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Oregon wolves, including the famous wandering wolf OR-7, have reached sufficient numbers to be considered for delisting as an endangered species in Oregon . . .

Wolves in Oregon have hit the threshold for consideration of taking them off the state endangered species list.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife announced Tuesday the latest wolf census confirms at least seven breeding pairs — six in northeastern Oregon and one, led by the famous wanderer OR-7, in the southern Cascades.

The state wolf management plan calls for a status review once there have been four breeding pairs producing pups that survive a year for three years running. That review will be presented to the state Fish and Wildlife Commission when it meets April 24 in Bend. The earliest a decision could be made would be at the commission’s June 5 meeting in Salem.

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Jan 28 2015

Small Landowners Weed Workshop – March 4 & 11

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

If you are a small landowner (5-50 acres) interested in learning about weed control, there’s a series of very usful presentations coming up on March 4 and 11 at the Flathead Community Collage campus. It sounds very useful.

Read the post by our friends at NFNews for details

No responses yet

Jan 28 2015

President wants to expand wilderness in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

President Obama wants to expand the area of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge currently designated as wilderness . . .

President Barack Obama is proposing to designate the vast majority of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as a wilderness area, including its potentially oil-rich coastal plain, drawing an angry response from top state elected officials who see it as a land grab by the federal government…

The designation would set aside an additional nearly 12.3 million acres as wilderness, including the coastal plain near Alaska’s northeast corner, giving it the highest degree of federal protection available to public lands. More than 7 million acres of the refuge currently are managed as wilderness.

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Jan 26 2015

‘Bill Tracker’ lists good and bad Montana environmental bills

The Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC) maintains a “Bill Tracker” on their web site. It lists all the environmental bills, both good and bad, being considered by the Montana legislature. Here’s what they have to say about it: “Use MEIC’s Legislative Bill Tracker tool to stay current with the most recent legislative happenings. You can see where a bill is in the process, read facts about different legislative proposals, and contact legislators about specific pieces of legislation.”

MEIC updates their Bill Tracker every day.

If you are trying to keep an eye on Montana’s legislative shenanigans, visiting the Bill Tracker page should be part of your daily routine. It is so useful, in fact, that we’ve added it to our “Related Links” sidebar. Look for “Bill Tracker Tool (MEIC).”

No responses yet

Jan 25 2015

A response to Senator Daines’ resource development letter

Published by under Commentary,Environmental Issues

Sen. Daines wrote Montanans on December 19, 2014 asking for feedback on “what Congress should do to increase development of traditional and renewable resources in our state while ensuring we remain good stewards of the environment.”  He also sought feedback on what to do about Montana Wilderness Study Areas. Signed by six prominent conservation groups, the following level-headed response was sent to him last Friday. It’s a lengthy letter, but worth the read. (It is also available for download as a PDF.)

LETTER TO SENATOR DAINES ON ENERGY POLICY AND WSAs

January 23, 2015

The Honorable Steve Daines
US Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator Daines:

We the undersigned groups are sending this letter in response to your December 19 letter seeking feedback on “what Congress should do to increase development of traditional and renewable resources in our state while ensuring we remain good stewards of the environment.” While we appreciate your effort to seek Montanans’ input, we were discouraged by the one-sided framing of issues in your letter. Presenting current government policies as outdated, burdensome and placing severe limits on all energy development does not accurately describe the status quo in our view, nor is this extreme characterization likely to bring diverse Montanans together behind the “balanced solutions” your letter seeks.

Indeed, Montanans across the political spectrum value outdoor spaces and public lands that preserve our natural heritage and enhance our recreation economy, while also promoting responsible resource extraction. The debate on energy and public lands in Montana has progressed beyond the either/or choice between fossil fuel extraction or conservation and recreation. A 2014 Conservation in the West poll confirms this shift, a majority of Montana voters believe we need a balanced approach between energy development and conservation on public lands compared to 27% who think public lands energy development should be strictly limited and 20% who think public lands should be generally open to drilling.

Since your letter specifically requested perspectives on possible release of Wilderness Study Areas (WSAs), we wanted to make sure you are also aware of the consistent and broad support in the state for our wildest lands. Montanans are outdoors people who are proud of our protected Wilderness Areas — from the Bob Marshall to the Cabinets, Rattlesnake and Beartooth Plateau. In the June 2014, University of Montana state wide poll, 78% of respondents said permanently protecting some public lands in Montana as Wilderness has been a good thing for the state. While 51% support designating additional lands as Wilderness, that support level jumped to 66% in the poll if those designations are “crafted here in Montana with community input and the support of local groups.”

Continue Reading »

No responses yet

Jan 24 2015

Bills introduced to protect access to public lands and waters

Published by under News

There are a couple of bills in process at the state level to address a growing problem with private individuals gating off public roads and waterways . . .

The Montana Wildlife Federation and the Public Land/Water Access Association say they are promoting two bills to address the growing problem of people blocking off large tracts of public land by gating public rights of way. The bills seek to improve public access to public lands by keeping public roads open.

Dave Chadwick, executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, said the bills have been carefully planned to ensure that they protect both public access to public land and wildlife and private property rights.

“Responsible hunters value private property rights as much as they value public access to wildlife,” Chadwick said. “Our goal is to elevate and protect both of these important Montana values. Our beef is not with landowners — it’s with people who unilaterally decide to close public roads. Law-abiding farmers, ranchers and other property owners should support these bills.”

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Jan 24 2015

Rob Breeding: Hanging by a thread

Published by under Commentary,Environmental Issues

Rob Breeding talks about the importance of wildlife corridors by contrasting the Northern Rockies with the tenuous situation in California . . .

When we visit my hometown of Riverside, Calif., my daughters and I like to get some exercise running Mount Rubidoux, a semi-famous landmark in this part of the world. In the winter, especially when the smogless skies get an extra scrubbing from the Santa Ana winds, Mount Rubidoux offers unobstructed 360-degree views of Southern California’s Inland Empire.

You can’t quite see the Pacific from here, but that’s because the Santa Ana Mountains get in the way. Those mountains are where one of my old grad school profs, Paul Beier of Northern Arizona University, used radio collars to show how mountain lions use even the thinnest thread of connectivity to move between habitat islands created by encroaching suburbia. Even narrow culverts running beneath urban freeways are used by traveling wildlife.

On a clear day as I run I can see dozens of these habitat islands scattered across the Inland Empire. I distract myself from my workout by recreating in my mind the wildlife wonderland this natural landscape must have been before it became prime human habitat. I know there were valley quail everywhere, which is enough to get my attention.

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Jan 24 2015

Bull trout stable in Northwest Montana

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

This is a more extensive report on the bull trout population than the one posted earlier . . .

The bull trout population remains stable in Northwest Montana, according to state biologists who completed their annual inventory of spawning sites.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks recently released the results of its annual survey of the Clark Fork, Flathead and Kootenai drainages, and the data shows that the bull trout population has not experienced any significant changes, Regional Fisheries Manager Mark Deleray said.

“In FWP Region One waters, bull trout redd numbers appear stable in all basins, being very similar to 10-year averages,” Deleray said. “In each basin, this year’s count may be slightly higher or lower than last year’s, but not significantly different than recent years.”

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Jan 17 2015

FWS begins report on Canada lynx

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Here’s a pretty good article on the difficulties faced by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in evaluating the status of the Canada lynx . . .

Jim Zelenak has a long winter workload ahead of him.

He has to count a wildcat few people ever see, one that wanders with all the regularity of the Northern Lights, carrying so much legal and political baggage that it’s only now getting a five-year status review first assigned 15 years ago. Zelenak wants to know all we can know about the Canada lynx.

Last week, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service started its formal five-year status review of the predator many people confuse with the more common bobcat. But lynx are bigger (18-20 pounds), more specialized (large paws ideal for hunting in snow) and considerably rarer than the more adaptable bobcat.

And the agency is looking to the public for any available lynx information, according to spokesman Ryan Moehring. That includes potential threats like habitat loss or disease, conservation actions that have improved lynx survival and observed changes in lynx populations. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 1.

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Jan 17 2015

Feds begin review of Canada lynx threats

Published by under Environmental Issues,News

Although focused primarily on the Canada lynx situation in Maine, this article offers some useful general observations, as well . . .

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is starting a review of federally protected Canada lynx at a time when the largest population of the cats in the Lower 48 appears to be poised for a decline.

The end of clear-cutting in Maine with the Forest Practices Act of 1989 has allowed forests to fill in, taking away some of the habitat preferred by snowshoe hares upon which lynx feed, potentially reducing populations of both species, said Jim Zelenak, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Montana.

Read more . . .

No responses yet

Next »