A large majority of Montanans consider themselves outdoor fanatics and believe the state’s natural resources should be protected, according to the ninth annual Conservation in the West Poll from Colorado College.
Eighty percent of respondents in Montana say they are outdoor enthusiasts – the highest number among the eight western states polled.
Montanans also appear to reject the Interior Department’s energy dominance agenda, with 60 percent preferring to protect clean air, water and wildlife habitats, compared to 30 percent who want to pursue more domestic energy sources.
Congressman Gianforte is trailing along with Senator Daines in proposing to eliminate quite a few Montana wilderness study areas . . .
Montana U.S. Rep. Greg Gianforte has drafted two bills proposing to release almost 690,000 acres (279,000 hectares) of wilderness study areas in Montana.
One of Gianforte’s bills echoes Montana Sen. Steve Daines’ bill introduced in the Senate late last year. It proposes to release 449,500 acres (182,000 hectares) of wilderness study areas all on national forest lands.
The Billings Gazette reports that Gianforte also authored a separate act to release an additional 240,000 acres (97,000 hectares) of Bureau of Land Management wilderness.
Here’s a good, balanced discussion of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) among Montana’s deer and elk population and the influence of Wyoming’s elk feedlots . . .
Last week the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission asked Wyoming to stop feeding elk during the winter on the feeding grounds in the northwest part of that state. There are more than 20 Wyoming feeding grounds, some at the National Elk Refuge near Jackson, the rest in counties south of the refuge.
The commission’s letter was sparked by the discovery this fall of Chronic Wasting Disease in Montana deer just north of the Wyoming border in hunt units south of Bridger. The disease has infected both mule and white-tailed deer. CWD has since been detected in a mule deer buck killed just south of the Canadian border north of Chester. Since CWD is present in Canadian provinces north of us — Alberta and Saskatchewan — it’s probable the disease has been migrating into Montana across both borders, as well as from the east, where CWD was previously confirmed in the Dakotas.
As far as CWD goes, the commission’s letter probably arrives too late. The disease is in Montana, maybe it’s been here for some time, and evidence from other states suggests eradication is unlikely. The feeding grounds are, or will become, CWD hot spots, but eliminating them now won’t do much to slow the inevitable spread of the disease across Montana.
As mentioned here a couple of days ago, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD – think of it as mad cow for the deer family) is starting to show up in Montana. A good argument can be made that Wyoming’s elk feedlots aid the spread of this disease . . .
Montana wildlife officials are asking their Wyoming counterparts to stop feeding elk after chronic wasting disease has appeared in the state.
Jackson Hole News and Guide reports the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission sent a letter last week to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission, saying their elk feeding practices could accelerate the spread of the fatal, contagious disease.
The Montana letter says officials respect how Wyoming handles its affairs, but management of the disease in Montana is affected by what happens in the neighboring state.
Montana and the federal government signed the paperwork to establish a formal federal-state logging and restoration partnership . . .
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock signed an agreement with the U.S. Forest Service on Monday for the state to play a bigger role in forest management on federal lands, which officials say will speed up backlogged logging projects.
Forest management and the declining timber industry have emerged as major issues in this year’s governor’s race, with Weyerhaeuser announcing last month that it would close a Columbia Falls lumber and plywood mill. The closure will put about 100 people out of work in addition to 100 administrative jobs that are being eliminated or moved with Weyerhaeuser’s purchase of Plum Creek Timber.
With the Chessman Reservoir as a backdrop, Bullock, Forest Service Regional Forester Leanne Marten and Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs signed the Good Neighbor Authority agreement, which was authorized under the 2014 federal Farm Bill.
It seems an increasing number of folks in Montana favor public lands . . .
Montanans across the political spectrum think federal public lands benefit the state’s economy and quality of life, according to a new poll released by the University of Montana.
“We found that support for national parks and conservation is about as popular and bipartisan an issue as you can find these days,” UM geography professor Rick Graetz said Wednesday. “There’s agreement in the state, on all sectors of politics.”
The poll of 500 registered voters throughout Montana took place on May 7, 9 and 11 by wireless and landline telephone interviews. It used the bipartisan team of Republican pollster Lori Weigel and Democratic pollster Dave Metz, who have cooperated on numerous other opinion surveys in the Rocky Mountain West. The poll had a margin of error of 4.38 percent.
A wide-ranging wolverine study starts up next winter . . .
Researchers are working on a plan to study wolverines in four Rocky Mountain states to see if the animals that look like small bears with big claws can be reintroduced to some regions to boost their numbers and see how they might travel between mountain ranges.
Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington state are working together because there are so few wolverines and they are spread across a wide area, a researcher with Montana’s wildlife agency said.
“It doesn’t occur that often that four states start to think about managing a species together,” said Bob Inman, carnivore and fur bearer coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Montana gets ready to dish out funding for sage grouse habitat improvement . . .
A Montana panel overseeing a sage grouse conservation plan finalized guidelines on Friday for awarding $10 million in grants to help boost habitat for the imperiled bird.
Meanwhile, state officials have completed evaluating the bulk of 112 projects proposed within prime habitat for the sage grouse, as part of the ongoing implementation of an executive order issued by Gov. Steve Bullock in September.
“I am very happy to report that we are under way,” said Carolyn Sime, a resource program manager for the state’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation.