Boulder, WY – Governor Freudenthal is setting up a task force to respond to the brucellosis cases in a Sublette County cattle herd. One item that will get plenty of attention is the elk of the Greater Yellowstone area that are known brucellosis carriers. Efforts to vaccinate elk have not been too successful. Plus many winter feedgrounds seem to be areas where the disease can spread easily. Joel Bousman is a Sublette County Rancher, whose neighbor owned the brucellosis-infected cattle.
Casper, WY – Do not add State Senator Keith Goodenough to the list of those surprised by the federal government's rejection of Wyoming's wolf plan. Goodenough, a member of the Legislature's Travel, Recreation, and Wildlife Committee, also does not favor fighting the federal government over Wyoming's wording. Goodenough believes they were warned that predator status could be a problem, and now that the plan's been rejected, he thinks the state has no choice but to meet federal demands.
Boise, ID – The US Fish and Wildlife Service says a gray wolf found dead in central Idaho was killed by a poison. The wolf carcass was found in May and testing found the presence of a poison known as Compound 10-80. The agency says the chemical, which is used to kill coyotes, is toxic to wild animals, family pets and humans. The service is offering a $2,500 reward for information on the killing.
Cheyenne, Wy – Wyoming's Revenue picture continues to improve. The states Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says this years revenue picture should improve by another 12 million and next years increase will come close to tripling that. State Economist Jim Robinson says improvements in Natural Gas and Oil Prices are big drivers behind the adjusted forecast. Robinson adds that half the projected revenue is already in the bank, and some members of the group think the state will do much better then they are saying.
Laramie, Wy – The President Elect of the American Medical Association says Wyoming will keep losing doctors if it does not place a 250-thousand dollar cap on non-economic medical malpractice cases. Doctor John Nelson is urging legislators to take the first step in changing the constitution to make the change. Currently Wyoming does not have a cap and trial attorneys argue that a cap is not needed because Juries in the state don't hand out large awards. They also say that premiums are high because of economic factors that have little to do with jury awards.
Jackson, WY – A conference in Jackson this week will examine the culture, environment and economy of the greater Yellowstone area. Chartrure Institute Director Jonathan Schechter says "The Greater Yellowstone Power of Place" conference will hopefully become an annual event. Schechter says the conference is a unique opportunity to delve into the issues from many different angles. He says past conferences have focused on the economy or the environment. Schechter says this one will include the arts, community character, economy and wildlife and environment.
Denver, Co – Four conservation groups today sued the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service. They want the Yellowstone cutthroat trout listed as a threatened or endangered species. Plaintiffs are the Center for Biological Diversity, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Ecology Center, and Pacific Rivers Council. The lawsuit was filed in U-S District Court in Denver. Plaintiffs say the Yellowstone cutthroat trout is beset by non-native trout, habitat degradation, fragmenting of the trout population and disease.
Byron, WY – A number of Byron residents are protesting a decision by Big Horn County School District One Trustees to centralize schools in the district. A petition is aking that Byron be severed from the district and attached to school district number two in Lovell. Several parents have pulled their children from the Byron schools and transferred them to Lovell. The District One board voted four to three last month to build a new high school and middle school complex in Cowley, which is an eight mile drive from Byron.
Rawlins, WY – A bill headed for consideration during next month's legislative session would enable peace officers to have full authority in neighboring jurisdictions. Current law provides no authorization for peace officers outside their jurisdictions unless he or she has been specifically requested by a police chief or sheriff in response to a specific indicent. State Representative George Bagby of Rawlins says the bill has wide support from city officials and police. But he says some legislators have resisted because they fear giving too much authority to police.
Laramie, WY – Calling it a crisis, the Mayor of Laramie says there will need to be some changes in what city programs get funding this year. Mayor Fred Homer says the city is looking at a $900,000 funding shortfall for operations. He says without significant state support, the city will have to trim staff. State Lawmakers say they will provide additional cash this legislative session, but Homer fears it will not be an increase that communities can bank on in the future. City Manager Bonnie Ridley-Kraft denies that Laramie has ever overspent.
Cheyenne, WY – Despite the fact a legislative committee did not endorse new wolf legislation, a co-chairman of that committee believes there will be some movement between the state and federal governments on wolves. Representative Mike Baker notes the agricultural community is having trouble trusting the Wyoming Game and Fish Department won't let wolf numbers get out of control. And while Baker likes having predator status in the plan, he is willing to allow the Game and Fish to manage wolves through hunting licenses.
Cheyenne, WY – Loud explosions were heard and massive flames were seen Monday afternoon at the Frontier Refinery in Cheyenne. Frontier Community Relations Manager Selina Hoflund says there were no injuries due to the incident. She says the fire started in the Coker Unit, where asphalt is made into coke used when refining oil. Holfund was at the refinery when the explosions occurred and says it sounded like a sonic boom or a sound that trains often make near the refinery. According to Hoflund, there are between five and ten people working in that area at any given time.
Cheyenne, Wy – The director of the department of corrections says Wyoming needs one or two new facilities if it wants to bring all of its inmates back to the state. Currently 480 Wyoming prisoners are housed in other states. Bob Lampert says the legislature can choose to build one or two new facilities but it will cost six or seven million dollars more to build two and an extra two million a year to run seperate prisons.
Laramie, Wy – The Forest Service has made a decision on the future of the Medicine Bow National Forest. It requests Congress designate 28 thousand acres of new wilderness, and 28 miles of river as wild and scenic. It also sets aside over 400 thousand acres for possible logging. Forest Supervisor Mary Peterson says that could produce 22 million board feet of timber a year. She says that's enough to support one or two mills and possible more depending on the number of shifts they run.
Laramie, Wy – A joint legislative committee is supporting a bill that turns the Wyoming Territorial Park in Laramie over to the state. State Parks officials say they will manage the historic sites, pay for long needed building improvements and hire additional staff to run the facility. They will also provide a steady income stream. Meanwhile, the Territorial Park Board will still play a role managing some additional facilities at the site and they will also host some local activities.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming is once again going to try and open up the snowmobile case. Jay Jerde of the Attorney Generals office has filed a motion with US District Judge Clarence Brimmer to try and re-open the case and return snowmobile numbers to either previous levels in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, or at least revert to the rules published by the Bush administration in December. State Trails Coordinator Kim Raap says they want Judge Brimmer to rule on a case Wyoming filed in 2000.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming Public Television is asking the legislature to support its request of eight million dollars to go digital. The request was denied by Governor Dave Freudenthal. But Public Television General Manager Dan Schiedel told the Joint Appropriations Committee the money is needed so the state can go digital by 2006, as required by the F-C-C. However, Senator John Hines of Gillette says he's uncomfortable paying such a price tag for a service that does not serve a lot of rural Wyoming without cable.
Billings, MT – A federal magistrate in Montana says challenges to coal-bed methane development plans in Wyoming should be decided in a Wyoming court. U-S Magistrate Richard Anderson says parts of a lawsuit conservation groups filed against the B-L-M will remain in the Billings court, but other claims should be transferred to Wyoming. The groups say the B-L-M should have done a single environmental impact statement on the effects of coal-bed methane drilling in the Powder River Basin. Wyoming Attorney General Pat Crank called Anderson's decision an important victory for Wyoming.
Cheyenne, WY – The Secretary of State is asking for $1 Million to protect the state's bucking horse trademark. A non profit group from Texas wants the sole rights to the logo. Secretary Joe Meyer made his request to the legislature's appropriation's committee. He says the state has walked lightly in this legal fight so far but must now carry a big stick because the situation has escalated. Meyer says they recently met with the state's copyright attorneys and were told there's a risk of prolonged litigation over a number of years.
Boulder, WY – About 260 cattle from a western Wyoming ranch were shipped to slaughter Wednesday, the latest step in federal and state efforts to prevent the spread of brucellosis. Boulder-area rancher Jerry Jensen watched with sadness as the cattle were hauled away in five trucks. He says it was like seeing four generations of the family's ranching business going down the road. All the family's breeding stock, including cows, bulls and two year old heifers, were sent to a packing plant in Nebraska.
Laramie, WY – The legislative committee that drafted Wyoming's wolf plan is apparently preparing to fight for its plan. The committee decided not to drop predator out of Wyoming's law or to manage 15 packs across the state, as suggested by the Fish and Wildlife service when it denied Wyoming's plan this week. After some heavy questioning, Fish and Wildlife official Paul Hoffman admitted their biggest concern over Wyoming's language had to do with the courts. He says this all hinges on what they believe is their ability to defend a rule to de-list wolves, if such a rule goes final.
Cheyenne, WY – The proposal to change the way school districts receive money for teacher salaries suffered a major defeat Thursday. The legislature's education committee opted not to sponsor a bill that would give rural districts more money to help recruit teachers. It came out of a report the state paid University of Wyoming Professor Rob Godby to draft. It drew fire from Teton and Albany counties because it would have cut funding to school districts there. Senator Hank Coe, Education committee Co-chair, says he doesn't know exactly what will become of that proposal now.
WAshington, DC – Yellowstone is on a conservation group's top-ten list again this year of what it considers the nation's "most endangered" national parks. Yellowstone is one of six repeaters on this year's list from the National Parks Conservation Association. The organization says the threats to Yellowstone are lack of money and the killing of bison that wander from the park. Glackier National Park was on the list last year, but not this year.
Laramie, Wy – The Colorado Department of Transportation is looking at some different options for the future of I-25 between Fort Collins and Denver. This could include a rail or bus system, expanding the highways or building a new interstate somewhere else. Project manager Dave Martinez says the public input process will flush out the best option. He does say congestion will only get worse between now and 2012. He says they do want to hear from Wyomingites about what they would like to see happen.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming legislature will be asked to fund a match for a number of University of Wyoming athletic facilities and provide more for day-to-day operations. But a representative is concerned that U-W is spending too much on football. Jackson Representative Pete Jorgenson doubts U-W can be competitive in football, so spending millions to upgrade that budget could be a waste. He says people need to be realistic about Wyoming's football expectations. Jorgenson questions how much money is it worth spending to achieve unreasonable expectations.
Cheyenne, Wy – A state senator thinks Wyoming needs to do a better job educating inmates. During a discussion on community college funding this week, Appropriations Committee member Irene Devin of Laramie stated that Wyoming's graduation rate through its corrections system is terrible when compared to other states. Central Wyoming President Jo Ann MacFarland admits that a better job could be done, but she says they had to curtail some of their offerings when pell grants were no longer available to inmates.
Laramie, Wy – The wolf recovery coordinator for the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service says the decision to reject Wyoming's wolf management plan was not political. Ed Bangs says there were significant biological concerns, especially regarding the dual predator-trophy status. Bangs says his agency has a basic message for Wyoming: The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is very capable with good people working for it and it needs the ability to manage wolves. But, including the predator status would make that an unworkable situation.