Natural Resources & Energy

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By USFWS Mountain-Prairie [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Paddling down the Green River, Trout Unlimited project manager Nick Walrath has a fish tale for almost every bend of the Green River below the Fontenelle Dam in southwest Wyoming.

“I drive my wife crazy because I’m like, remember that fish you caught by that big tree?” Walrath says, rowing past the spot where he once made a brown trout “rise” from a patch of grass.

As we crossed into Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge, we spot two young bald eagles perched on the bank, looking past us to the yellow bluffs.

Maggie Mullen

This summer, a University of Wyoming trail building program launched a work crew specifically for veterans in need of a job. The crew is the first of its kind in the country. 

At Curt Gowdy State Park, the Wyoming Veterans Trail Crew was hard at work on a trail called “Cliffhanger”— a narrow singletrack with rocky ledges along the edge of a reservoir. 

Near one of Cliffhanger’s sharp curves stands a twenty-foot tall dead tree. Crew member Mickey Finnell said it needs to be cut down before it falls on the trail.  

Proposed Brook Mine Land
Cooper McKim

A press release from Ramaco, a Kentucky-based coal company, says the Department of Energy has awarded it a $7 million grant.  The grant is geared towards developing a low-cost carbon fiber using coal as the raw material. Carbon fiber is traditionally made with oil.

 

Sam Beebe/Ecotrust / Wikimedia Commons

High mountain snowpack this year means potentially dangerous conditions for rafters, boaters, and kayakers on Wyoming’s lakes and rivers.

Office of Governor Matt Mead

The accounts that fund education saw an unexpected revenue boost, which brought the predicted education shortfall from $400 million down to $250 million, according to Governor Matt Mead.

 

Mead said coal is coming back — along with oil and gas — but he cautioned the state is still running short on funds. He added that means the legislature will have some hard work to do during the 2018 Budget Session, as they consider further budget reductions or alternate revenue through new taxes.

 

Public Domain

A new study shows tourism dollars generated by a single bobcat are greater than if the same animal is killed for its fur pelt.

Because of tighter international laws banning trapping of other spotted cats, the number of bobcats hunted or trapped for their pelts has quadrupled in recent years.

Second to last day of contested-case hearing in front of the Environmental Quality Council
Cooper McKim

Earlier this summer, a permit for the first new coal mine to open in Wyoming in 50 years was on trial before the state’s Environmental Quality Council, or E.Q.C. It took a full seven days of hearings, with three groups against the permit, and two groups in favor, testifying before the council in a windowless room in Cheyenne.  

Now, the council has until August to make their decision.

 

The High Plains wind farm, near McFadden, Wyoming.
Leigh Paterson

The entrance to the community center in Rawlins, Wyoming smells like an old musty, floral perfume. The smell doesn’t match the view: several burly men are lined up to fill out name tags and sign in. Younger men mill around, waiting on their fathers and grandfathers. A few women dot the crowd.

About 100 people have shown up to hear about free training to be a wind turbine technician.

Stephanie Joyce

Newly minted Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke just took a massive step towards streamlining the permitting process for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Wyoming lawmakers love the move, but Democrats fear it’s a dangerous first step down a slippery slope.   

Melodie Edwards

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, giving the state the most lenient local food regulations in the country. It allows Wyoming farmers to sell things other states can’t, like raw milk, eggs and poultry direct to consumers. But many Wyoming food producers say, there’s still one road block: beef. The issue is that federal regulations make it hard to market Wyoming branded beef outside the state where all the customers are.

Melodie Edwards / Wyoming Public Radio

The Washakie Museum and Cultural Center in Worland is hosting a symposium exploring some of the big questions in Wyoming's paleontology and archaeology right now.

Public Lands in Wyoming
Bob Wick, BLM / Bureau of Land Management

Environmental groups filed a brief in federal court last Friday to halt oil and gas leasing on select public lands in Wyoming. They say development on that public land should stop there until the amount of greenhouse gases and their effect on the climate are fully understood.   

Colorado River Water Users Association

The Walton Family Foundation has announced a plan to give out $35 million to help protect the Colorado and Mississippi Rivers. $20 million of that will go to restoration of the Colorado River, part of which originates in the Upper Green River Basin of Wyoming.

The foundation's Colorado River director Ted Kowalski said organizations like Trout Unlimited, American Rivers and the Nature Conservancy will be able to receive grants for projects to help save the river.

National Digital Library of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service

A coalition of conservation groups announced Friday, June 30, they intend to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) unless it decides to ban trophy hunting of grizzly bears.

USFWS delisted Yellowstone-area bears last month with the support of members of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, who said that the population is recovered and ready for state management.

CC0 Public Domain

  

The Environmental Protection Agency has proposed a repeal of an Obama-era regulation putting more wetlands and waterways under the protection of the Clean Water Act. The regulation is called Water of the United States, or WOTUS.

Supporters say the bill helps consolidate the authority of interstate and navigable waters. Opponents say it encroaches on state authority. Farmers and developers worry the rule would be a headache to follow, because they often have bodies of water on their own land.

Rocky Mountain Power is investing $3.5 billion in expanding its wind energy portfolio. They’re looking for approval from three states including Wyoming to begin the project. 

The power company hopes to build new turbines along a 140-mile segment between Idaho and Wyoming. They also plan to make existing turbines more efficient, installing longer blades as well as new cells. Cells are the compartments that hold the blades together and generate electricity. 

USGS Photo - Frank VanManen

What do you think about the delisting of the Yellowstone Grizzly Bear?

For more information, visit the Department of Interior site.

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

By contributing your comment, you consent to the possibility of having it read on the air.

Part of the land where the proposed Brook Mine may be dug
Cooper McKim

On a clear, sunny day, Jeff Barron drives over a copper-colored hill in the Powder River Basin near Sheridan. He parks, hops out of his car and walks to the edge of a large open field. Cows are grazing in the distance.

 

He says a new coal operation would start right here.

 

"It will mine out coal some 2,000 feet that way and 2,000 feet that way,” Barron says.

 

courtesy of Randy Haas

A summer hike up to a 13,000-foot alpine meadow can be exhilarating. But what if you decided to stay up there for the rest of your life? The lack of oxygen, frigid temperatures, and sparse vegetation would make it tough. Archaeologists know hunter-gatherers traversed highland areas thousands of years ago, but presumed they also had to spend time in lowland areas in order to survive.

That idea is now being challenged by a team of researchers at the University of Wyoming who have made a rare discovery.

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie (Mule Deer on Winter Range in SW Wyoming) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

A Wyoming researcher recently discovered that mule deer continue to avoid areas developed by oil and gas companies, after more than fifteen years.

Biologist Hall Sawyer has been studying a herd near Pinedale since 2000, just as more oil and gas wells were starting to appear on the landscape. Because the deer have steered clear of development, Sawyer says they have had a smaller winter range. The herd’s population started declining in just two years, and by now it has shrunk by 40%.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF INTERIOR

Wyoming legislators killed a proposal June 29 that could have given a tax break to the state’s uranium industry. The vote wasn’t close.

Eleven of 12 present lawmakers voted no to a tax break during a meeting by the Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Interim Committee.

The Wyoming Mining Association was hoping to secure a tax break for uranium companies. The industry has been struggling, seeing layoffs and an 85 percent price drop since 2007.

the Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team Blue

After a hefty dose of moisture this winter and spring, it may seem odd to worry about fires over the July 4th holiday. But Wyoming State Forester Bill Crapser warns more water means taller grasses that dry out as the summer wears on.

“We’re starting to see things dry out around the state,” he said. “In fact, for today and tomorrow, the south central part of Wyoming is in high fire danger. So in our state with the way the wind blows and with the warm days, it only takes a few days to start drying the fine fuels out.”

POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL

The Powder River Basin Resource Council is taking issue with a proposed tax break to the uranium industry. Industry representatives say the cuts are necessary to help boost production and pricing. Opponents say the strategy has been tried twice without success.

In a report, the Wyoming Mining Association wrote the industry is facing near historically low prices and has had to lay off employees. Prices have dropped about 85% since 2007. 

Photograph obtained by Wyoming Untrapped
Provided by Wyoming Untrapped

The Game and Fish Department continues to search for a grizzly bear with a steel trap caught on its right foot. Someone photographed the bear walking near the Bridger-Teton Forest on May 31. 

The day after the blurry photograph was taken, someone alerted the Game and Fish Department of the injured bear. Dan Thompson, large carnivore section supervisor at the Department, said they quickly jumped into action. 

"Since then, we’ve been monitoring on a daily base both on the ground and with some flights . . . I flew over the area directly last week,” Thompson said. 

Department of Interior Logo
U.S. Department of Interior

Grizzly bears in the greater Yellowstone National Park have been removed from the endangered species list. The bear has been considered endangered since 1975 when there were only 150 of them remaining. Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke said, with a population now close to 700 in the area, the species has been sufficiently recovered. Governor Matt Mead agreed saying it's been true since 2003. 

The decision will put management into the hands of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and local tribes in about a month. 

Bright Agrotech; https://pixabay.com/en/vertical-farm-green-wall-bok-choy-916337/

Seven years after getting its start in a storage unit in Laramie, the company Bright Agrotech is merging with a San Francisco firm.

Bright’s founders developed a technology that allows people to grow food vertically, on indoor towers or exterior walls. Their hydroponic systems nourish plants using nutrient solutions instead of soil. They provide education and equipment to farmers around the world who are interested in this kind of production.

The High Plains wind farm, near McFadden, Wyoming.
Leigh Paterson

One of the world’s largest wind turbine manufacturers is hosting meetings in Wyoming next month to encourage people to join its free wind turbine technician training.

Goldwind is a Chinese company with an interest in expanding U.S. wind operations. It made an agreement late last year to provide and maintain wind turbines for a Viridis Eolia Corp., which is constructing a wind farm near Medicine Bow, Wyo. 

Now, Goldwind hopes to train locals to become wind turbine technicians.

Aaron Schrank

A funding crisis brought on by a downturn in the coal industry has left policy makers struggling to figure out how to fund education. This year school districts took a hit of $34 million to their operating budgets.

 

That’s primarily money for teachers and staff, as well as materials and supplies. But the funding for school construction and maintenance is also running out.

 

USPS

On August 21, a solar eclipse will be visible across a huge swath of Wyoming and across the country. To mark the occasion, a new stamp was dedicated by the United States Postal Service at the University of Wyoming Art Museum Tuesday.

People from around the state and around the country came for the dedication, including Denise Delgado, a postmaster at the Glendo post office, who said she first became interested in the eclipse a few years ago.

CREDIT PITCHENGINE COMMUNITIES / COUNTY10.COM

  

For years now, Fremont County in central Wyoming has been swamped with high waters that have damaged homes and highways. In 2011, the National Guard was even called in to help. But this year was different, even though rivers rose higher than ever before. 

Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards sat down with Fremont County Emergency Management Coordinator Kathi Metzler and Information Officer Tammy Shrower to find out what everybody did right this time.

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