Natural Resources & Energy

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Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is requesting public comments on its latest plan that evaluates the status of the state’s most threatened species.

Biologists have been using the State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) that was developed in 2010 to study everything from mollusks to sage grouse. Game and Fish planning coordinator Glenn Pauley said the purpose of these strategies is to preempt endangered species listings by identifying threats and population declines early.

Credit Grizzly bear on Swan Lake Flats, Yellowstone National Park; Jim Peaco

Grizzly bears are expanding the range of their habitat in the Greater Yellowstone area, and scientists are predicting an uptick in the number of conflicts between humans and bears.

Wikimedia Commons

Wyoming's congressional delegation is thrilled with the executive order President Trump signed to unwind President Obama’s climate change initiatives. But some in their party aren’t happy with the effort to roll back America’s role in combating global warming.

Stephanie Joyce

  

Coal country was celebrating this week when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lifted a coal moratorium signed into law by the Obama Administration 14 months ago. But now the question is whether coal companies will even decide to expand their production in states like Wyoming. With the price of natural gas so low, coal has been having a hard time competing. But if and when companies do expand, their first stop is the Bureau of Land Management to submit an application. Right now BLM has 11 applications, but all but one was submitted over ten years ago.

  

The Wyoming legislature passed a bill this session to extend the sunset for that provides a manufacturing machinery sales tax exemption. It turns out this is a big deal for manufacturers. The legislature pushed the sunset on the tax back ten years. The Alliance of Wyoming Manufacturers urged lawmakers to pass the legislation and their chief lobbyist Bob Jensen joins Bob Beck to discuss the importance of the new law. 

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

This week, President Trump lifted a moratorium on new coal leases signed into law 14 months ago by President Obama. But Wyoming's Bureau of Land Management office says, even while that moratorium was in effect, the agency continued to take in lease applications for potential mining projects.

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Two orders were signed Wednesday by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, one of which overturns the Obama administration moratorium on all new coal leases on federal land. 

In a teleconference, Zinke said his agency has not yet decided whether to raise royalty rates, but a federal advisory committee will be re-established to study whether or not Americans get a fair return on natural resources from public land, and will include state, tribal, and other advocacy group members. 

Zachary Wheeler

Wildlife advocates are among those concerned about the presidential executive order to reverse the Clean Power Act and lift a moratorium on new coal leases. The National Wildlife Federation says migrating mule deer and pronghorn are suffering from the effects of energy development and benefited from federal regulations of the industry. 

Tribal Partnerships Director Garrit Voggesser says market forces will likely limit how many coal jobs actually return to Wyoming, but he says dwindling wildlife will hurt the state’s economy.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Four wolverines were detected this year in a study of the species in the northwest corner of the state.

It’s the third year that the Wyoming Game and Fish Department has conducted its survey to count the rare, widely roaming wolverine in the state.

They believe only about five live here currently.

This year, they installed camera traps in Yellowstone National Park, the Bighorn Range and around Cody. Game and Fish Supervisor Zack Walker says, they actually recognized one of the wolverines caught on camera.

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The Clean Power Plan may face some serious changes, as President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week reversing the Obama administration’s commitment to regulate carbon dioxide produced by coal-burning power plants. 

The long-expected executive order is rumored to direct the Environmental Protection Agency to slash regulations of coal-related carbon dioxide emissions by re-writing and re-enacting the plan. From the beginning, industry groups have criticized Obama’s plan for eliminating jobs.

Peter Sokolosky

What, if any, changes would you recommend for the Clean Power Plan?

Clean Power Plan Final Rule

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Wyoming Department of Transportation

  

After heavy snowfall this winter, mountain snowpack is above average around most of Wyoming. Communities near the Bighorn, Wind River, and Gros Ventre mountain ranges have already seen flooding, and with temperatures continuing to rise more flooding could be in store. Wyoming Public Radio’s Caroline Ballard spoke with Diana Herrera, FEMA’s senior flood insurance specialist for Region 8 which encompasses the Rocky Mountain west, about how to prepare for potential flooding.

Willow Belden

Wyoming lawmakers are pushing to repeal an Obama-era rule that would limit methane emissions on federal lands, but they're hitting a snag and this time it's coming from their fellow Republicans.

Mary Rumsey

Moose numbers are down across Wyoming. Now, a woman who lives in what used to be known as moose country is asking Wyoming’s Game and Fish Department to stop hunting near her Wood River home near Meeteetse. A hunter who has been waiting for decades to hunt moose there disagrees and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is caught in the middle.

The Jackson area has been well known for its moose for a long time. When a big bull moose steps out of the willows, tourists are amazed.

A woman exclaims, “Oh my gosh!”

publicdomainpictures.net

In Wyoming’s coal-rich Powder River Basin, the city of Sheridan is exploring how renewable sources of energy might fit into its future. The local government applied for a $44,000 research grant that the Wyoming Business Council approved earlier this month.

Now their proposal will go before the governor’s State Land and Investment Board for final approval. The town’s leaders have been looking into wind, solar, and hydropower development since the 1990s, and a recent economic study found that a lack of renewable development in Sheridan could be a deal-breaker for tech companies.

Dan Hayward

The BLM is asking for input on the proposed removal of wild horses near Rock Springs. What are your thoughts?

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Cody Desorcy

In February, a group of citizen scientists in Jackson trudged out in search of moose and discovered they were much easier to find than most years. The 83 volunteers counted 100 more moose than they did last year during the same “Moose Day” count. That’s good news since the Jackson moose herd has been struggling in recent decades, according to Wyoming Game and Fish wildlife biologist Aly Courtemanch.

Photo by Arundathi Nair

With the fossil fuel industry in a decline, policy makers, industry executives, and environmental activists are faced with some hard questions about Wyoming's energy future. The topic captured the attention of Arundathi Nair, a 9th grader at Laramie High School. She recently won C-Span's StudentCam 2017 competition for her film "Fossil Fuels to Renewables," which promotes seeking solutions through discussion rather than debate.

Nair's film can be viewed here.

 

Public Domain

The Bureau of Land Management is asking for public comment on a proposed removal of wild horses in the Checkerboard area near Rock Springs.

In a press release, the Bureau of Land Management said they expect wild horses in the three herd management areas of the Checkerboard to become overpopulated in 2017, and a removal of more than 1,000 horses may be needed to reach the appropriate population levels.

Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile

Higher than usual ozone levels have been detected this winter in the Upper Green River Basin. The area has seen a number of “Ozone Action Days,” when the amount of ozone in the air is high enough to present a danger to those with respiratory problems, the very old, and very young.

In response, the Sublette County Commissioners will host a public meeting Thursday to address the issue, and representatives from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality will be present to give information and hear from the public.

Max Pixels

The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality has designated March 13 as “Know Your Well Day” in an effort to encourage private water well owners to regularly test their water.

More than 72 percent of Wyomingites depend on groundwater for part or all of their drinking water needs. In Wyoming, there are as many as 900,000 private wells. Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality’s Keith Guille said because there is no state or federal agency that regulates water quality in private wells, it’s important that landowners regularly inspect, maintain, and sample their wells.

Wikimedia Commons - Paul Lenz

In his last days in office, President Obama adopted a ban on lead ammunition for hunting to protect scavengers from lead poisoning. Last week, as one of his first acts in office, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke lifted that ban.

Numerous scientific studies show that eagles, ravens, condors and other scavengers that feed on carcasses killed with lead bullets have a much higher likelihood of lead poisoning. Natural Science curator Charles Preston at the Draper Museum in Cody said that can cause problems with bird reproduction and can even kill them.

Gary Kramer - US Fish & Wildlife Service

Do you agree that Wyoming's gray wolf is ready for delisting from the Endangered Species List?

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K Bacon

Last week, President Trump signed an executive order to begin the process of eliminating a 2015 Clean Water Act rule known as the Waters of the United States that gave extra protections to smaller streams and wetlands.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

 

This week the legislature gave final approval to a bill that will take general fund money away from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and require them to make up the difference through fee increases.

It’s just one of a few issues Director Scott Talbott is finding challenging these days. He sat down with me to explain that it’s critical that the fees do not lead to a net loss. 

JRProbert via Wikimedia Commons

 

  

Dr. Ali Abdullahi  knew that he wanted to work with wildlife when he visited the Masai Mara reserve in his home country of Kenya. He earned a PHd from the University of Wyoming's ecology department, and embarked on an effort to save the hirola - the world's most endangered antelope. Wyoming Public Radio's Alanna Elder spoke with Dr. Ali about his work. 

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Federal protections for the gray wolf in Wyoming were lifted by a federal appeals judge Friday. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has considered the species ready for delisting for years.

The recovery goal for Wyoming’s wolves was 100 animals but, as of last year, there were 380 in the state. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Wyoming Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott said there’s not enough room for that many wolves in the national parks, but as they expand their range, they’re killing more livestock.

www.daveshowalter.com

A new map commissioned by the Western Organization of Resource Councils allows people in Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and Colorado to see how close they live to oil and gas waste water spills and disposal facilities.

CC0 Public Domain, Pixabay

Last week, a Washington D.C. resident was fined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for using his drone to fly over a large herd of elk in hopes of getting up-close photographs. The drone caused the herd to bolt and run about a half mile on the National Elk Refuge near Jackson.

Elk Refuge spokeswoman Lori Iverson said with so much snow this winter, it’s already been a hard year for wildlife and the drone caused the elk extra stress. Iverson said it’s important for drone operators to educate themselves on the policies of any agency where they plan to fly.

Citizens Climate Lobby

A group of conservative thinkers who are concerned about climate change are proposing an approach that they hope will encourage companies to look to reduce carbon pollution. The proposal would also attempt to encourage average people to use cleaner energy. It’s a market based solution called a climate fee and dividend.

It charges a fee on industry for the amount of carbon burned and gives a dividend to consumers to help them pay for rising energy costs associated with the plan, which means the fee would eventually get returned to the companies.

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