conservation

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The Trump administration released its infrastructure plan and proposed budget for 2019. One conservation organization believes it will have brutal impacts on national parks.

President Trump and Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke’s, proposed budget requests a 16 percent cut from the Department of Interior’s 2018 budget. It also prioritizes energy and mineral development on public lands, cuts that Zinke calls unnecessary or duplicated programs, and has language detailing requirements for selling off public lands.

Cooper McKim/Wyoming Public Radio

Winds were gusting over 45 miles per hour on an overcast day at the Dunmire Ranch in southeastern Wyoming. Black cows grazed in the distance with wind turbines lined up on the horizon. At the center of ranch, young colts milled around the corral. Gator, a 14-year-old blind and deaf dog, barked, guarding the home of rancher Les Dunmire. 

 

Inside the house, Dunmire put on his dirt-caked cowboy hat and boots, as he told me how he’s owned this ranch for just over 30 years and that this lifestyle goes back generations.

 

Alanna Elder

Standing behind a card table filled with stacks of pamphlets, Joy and Duane Koewn greeted people as they walk into the Forest Service’s open house in Laramie. Their mission was to get people to oppose the Landscape Vegetation Analysis, or LaVA – a project that will enable the U.S. Forest Service to cut, thin, or burn up to 360,000 acres of forest land over 10 to 15 years.

U.S. Forest Service

After a set of meetings this week, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is asking the public to help with the future conservation of cutthroat trout in the Bighorn Basin. The department is not proposing specific projects but instead wants to collaborate with the public on a set of recommendations for the trout’s future restoration efforts.

Sample of Wildlife Conservation Plate via Muley Fantatic Foundation
Muley Fanatic Foundation / Muley Fanatic Foundation

A state legislator wants to help prevent vehicle collisions with wildlife with the help of new wildlife conservation license plates. Representative Stan Blake of Sweetwater County is sponsoring a bill where individuals could purchase the $100 plates to generate new revenue for conservation efforts along big game migration corridors.

WildEarth Guardians Logo
WildEarth Guardians

Conservation groups WildEarth Guardians and the Sierra Club recently filed a complaint with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, OSMRE, over two coal leases approved in 2012.

The groups say Peabody Energy’s North and South Porcupine leases, which expanded the North Antelope Rochelle mine in the Powder River Basin, were improperly approved and that the company should no longer be allowed to mine there. 

This largely nocturnal mouse lives primarily in heavily vegetated, shrub dominated riparian (streamside) habitats and immediately adjacent upland habitats along the foothills of southeastern Wyoming south to Colorado Springs along the eastern edge of the
USFWS

The Center for Biological Diversity and Rocky Mountain Wild, both conservation groups, filed a petition with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to continue protections of the Preble’s Meadow Jumping Mouse under the Endangered Species Act. 

The small mouse is considered threatened and occupies stream-side habitat in the front range of Wyoming and Colorado. 

Jackson Hole's annual SHIFT Festival brings together the outdoor recreation industry and conservationists. This year, the festival is focusing on making the case for how conservation can be good for business. Gov. Matt Mead's Policy Advisor Nephi Cole attended SHIFT to release a new report that he says will guide the state in how to enhance outdoor recreation in Wyoming.

Peter Fitzgerald, Wikimedia

A draft of the Interior Department’s five-year strategic plan has been leaked - it was first obtained by The Nation. The 50-page document draws a road map for how the federal agency intends to prioritize energy dominance.

Western Values Project

A Montana-based environmental watchdog group is hoping to uncover e-mails from energy lobbyists and the Interior Department.

The Western Values Project is concerned coordination between the federal land management agency and representatives from the energy industry resulted in proposed changes to the sage grouse management plans.  

Center for Western Priorities' Scorecard
Center for Western Priorities

The Center for Western Priorities, a Colorado conservation non-profit, has released a scorecard that ranks states based on their policies on public land, outdoor recreation, and energy issues. The group sought to highlight where western states are doing well and where there’s some room for growth.

A male Sage Grouse (also known as the Greater Sage Grouse) in the USA
Pacific Southwest Region U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from Sacramento, US

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced plans to make fundamental changes to a sage grouse conservation plan adopted under the Obama administration. They could make it easier for ranchers and energy companies to move into sagebrush habitat that’s now off limits. 

Cooper McKim

A conservation group has expressed skepticism about a federal grant announced by Ramaco Carbon, LLC, a coal company that intends to build a mine north of Sheridan. Ramaco recently announced a $7 million grant from the Department of Energy to develop low-cost carbon-fiber components made from coal instead of oil.

Elk
Wikimedia Commons

Four conservation groups filed a lawsuit to challenge a Jackson Elk feeding ground. The area is at Alkali Creek in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.

The Wyoming Game and Fish manages feeding grounds as a strategy to bait and concentrate animals for an extended period of time. The goal is to protect the vulnerable animals from harsh conditions and predators.  

The U.S. Forest Service permitted this particular feeding ground for the Jackson Elk. But Sierra Club’s Lloyd Dorsey said these feeding grounds aren’t protection at all. 

Mary Gerty

A set of historic barns outside Jackson and the 27 acres surrounding them have been sold to the Teton Raptor Center. Previously, the Hardeman Barns belonged to the Jackson Hole Land Trust. Laurie Andrews, the trust’s president, said normally her organization doesn’t buy property outright but, back in the 1980s, when a developer wanted to build 70 single family homes there, the community realized the property’s value.

Wikimedia Commons

The United States Department of Agriculture will invest $225 million dollars in conservation projects across the country, including two in northeastern Wyoming that will continue efforts in forest health and enhancing sage-grouse environments.

Seedskadee National Wildlife Refuge

Two land trusts in northwest Wyoming have merged after one of them began to slip into financial instability after expanding its conservation efforts too quickly. The Green River Valley Land Trust holds development rights to 58 easements in the Pinedale area totally over 32,000 acres. The worry was that those development rights would be left without a trust organization if the organization folded, and that could mean those lands might be turned into subdivisions.

Conservation groups Wyoming Wildlife Advocates and Defenders of Wildlife filed a legal challenge Wednesday against a 2014 National Park Service decision to give authority over inholdings in Grand Teton National Park to the state of Wyoming. Inholdings are parcels of land that are located inside the park, but are either state or privately owned.

Tim Preso is the attorney representing the conservation groups. Preso says the park service’s decision reversed 60 years of protections for wildlife within the boundaries of the park.

A militia group occupying a wildlife refuge in Oregon argues that Westerners want to turn federal lands over to states and private interests. But a new poll released Monday shows that’s not the case.

A majority of voters in seven Rocky Mountain states say they oppose state or private control of public lands. Wyoming was more split on the subject with about 54% of respondents in agreement, compared to 87% in Utah, 59% in Colorado and 63% in Arizona.

Green River Recreation Department

It’s been a decade and a half of drought for Western states, many of which depend on the Colorado River for water. That includes Wyoming where the main branch of the Colorado—the Green River—originates in the Wind River Range.

The Upper Colorado River Basin states have decided to try a water conservation program long used in the Lower Basin states that pays water users to let their excess water flow back into the river.

Reactionphoto.com

Two Jackson area institutions have announced that they will merge this fall. The Murie Center and Teton Science Schools are both organizations that aims to educate people about the outdoors to encourage conservation.

Kate Gersh is the Associate Director at The Murie Center. She says since there is so much overlap between the two, a merger just made sense.

USDA

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is putting up 235 million dollars in grants for innovative conservation projects around the country.

The grants will support efforts like improving water and soil quality, wildlife habitat, and farmland. The grant was part of last year’s Farm Bill.

Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resources Trust director Bob Budd says the grants will tackle big issues.

Jeannie Stafford/USFWS & US Energy Dept

A chicken-sized game bird native to western sagebrush has become the subject of the biggest conservation project in U.S. history.

Efforts to keep the greater sage grouse off the endangered species list stretch across 11 states from North Dakota to California. It is a complex balancing act between saving critical ecosystems while at the same time protecting the region’s key industries.

Jose Gonzalez-Latino Outdoors

 

This Thursday, the University of Wyoming Haub School will host a talk by Jose Gonzalez, founder of the national group, “Latinos Outdoors.” Gonzalez says Latinos have a growing passion for conservation issues like climate change and wilderness preservation. But he says, right now, there are still major obstacles to getting Latinos access to the great outdoors.

        

The energy industry can have an impact on politics in Wyoming, but other states as well. In North Dakota political spending is way up, with 17 million spent this year, more than double what was spent in 2010. Inside Energy’s Emily Guerin reports on why the stakes have suddenly gotten so high.

North Dakota has always been a friendly, easy place to vote. It is the only state in the country without voter registration, and precincts are small enough that poll volunteers often recognize people who come through the door.

Two Wyoming children are leading the charge against African elephant poaching. 

The Tooth Fairy Project is an elephant conservation event in Jackson on Saturday and Sunday. Two Jackson children, 11 year old Lily Marvin and 9 year old Alex French are headlining they event after they caught a filmmaker’s attention because of their passion for saving elephants.  The filmmaker is creating a documentary called Elephant Daze about elephant poaching and plans to incorporate the children into the documentary.

Wallpaperslot.com

The Center for Western Priorities has started a new campaign to show political candidates how important land conservation is to voters.

The campaign is called “Winning the West” and includes paid advertisements, a website, and a series of public events across several western states.

Greg Zimmerman is the policy director at the Center. He says the campaign was started after a Colorado College poll showed that voters across the political spectrum voted for candidates who support land conservation.

Researchers at the University of Wyoming have found that energy development is scaring off river otters in the Upper Green River Basin.

Scientists counted the number of otters in several waterways throughout the Upper Green River Basin in western Wyoming. The rivers farther away from energy development had dozens of otters, but the New Fork River had only two.

Report co-author Merav Ben-David says research shows that otters don’t like the noise and commotion associated with development, and she says another concern could be water contamination.

Pathfinder National Wildlife Refuge outside of Casper could see improvements to its Steamboat Lake facilities. BP is funding an initial planning phase that could expand the refuge for both wildlife and the public.

Director of Science at Audubon Rockies, Alison Holloran, says Steamboat could see more reeds and water flora planted in its shallows to create more habitat for birds. Signs and a viewing platform could be installed as well to allow residents close views of Wyoming's nesting and migratory bird populations.

A Wyoming conservation group is celebrating its 35th anniversary this year with a new director.

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