conservation

Holly Copeland

Wyoming has a lot of wind energy but conservation biologists warn Wyomingites need to pay attention to how turbines can be harmful to wildlife. Biologists are figuring out ways to protect wildlife while still producing wind energy. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska spoke with Holly Copeland, the director of science for the Nature Conservancy in Wyoming, on which animals are in danger.

You may not have noticed, but a few months ago the Trump Administration stopped using a century-old law to fine industries when birds are accidentally killed by oil spills, power lines or wind farms.

Caroline Ballard


This month, hundreds of game wardens and conservation officers from around the country and Canada gathered in Cheyenne for the North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association’s annual conference. While serious conversations about poaching, large carnivore attacks, and stress were important, the most anticipated event was the Warden Skills Competitions.

The fate of an important but little-known conservation fund is still uncertain after a vote in the Senate Thursday. The 50-year-old Land, Water and Conservation Fund is a federal program that uses royalties from oil and gas leases to protect forest, water and wildlife areas. Typically, that means buying up land and then setting it aside for conservation.

 


Caroline Ballard

The North American Wildlife Enforcement Officers Association, or NAWEOA , kicked off its annual conference in Cheyenne Monday.

Wyoming Wildlife Federation


It will soon be impossible to get oil and gas leases on 24,000 acres of the Wyoming Range. Conservation non-profit the Trust for Public Land bought out existing leases within the Wyoming Range to maintain the area for wildlife and recreation. It’s the second time the groups have done this in the western part of the state – bringing the total number of retired acres by the trust to 80,000. Chris Deming, a project manager with the Trust for Public Land, who helped lead the way for both acquisitions.

Nathaniel Reed
The Everglades Foundation

Nathaniel Reed, who helped craft the Endangered Species Act and other crucial environmental legislation, passed away Wednesday at age 84. 

U.S. Forest Service

The official nonprofit for Yellowstone National Park has new grant money devoted to a three-year effort to protect the native cutthroat trout population in the park. The National Park Foundation gave Yellowstone Forever a $500,000 grant from the Argyros family.

US Fish and Wildlife Service-Mountain Prairie Region

States in the Colorado River’s upper basin, including Wyoming, are considering ways to start saving any water conserved from efforts like avoiding irrigation in hayfields or watering lawns. It’s a novel idea being considered in the wake of low snow packs this year in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah that have caused Lake Powell to receive less than half its usual flow. That flow is needed to satisfy water allocations promised to states downstream. 

Throughout the Western U.S., water conservation is in the toilet.

And that’s a good thing.

CC0 Public Domain

Several conservation organizations sent a letter to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team (IGBST) saying it hasn’t accurately counted the total number of grizzly deaths for 2017, and the low number could change the number of bears available to hunt this fall.

Map of the NPL project location
Bureau of Land Management

A 3,500-well natural gas project has taken a step forward. The Bureau of Land Management published the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Jonah Energy's Normally Pressured Lance project in western Wyoming. The project would be on located over 140,000 acres.

A lot of people may not have heard of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, or that it’s in jeopardy.

Conservationists from around the country are opposing congressional legislation to allow a four-lane highway through a desert tortoise preserve in fast-growing southwestern Utah.

Tom Koerner, USFWS

Early one spring evening, I meet University of Wyoming Biodiversity Institute’s Zoe Nelson at a rest area between Gillette and Buffalo. Shadows grow long on red bluffs and green sagebrush prairie. It’s that time of night when all the birds are going bonkers. We’re out here as part of a program to get regular folks like me and my husband, Ken—he’s tonight’s driver—to help keep track of short-eared owls. The program is called WAFLS or Western Asio Flammeus Landscape Study.

  

This is about two very different visions of how we should use land in the American West.

On the Great Plains of Montana, conservationists and tribes want to rewind the clock and return wild bison to the shortgrass prairie. But cowboys and ranchers say if that happens, their way of life – their very culture – will disappear.

Jeannie Stafford/USFS via Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

A private landowner-led organization released a report evaluating lessons learned during greater sage-grouse conservation efforts across 11 states between 2010 and 2015.

Mayor Grace Miller, third from left, and the Jackson Town Council, 1921.
Wyoming Tales and Trails.

The National Elk Refuge is commemorating the role of women in American conservation for Women’s History Month with an exhibit at the Jackson Hole & Greater Yellowstone Visitor Center. The temporary exhibit includes a timeline of Jackson Hole women who played a vital role in the area, including Grace Miller, the town's mayor who presided over an all-female town council from 1920 to 1923. 

Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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. 

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