Natural Resources & Energy

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This time of year the number of vehicle collisions with deer and other wildlife are at their highest, a problem that’s especially acute in parts of the Mountain West.

On Tuesday, officials in Nevada held a summit to discuss how the state can address an issue that each year results in more than 500 reported crashes, costs taxpayers more than $19 million, and kills an estimated 5,000 wild animals, according to the Nevada Department of Transportation.

Tribal representatives in Montana are leaving the state’s new Missing Indigenous Persons Task Force in protest of Attorney General Tim Fox’s support of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

NPS

An Interior Department committee is recommending that the National Park Service privatize campgrounds in national parks and offer services such as WI-FI and food trucks.

Researchers out of Colorado are hoping to map the entire earth with a new type of laser technology, and climate change is driving the effort. 

Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Forest Service has released the draft environmental impact statement for amending the Thunder Basin National Grassland's management plan.

Chronic wasting disease is continuing to pop up in deer and elk populations around the Mountain West. But researchers have found one way to help prevent hunters from further spreading the neurodegenerative disease: household bleach.

Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Elk that have depended on supplemental feed from the Alkali Creek feedground in northwest Wyoming will have to start looking elsewhere. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department is starting a five-year phase-out plan.

A map of all federally owned land in the United States (from 2005)
U.S. Bureau of Land Management

Judge Scott Skavdahl for the United States District Court, District of Wyoming has placed an injunction on part of the Obama-era valuation rule. That rule was intended to update how royalties are calculated from energy production on federal and native land with the goal of giving a fair price to taxpayers.

Eagle Butte mine post-bankrutpcy
Cooper McKim

Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) can't close on its deal to own and operate two Wyoming mines just yet. The affiliate of Ohio-based FM Coal hit a snag in its attempts to replace surety bonds for the mines; an agreement that guarantees clean-up costs.

A radical environmental movement that originated in the UK is now going international, with several chapters in the Mountain West. 

President Donald Trump intends to nominate a long-time Republican Hill staffer to help lead the nation’s largest land management agency.

Judge Frank Volk approving the closure of Blackjewel's sale of western assets to Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC
Prime Clerk

Prior to bankruptcy, the federal government was investigating Blackjewel, LLC for possible fraud. The U.S Attorney's Office was concerned the coal company may use a reorganization to get out of debts owed to the government. In other words, that it was violating the False Claims Act. Court filings show Blackjewel owes several federal agencies upwards of $50 million.

Buffalo Bill Center Of The West

What will the future forests of Yellowstone National Park look like? That's what Dr. Monica Turner of the University of Wisconsin-Madison is trying to figure out by creating models for possible ways the Yellowstone ecosystem could react to hotter and dryer weather. Dr. Turner was awarded the Camp Monaco Prize to do just that and then use those scenarios to create pictures of potential future landscape. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska asked Dr. Turner how the model can project the future landscape of Yellowstone.

Colorado and Oregon researchers writing this week in the journal Science say there's an urgent need to reevaluate wildfire management practices, calling for more “collaborative governance” and more prescribed fire.

“Science tells us these are fire-adapted ecosystems and we have to get fire back on the ground, and that’s a key strategy for mitigating future fire and also for the long-term resilience of those ecosystems,” said Courtney Schultz, professor of natural resource policy and governance at Colorado State University.

The Bureau of Land Management is moving more staff and—perhaps most significantly—its headquarters to the Mountain West.

Depending on who you ask, relocating the BLM’s headquarters from Washington, D.C. to Grand Junction, Colorado will make the agency more efficient, give preferential treatment to the fossil fuel industry—or even functionally dismantle it.

Flickr

 

Visitors to Wyoming's National Parks could run into the First Lady during their trips this week.

Pacificorp

In December of last year, Pacificorp released a presentation that shook several Wyoming cities and their state leaders. It was the first hint of the utility's 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and it included the early closure of many coal plants including three in Wyoming.

As the Bureau of Land Management pilots a new livestock grazing initiative on public lands in six Western states, a conservation group is suing to get the agency to release more information about the program.

Cloud Peak's Gillette-based Cordero Rojo mine.
Cloud Peak Energy

On October 2, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware approved the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, LLC (NTEC) to purchase Cloud Peak's assets including the Antelope and Cordero Rojo mines in the Powder River Basin. It comes a month and a half after the Navajo Nation-company won in the initial auction.

Coal mines north and east of Gillette Campbell County Airport, including the Eagle Butte Mine
Public Domain

Judge Frank Volk for the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia has approved Eagle Specialty Materials, LLC (ESM) as the buyer of Blackjewel's western assets including the Belle Ayr and Eagle Butte mines. ESM is an affiliate specifically formed by Ohio-based FM Coal to purchase the assets.

wgfd.wyo.gov

As hunting season begins, Wyoming Game and Fish (WGF) officials encourage hunters to have their animals tested for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). CWD is a deadly brain disease that effects deer, elk and moose. It's almost impossible to spot, and spreads easily between animals. The Centers for Disease Control recommends against eating meat from an infected animal.

Steamboat Springs, like many of Colorado's high country resort communities, is grappling with how it wants to grow.

The city itself has more than doubled in population since 1990. Seasonal tourist booms formerly contained to summer and winter have bled over into spring and fall. With its increasingly sought after outdoor amenities, like hot springs, camping, hiking, mountain biking and skiing, the town swells with visitors most weekends out of the year.

Bureau of Land Management

The Natural Resource Conservation Service, which is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is asking for grant proposals that aim to open up access to private land.

Grand Teton National Park

David Vela, the former superintendent of Grand Teton National Park, is now the acting director of the National Park Service.

Campbell County Commission Meeting
Campbell County

Three months since Blackjewel LLC filed for bankruptcy, a new company is set to close a deal this week and take over the Eagle Butte and Belle Ayr mines. At a Campbell County Commission meeting, Carol Seeger, the county administrative director, said Eagle Specialty Materials LLC is expected to close on its sale order this Friday, October 4.

Ameen Al-Ghetta/USFWS

The National Elk Refuge's environmental assessment is open for a 30 day public comment period. The environmental assessment goes through the process of reducing elk reliance on supplemental feeding.

Off-road vehicles such as ATVs and UTVs will soon be allowed on roads in Utah’s national parks after a controversial policy change last week.

 


Chronic Wasting Disease is a wildlife illness similar to Mad Cow Disease.  It’s rooted itself in the Mountain West and is thinning herds throughout the region.

Nevada and Idaho are the only states in our region with no confirmed cases of the highly contagious and fatal wildlife infection. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t made it there.

Wyoming Hemp Association

Earlier this month, a board was formed for the Wyoming Hemp Association.

The association is comprised of growers, processors, academics and bankers-all the stakeholders in hemp production.

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