Friday news roundup: educating tramps everywhere

 

Winter has fully thawed and traveling season is upon you. You’ve spruced up the RV, swept the garage and a cooler full of ice and Shasta is sparkling on your fresh-cut lawn. Now you’re sweating behind the knees and the children are whining with their mouths to the sky, like hungry eaglets. It’s time to start driving. But if these kids don’t get something in their stomachs, they’ll be scratching at your neck for the 15-hour drive to the Wild Horse Refuge. Just then, your ever-intuitive wife chimes in from the front seat where she’s been lounging with the daily news.

“Hey, all of Burger King’s chickens and pork will come from cage-free producers by 2017. We can eat there again.”

“Let’s eat there now,” you say.

“Yippee,” scream the kids, as they fly into the back seat. You start the engine and open the High Country News app on your iPhone.

“Read me the Friday news roundup, boy” you tell your son. “We’re gonna stay conscious on this trip.”

Boy reads:

WILDLIFE

If you haven’t read Tom Knudson’s three-part series for the Sacramento Bee about the federal kill-agency, it’s better than this 100-word paragraph could ever be. Knudson investigated the work of Wildlife Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and found that employees have unintentionally killed with traps over 50,000 animals, including federally protected golden eagles and 1,100 pet dogs.

 

The highly secretive division is supposed to target coyotes, of which they’ve killed one million since 2000. But Knudson reports that the division kills a lot of non-target species and sometimes covers up evidence of their wrongdoing. Since Knudson’s story went public, environmental groups have filed suit to stop the program.

In a different attack on wildlife, Bonner County, Idaho officials have retained lawyers from the Pacific Legal Foundation--the arch nemesis of environmental laws everywhere--to petition to delist the woodland caribou as an endangered species because its habitat requirements put restrictions on logging, snowmobiling and forest access. Woodland caribou inhabit a remote area along the northwest U.S.-Canada border. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they’ve been petitioned to delist the reclusive creatures before, but it isn’t likely to happen.

ENERGY & MINING

Allen Best reports for Wyofile.com that a Denver-based company, Rare Element Resources, expects to apply for permission from the U.S. Forest Service this year to mine rare earth minerals in the Bear Lodge Mountains near Sundance, Wyoming. China dominates the industry, producing 97 percent of the world’s rare earth elements, which are essential to produce gadgetry like smart phones, flat-screen TVs and night vision goggles.

Elsewhere in the state, an independent hydrologist, Tom Myers, has reviewed the EPA’s report on the town of Pavillion's water contamination. Pavillion has become a rallying point for anti-fracking advocates contesting the process’s environmental harm. Commissioned by the Natural Resource Defense Council, Sierra Club and the Oil and Gas Accountability Project, Myers confirmed that contaminants in a Pavillion, Wyoming water well are linked to either hydraulic fracturing or other activities associated with gas production in the area. But, Myers noted, “The situation at Pavillion is not an analogue for other gas plays because the geology and regulatory framework may be different.” He recommended (PDF) better mapping and well construction to avoid future problems.

POLLUTERS

Suncor Energy’s oil refinery in north Denver hasn’t stopped polluting the ground and waterways with benzene and other cancer-causing contaminants. Workers have extracted 697,200 gallons of pollutants from the ground with interceptor trenches and recovery wells. The state health department has known about the plume for more than a decade, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the EPA ordered an emergency cleanup. Benzene levels in Sand Creek and the South Platte River, a major drinking source for the Denver Metropolitan Area, doubled last month.

HAYMAKERS

In New Mexico, thieves have started sacking barns for bales of hay. Alfalfa prices have soared higher than ever because of a regional drought, and ranchers are paying as much as $300 bucks a ton. "Any time the price goes up, people can't afford to feed their animals, so they go out and steal little bales," Hatch-area rancher, Duane Riggs, told the Las Cruces Sun-News. The result is that some people who can’t afford to buy hay and won't resort to stealing bales are leaving their stock unfed. If you need assistance feeding your horses, visit www.equineprotectionfund.org.

FLORA

Forest Service crews have installed a 15-acre whitebark pine nursery south of Bozeman, Mont., to help the troubled tree recover its dwindling population. Experts say the trees, whose numbers have declined by 90 percent in some areas of the Northern Rockies, may face extinction in the next 120 to 180 years. Grizzlies and 20 other wildlife species depend on the whitebark pines' high-protein nuts. The Forest Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service, along with other environmental partners, plan to plant around 1,000 acres with seedlings across various Northwestern forests by 2014.

NATIVE AMERICANS

And for anybody worried about the United Nations controlling the world, they’ve initiated a human rights investigation into the health and status of indigenous peoples in the United States. Concerned about the prevalence of alcoholism, suicide and unemployment within indigenous communities, University of Arizona professor, James Anaya, who’s leading the inquiry, will visit Alaska, Arizona, Oregon, Oklahoma and South Dakota to assess the socio-economic situations of tribes before presenting his findings to the UN human rights council some time this year.

That’s it for now. Enjoy a piece of fruit and keep your eyes on the road.

Neil LaRubbio is a High Country News intern.

Photo courtesy Flickr user RVWithTito

High Country News Classifieds
  • TRANSPORTATION PLANNER
    TRANSPORTATION PLANNER Exciting opportunity to lead the charge on meeting the future transportation demands of our community! This position will develop, coordinate, and implement the...
  • EARNED MEDIA MANAGER WITH WESTERN RESOURCE ADVOCATES
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • WILDLAND FIRE INSTRUCTOR
    Needed: instructor with 5 years *documented* instruction experience, current qualifications, M-410 or equivalent, and able to work as-needed for NM non-profit working with at-risk youth.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Seeking passionate full-time Executive to lead the oldest non-profit organization in Idaho. Must have knowledge of environmental issues, excellent organizational, verbal presentation and written skills,...
  • COLORADO PROGRAM MANAGER
    The National Parks Conservation Association, the leading non-profit conservation organization protecting Americas national parks, seeks a Program Manager for its Colorado Field Office located in...
  • CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Carbondale based public lands advocate, Wilderness Workshop, seeks a Conservation Director to help direct and shape the future of public land conservation on the West...
  • DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR WATER PLANNING WITH WRA'S HEALTHY RIVERS PROGRAM
    Founded in 1989, Western Resource Advocates (WRA) is dedicated to protecting the Wests land, air, and water to ensure that vibrant communities exist in balance...
  • TROUT UNLIMITED BIGHORN RIVER BASIN PROJECT MANAGER
    The Bighorn River Basin Project Manager identifies and implements projects to improve streamflows, restore stream and riparian habitat, improve fish passage and rehabilitate or replace...
  • NON-PROFIT OPERATIONS MANAGER
    One of the most renowned community-based collaboratives in the country seeks full-time Operations Manager to oversee administrative, financial, fund development, and board development duties. BS/BA...
  • RUSTIC HORSE PROPERTY
    in NM. 23 acres, off the grid, rustic cabin, organic gardens, fruit trees, fenced, call 505-204-8432 evenings.
  • DIRECTOR OF VISITOR SERVICES & BOOKSTORE OPERATIONS
    The San Juan Mountains Association in Durango, CO is seeking a Director of Visitor Services & Bookstore Operations to lead our visitor information program &...
  • SOLAR POWERED HOME NEAR CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK
    1800 sf home on 4.12 acres surrounded by Natl Forest and recreational opportunities in a beautiful area (Happy Valley) between Torrey and Boulder. [email protected], www.bouldermoutainreality/properties/grover/off-the-grid-in-happy-valley,...
  • 40 ACRE ORGANIC FARM
    potential fruit/hay with house, Hotchkiss, CO, Scott Ellis, 970-420-0472, [email protected]
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    STAFF ATTORNEY POSITION OPENING www.westernlaw.org/about-us/clinic-interns-careers The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm with a 25-year legacy of success...
  • LAND CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    Manage, develop and implement all stewardship and land management plans and activities on both private and public lands. Guide and direct comprehensive planning efforts, provide...
  • INTERNET-BASED BUSINESS FOR SALE
    Dream of owning your own business, being your own boss, working from home ... this is the one. 928-380-6570, www.testshop.com. More info at https://bit.ly/2Kgi340.
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    If you are deeply committed to public service and would like to become part of our high performing, passionate and diverse team, NCAT is looking...
  • TRIPLEX .8 ACRE KANAB, UT
    Create a base in the center of Southern Utah's Grand Circle of National Parks. Multiple residential property with three established rental units and zoning latitude...
  • FORGE & FAB SHOP
    with home on one beautiful acre in Pocatello, ID. Blackrock Forge - retiring after 43 years! Fully equipped 5,500 sf shop including office, gallery and...
  • SMALL FARM AT THE BASE OF MOUNT SHASTA
    Certified organic fruit/berry/veggie/flower farm. Home, barns, garage, separate apt, more. Just under 2 ac, edge of town. Famously pure air and water. Skiing, mountaineering, bike,...