Hooligans etch on a petroglyph, a cow breaks a natural gas line and a new website helps ranchers navigate drought.

  • Arizona True tree house.

    Greg Woodall
 

NORTH DAKOTA
Everyone knows that ravens can manipulate sticks as tools, and that squawking magpies enjoy teasing dogs and cats, but who knew that cows – with their bodies alone – could make pipes spill natural gas? In Bismarck, North Dakota, one cow apparently did just that, simply by trying to satisfy an itch or maybe indulging in idle curiosity. The animal rubbed on a valve until it opened, thereby spilling some 20 barrels of natural gas "condensate," a byproduct of natural gas production. Dave Glatt, North Dakota's environmental health chief, said cows "just get rubbing along those valves and they open up." This wasn't the first time the animals have messed with equipment, and energy companies have been warned before about making their facilities "bovine-proof." "Sometimes (cows) can be the dumbest animals in the world," Glatt said, "and sometimes you kind of wonder."

COLORADO
Borrowing from the crowd-sourcing power of eBay's auctions and Airbnb, a popular site for home vacation rentals, one businesswoman has begun a website for ranchers looking for a place to pasture cattle, buy hay or both. Jen Livsey, heir to an eastern Colorado ranch that's been in her family for six generations, says she started her online platform, Pasture Scout, after realizing that finding forage for cows during drought was both frustrating and time-consuming – about "100 phone calls," she says. "Leases are very likely mispriced, people probably aren't getting a fair market value for their property and some landowners don't list their land because they don't want to deal with the hassle." Her free website, however, aims to change what she calls the "opaque" relationship between seller and buyer: "Technology has made its way into ranching," she told Modern Farmer, "but it's embarrassing how little cool, innovative and helpful technologies have been applied to it. I want to be a pioneer in that area." Livsey has a master's degree from the King Ranch Institute of Ranch Management in Texas.

THE WEST
Ah, summer is here, and unfortunately, the jerks have emerged from hibernation. In Utah's Nine Mile Canyon, a place so rich in prehistoric rock panels that it's been called "the world's longest art gallery," two visiting egomaniacs recently picked up a rock and etched their initials and the date close to the "Pregnant Buffalo," a well-known image created about 1,000 years ago. Unfortunately for them, however, they finished defacing the rock panel just minutes after archaeologist Jerry D. Spangler had inspected it. He was still in the area, reports the Deseret News. And just a few minutes after the suspects were seen hurriedly leaving, two property owners in the area arrived and immediately spotted the damage to the panel. Though the culprits raced out of the parking lot, Spangler and the landowners were able to write down their vehicle's license plate. Now, says a furious Spangler, "We're encouraging the BLM to investigate this matter fully. We can't let this slide. … These are treasures of the past that belong to all of us. A rock art panel is not someone's private palette where people can create their own images."

THE WEST
Books can move people to believe and do some weird things. A 2010 memoir by New Mexico art dealer Forrest Fenn, The Thrill of the Chase, included a poem giving clues to the location of a treasure chest he said he'd buried that's worth between $1 million and $3 million. In the last four years, however, the lure of buried gold, gems and jewelry has gotten some seekers into unexpected predicaments. In Yellowstone National Park recently, two treasure hunters from Washington violated a slew of federal regulations as they blundered around the Lamar Valley in the dark. They were under-equipped for cold-weather camping and swollen streams, and uninformed about bears, bison and other wildlife that scared them. But carrying only a metal detector and a shovel, Darrell Seyler, 50, of Everett, and Christy Strawn, 37, of Seattle, were determined to (illegally) dig up the treasure – assuming they found it – directed by Fenn's extremely vague description that it was "somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe." The Jackson Hole News&Guide says that Park Service staffers had to rescue the couple at night from drowning after their makeshift raft fell apart in a creek. Now, the pair faces a slew of charges, including reckless endangerment. Since Fenn's memoir has become a bestseller, unsuccessful searchers have spent an uncomfortable night out at Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico; another seeker was arrested after digging up a roadside memorial, and a few have been caught excavating various parts of Yellowstone National Park. As for Fenn, he pooh-poohs the notion that the people he's inspired do any damage to public lands. There's so much land out there, he argues: "Why are we so excited about the little things?"

High Country News Classifieds
  • LAND AND WATER CONSERVATION DIRECTOR
    The Land and Water Conservation Director is a full-time salaried position with the Mountain Area Land Trust in Evergreen, CO. The successful candidate will have...
  • ARIZONA PROGRAM MANAGER
    National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the nation's oldest and largest national parks nonprofit advocacy organization seeks an Arizona Program Manager. The Arizona Program Manager works...
  • CROWN OF THE CONTINENT COMMUNITY CONSERVATION SPECIALIST
    THE WILDERNESS SOCIETY is seeking a Community Conservation Specialist, for the Crown of the Continent DEPARTMENT: Conservation CLASSIFICATION: Grade 6 Specialist/Representative (Low of $54K) REPORTS...
  • ASSISTANT FARM DIRECTOR
    About The Organization Building community through fresh vegetables is at the heart of the Sisters-based non-profit, Seed to Table Oregon. Based on a four-acre diversified...
  • CARPENTER WANTED
    CARPENTER WANTED. Come to Ketchikan and check out the Rainforest on the coast, Hike the shorelines, hug the big trees, watch deer in the muskeg...
  • DYNAMIC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    VARD is seeking an Executive Director to lead a small legal & planning staff dedicated to the health and sustainability of Teton Valley Idaho and...
  • WATER PROJECT MANAGER, UPPER SAN PEDRO (ARIZONA)
    Based in Tucson or Sierra Vista, AZ., the Upper San Pedro Project Manager develops, manages, and advances freshwater conservation programs, plans, and methods focusing on...
  • CAMPAIGNS DIRECTOR
    Southeast Alaska Conservation is hiring. Visit https://www.seacc.org/about/hiring for info. 907-586-6942 [email protected]
  • FINANCE & GRANTS MANAGER
    The Blackfoot Challenge, located in Ovando, MT, seeks a self-motivated, detail-oriented individual to conduct bookkeeping, financial analysis and reporting, and grant oversight and management. Competitive...
  • WADE LAKE CABINS, CAMERON MT
    A once in a lifetime opportunity to live and run a business on the shore of one of the most beautiful lakes in SW Montana....
  • CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, BOOKS, CULTURE AND COMMENTARY (PART-TIME, CONTRACT)
    High Country News is seeking a Contributing Editor for Books, Culture and Commentary to assign and edit inquisitive, inspiring, and thought-provoking content for HCN in...
  • STATEWIDE COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
    ABOUT US Better Wyoming is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization that educates, organizes, and mobilizes Wyoming residents on behalf of statewide change. Learn more at...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    TwispWorks is a 501(c)3 that promotes economic and cultural vitality in the mountainous Methow Valley, the eastern gateway to North Cascades National Park in Washington...
  • CLEAN ENERGY ADVOCATE OR DIRECTOR
    Location: Helena, Montana Type: Permanent, full time after 1-year probationary period. Reports to: Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs. Travel: Some overnight travel, both in-state...
  • PROFESSIONAL GIS SERVICES
    Custom Geospatial Solutions is available for all of your GIS needs. Affordable, flexible and accurate data visualization and analysis for any sized project.
  • DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR
    Restore Hetch Hetchy, a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization, seeks experienced development professional to identify and engage individuals and institutions who are inspired to help underwrite...
  • PUBLIC LANDS COUNSEL
    The successful candidate will be the organization's lead counsel on public lands issues, including reviewing federal administrative actions and proposed policy and helping to shape...
  • GUIDE TO WESTERN NATIONAL MONUMENTS
    NEW BOOK showcases 70 national monuments across the western United States. Use "Guide10" for 10% off at cmcpress.org
  • RARE CHIRICAHUA RIPARIAN LAND FOR SALE
    40 acres: 110 miles from Tucson: native trees, grasses: birder's heaven::dark sky/ borders state lease & National forest/5100 ft/13-16 per annum rain
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!