Oil trains, Southwest sprawl, on-shore drilling and more.

Hcn.org news in brief.

 

FINDING A BETTER GUARD DOG
As bears and wolves continue to move beyond the borders of national parks and wilderness areas, they sometimes nab a snack from sheep and cattle herds, angering livestock owners, who may retaliate by killing them. A good livestock guard dog can help minimize conflict by fending off predators. But while many of the dog breeds currently in use are successful against smaller opponents, like coyotes, they’re outmatched by grizzlies and wolves. So researchers have begun experimenting with bigger, more exotic breeds, like the kangal, which is famed for its courage in the face of wolf attacks in its home country of Turkey. While conclusive results are still a couple years off, early signs suggest these foreign canines might be well-adapted to the West. One Montana rancher hasn’t lost a single sheep to grizzlies since receiving his three kangals.
-Ben Goldfarb via enSia

A kangal wearing a protective collar guards a herd of sheep.

 

$1.25 BILLION
The extra revenue the Interior Department could collect over the next decade if it charged market rates for onshore drilling.

The rules governing royalties for oil and gas from federal lands have drawn fire for years. Critics say the government charges companies too little for the oil and gas they extract, shorting taxpayers. In a 2007 report, the Government Accountability Office said the low rate, an eighth of production value, results in one of the lowest government takes in the world. The rules haven’t been updated in decades. Now, the Department of the Interior is considering revising the rules that govern royalties and other company costs, including an increase to the royalty rate. Many environmental groups welcome the idea of higher costs for drilling, but the industry has opposed any changes, especially given the dropping price of oil. The department has opened the issue to public comment.
-Elizabeth Shogren

 

A RETURN TO SOUTHWESTERN SPRAWL
Once upon a time, developers in places like Phoenix and Las Vegas dreamed of suburbs spreading like lawns across the desert. When the housing bubble burst in 2007, most of them woke up to a harsh reality, one that has stifled a lot of sprawl. With the recovery, though, developers are back. In Albuquerque, they are proposing a community called Santolina, which could eventually house nearly 100,000 people. Similar proposals have cropped up around Tucson. It’ll take a long climb to return to pre-crash heights, but suburban sprawl may one day return.
-Jonathan Thompson

 

48
Hours it took Blackbird Mine waste runoff to kill trout dropped for testing purposes into Idaho’s Blackbird Creek in 1993. Now, two decades and more than $50 million later, the creek’s waters are clean.
-Ben Goldfarb

 

WAKE-UPS
This spring was a strange one, and nobody was more surprised by it than the bears, some of whom found themselves waking from hibernation much earlier than normal. Associate Editor Brian Calvert discusses bears and climate change with experts in this online audio story.

 “I think overall they are (faring OK), especially adult males, who are big enough to take kills away from wolf packs.” —Kerry Gunther, Yellowstone bear biologist

 

Jim Peaco, National Park Service, April 2013

TRIBES V. OIL TRAINS
For more than 20 years, the Swinomish Reservation, along Washington’s Puget Sound, has agreed to let trains rumble across its land, their length and frequency tightly regulated. Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC, the company running the trains, was required to inform the tribe of its cargo. But in 2012, reservation residents noticed the trains were longer than they should have been and carried volatile Bakken oil. In April, after repeated requests to stop the transport were ignored, the tribe filed suit. “This is yet another example of communities all across the country in different ways rising up” against oil transport, Jan Hasselman, an environmental lawyer, told HCN
-Kindra McQuillan

You say

Don Brady:“If the government stops the trains, people find and stop the trucks delivering oil, we all will be back to the horse-and-buggy era unless we want foreign oil products to be delivered to our country. Then not many would be able to afford real high prices for gas, diesel, nor natural gas.”

Eric Smith:“I suppose they’d prefer 10,000 trucks.”

Ed Hamilton:“Maybe the towns can’t stop them, but the reservation can.”

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
    Friends of Inyo - the Communications Director is a full-time permanent position that reports to the Executive Director and utilizes communication strategies and production skills...
  • INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS EDITOR
    High Country News seeks an editor to oversee the work of our award-winning Indigenous Affairs Desk. This individual will lead a team of passionate journalists...
  • HIKING TO THE EDGE:
    Confronting Cancer in Rocky Mountain National Park. Poetry and photos on survival thinking. E-book and paperback available at Amazon.com.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Founded in 1936, the National Wildlife Federation has grown into America's largest and most trusted grassroots conservation organization with 53 state/territorial affiliates and more than...
  • IPLC RIGHTS AND EQUITY PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
    A LITTLE ABOUT US Founded in 1951, the Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR FUTURE WEST
    Future West seeks an executive director to lead this dynamic organization into the future. Based in Bozeman, MT this well-respected nonprofit provides communities in the...
  • PART-TIME EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Mitchell Museum of the American Indian Location: Evanston, IL Salary Range: $45,000 @ 24 hours per week. send resume: [email protected] www.mitchellmuseum.org
  • COMMUNICATIONS LEAD
    Southeast Alaska Conservation Council is hiring! Who We Are: The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) is a small grassroots nonprofit based out of Juneau, Alaska,...
  • SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR
    Since 1989, The Nature Conservancy in Alaska has been doing work you can believe in protecting the lands and waters that all life depends on....
  • OUTDOOR PROGRAM - ASSISTANT DIRECTOR
    St. Lawrence University seeks to fill the position of Assistant Director in the Outdoor Program. To view the complete position description, including minimum qualifications required,...
  • PUBLIC LANDS DIRECTOR
    Job Announcement Conserve Southwest Utah is seeking a dedicated advocate for conservation and public lands Public Lands Director a "make a difference" position Conserve Southwest...
  • FOR SALE
    Yellowstone Llamas Successful Yellowstone NP concession Flexible packages
  • DIRECTOR OF DEVELOPMENT & MARKETING
    Grand Staircase Escalante Partners is seeking a full-time Director of Development & Marketing. This is a senior position responsible for the development of all marketing...
  • LEGAL DIRECTOR
    The Legal Director will work closely with the Executive Director in cultivating a renewed vision at NMELC that integrates diversity, equity, and justice. Black, Indigenous,...
  • VICE PRESIDENT, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION
    The Vice President for Landscape Conservation leads Defenders' work to promote landscape-scale wildlife conservation, focusing on four program areas: federal public lands management; private lands...
  • NOVA SCOTIA OCEAN FRONT
    Camp or Build on 2+ acres in Guysborough. FSBO. $36,000 US firm. Laurie's phone: 585-226-2993 EST.
  • COMMUNITY FORESTER
    The Clearwater Resource Council located in Seeley Lake, Montana is seeking a full-time community forester with experience in both fuels mitigation and landscape restoration. Resumes...
  • GUNNISON BASIN ROUNDTABLE
    The Gunnison Basin Roundtable is currently accepting letters of interest for ten elected seats. Five of the elected members must have relevant experience in the...
  • PCTA TRAIL CREW TECHNICAL ADVISORS IN WASHINGTON'S NORTH CASCADES
    Seasonal Positions: June 17th to September 16th (14 weeks) - 3 positions to be filled The mission of the Pacific Crest Trail Association is to...
  • WE'RE LOOKING FOR LEADERS!
    As we celebrate 50 years of great Western journalism, High Country News is looking for a few new board members to help set a course...