Obama moves on coal and readers respond to Sagebrush coverage.

HCN.org news in brief.

 

OBAMA MOVES ON COAL
January was a turbulent month for the coal industry. On Jan. 11, Arch Coal, one of the nation’s largest coal companies, filed for bankruptcy. The company’s financial troubles stem from short-sighted investments and the utilities’ recent shift to natural gas, because of its lower price and to comply with state and federal air pollution regulations. On Jan. 15, the Interior Department announced an immediate moratorium on new federal coal leases, as it takes a closer look at the program. White House officials say the program should be updated to reflect the impact that coal burning has on the climate and to ensure that taxpayers and local communities near the mines get a fair payout from that public coal. Meanwhile, the national shifts in coal production are playing out at a local scale. Oregon and Washington are both considering legislation that would reduce coal-fueled energy use, and the prospect is causing uncertainty in coal-producing towns in Montana.
-Elizabeth Shogren and Bryce Gray

A haul truck carries overburden away from draglines at Wyoming’s Black Thunder Coal Mine, operated by Arch Coal, in 2012. Arch Coal says it doesn’t anticipate major layoffs at its mines, despite its recent filing for bankruptcy.
© Greenpeace/Tim Aubry

80: percent by which Fort Collins, Colorado, plans to cut its carbon emissions by 2030.

2050 year it plans to be carbon neutral.

Even as world leaders struggled to set climate goals, Western cities like Fort Collins have charged ahead on reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the ecological catastrophe scientists warn of. With its purple political background and acknowledged need to wean itself from coal power, Fort Collins could serve as a blueprint for other mid-sized communities. The city’s aggressive plan to be carbon-neutral by 2050 relies partly on solar-panel and energy-efficiency rebates, and a new community solar garden. Still, those plans will come at a price, as much as $300 million by 2020.
-Joshua Zaffos

HOW TO SHELTER MOUNTAIN STREAMS
Bull trout are an indicator species of stream health, but they’ve been devastated by mining pollution, agricultural runoff and non-native competitors. Those populations that survive are further threatened by rising stream temperatures. But Forest Service research biologist Dan Isaak and his colleagues are mapping where stream temperatures are likely to stay cold and could offer a refuge not just for bull trout, but other cold-water fish across the West. Those new maps are being used to identify areas for reclamation and protection.
-Krista Langlois

The cold-water climate shield helps fish and wildlife managers determine what streams will be cold enough to support native fish in the future.
USDA, U.S. Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station

10.1 MILLION acres burned in wildfires in 2015. This surpassed the previous record of 9.9 million acres, set in 2006, the biggest year documented since modern record keeping began, in 1960.
-Gloria Dickie

PHOTOS: JUMPERS-IN-TRAINING
Every year before the summer fire season, novice smokejumpers undergo strenuous training to prepare them for the rapidly changing conditions they will face in the field. Experienced jumpers help train new recruits for dangerous work, which involves parachuting out of planes to fight fires. Photographer Matt Mills McKnight spent three days at a training in McCall, Idaho.

Forest Service smokejumpers throughout the United States have jumped with circular parachute canopies since 1939, although square canopies were developed in the 1960s and 1970s and are currently used by smokejumpers who work for the Bureau of Land Management.
Matt Mills McKnight

SAGEBRUSH RECESSION
Sagebrush Rebellion-linked events like the occupation of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Harney County, Oregon, often happen in places that have had dramatic economic downturns, typically the result of changing technology and the West’s drift away from extractive industries. For example, Harney County once had a thriving economy driven largely by the timber industry. Today, fewer than 200 jobs — or 4 percent — are associated with logging and forestry. Other flare-ups in New Mexico and Montana followed closely on the decline of mining, logging and ranching. Still, most counties have opted to reinvent themselves rather than turn toward rebellion.
-Paige Blankenbuehler

You say

Nancy Coscione: “Grow hemp, go organic, embrace nature and biodiversity, instead of destroying and conquering it.”

Lee Nellis: “We have done a poor job of dealing with the economic evolution of the West.”

Rose Comstock: “You’d think there’d be enough room for everyone to enjoy and use those lands without all the dust-ups, but rural communities dependent on access to public lands for a variety of economic activity have been given the short end of stick."

 

High Country News Classifieds
  • COMMUNICATIONS AND OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    Communications and Outreach Associate Position Opening: www.westernlaw.org/communications-outreach-associate ************************************************* Location: Western U.S., ideally in one of WELC's existing office locations (Santa Fe or Taos, NM, Helena,...
  • FREELANCE GRAPHIC DESIGNER & PROJECT COORDINATOR (REMOTE)
    High Country News (HCN) is seeking a contract Graphic Designer & Project Coordinator to design promotional, marketing and fund-raising assets and campaigns, and project-manage them...
  • FILM AND DIGITAL MEDIA: ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF INDIGENOUS MEDIA, CULTURAL SOVEREIGNTY AND DECOLONIZATION (INITIAL REVIEW 12.1.21)
    Film and Digital Media: Assistant Professor of Indigenous Media, Cultural Sovereignty and Decolonization (Initial Review 12.1.21) Position overview Position title: Assistant Professor - tenure-track Salary...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    To learn more about this position and to apply please go to the following URL.
  • ENVIRONMENTAL GEOPHYSICS
    "More Data, Less Digging" Find groundwater and reduce excavation costs!
  • 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
  • CENTRAL PARK CULTURAL RESOURCE SPECIALIST
    Agency: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department Salary Range: $5,203 - $7,996 Position Title: Central Park Cultural Resource Specialist Do you have a background in Archaeology...
  • STAFF ATTORNEY
    Come live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world! As our Staff Attorney you will play a key role in...
  • ARIZONA GRAZING CLEARINGHOUSE
    Dedicated to preventing the ecological degradation caused by livestock grazing on Arizona's public lands, and exposing the government subsidies that support it.
  • OPERATIONS MANAGER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo (friendsoftheinyo.org) is seeking a new Operations Manager. The Operations Manager position is a full-time permanent position that reports directly...
  • WATER RIGHTS BUREAU CHIEF
    Water Rights Bureau Chief, State of Montana, DNRC, Water Resources Division, Helena, MT Working to support and implement the Department's mission to help ensure that...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    The Amargosa Conservancy (AC), a conservation nonprofit dedicated to standing up for water and biodiversity in the Death Valley region, seeks an executive director to...
  • DEVELOPMENT & OUTREACH ASSOCIATE
    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,...
  • DESERT LANDS ORGANIZER
    Position Summary: Friends of the Inyo seeks a Desert Lands Organizer to assist with existing campaigns that will defend lands in the California desert, with...
  • IDAHO CONSERVATION LEAGUE
    Want to help preserve Idaho's land, water, and air for future generations? Idaho Conservation League currently has 3 open positions. We are looking for a...
  • LUNATEC ODOR-FREE DISHCLOTHS
    are a must try. They stay odor-free, dry fast, are durable and don't require machine washing. Try today.
  • EVENTS AND ANNUAL FUND COORDINATOR
    The Events and Annual Fund Coordinator is responsible for managing and coordinating the Henry's Fork Foundation's fundraising events for growing the membership base, renewing and...
  • EDUCATION DIRECTOR
    Position Description: The Education Director is the primary leader of Colorado Canyons Association's (CCA) education programs for students and adults on the land and rivers...
  • 10 ACRES OF NEW MEXICO HIGH DESERT
    10 Acres of undeveloped high desert land in central NM, about 45 minutes from downtown Albuquerque. Mixed cedar and piñon pine cover. Some dirt roadways...
  • WATERSHED RESTORATION DIRECTOR
    $58k-$70k + benefits to oversee watershed restoration projects that fulfill our strategic goals across urban and rural areas within the bi-national Santa Cruz and San...