11 Mar 2010, 12:10pm
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Fish and Game Director Wants Expanded Wolf Hunting

KIVI-TV Channel 6 News, March 9, 2010 [here]

LEWISTON, Idaho (AP) — The director of Idaho Fish and Game says more wolves need to be killed in the Lolo area of the Clearwater River basin to stop the decline in elk populations.

Cal Groen says state wildlife managers will recommend significant changes to wolf seasons in the Lolo and other zones where elk numbers are not at management levels.

He says management tools could include increased harvest limits, multiple tags, trapping, and asking outfitters to help reduce wolf numbers.

Groen says eight of the state’s 29 elk hunting zones are below the department’s population objectives.

He says five of those have significant wolf populations, including the Lolo, Selway and Sawtooth zones.

The hunting changes could be put in place next fall.

11 Mar 2010, 12:04pm
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Senator Whitsett drought request letter to Gov. Kulongoski

March 11, 2010

To: The Honorable Ted Kulongoski
900 Court Street NE
Salem Oregon 97301

RE: Klamath County Drought Declaration Request

Dear Governor Kulongoski,

This letter is to request that at the earliest time possible you declare that emergency hydrologic drought conditions currently exist in Klamath County.

I was privileged to sit in on the Water Availability subcommittee meeting held yesterday at the Salem Armory. After careful consideration of all the current hydrologic factors, the sub-committee voted unanimously to recommend that a declaration of hydrologic drought be declared in Klamath County. Factors that were considered include 71% of normal snowpack, 51% of normal reservoir storage, 80% of normal precipitation to date, 63% of normal stream flow to date, and forecasted stream flow of only 30% to 65% of normal depending on the watershed area being measured.

The existing hydrologic drought, in conjunction with the two biologic opinions, has created an untenable situation for irrigators who depend on surface water to grow their crops. The biological opinion designed to protect the endangered sucker fish requires that significant water be held in the Upper Klamath Lake reservoir thereby diminishing water available for diversion for irrigation. The biological opinion designed to protect the threatened Coho salmon requires that significantly more water be discharged from Upper Klamath Lake than has historically occurred in dry years to enhance stream flow. The combination of the effects of the hydrological drought and the effects of the biological opinions results in very little water being available for diversion for agricultural production.

As you know, your declaration that emergency drought conditions exist will allow Klamath County drought wells to be used for irrigation. It will also allow significantly wider latitude for the Oregon Water Resources Department to authorize water transfers that will allow the farmers to selectively irrigate their highest value crop lands. I met with Oregon Water Resources Department Director Phil Ward in my office Monday and he assured me that his Department is ready and able to take immediate action to help mitigate the drought effects in any way that they legally can help.

Your emergency drought declaration will also set the table for United States Department of Agriculture drought relief payments in the event that the existing drought results in 30% or more reduction in harvested crop value. We certainly hope that such crop losses can be avoided, but in the event that they do occur the drought relief payments may well be the income required for some family farming operations to remain economically viable.

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely yours,

Senator Doug Whitsett
District 28

11 Mar 2010, 10:51am
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Critical Habitat Designated for Endangered 3-Inch Long Willamette Valley Fish

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service News Release, March 10, 2010 [here]

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today designated critical habitat for the Oregon chub, a small fish native to Oregon’s Willamette Valley. The Oregon chub (Oregonichthys crameri) was listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA) in 1993.

The designation includes 25 units totaling 132 acres, including land under state, federal, other government and private ownership. As allowed under the ESA, all or portions of these units were considered but not selected for exclusion from the critical habitat designation. Exclusions could have been based on the relative costs and benefits of designating critical habitat, including information that was gathered during the public comment period on potential economic and other relevant impacts of the proposal. …

The economic analysis, prepared by Industrial Economics Inc. of Cambridge, Mass., estimated the additional cost of the proposed critical habitat designation would total $108,000 over 20 years. This cost is expected to be entirely the administrative costs of additional consultations required for critical habitat under Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act. The total costs of Oregon chub conservation including consultation and other already-ongoing efforts is predicted to be between $2.74 million and $11.1 million over 20 years.

These impacts are low in comparison to the conservation costs for other species in the Pacific Northwest because the proposed critical habitat for the chub totals only 132.1 acres, mostly in small disconnected habitat units that are isolated from economic activity. Also, the long history of protection for the chub has created a baseline of ongoing conservation efforts. … [more]

Note: $11 million to “conserve” 132 acres for a minnow that is not actually endangered comes to $83,000 per acre. However, that is an underestimate of the true costs, since lawsuits and EAJA money have not been included. You tax dollars gone to waste.

11 Mar 2010, 10:45am
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Appeals court hears arguments on forest roads rule

By Samantha Abernathy, Aurora Sentinel, March 10, 2010 [here]

Denver, Colorado - Lawyers for the state of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association argued before the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Wednesday that a 2001 federal rule banning construction of new roads on National Forest land violates the law.

The Roadless Rule, initiated under President Clinton’s presidency, banned road construction and reconstruction on certain areas of National Forest lands. It affects at least 40 million acres of federal land nationwide.

The appeals court did not indicate when it would decide the case, which was filed by Wyoming to challenge the rule.

Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association argue the rule violates the 1964 Wilderness Act, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture did not follow National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA, regulations.

Wyoming attorneys argue the definition of roadless lands is synonymous with wilderness lands. The 1964 Wilderness Act states only Congress can designate wilderness lands.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture and environmental groups said there are differences between the designations — that roadless areas allow for some mineral development and more recreational activities, such as bicycles and ATVs, which the wilderness category forbids.

USDA and the groups said the rule is legal and NEPA regulations were followed. An environmental impact statement was completed and the public comment period was sufficient, they said.

More than 1 million comments were received, and the comment period lasted 69 days. NEPA requires a minimum of 45 days, but Wyoming Senior Assistant Attorney General James Kaste said comments periods usually last years longer.

Kaste said Wednesday that the USDA shortened the comment period because it was rushing the plan through before the end of the Clinton administration.

Conflicting federal court rulings have upheld and overturned the road-building ban. The California-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August threw out a 2005 Bush administration policy that opened some of the roadless areas to potential development.

The Obama administration has said it will defend the 2001 rule and in May reinstated most of the policy. It also ordered a one-year moratorium on development of roadless areas.

In the interim, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack was given sole decision-making authority over proposed forest management or road construction projects in roadless areas.

Some states are currently pursuing their own state roadless laws.

Colorado has started developing its roadless plan, similar to the 2001 policy. Alaska and Idaho have developed their own roadless rules, in line with the 2005 Bush policy, giving states more control over road-building in remote forests.

9 Mar 2010, 1:17pm
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57 New Fish Species Found in Greenland

There several different fish swim around in the waters around Greenland, than researchers previously assumed. The whole 57 species have come to in a recount.

Berlingske Tidende, 9 marts 2010 [here]

Note: Google translation from Danish

Increased fishing in deep water and rising sea temperatures are probably the cause of that Greenland can welcome a new strip of fish.

Since the last census in 1992 are all 57 species appeared. It shows a new survey carried out by fish curator Peter Rask Møller of the Zoological Museum in Copenhagen, in cooperation with Danish and Greenlandic scientists.

Thus, there is now a total of 269 known species in Greenland waters.

“We are cautious to announce that many new species due to climate change, but there are about five new species, which appear likely to have come because of increased temperatures. These are the salmon herring, whiting, Rosefishes, monkfish and Snipe - all species which also occur in Danish waters,” said Peter Rask Moller said in a statement.

The 57 new species of Greenland are “new” in different ways. The 47 species are known species worldwide, but is new in Greenland waters. In contrast, 10 species completely new and not previously described by science.

Only five of the species is Arctic - meaning that they occur only in the cold water north of the submarine elevation move that runs between Canada and Greenland, and Greenland and Iceland. The rest are species that thrive in slightly warmer water.

The vast majority of new species deep-sea living from about 400 meters down. They apply, for example, two new shark species Iceland catshark and Portuguese dogfish. The reason why these species appearing now, may be due to increased deep-sea fishing by both research vessels and commercial fishermen.

Peter Rask Møller dare not predict whether the new species will take hold and eventually become numerous enough that they can be fished.

8 Mar 2010, 8:54pm
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NSIDC Reports That Antarctica is Cooling and Sea Ice is Increasing

By Steven Goddard, Watts Up With That, March 8, 2010 [here]

Last month we discussed how NASA continues to spread worries about the Antarctic warming and melting.

A January 12, 2010 Earth Observatory article warns that Antarctica

“has been losing more than a hundred cubic kilometers (24 cubic miles) of ice each year since 2002″ and that “if all of this ice melted, it would raise global sea level by about 60 meter (197 feet).”

But NSIDC seems to be thinking differently in their March 3, 2010 newsletter. They say Antarctica is cooling and sea ice is increasing (makes sense – ice is associated with cold.)

Sea ice extent in the Antarctic has been unusually high in recent years, both in summer and winter. Overall, the Antarctic is showing small positive trends in total extent. For example, the trend in February extent is now +3.1% per decade. However, the Amundsen and Bellingshausen Seas show a strong negative trend in extent. These overall positive trends may seem counterintuitive in light of what is happening in the Arctic. Our Frequently Asked Questions section briefly explains the general differences between the two polar environments. A recent report (Turner, et. al., 2009) suggests that the ozone hole has resulted in changes in atmospheric circulation leading to cooling and increasing sea ice extents over much of the Antarctic region.

The NSIDC graph below shows the upwards trend in Antarctic Sea Ice. Some recent years have shown anomalies as high as +30%. … [more]

Homeland Security Loses Over 1,000 Computers in One Fiscal Year

by Todd Shepherd, Independence Institute, February 24th, 2010 [here]

New documents reveal that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) continues to lose hundreds of computers per year. At least one DHS component agency maintains that the losses fall within accepted accounting standards.

In fiscal year 2008, inventories of lost, stolen, and damaged equipment show that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) combined to lose no fewer than 985 computers. Meanwhile, the lost, stolen and damaged report for ICE shows 13 vehicles classified as “lost” or “not found during physical inventory.”

CBP’s total inventory (immediately below) of lost stolen and damaged equipment tallies 1,975 pieces at a total valuation of $7.5 million. …

CBP insists that none of the lost computers contained any sensitive or classified data. …

“If CBP can lose more than 500 computers, and say categorically that there was no sensitive data on any of them, then I don’t know what CBP is using their computers for,” [President of the Independence Institute] Caldara added.

CBP’s inventory also shows 235 night vision scopes classified as lost. … Numerous vehicles were sold in which no documentation of the sale could be located. Three computer switchers worth $92,354 each were lost. An “international harvester vehicle truck” valued at $116,349 apparently could not be located during physical inventory.

Neither inventory includes any mention of any kind of munition, armaments, or ammunition. A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General showed that DHS and all component agencies lost 289 firearms from fiscal years 2006 to 2008. … [more]

7 Mar 2010, 12:34pm
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Greatest Arctic Ice Extent On Satellite Record

Arctic sea ice has reached its greatest extent since accurate satellite measurements have been made, according to the Centre for Ocean and Ice, Danish Meteorological Institute [here].

Current Sea Ice extent

Total sea ice extent on the northern hemisphere since 2005. The ice extent values are calculated from the ice type data from the Ocean and Sea Ice, Satellite Application Facility (OSISAF), where areas with ice concentration higher than 30% are classified as ice.

The total area of sea ice is the sum of First Year Ice (FYI), Multi Year Ice (MYI) and the area of ambiguous ice types, from the OSISAF ice type product. However, the total estimated ice area is underestimated due to unclassified coastal regions where mixed land/sea pixels confuse the applied ice type algorithm. The shown sea ice extent values are therefore recommended be used qualitatively in relation to ice extent values from other years shown in the figure.

Note: Richard B. points out in the comments that the ice extent today is not as great as in 2002, the first year that accurate satellite data was collected.

7 Mar 2010, 12:32pm
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Salazar: No ‘hidden agenda’ on potential Utah monuments

Leaked memo reminded many in the state of Clinton’s designation of Grand Staircase.

By Thomas Burr, The Salt Lake Tribune, 03/03/2010 [here]

Washington: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar told a Senate committee Wednesday that there is no “hidden federal agenda” to unilaterally designate national monuments in Utah and around the West.

Salazar, testifying before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, downplayed a leaked Interior memo highlighting 14 potential new monuments (including two in Utah), saying it was simply an effort to gather ideas from his staff.

“There’s no hidden agenda on the part of my department,” Salazar said. “As secretary of the department, I’m interested in finding out what my employees are thinking. … I do think there are a lot of other people out there who have ideas. No one should be too worried that there is a hidden federal agenda because there is not.”

Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, released the Interior memo two weeks ago, arguing that he had unearthed what could be plans by the Obama administration to convert public lands in Utah and other states to national monuments — a move that would block any development or oil and gas drilling in those areas.

Two of the sites listed are in Utah: San Juan County’s Cedar Mesa and Emery County’s San Rafael Swell.

Bishop’s finding set off a flurry of letters and comments by Utah politicians wary of such federal action, remembering how then-President Bill Clinton used the century-old Antiquities Act to name the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996. That move came only days after administration officials denied they were pursuing any action.

more »

7 Mar 2010, 12:30pm
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Washington land grab unwelcome in the West

“Pursuing the strategy outlined in the released documents would threaten western livelihoods.”

Little Chicago Review, Mar 03 2010 [here]

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, Senate Western Caucus (SWC) Chairman John Barrasso and caucus members sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar in opposition to a recently released document from the Department of the Interior (DOI) detailing a strategy to overhaul public and private lands in the West.

The leaked DOI document outlines a strategy to use the Antiquities Act to enact presidential designations of 17 National Monuments in Utah, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, California, Arizona, Oregon, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska and Washington, and to acquire approximately $4 billion of private land in Nevada, California, Utah, Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Oregon.

The SWC letter calls on Secretary Salazar to abandon one-size-fits-all policies for lands in the West.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Secretary Salazar;

As members of the Senate Western Caucus, we write in opposition to a recently released document from the Department of the Interior detailing a strategy to overhaul public and private lands in the West. The document outlines plans for presidential monument designations and land acquisition in 12 western states. Implementing this strategy would break trust with the people of the West.

Americans enjoy a variety of benefits from our public lands, but many westerners rely on public lands for their very livelihoods. For that reason, Congress has ensured that public land management decisions are made in a process that is both public and transparent. Pursuing the strategy outlined in the released documents would threaten western livelihoods and violate the multiple use management framework that is relied upon in western communities. Americans should never live in fear that the stroke of a pen in Washington could forever change their lives.

Land management is most successful when built from local consensus and stakeholder involvement. Grassroots conservation efforts are succeeding in communities across the West. In contrast, top-down land management directives from Washington are recipes for failure. Presidential designations often engender local strife and a loss of public trust. Conflicts over jurisdiction and private property rights continue to plague national monuments designated by the Clinton Administration. Embracing these failed methods would foster resentment in western communities and eliminate the potential for collaborative conservation efforts.

Expansion of federal land holdings and authority is an unsustainable policy. The bureaus of the Department of the Interior are already overloaded with acreage and responsibility. The Bureau of Land Management faces budget shortfalls annually, and the National Park Service faces a maintenance backlog on its existing facilities of over 9 billion dollars. Policy makers must focus on making responsible investments on behalf of the American taxpayer. With that priority in mind, there is no basis for expanding acreage and creating new management requirements for federal land across the West.

The Senate Western Caucus opposes the recently released Department of the Interior strategy for land designation and acquisition. Unilateral action will not be successful in the West. Western communities have a long, successful history of land stewardship. We urge the Department to defer to local land use decision-making and grassroots conservation efforts.

The following Republican senators participated in the letter:

John Barrasso (Wyoming)
Orrin Hatch (Utah)
Senator Jon Kyl (Arizona)
Senator Mike Enzi (Wyoming)
Senator Bob Bennett (Utah)
Senator John Ensign (Nevada)
Senator Mike Johanns (Nevada)

7 Mar 2010, 12:29pm
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Sen. Hinkle letter: Wolves as disease carriers

Clark Fork Chronicle, March 05 2010 [here]

Sen. Greg Hinkle submitted the following letter to be read at the March 2, 2010 meeting of the Environmental Quality Council.

Environmental Quality Council
Representative Chas Vincent, Chair
P.O. Box 201704
Helena, Mt. 59620-1704

Re: Wolf as disease carriers

Dear Representative Vincent and members of the Council,

I have reviewed the documents before this Council on the spread of Hydatid Disease via the wolf. In addition to this, I have reviewed information from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and studies by renowned wildlife biologist Dr. Valerius Geist, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Science at the University of Calgary. You have seen his comments in an email dated February 28, 2010 titled, “EQC and wolves/wolf diseases”.

You have information indicating that almost two-thirds of the wolves in Montana are carriers of the Hydatid Tapeworm and are contaminating our landscape with the eggs of this worm. We have a much milder climate in Montana than in the Far North and it appears this will contribute to a more prevalent spread of the disease. You have read Dr. Geist’s comments on how easily humans can come in contact with the eggs through pets and wildlife where deer or elk are intermediate hosts contributing to the spread of the disease. The seriousness of this contamination of the landscape can not be understated or denied.

In a fact sheet published by the CDC on Echinococossis it is stated, in part, that a person can become infected “by directly ingesting food items contaminated with stool (or eggs) from foxes, coyotes (wolves). This might include grass, herbs, greens, or berries gathered in fields.” Considering the number of wolves in western Montana, to what extent is the probability of wild berries being contaminated?

I have a copy of a letter written to Ed Bangs, Wolf Specialist with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) dated October 3, 1993 from Will N. Graves (Gray Wolf EIS). In that letter, Mr. Graves pointed out the fact that wolves of the north were Hydatid carriers and should not be introduced into the United States by the USFWS. This dated letter was prior to the introduction program; therefore, was the warning ignored or disregarded by Mr. Bangs?

The Montana Constitution in Article IX, Section 1 guarantees every Montanan the unalienable right to a clean and healthy environment; that the legislature will administer and enforce this duty; and that “the legislature shall provide adequate remedies for the protection of the environmental life support system from degradation and provide adequate remedies to prevent unreasonable depletion and degradation of natural resources.”

The expansion of the wolf population enhanced by foreign wolves is virtually wiping out western Montana’s big game herds. I know that from personal observations and those of other outdoorsmen.

I would point out that in a US Supreme Court case; Printz v. United States, 95-1503; the Court referred to a previous case; New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992); and they stated in Printz, “The Federal government”, we held, “may not compel the States to enact or administer a federal regulatory program”, Id., at188. This begs the question, in my mind; did the USFWS have the authority to contaminate our environment with diseased wolves?

Where do we go from here? I believe there are some options. First would be to request that the Attorney General of Montana fully investigate whether Mr. Bangs and the USFWS knew of the potential of bringing diseased wolves from a foreign country into the State. If this is found to be true, the State should sue USFWS for violating our Constitutional guarantee to a clean and healthful environment. Second, we should immediately begin to eradicate the source of the problem. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) should make available an unlimited number of wolf tags and open the season year round. They should educate all hunters on the potential hazard of handling a wolf (or coyote). The funds from the wolf tags should be divided up and all those who harvest a wolf at the end of each calendar year will receive a payment for each wolf harvested. Yes, it is called a bounty. Thirdly, due to deer and elk being intermediate hosts of the disease, FWP should immediately enforce the prohibition on the feeding of ungulates. Illegal feeding concentrates deer and elk creating a hazard for everyone. Other than that, what other sound options are there to hold the spread of this disease in check?

Sincerely,

Senator Greg Hinkle

Greg Hinkle represents Senate District 7, which includes western Missoula County and all of Mineral County.

7 Mar 2010, 12:27pm
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Fish, Wildlife and Parks director issues new rules for killing wolves

By EVE BYRON, Independent Record, March 5, 2010 [here]

Montana’s top wildlife official acknowledged Friday that the state has too many wolves on the landscape, so he’s implementing a new strategy that will allow problem wolves to be killed more quickly by federal agents.

In a hearing before the Environmental Quality Council, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Joe Maurier said federal Wildlife Services agents no longer need FWP authorization to kill wolves at or near confirmed livestock depredation sites. They also will be able to immediately kill any wolves that are trapped when they return to those sites.

“For the amount of conflict we have in all sectors today, we probably have too many wolves on the landscape,” Maurier told the council. “We had tolerable conflict on the landscape; now it’s intolerable. Now we have to go back to the point where it’s tolerable at all levels but we still have a viable population.”

Maurier added that he expects the wolf hunting quota to be increased next season from the initial statewide quota of 75 as another way to lower the wolf population.

6 Mar 2010, 4:43pm
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Ag Sec Vilsack Promotes Collaborative Approach to Forest Restoration and Job Creation in MT

Highlights Recovery Act Benefits for Montana

From: USDA Office of Communications, March 6, 2010 — Not yet posted [here]

Release No. Pending

Washington, D.C. - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today visited Montana to discuss his vision for healthy forests and view bark beetle infested areas on national forests in southwestern Montana.

“Declining forest health and the effects of our changing climate have resulted in an increasing number of catastrophic wildfires and insect outbreaks,” said Vilsack last year when outlining his vision for the future of our nation’s forests. “It is time for a change in the way we view and manage America’s forestlands with an eye towards the future. This will require a new collaborative approach that engages the American people and stakeholders in conserving and restoring both our National Forests and our privately-owned forests.”

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a vital component of this new collaborative process that USDA is continuing to implement. Through the Recovery Act, the USDA Forest Service received $500 million for 298 projects to create jobs and restore our nation’s private, state and national forests through hazardous fuel reduction and other forest management activities. Sixteen of these projects are in Montana at a funding level of $16.4 million. In total, Montana received $71 million in ARRA funds, including $54.6 million for capital improvement and maintenance activities. Some of the ARRA funds were made available nationwide to promote the development of bioenergy from woody biomass to help private sector businesses establish renewable energy infrastructure, create green jobs and build a new, green economy for the 21st century, while lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

While in Montana Vilsack met with Sen. Jon Tester to discuss their shared goals of addressing forest jobs, implementing forest restoration and creating economic opportunities through recreation. The Secretary also toured Sun Mountain Lumber Company in Deer Lodge, one of a number of small lumber mills in southwestern Montana that have re-tooled to accommodate small diameter wood products. Small mills like Sun Mountain are essential in the work of forest restoration. The President’s fiscal year 2011 budget includes a new signature budget line item, Integrated Resource Restoration, proposed at $690 million which will drive investments such as this.

Thanks for the news tip to Julie Kay Smithson of Property Rights Research [here, here]

High Life in the High Mountains?

By Lois Wingerson, American Archaeology, Vol. 13 No. 4 Winter 2009 [here]

Archaeologist Richard Adams never expected to find an ancient village straddling the tree line at an altitude of 10,700 feet in northwest Wyoming. But it was there that he discovered the remains of dozens of lodges cut into a steep mountainside. Single dwellings and hunters’ blinds were found that high, but it has been decades since anyone found a whole prehistoric village in North America at such a height. In 1979, David Hurst Thomas of the American Museum of Natural History found Alta Toquima, a village of about 20 prehistoric houses situated above 11,000 feet in Nevada. A few years later, Robert Bettinger of the University of California-Davis began excavating the first of about 12 prehistoric villages above 10,000 feet in the White Mountains of east-central California.

But never before has a whole prehistoric village been found at a very high altitude as far north as Wyoming. The discovery of High Rise Village prompts a number of questions. Why did these ancient people establish a large village where there is snow on the ground for nine months of the year? Why did they choose a slope with a 20 to 30 percent grade (as steep as a moderate ski run), using bone shovels to level the ground on which their lodges were built, when there’s a meadow a few hundred yards downhill? Why carry tools made from stone that was quarried as far as 100 miles away, when there was a fine chert quarry only five miles distant? These questions remain, but after four seasons at the site, Adams and his team are confident they have answered their initial research questions: when did people live there, who were they, and what were they doing?

Note: You’ll have to buy the mag to read the whole article. Some highlights:

* The village has been radiocarbon-dated to ~1140-1535 A.D.

* Evidence of at least 60 lodges

* Inhabitants were the Tukudika, the Mountain Shoshone [here]

* Villagers ate bighorn sheep, pine nuts, scores of edible plants, used many medicinal plants, had ample firewood

* Numerous other use and village sites have been identified. The evidence suggests that the Yellowstone region was not an uninhabited wilderness in pre-Columbian times.

6 Mar 2010, 12:46am
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Utah House mounts new federal lands challenge

by Brandon Loomis, The Salt Lake Tribune, 02/25/2010 [here]

Utah lawmakers voted Thursday to condemn federal lands in a message meant to reach the Supreme Court and challenge the U.S. government to open lands to development for school funding.

HB143 passed the House 57-13 over Democratic objections that pressing the court case will be costly and likely unsuccessful. Republicans called it a necessary fight to reverse federal oppression and the state’s chronically worst-in-the-nation per-student school funding.

“Our schoolchildren have been robbed,” said Rep. Chris Herrod, R-Provo, the bill’s sponsor.

Herrod asserts that, despite Supreme Court rulings to the contrary, the state is “sovereign” over lands in its boundaries and has power to reclaim those that the federal government did not acquire with state approval. He concedes that Utah gave up claims to federal lands at statehood, but said the federal government has broken its pledge to put the state on “equal footing” with other states by keeping more than two-thirds of the state in federal ownership.

His bill would authorize taking segments of federal land for roads to access state-owned lands for energy production and other development to aid schools. A companion bill proposed by Rep. Ken Sumsion, R-American Fork, would take $1 million in state revenues over three years to cover the legal bills.

Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, called the bill “an act of self-preservation for our state.” … [more]

 
  
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