The Rockies Today, Dec. 20

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Top news links, courtesy of Headwaters News.

Montanans find good pay, long hours in North Dakota's oil fields
Unable to find work in Northwest Montana, people of all ages are working in the oil fields of North Dakota, where they're expected to work 80 hours a week, and although the pay is good, living expenses are high, and for truck drivers, much of their day is spent fighting traffic. Part of a series from the Daily InterLake on working in the Bakken oil fields.
Kalispell Daily Inter Lake; Dec. 20

Wildlife Conservation Society report follows migration routes in the West
In its new report, "Spectacular Migrations in the Western U.S.," (pdf) the Wildlife Conservation Society reports on the importance of maintaining ecologically intact corridors for migration.
New York Times; Dec. 20

Colorado land swap provides 'bridge' from refuge to mountains
A $21.5-million land swap that will enlarge the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado by 687 acres is a segment of a plan to surround two-thirds of the Denver metro area with open space, but the agreement struck by Arvada, Boulder, Golden and Jefferson counties, as well as Colorado and federal agencies, is being challenged in federal court by the town of Superior over the route of the proposed Jefferson Parkway.
Denver Post; Dec. 20

West Yellowstone businesses want snow for Christmas
Although Yellowstone National Park opened for the winter last week, there isn't enough snow in the park to run snowmobiles and snowcoaches, and visitor-dependent businesses in West Yellowstone are hoping for a white Christmas.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; Dec. 20

Montana Land Board approves cabin-lease increases
At its meeting on Monday, the Montana State Land Board agreed to a new schedule for increasing rents on cabin leases that did little to counter arguments from current leaseholders that the increases would price them out of the market and from colleges that receive the funds as being too little.
Helena Independent Record (AP); Dec. 20

Wyoming lawmaker, California company urge state to hold off on plugging wells
Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission supervisor Tom Doll asked the state to double the funds available to plug coalbed methane wells owned by companies no longer able to pay to do so themselves, but California-based USA Exploration & Production LLC and state Sen. Kit Jennings is urging the state to put plugging those wells on hold for three years to give "biogenic" technology a chance to increase production of those wells.
WyoFile.com; Dec. 20

Family of Idaho firefighter that died on Texas wildfire line question BLM report
Caleb Hamm, a Bureau of Land Management wildfire fighter, died on the fireline in Texas in July from heat exhaustion, and Hamm's family from Idaho are questioning the BLM's official report on Hamm's death, which they said contains inconsistencies and they believe that Hamm could have lived had the medical response been speedier.
Idaho Statesman; Dec. 20

Montana company reaches back in time to tap algae's power
Missoula-based Blue Marble Biomaterials is awaiting on an international patent on its process that taps the ancient ability of algae to adapt to its environment to create a palate of pigments to be used in a slate of products.
Missoulian; Dec. 20

Montana firm heads east to tap into North Dakota building frenzy
There's not much construction work in Montana's Flathead Valley, which is why Whitefish-based Malmquist Construction is building homes in North Dakota communities where the Bakken oil boom has created a massive shortage of housing. Part of a series by the Kalispell Daily Inter Lake on how North Dakota's oil boom is affecting Montana's economy.
Kalispell Daily Inter Lake; Dec. 17

Headwaters News is a project of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. It provides a daily snapshot of news and opinion in the Rocky Mountain region of North America, giving the changing mountain West a tool to understand itself and a platform for the exchange of ideas.

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