The Rockies Today, March 19

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Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

USDA: Rural mortgages with drilling leases may get environmental review
As energy development increases across rural areas of the nation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering requiring more in-depth environmental review of mortgages for properties with oil and gas leases on them, which could affect both its Rural Housing Service program and the Rural Business and Cooperative program.
New York Times; March 19

BLM's final plan will allow 1,298 gas wells in Utah's Uinta Basin
Under the final plan released Friday, the Bureau of Land Management will allow Gasco Energy to drill up to 1,298 natural gas wells on nearly 207,000 acres in Utah's Uinta Basin stretching across Uintah and Duchesne counties, along the West Tavaputs Plateau and nearing Desolation Canyon.
Salt Lake Tribune; March 17

Crews contain Colorado wildfire that forced evacuation of hundreds of residents
A wind-whipped wildfire burned an estimated 84 square miles in northeastern Colorado and forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents on Sunday.
Denver Post; March 19

Blister rust, beetles attack white pine forests in Alberta
Whitebark pine trees in Alberta's alpine forests are under attack from both blister rust and mountain pine beetles, due in part to warmer temperatures that have allowed the beetles to live through winters, and researchers are gathering pine nuts to ensure the species survives.
Edmonton Journal; March 19

Beetle-killed forests change challenges for firefighters
Pine beetles have killed millions of acres of trees in the Rocky Mountain West, and as recent wildfires in those beetle-affected forests have indicated, wildfire behavior has changed as well, and now firefighters are at higher risk of being harmed by falling trees.
Missoulian; March 18

S&K Aerospace, one of the seven firms operated by S&K Technologies, owned and operated by the Confederated and Salish Kootenai Tribes in Montana, won a contract with the Air Force that is worth nearly a billion dollars to buy and repair military equipment for 80 nations around the globe.
Missoulian; March 17

Colorado firm suspends drilling plans on Montana reservation due to cultural concerns
Colorado-based Anschutz Exploration Corp., owns the right to drill for oil and gas on 400,000 acres of the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, but the company withdrew its plans to drill on the 640-acre Red Blanket Butte after the Blackfeet Tribe protested drilling in the area that is a culturally sacred site to the tribe.
Missoulian; March 18

Idaho county launches campaign to delist woodland caribou
Bonner County has hired a legal firm and is asking the public to help support the Idaho county's campaign to get the small herd of woodland caribou that roam in Bonner and Boundary counties in Idaho and Pend Oreille County in Washington taken off the federal endangered list.
Idaho Statesman (Bonner County Bee); March 19

Mountain West 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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