Rockies Today, May 21

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Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Wyoming, Montana coal producers say rail congestion bites into profits
Demand is rising for coal from the Powder River Basin in Montana and Wyoming, but the three of the four major producers in that basin saw losses in the first quarter of this year because they were unable to get their product to market due to congestion on the railroad systems they use to move the coal.
Casper Star-Tribune; May 21

Montana Board of Livestock OKs expansion of brucellosis area
On Tuesday, the Montana Board of Livestock unanimously to add 356 square miles in the southwest area of the state in which cattle producers are required to do additional testing for brucellosis after 25% of elk tested in the area tested positive for brucellosis; the new boundaries for the testing area will now go out for public comment.
Bozeman Daily Chronicle; May 21

U.S. oil industry: Bakken oil not more volatile than others
A study commissioned by the North Dakota Petroleum Council found that the lighter crude from the Bakken formation in Montana and North Dakota is no more risky than crude from other areas, and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers said last week that current federal regulations are sufficient to ensure safe transport of the crude.
Flathead Beacon (AP); May 21

Idaho's past water agreements key to future development
Idaho began quantifying and defining water rights in the Snake River Basin in 1987, and the process, set to be completed in August, defines the water rights of the Nez Perce, Shoshone Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute tribe, an outcome that is the envy of other states. Part of the Idaho Statesman's Business Insider series on water.
Idaho Statesman; May 20

USFS signs contract with Montana firm for 3 next-generation air tankers
Citing a concern about a growing threat of wildfires in the southwestern United States, U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell approved a short-term contract with Montana-based Neptune Aviation to provide three BAe-146 jet retardant bombers.
Missoulian; May 21

USDA approves Montana governor's forest restoration plan
Under a program in the federal Farm Bill, governors could identify acres of national forest lands affected by disease or insect infestation for restoration, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock was one of 35 governors to submit such a plan, which U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack approved on Tuesday.
Missoulian; May 21

USFS bans exploding targets in Northern Rockies national forests
On Tuesday, Northern Rockies Regional Forester Faye Krueger announced that the use of exploding targets was banned in all national forests in Montana, Idaho, North Dakota and the South Dakota grasslands, because target shooters using such targets were responsible for starting 16 wildfires across the West over the past two years, which cost $33 million to fight.
Missoulian; May 21

At wildland fire conference in Montana, expert predicts a costly future
Jerry Williams, the retired national director of fire and aviation management with the U.S. Forest Service, told the 600 attendees of the Large Wildland Fires Conference in Montana on Tuesday that land management agencies' inaction had resulted in a massive buildup of fuels and that a drying climate in the West provided ideal conditions for massive wildland fires, and Williams urged attendees to press lawmakers and land managers to make changes to address those conditions.
Missoulian; May 21

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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