Rockies Today, Jan. 23

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Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

One-year federal budget leaves PILT funding for counties out of the mix
In 2012, Montana counties that had a portion of non-taxable federal lands within their borders split $26 million in Payment-in-Lieu-of-Taxes funding from the federal government, but the budget bill signed into law last week by President Obama contained no provision for the federal program, and discussions are underway in Congress to graft PILT funding onto the Farm Bill.
Billings Gazette; Jan. 23

Montana FWP to move forward on bison-management plan
In a letter to participants in September's meeting in Lewistown on bison management, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Jeff Hagener said the state will move forward with a bison management study that will include alternatives for reintroduction of wild bison in the state.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 23

Utah House Clean Air Caucus introduces 15 bills on air quality
The air quality in Salt Lake City provided a dramatic backdrop on Wednesday for the House Clean Air Caucus's unveiling of 15 pieces of legislation all designed to curb emissions and clear the air in the Utah city, which shared first place ranking with two cities in Southern California for the nation's dirtiest air, with Provo and Logan also ranked in the top five for the worst air quality.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 23

Study tracks groundwater recovery as Wyoming's CBM industry wanes
A study done by the Wyoming State Geological Survey for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management tracked changes in groundwater levels in the Powder River Basin since drilling for coalbed methane has declined found that in some areas, groundwater levels have recovered, but in areas where coalbed methane activity was the highest, those levels have not.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 23

U. of Montana researcher on team examining wildlife migration routes
In 2008, the National Park Service asked Joel Berger at the University of Montana and other wildlife experts to examine the challenges facing migratory species, and in a paper published this last week in Conservation Biology, those experts called for the NPS and other public land agencies, as well as local governments, to work together to protect migratory routes.
Missoulian; Jan. 23

Idaho legislators urged to increase funding to train doctors
Idaho already ranks 49th in the United States for its per capita number of doctors, and members of the Legislature's Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee were warned by Dr. Mary Barinaga this week that the doctor shortage will worsen as many of the physicians in the state are approaching retirement age, and the lack of an in-state medical school adds to the growing problem.
Idaho Statesman (Spokane Spokesman-Review); Jan. 23

Wyoming hunters, anglers wary of drilling plan for Sweetwater County
Nearly all of the greater Little Mountain area, roughly half a million mountainous acres, is owned by either the U.S. Bureau of Land Management or the State of Wyoming, and the area is prized for its wild nature, wildlife and pristine creeks full of native Colorado cutthroat trout, and the BLM's open house Tuesday night on an energy company's proposal to drill seven exploratory oil and gas wells in Sweetgrass County drew a crowd of nearly 100 hunters and anglers who wanted to learn more about the project.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 23

Three megaloads are making their way through Montana
The massive piece of equipment bound for Alberta's oilsands country was briefly delayed on its trek through Montana early Wednesday morning by a 71-year-old woman who sat in its path along Reserve Street in Missoula, but the megaload continued on its way after Carol Marsh was arrested and is currently parked in Bonner; the second megaload is making its way through the Bitterroot Valley, and a third, smaller shipment was making its way from Lolo to Bonner early Thursday.
Missoulian; Jan. 23

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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