Rockies Today, Jan. 30

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Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Task force submits sage grouse recommendations to Montana governor
The 12-member task force appointed by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock to come up with recommendations to protect declining sage grouse populations in the state, and keep the bird off the federal endangered species list, submitted a 73-page report to the governor on Wednesday that said the state should establish no occupancy zones around leks, provide a conservation fund to reimburse landowners who protect sage grouse habitat and appoint a panel to ensure the recommendations made by the sage grouse task force are put in place and enforced.
Helena Independent Record; Jan. 30

Founder of high-tech company said Montana ripe for new business
Greg Gianforte, who founded RightNow Technologies in a spare bedroom in Bozeman in 1997 and sold it to Oracle for $1.5-billion in 2011, told attendees of the Economic Outlook Seminar in Great Falls on Wednesday that Montana workers have the right work ethic, and that the state could easily become a leader in intellectual property businesses—despite naysayers' claims that the state doesn't have the bandwidth or capital to do so.
Great Falls Tribune; Jan. 30

Air quality focus of Utah governor's State of State speech
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert delivered his State of the State speech to legislators on Wednesday, with the Republican governor urging the state move more quickly on measures to reduce emissions and improve air quality.
Salt Lake Tribune; Jan. 30

Western Colorado counties push back against statewide air-quality rules
Garfield, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco and Montezuma counties have formed the Energy Producing Attainment Counties (EPAC) coalition to lobby regulators to not adopt statewide air-quality regulations.
Glenwood Springs Post Independent; Jan. 30

U.S. House passes Farm Bill that has funding for PILT payments
On a 251-to-166 vote on Wednesday, the U.S. House approved the Farm Bill that contained a one-year extension of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program that will provide $425 million to rural counties with non-taxable federal lands within their borders, and now bill moves to the U.S. Senate, where it's likely to pass.
Casper Star-Tribune; Jan. 30

Alberta's plan to remove 200 wild horses from range sparks debate
There are an estimated 980 wild horses roaming Alberta, and the province has issued permits for 200 of those horses to be removed from the range along the foothills from Kananaskis Country to Sundre, with permit holders allowed to either adopt the horses out or send them to slaughter, prompting a spirited debate about the plan.
Calgary Herald; Jan. 30

Stretch of I-84 in Idaho a deadly one for barn owls
Tempe Regan, a graduate student at Boise State University, is studying why the stretch of Interstate 84 between Boise and Pocatello in Idaho is so deadly for barn owls as hundreds of the owls die along that road each year.
Twin Falls Times-News; Jan. 30

Idaho DEQ official updates legislators on lead clean-up in Silver Valley
Curt Fransen, the chief of the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, told legislators that the most recent blood tests of children in the Silver Valley near Kellogg found elevated levels in just 1 percent of those tested, an indication that the clean-up of mining waste in the area is working.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; Jan. 30

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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