Rockies Today, Aug. 22



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Federal fund for fighting wildfires runs dry, $600M diverted from other funds
A wildfire near Yosemite National Park in California tripled in size Wednesday night and is just one of 51 uncontained wildfires in the American West, and on Wednesday, the U.S. Forest Service announced that it had already used $967 million in federal wildfire fighting funds, leaving a scant $50 million in that fund, which would be refueled with $600 million from other agency funds.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Aug. 21

Idaho, Oregon senators call for more federal spending to prevent wildfires
Oregon U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden was in Idaho on Tuesday, where he met with Idaho U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise to launch a new initiative that would funnel more federal funds into preventing wildfires.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; Aug. 21

Crews arrive in Idaho burg to help residents stave off wildfire
On Wednesday, the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center classified the 9,500-acre Little Queens Fire in Idaho as the second-highest priority in the nation, welcome news to the residents of Atlanta, who ignored Monday's evacuation orders and chose to stay and protect their community.
Twin Falls Times-News; Aug. 22

Wildfire in W. Montana continues to move toward community
After two days of explosive growth, the Lolo Complex Fire burning in western Montana near Lolo calmed a bit on Wednesday, but with red flag warnings issued for today, crews are digging in for a rough day.
Missoulian; Aug. 22

Montana wildfires close routes from Idaho, Wyoming
The Lolo Complex wildfire in western Montana shut down Highway 12, a key corridor to Idaho, while another wildfire near Red Lodge has closed U.S. Highway 212 that crosses Beartooth Pass, forcing traffic from Wyoming to be detoured off that road Wyoming Highway 296.
Missoulian; Aug. 22

For first time ever, BLM gets no bids on Wyoming coal leases
The Bureau of Land Management was set to open bids for two coal tracts in Wyoming, first recommended for leasing in 20067, on Wednesday, but for the first time ever, there were no bids submitted for the parcel, and the company that now owns the firm that recommended the tracts for leasing explained that it did not submit a bid for the coal due to current market conditions and uncertainty about future regulations of coal-fired power.
Casper Star-Tribune; Aug. 22

Experts point out flaws in BLM coal leasing program at Montana forum
At a forum in Helena sponsored by the Northern Plains Resource Council, Mark Squillace, director of the Natural Resources Law Center at the University of Colorado, and Tom Sanzillo, a New York-based financial and energy consultant, told Montana officials that the Bureau of Land Management had sold coal for under-market prices for decades, and said coal mining companies, not the BLM, drove the bidding process.
Helena Independent Record; Aug. 22

Fort Peck Tribe begins required test of Montana bison before transfer
As required by Montana, the Fort Peck Tribe has begun testing the 74 head of bison for brucellosis, and if all tests come back negative, those bison will be moved to the Fort Belknap Reservation.
Great Falls Tribune; Aug. 22

Dozens fall sick on trips down the Middle Fork of Salmon River in Idaho
The Middle Fork of the Salmon River flows through the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho, but that remote area gets a lot of use, and in July, 51 people reported falling ill during trips along the river, and three people have been tested and one tested positive for E. coli, one for norovirus, and one for giardia.
Idaho Statesman; Aug. 22

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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