Rockies Today, Jan. 22



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Yellowstone Park official asks Wyoming to adopt stretch of Beartooth Highway
The Beartooth Highway passes through 35 miles of northern Wyoming on its way between the Montana communities of Red Lodge and Cooke City, and maintenance of the high-elevation highway has been a point of contention since the road opened in 1936, and last week, Yellowstone National Park Supervisor Dan Wenk traveled to Cheyenne to ask Gov. Matt Mead and state transportation officials to consider taking over responsibility for the highway.
Billings Gazette (; Jan. 21

Tribes, colleges work to build sustainable homes in Indian Country
To address housing shortages on reservations across the country, and to avoid building the problem-plagued pre-fabricated homes built by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, tribes and universities are building straw-bale homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
High Country News; Jan. 20

Federal budget bans funding for inspection of equine slaughterhouses
The move to open equine slaughterhouses in Missouri and New Mexico hit a federal budget block as the $1.012 trillion budget bill signed into law last week by President Obama bans the U.S. Department of Agriculture from providing funding for required inspectors of such facilities.
Albuquerque Journal; Jan. 17

Congress' failure to fund PILT program will cost Colorado's rural counties
The Payment in Lieu of Taxes program was created by the U.S. federal government in the 1970s to compensate counties where federal lands made up a majority of the lands for lost property tax revenue, but that program was not funded in the current federal budget, and with Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana among the top recipients of such funding, rural counties in those states are scrambling to budget for the lost federal funds.
Denver Post; Jan. 22

Alberta Energy Regulator's hearing addresses unique problem with Peace River bitumen
The Alberta Energy Regulator's first-ever public hearing on a health issue related to energy development is underway in Peace River as local residents and representatives of Calgary-based Baytex Energy gathered to discuss the smell and emissions coming from Baytex's bitumen-processing plant that opened in that community two years ago, with residents calling for special regulation of the bitumen found in the area due to its high sulfur content.
Calgary Herald (Edmonton Journal); Jan. 22

W. Wyoming airport's wastewater reinjection plan under debate
Jackson Hole Airport, the only commercial airport located within a national park, plans to install a cutting edge disposal system that will treat wastewater and then reinject the treated water into a well that's between 150 and 160 feet deep, a plan that some groups are concerned could affect water quality in the Snake River Alluvial Aquifer in Western Wyoming.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Jan. 22

Idaho county develops strategy to fight transmission line route
The Bureau of Land Management recently approved eight of ten segments of the Gateway West transmission line's path from Wyoming to southern Idaho, including a route through Cassia County which moves through primarily private property, and the Idaho county's commissioners said that they will fight that routing using the Local Land Use Planning Act (LLUPA), which will require the county to adopt performance standards for siting overhead electrical lines.
Twin Falls Times-News; Jan. 22

'Zombie subdivisions' plague counties in the Mountain West
While some Colorado counties were able to avoid the problem of large, undeveloped subdivisions stalled by the 2008 national recession, primarily due to the planning lessons those counties learned during the 1980s, such 'zombie subdivisions' are a problem in Eagle and Montrose counties, and a new report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy says the undeveloped subdivisions are a particular problem in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming and Arizona.
Denver Post; Jan. 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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