Rockies Today, July 21



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Researchers collect data on bats in Montana's Bitterroot Valley
As part of an ongoing project to gather information on bat populations across the United States to help document the spread of the fatal whitenose syndrome, there are 48 listening stations documenting bat populations across Montana, including near Painted Rocks Reservoir in the Bitterroot Valley, where researchers have discovered 12 of the state's 15 species of bats, and that bats are active even in the winter.
Ravalli Republic; July 21

Montana high court sends wind farm lawsuit to California court
After San Diego Gas and Electric filed a lawsuit in California against NaturEner, the Spain-based company that is building the 126-turbine Rim Rock wind farm in Montana near Cut Bank, alleging that NaturEner under-estimated the number of eagles and other raptors the wind farm could kill annually and asked that its contract to buy wind power from the Montana farm be voided, NaturEner filed a counter lawsuit in Montana, but on Friday, the Montana Supreme Court ordered the Montana lawsuit be dismissed and the entire case be heard by the California court.
Flathead Beacon (AP); July 21

States, industry seek middle ground with greater sage grouse
With sage grouse numbers dropping precipitously across the West, states and industry are working to find ways to continue energy extraction and other activities in a way that protects the species, which is teetering on the edge of federal protection.
New York Times; July 21

Idaho plans changes to workplace training program
The Workforce Development Training Fund in Idaho has been used by 200 companies since it was created in 1996, but critics have often charged that companies tapped into the funding and then left the state or closed, and among those were J.R.Simplot's distribution center in Heyburn, the Heinz plant in Pocatello, and TransformSolar and XLFour Star Beef, both in Nampa, all in the Magic Valley, and now the state is working on changes to shift the focus of the fund on drawing jobs to the state to creating a workforce with the skills needed.
Twin Falls Times-News; July 20

National Park Service study shows parks boost states' economies
A study released Friday by the National Park Service said that national parks and monuments in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming boosted those states' economies last year by $1.15 billion, with Idaho getting $29.4 million of that; Montana, $397.3 million; and Wyoming $723.3 million.
Twin Falls Times-News (AP); July 20

NPS report: Park tourism added $330M to Colorado's economy last year
A report issued Friday by the National Park Service said the 12 national parks and monuments in Colorado brought 5.4 million visitors to the state who spent an estimated $330.5 million while visiting.
Durango Herald; July 21

Report tracks economic effect of Salt Lake City airport's makeover
The eight-year, $1.8 billion project to give Salt Lake City International Airport a makeover will stream $3.3-billion of economic activity into the Utah city, provide 24,000 jobs during the construction process, and will bring bigger airplanes, more passengers and more economic activity to the state when completed in 2022, according to an analysis done in 2013.
Salt Lake Tribune; July 20

B.C. reaches out to First Nation's leaders to gain pathway for pipelines
British Columbia sent letters to 60 hereditary leaders of the Gitxsan First Nation offering $6.26-million for the Westcoast Connector and $5.81-million for the Prince Rupert gas line to cross their lands, as well as a signing bonus of $2.4-million payment if the deal is set by Sept. 30 and declines from there.
Toronto Globe and Mail; July 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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