Rockies Today, June 17

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Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Two new studies find global water supplies dropping

U.S. researchers released two new reports on Tuesday that found that 21 of the 37 largest aquifers around the globe w ere nearing the sustainability tipping point, which means more water was being pulled from the underground pools than are flowing in and that, in the United States, California's Central Valley Aquifer is in the worst shape.
Vancouver Sun (Washington Post); June 17
USGS uses drones to map sagebrush in W. Idaho
There are three subspecies of big sagebrush in the West: the most abundant is Wyoming big sagebrush, the most drought tolerant is Basin big sagebrush, and Mountain big sagebrush grows at higher elevations, and a mapping experiment is underway in Western Idaho, where drones carrying three separate camera lenses flew over managed plots of sagebrush to see if accurate maps showing distinct species of plants can be created. If so, then drones could be used to map areas, and if wildfire burns those areas, they can be replanted with the correct plants.
Twin Falls Times-News (AP); June 17

Comments flow in on BLM's plan for 3.2M acres in Wyoming

The Bureau of Land Management's proposed Big Horn Basin Resource Management Plan will replace three current plans in place on the 3.2-million acre basin in Wyoming, and will be in place for the next couple of decades, but conservation groups say that it allows too much energy development in wildlife migration routes, and ranchers say sage grouse protections threaten their grazing leases, and the Wyoming Petroleum Association and the state said they need more time to review the plan before commenting.
Casper Star-Tribune; June 17

Montana's Flathead County experiences a better building boom

When the national housing recession hit Montana's Flathead County in 2008, it swept the legs out from under the construction industry, sending unemployment rates to 15.9 percent in March of 2009, but there's a new construction boom underway in the county, where unemployment rates have fallen to 5.5 percent, the lowest in more than eight years.
Flathead Beacon; June 17

Builders at work on commercial projects in Idaho's Treasure Valley

Idaho's Treasure Valley is abuzz with commercial building projects, including Gardner Co., which finished building the tallest building in the state in Boise last year; Local Construct is building more housing units in Downtown Boise; Ron Van Auker builds industrial manufacturing space, and now owns, manages and leases more than 2 million square feet of office and industrial space in the Treasure Valley.
Idaho Statesman; June 17

Utah selects firms to analyze, market federal lands takeover

On Tuesday, a Utah legislative committee selected a law firm and public policy research organization to work on the process of moving ownership of federal lands to the state and to get the public onboard with the plan, and allocated $2 million to pay for the work.
Casper Star-Tribune (AP); June 17

Legislators start process to pay Utah county commissioner's legal costs

On Tuesday, Utah legislators on the Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands gave initial approval to provide up to $100,000 in state funds to help pay legal costs for San Juan County Commissioner, Phil Lyman, recently found guilty of federal charges arising out of the illegal ATV ride into Recapture Canyon last year, and the Legislative Management Committee subsequently approved the measure, which now moves to the Constitutional Defense Council for final approval.
Utah Political Capitol; June 17

Bridger-Teton NF plan will phase out Wyoming elk feedground

In an agreement with The Conservation Alliance and Greater Yellowstone Coalition signed on June 3, the Bridger-Teton National Forest is recommending that the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission phase out feeding elk at the Alkali Creek Feedground.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; June 17

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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