The Rockies Today, June 22



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Fierce wildfire season forces USFS to address aging air tanker fleet
Since 1999, aviation accidents have killed 63 wildland firefighters, far more than flames, heat, falling trees or traffic accidents, and with only a handful of air tankers still flying at a time when wildfires are predicted to become larger and more intense, the U.S. Forest Service is taking some steps to bring on more modern air tankers.
New York Times; June 22

Four major wildfires burning across Colorado
Wildfire danger is high across Colorado, with statewide and local restrictions in place, as crews continue to battle the High Park fire in Larimer County, which is 55 percent contained; the Springer fire near Lake George is 30 percent contained, as is the Little Sand fire near Pagosa Springs; and the Sunrise Mine fire near the Utah-Colorado border has burned more than 5,700 acres.
Denver Post; June 22

Alberta designates $190M to battle pine beetles, fight wildfires
Wildfire season began March 1 in Alberta, and this week the province approved $190 million in emergency funding to deal with pine bark beetle infestations and to fight ever larger, more intense wildfires.
Calgary Herald; June 22

Idaho U.S. Rep. Simpson submits another sheep-grazing bill
After a federal judge ruled that Idaho U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson's 2011 measure that barred funding for the U.S. Forest Service to close additional areas of the Payette National Forest to sheep grazing did not apply to lease closures set for this year, the Idaho congressman submitted a new measure to stop such closures.
Idaho Statesman (AP); June 22

Corps of Engineers to do EIS on shipping coal out of Oregon ports
In a letter to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber earlier this month, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said it would conduct an environmental analysis of the plan to ship coal from Montana and Wyoming out of Oregon ports, although the letter is unclear if that analysis would extend to the effects of moving the coal by trains that pass through Missoula and Helena, both Montana cities that have asked that the analysis consider that impact.
Helena Independent Record; June 22

Idaho senators question USFWS's designation of woodland caribou habitat
U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch questioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's proposal to designate nearly 600 square miles in Northern Idaho and Eastern Washington state as critical habitat for woodland caribou, given that there are only about four of the animals that regularly wander south out of Canada into those states.
Spokane Spokesman-Review; June 22

Senate passes Farm bill, but cut Montana senator's Sportsmen's Act
The U.S. Senate voted 64-35 on Thursday to pass the Farm Bill, but the massive, complex legislation will likely have a tougher time in the U.S. House, where conservatives have said they want to trim the food stamp program, which accounts for about 80 percent, or $80 billion, of the bill's costs.
Missoulian (AP); June 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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