Rockies Today, Aug. 21



Top news links, courtesy of Mountain West News.

Federal firefighting costs cross $1-billion mark
There are an estimated 40 large, active and uncontained wildfires burning in western states and Alaska, with more than 17,800 firefighters on the firelines, and the federal government's firefighting costs pushed past the $1 billion mark, roughly half the $1.9-billion the government spent fighting wildfires last year. Editor's note: Contains a roundup of wildfires across the West.
Idaho Statesman and Associated Press; Aug. 21

W. Montana wildfire makes evening run
The Lolo Complex Fire burning west of Lolo in Montana made a late run on Tuesday, forcing mandatory evacuations as the fire gained 3,000 acres.
Missoulian; Aug. 21

Idaho wildfire again forces Atlanta residents from their homes
After a brief reprieve on Tuesday, when residents who had been evacuated from their homes in Atlanta because of the threat of the Little Queens Fire had been allowed to return to their homes, the fire made a run Wednesday morning to within just two miles of the small town and residents were told to evacuate again.
Idaho Statesman (AP); Aug. 21

BLM's November auction of Utah leases includes wilderness-quality lands
The Bureau of Land Management announced it will auction oil and gas leases on 82 parcels covering nearly 144,000 acres in Emery, Carbon and Uintah counties in Utah, including dozens of parcels that overlay areas proposed for protection under America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act that is currently pending before Congress.
Salt Lake Tribune; Aug. 21

Most wolves in pack blamed for sheep pile-ups in Idaho had already been killed
Agents from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Wildlife Services had killed 12 wolves in the Pine Creek Pack that roam the area of Idaho's Teton Valley before two wolves from that pack hazed sheep into pile-ups, killing 176 sheep, and after the incident another wolf was killed, leaving two wolves in the pack.
Jackson Hole News & Guide; Aug. 21

Panelists at Wyoming forum say federal coal leases shortchange state
At a forum hosted by the Powder River Basin Resource Council and the Western Organization of Resource Councils Tuesday in Cheyenne, two panelists said a lack of competition in bidding for federal coal leases, flaws in the Bureau of Land Management's appraisal system, and failure to account for the higher prices paid for exported coal are all to blame for loss of revenue to Wyoming and other states.
Casper Star-Tribune; Aug. 21

Wyoming to launch aggressive well-plugging campaign next spring
There are hundreds of "orphaned" wells—non-producing and abandoned by operators—in Wyoming, most of them coalbed methane wells, and next spring the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will begin an accelerated drive to plug those wells.
Casper Star-Tribune; Aug. 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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