Local plans for federal lands – the latest

This is a continuation of the “sagebrush rebellion” in the form of local government plans that purport to exert local control over federal land management.  They are being peddled to rural counties by Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney with a history of promoting private property rights (who some expect to be the new director of the …

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Court buys FS interpretation of viability for bighorn sheep

On July 31, the federal district court for Wyoming found that the revised Medicine Bow National Forest Plan met the requirement of the 1982 planning regulations to manage habitat “to maintain viable populations of existing native and desired non-native vertebrate species in the planning area.”  At issue was the meaning of additional language in the …

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When the locals pay for national forest fuel reduction …

Everybody wins? “So were Flagstaff officials prescient when they proposed what, at the time, was one of the first municipal partnerships with a national forest to have lands outside city boundaries thinned at city expense?” “Hindsight is 20-20, but it sure looks that way to us. Armed with a $10 million budget, the Forest Service …

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Forest Service wins A to Z

The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court denial of a preliminary injunction for the North Fork Mill Creek A to Z Project on the Colville National Forest, which has been discussed here. Of note, the question of contractor-NEPA was not addressed, although the court said that the Forest Service “reviewed and approved” the EA, and …

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History of logging in Montana

The Missoulian is running a series of articles on this subject.  The one in Sunday’s paper asks these questions about the future: “Banishment from the national forests would doom many Montana timber towns to welfare status, according to advocates in the wood-products industry. But if they’re dependent on access to public timber, isn’t that another …

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Federal lands support diverse economies

Recent research by Headwaters Economics asked whether federal lands are an economic liability or an asset to rural communities (summarized in this opinion piece). On average, we find that from 1970-2014, rural counties with the most federal land grew much faster than similar counties with the least federal land: population grew four times faster, employment …

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Forest/BLM planning avoids sage grouse listing; states don’t like that

While the wisdom of Congress prevents the U. S. Fish and Wildlife from saying so, the agency’s draft of the decision to not list the greater sage grouse under ESA states: “The Federal Plans establish mandatory constraints and were established after notice and comment and review under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  Therefore, changes to the …

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The Forest Service as Noah

High-elevation headwater streams that provide refuge for native bull trout and cutthroat trout would remain cold enough even under the worst warming scenarios to protect and support them. These streams, in places like Central Idaho’s White Cloud Mountains, can carry these native trout through the global warming bottleneck – when many species will disappear – …

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Natural amenities, “the creative class” and economic success

This map got my attention because of the disproportionate amount of “green” in the rural intermountain west.  In this case it means counties have a disproportionately high number of employees in jobs like management, finance, technology, engineering, science, sales, entertainment and non-primary education (and of course lawyering). “The creative-class thesis holds that communities that attract …

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