President issues Memorandum Regarding Hiring Freeze (posted 1/23/17)
Orders a freeze on the hiring of Federal civilian employees
The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
January 23, 2017
Presidential Memorandum Regarding the Hiring Freeze
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Hiring Freeze
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order a freeze on the hiring of Federal civilian employees to be applied across the board in the executive branch. As part of this freeze, no vacant positions existing at noon on January 22, 2017, may be filled and no new positions may be created, except in limited circumstances. This order does not include or apply to military personnel. The head of any executive department or agency may exempt from the hiring freeze any positions that it deems necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities. In addition, the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may grant exemptions from this freeze where those exemptions are otherwise necessary.
Within 90 days of the date of this memorandum, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in consultation with the Director of OPM, shall recommend a long-term plan to reduce the size of the Federal Government's workforce through attrition. This order shall expire upon implementation of the OMB plan.
Contracting outside the Government to circumvent the intent of this memorandum shall not be permitted.
This hiring freeze applies to all executive departments and agencies regardless of the sources of their operational and programmatic funding, excepting military personnel.
In carrying out this memorandum, I ask that you seek efficient use of existing personnel and funds to improve public services and the delivery of these services. Accordingly, this memorandum does not prohibit making reallocations to meet the highest priority needs and to ensure that essential services are not interrupted and national security is not affected.
This memorandum does not limit the nomination and appointment of officials to positions requiring Presidential appointment or Senate confirmation, the appointment of officials to non-career positions in the Senior Executive Service or to Schedule C positions in the Excepted Service, or the appointment of any other officials who serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority. Moreover, it does not limit the hiring of personnel where such a limit would conflict with applicable law. This memorandum does not revoke any appointment to Federal service made prior to January 22, 2017.
This memorandum does not abrogate any collective bargaining agreement in effect on the date of this memorandum.
DONALD J. TRUMP
Wyoming wolf update (posted 1/23/17)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) has been busy placing radio collars on wolves throughout western Wyoming. With 36 new collars in place, more than 80 wolves in the state are now wearing the collars. The collars are a tool for monitoring the wolf population, and can be key resource for quickly locating wolf packs that are involved in livestock depredations.
FWS and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WG&F) are working together to develop the population estimate for wolves in the state (which will include minimum population numbers as well as a tally of breeding pairs). These numbers will be released in the annual report issued by the federal agency each spring. The report will also contain the official tally of verified wolf depredations on livestock (2016 was a record high for livestock kills) as well as the number of wolves killed in response to livestock depredations (also a record high).
Becker headed to WYO
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service has finally named a replacement for Mike Jimenez, who ran the agency's wolf management program in Wyoming until his retirement last year.
Scott Becker will come on board the first week of March, and will be stationed in Lander. Becker served as a wolf biologist for FWS (stationed in Cody) until he took a similar position with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in 2012,
Becker is a University of Wyoming graduate then went to work for the WG&F and FWS in their wolf programs until he moved to a similar position in
FWS Field Supervisor Tyler Abbott of Cheyenne is pleased to turn over responsibilities for wolf control to such an experienced and well-qualified candidate. "He knows the ropes, and he knows how to deal with depredations," Abbott said.
There is a pack of up to 10 wolves roaming the Baldwin Creek area near Lander, in the same area where a wolf pack killed cattle last year. FWS recently placed radio collars on two wolves in this pack.
With cattle producers just starting the calving season, the timing of the collar placement was ideal, since the wolf pack can be more easily located in the event conflicts arise. At this time of year, wolf packs are not feeding pups, so wolves may not travel far from a kill site.
Abbott urges livestock producers in the area to keep close watch on their stock, and if calves go missing, Abbott recommends that producers do their best to find carcass remains as soon as possible. Federal officials have a higher likelihood of determining if a wolf was involved if an investigation can begin promptly.
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
U.S. Energy Department gives $4 million grant to develop electric corridors on Utah, Wyoming and Idaho highways (posted 1/23/17)
Rocky Mountain Power also gets approval in Utah to promote EV chargers
Rocky Mountain Power
U.S. Energy Department gives $4 million grant to develop electric corridors on Utah, Wyoming and Idaho highways
Rocky Mountain Power also gets approval in Utah to promote EV chargers
Motorists with electric vehicles will soon be able to quickly charge those cars throughout Utah, Wyoming and Idaho. Rocky Mountain Power was selected for a $4 million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop 1,500 miles of electric highway corridors along I-15, I-80, I-70 and I-84. The grant will also develop innovative smart mobility programs to encourage electric car-sharing, and advance the use of electric bikes and buses to create an emission-free community experience.
The grant’s target is to double the number of electric vehicles (EVs) in the region to more than 50,000 cars in the next 10 years. This would result in the annual reduction of 251 million pounds of CO2 emissions and 24.9 million gallons of gasoline.
"Our goal is to have enough charging stations to help electric vehicles go from Disneyland to Yellowstone and everywhere in between," said Cindy A. Crane, Rocky Mountain Power President and CEO. "This initiative makes Utah a leader in the nation for electric transportation."
The grant will be used to do the following:
• Build DC fast chargers every 100 miles along the corridors and AC level 2 charges in every major community in the region.
• Offer incentives for employers to install charging stations at their places of work.
• Help businesses purchase 200 EVs and more than 13,800 electric rental vehicles.
• Evaluate the impact of the charging stations on the electric grid.
• Build community partnerships to develop smart mobility programs to use technology, collect data and develop best practices to meet long-term transportation plans.
Rocky Mountain Power and project partners were selected through a highly competitive process against hundreds of proposals from across the country. The project partners include the Utah Office of Energy Development, University of Utah, Utah State University, Salt Lake City, Utah Clean Cities Coalition, Breathe Utah, Idaho National Laboratory and others.
"Through unprecedented partnerships, Utah has driven its legacy as the Crossroads of the West to become a new national hub for electric vehicle innovation," said Dr. Laura Nelson, Utah Governor's energy advisor and executive director of the Governor's Office of Energy Development. "We look forward to accelerating our EV infrastructure to support our growing needs along the Wasatch Front, as well as to provide access to Utah's Mighty Five National Parks, and other unrivaled recreation destinations."
The grant was made possible because of the Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan (STEP). The Utah Public Service Commission approved the plan in December to provide $2 million in funding each year to provide incentives for EV charging stations. The incentives are part of a larger 5-year pilot program authorized by the Utah legislature last March for the Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act or STEP.
"More electric vehicles on the road means fewer emissions in the air,’ said Rep. V. Lowry Snow, Utah House sponsor for STEP. "These incentives will mean more chargers and less range anxiety for motorists who want to purchase an electric vehicle."
Funds will be provided for residential and commercial EV charger rebates, education about EVs and grant-based projects and partnerships.
"STEP is win-win-win legislation because it helps improve the air and economy without raising taxes or hiking electricity prices,’ said Sen. J. Stuart Adams, Utah Senate sponsor for STEP.
A report by the Electric Power Institute and Natural Resources Defense Council projects the widespread adoption of EVs could reduce annual emissions by 45 to 77 percent by 2050---equivalent to removing 80 to 100 million passenger cars from the road.
"Vehicles contribute about half of the emissions during winter inversions," said Alan Matheson, Utah Department of Environmental Quality Executive Director. "Therefore, replacing our fleet with low- or no-emission vehicles is a critical strategy to clean our air. This electric vehicle initiative is an important step toward that goal."
The final numbers are not in but the trade magazine Inside EVs reports EV sales have reached more than 153,000 in 2016---up more than 32 percent from the previous year. Total EV sales since 2010 now stands at more than 560,000.
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy reports nearly two thirds, 63 percent, of all U.S. households have a garage or carport available for an electric vehicle charging station.
Rocky Mountain Power works to help customers manage high winter bills (posted 1/23/17)
Rocky Mountain Power
Rocky Mountain Power has some helpful tips to prevent high electricity bills when the temperatures get low. Because energy use is very sensitive to temperature in both winter and summer, high bill questions from customers tend to occur whenever extreme weather occurs.
Customers often contact the company concerning monthly bills during severe winter temperatures. It’s a particular issue for those customers with all-electric homes that use baseboard and electric water heating, or those customers who use portable electric heaters for extended periods.
Other energy use in the home is also a factor in winter. These can include electric fireplaces or engine-block heaters for cars and trucks. Customers should also remember that the electric fan for gas furnaces runs significantly more in extreme cold.
Customers can call Rocky Mountain Power toll-free at 1-888-221-7070 any time they have a question. For high bill questions, the company can review the history of their account. Even if they’ve been there only a short time, the company can usually look up the annual usage for that location to determine what the seasonal variations are.
If there’s a pattern that’s truly unusual, the company works with the customer to find the answer. This might include verifying the meter reading is accurate, or checking the meter to make sure it’s working correctly. Most meters are read remotely these days, which has proved to be very accurate and efficient. Rocky Mountain Power also has billing options and payment programs that may be helpful in these situations. Customers might consider equal pay as an option.
Rocky Mountain Power’s website has information on billing and tips on energy efficiency and programs for cash incentives to improve a home’s energy performance.
Billing information and options:
Energy efficiency incentives:
Rocky Mountain Power strives to be a low-cost energy provider to customers in Wyoming. Customer prices are regulated by the Wyoming Public Service Commission. The company must make a request for any change in rates or charges, and the request must pass a thorough review by state utility experts. The company’s profits are also capped at a specific percentage.
The most recent general rate increase for Rocky Mountain Power customers in Wyoming was completed in January 2016 after an eight-month review. Residential prices increased 3 percent, or about $2.40 on a typical monthly bill. Also in 2016, two adjustments for the cost of fuel and purchased power decreased the typical monthly residential bill a total of 25 cents.
Celebrity wolves (posted 1/23/17)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Emma Marris’s essay "Why OR7 is a celebrity" in the current edition of High Country News uses the tale of an individual wolf to explain the novelty factor when wolves expand their range and move into a new area.
"At the edges of their range, the wolf frontier, the animals are more likely to be individually known and managed as if each one is precious," Marris writes. "If one finds a mate or has pups, it’s announced in the local paper and even on Facebook."
Marris’s piece notes the fund-raising factor is upped when people connect emotionally to individual animals, but appeals focused on larger groups are not as effective.
Marris noted that while OR7 is famous in Oregon, the novelty is wearing off as the wolf population increases. "If and when gray wolves become well established, they will be managed like black bears, cougars or other animals — as largely anonymous populations."
The essay is incorrect in reporting that wolves are delisted in Wyoming, and subject to hunting and trapping seasons. That is the case in Montana and Idaho, but not in Wyoming.
Why OR7 is a celebrity - High Country News
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
50 Pronghorn die NW of Boise, Idaho after eating toxic landscaping shrub (posted 1/22/16)
50 pronghorn died in Idaho in mid-January after eating a toxic landscaping shrub, Japanese yew. Photos courtesy Idaho Fish & Game.
Japanese Yew toxic to pronghorn, elk, moose, dogs, horses, humans
Idaho Department of Fish and Game
IDAHO, Idaho Fish & Game, January 18, 2017 - Just two weeks ago, a group of eight elk died in the Boise foothills after feeding on Japanese yew plants. This week, a herd of 50 pronghorn antelope have been found dead in the town of Payette, victims of the same toxic shrub.
The pronghorn were reported to Fish and Game staff early Tuesday afternoon, January 17th; conservation officers located the 50 animals in one large scattered group later that day. Cause of death was not immediately evident, and four of the carcasses were transported to the Fish and Game Health Laboratory for evaluation.
Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Dr. Mark Drew confirmed the cause of death on Wednesday. "All four animals were in good body condition, but with congested lungs and kidneys," Drew noted. "All had Japanese yew twigs and needles in their esophagus and rumen; cause of death was yew toxicity."
Earlier in the week, a larger herd of pronghorn bedded on an ice jam in the Snake River, crossing to the Idaho side on Monday near Centennial Park. They then moved south along the river towards Payette Pond. "There are a number of residences along this route where they may have encountered the shrub," Fish and Game conservation educator Evin Oneale said. "Like other big game species that graze on Japanese yew, they died quickly after ingesting the plant."
Japanese Yew or Taxus cuspidate is a common landscaping shrub, despite the fact that its soft, waxy needles are fatal to a variety of species, including elk, moose, horses, dogs and even humans. In some locations, this year’s winter weather is pushing big game animals into more urban neighborhoods increasing the likelihood that Japanese yew plants will be encountered.
Because of the risk to big game animals, the department urges homeowners to inventory their property and remove and landfill any Japanese yew that might be growing at their residence. Alternatively, the plants can be wrapped with burlap to prevent access by big game animals.
Source: https://idfg.idaho.gov/press/pronghorn-deaths-blamed-japanese-yew Idaho Fish & Game, January 18, 2017
January 2017 Wyoming Game & Fish Newsletter (posted 1/22/17)
The January 2017 Wyoming Game & Fish newsletter is out for the Pinedale Region.
Pinedale Region news & updates
The Wyoming Game & Fish has posted their January 2017 newsletters. Here are highlights from the Pinedale Region:
Mule Deer Counts
Every winter Wyoming Game and Fish biologists and wardens take to the air to conduct their annual deer population survey and classification. After a couple of relatively mild winters, it appears we’re going to get a real Wyoming winter this year and managers are concerned we may experience above average losses, especially with fawns. Managers are already seeing winter mortality. In the Wyoming Range deer herd, buck ratios were again a bright spot this year at 36 per 100 does. Fawn ratios were just 58 per 100 does, the lowest number seen since 1993, and many of those may succumb to winter.
With an early onset of winter this year, all of the Pinedale Region game wardens have been responding to calls of elk in conflict situations on private land. Game and Fish personnel are trying to move elk to feedgrounds along the southern Wind River Range front. There have been complaints of elk damage near 40 Rod Road and the New Fork River where a handful of bull elk have been moving around hitting numerous haystacks on area ranches. There have also been several complaints about elk damaging stored hay in the Bondurant area. Hazing and hunting have had limited success due to the deep snow.
On the Ground
The Pinedale Habitat & Access crew for the Game and Fish Department completed a livestock exclosure project at Onion Springs off the Ryegrass Road near Daniel. The fence was built with old recycled drill pipe. Such drill pipe has been donated by companies including Chevron, Ultra and QEP, and is being utilized for a number of Game & Fish fencing projects in the region.
Winter Range Patrol
In the winter, area Game Wardens patrol the extensive mule deer winter ranges around Pinedale, Big Piney and LaBarge and handle reports of suspicious activities and poaching. They rely on the public helping to be their eyes and ears on the ground to stop poaching and catch poachers. Managers are aware of one deer being illegally shot this winter near Buckskin Crossing south of Boulder. Anyone with information on a possible poaching incident should call the STOP POACHING hotline at 1-877-WGFD-TIP (1-877-943- 3847), any Game and Fish regional office, or any Game and Fish warden. Information can also be reported by clicking on the "Stop Poaching" icon located on the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s web site homepage at https://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/home.aspx. Any information leading to an arrest and conviction may result in a cash reward and anyone providing information may remain anonymous.
Stop Poaching Call Rewarded
Breanne Cowan of Farson received a $1,000 check from South Pinedale Game Warden Jordan Kraft and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s Stop Poaching program for helping in the apprehension of two violators for hunting deer in the wrong area, taking the wrong sex animal and wasting a buck deer earlier this fall.
New Fork River Bank Stabilization Project
Pinedale Game & Fish personnel worked on a project to do bank stabilization along the New Fork River on the Sullivan property near Boulder. The project will improve water quality for this trophy fishery.
Click on this link to read more in the Pinedale Region January 2017 Wyoming Game & Fish newsletter
Regional offices and news Wyoming Game & Fish Dept.
Wyoming economic development projects receive SLIB funding (posted 1/22/17)
Funding for publicly owned infrastructure revitalization projects
CHEYENNE, WYOMING – Jan. 19, 2017 – The Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) approved three Business Ready Community (BRC) grant and loan requests at its January 19 meeting in Cheyenne.
BRC Grant and Loan Requests
The Wyoming Business Council administers the Business Ready Community (BRC) grant and loan program, which provides financing for publicly owned infrastructure that serves the needs of businesses and promotes economic development within Wyoming communities. The Business Council board is required by statute to forward BRC grant and loan recommendations to the SLIB for final approval. The SLIB is comprised of the five statewide elected officials: the governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and state superintendent of public instruction. Wyoming Business Council staff reviews each application, conducts site visits and makes presentations to a Wyoming Business Council Board of Directors subcommittee before making final recommendations to the full board.
Laramie requested a $3 million grant for the construction of a 20,000 square-foot building for HiViz Shooting Systems, a Laramie-based firearms accessories manufacturer. The company anticipated creating 20 jobs in the first three years of operation, but has actually created 51 positions to date and already outgrown its current building. This expansion is expected to allow the company to sustain annual sales growth of 32 percent for the next five years. The expansion is in line with plans for a five-building campus on its 7.3-acre site. HiViz has stated a goal of 128 positions with average pay above Albany County’s median wage by 2020. Revenue generated from the lease and sale of building space will be reinvested in local and state economic development efforts. (SLIB approved full funding as requested.)
Laramie requested a $3 million grant to redevelop the Empress Lot, a blighted property in the city’s downtown district. The money will be used to construct a two-story, mixed-use building, which will accommodate retail space on the ground floor and space available for tenant finish on the second floor. Ground floor space has been pre-leased to a local business, Big Hollow Food Co-op. The business anticipates this expansion will result in annual growth of 12 percent for the next five years. Big Hollow’s expansion is expected to create 12 jobs and capital investment of at least $600,000 during the next five years. Nearby businesses will benefit from increased traffic downtown and regional agricultural producers will benefit from increased demand. The project ties into the community’s plans to develop downtown and attract and grow a technology sector. Revenue generated from the lease and sale of building space will be reinvested in state economic development efforts and Laramie Main Street projects. (SLIB approved full funding as requested.)
Lincoln County Economic Development JPB requested a $3 million grant and $1.25 million loan to purchase the Glencoe Junction facility south of Kemmerer and create an industrial park with rail access. The 300-acre site allows easy access to both rail and truck transport and would be used to attract companies. (SLIB did not approve funding and requested the WBC continue to work with the applicant to refine the project.)
Old Pen JPB requests a $500,000 grant to renovate the historic Wyoming Frontier Prison Guards’ Quarters in Rawlins. The renovated structure will provide office space for the Carbon County Visitors Council, a conference room and additional restrooms. The project is based on information derived through a BRC Planning grant awarded in 2014 and builds on the planning and strategy work done by the city of Rawlins to increase tourism. (SLIB approved full funding as requested.)
State board approves three grant and loan requests By Tom Dixon, www.wyomingbusiness.org, January 19, 2017
www.wyomingbusiness.org Wyoming Business Council
President Trump’s 1st Executive Order is to ‘Minimize the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal’ (posted 1/21/17)
Below is the full text of President Donald Trump's executive order directing federal agencies to "ease the burden" of ObamaCare:
MINIMIZING THE ECONOMIC BURDEN OF THE PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT PENDING REPEAL
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. It is the policy of my Administration to seek the prompt repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Public Law 111-148), as amended (the "Act"). In the meantime, pending such repeal, it is imperative for the executive branch to ensure that the law is being efficiently implemented, take all actions consistent with law to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens of the Act, and prepare to afford the States more flexibility and control to create a more free and open healthcare market.
Sec. 2. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (Secretary) and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies (agencies) with authorities and responsibilities under the Act shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.
Sec. 3. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the Secretary and the heads of all other executive departments and agencies with authorities and responsibilities under the Act, shall exercise all authority and discretion available to them to provide greater flexibility to States and cooperate with them in implementing healthcare programs.
Sec. 4. To the maximum extent permitted by law, the head of each department or agency with responsibilities relating to healthcare or health insurance shall encourage the development of a free and open market in interstate commerce for the offering of healthcare services and health insurance, with the goal of achieving and preserving maximum options for patients and consumers.
Sec. 5. To the extent that carrying out the directives in this order would require revision of regulations issued through notice-and-comment rulemaking, the heads of agencies shall comply with the Administrative Procedure Act and other applicable statutes in considering or promulgating such regulatory revisions.
Sec. 6. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,
January 20, 2017.
Source: https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2017/01/2/executive-order-minimizing-economic-burden-patient-protection-and WhiteHouse.gov
Judge orders information destroyed (posted 1/21/17)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill of Idaho has ordered the destruction of information gained as the result of placing radio collars on wolves and elk in an Idaho wilderness area. The destruction of data was requested by Wilderness Watch, Friends of the Clearwater, and Western Watersheds Project.
According to the Winmill’s order in the case, the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) received approval from the Forest Service to use helicopters in the Frank Church Wilderness to tranquilize and collar elk with monitors to trace their movements. Both agencies were concerned about reductions in the elk population in the Wilderness Area, and the project was designed to obtain data that might explain the mortality problem. Ignoring a prior directive of the Court, the Forest Service allowed the project to begin immediately, preventing plaintiff environmental groups from being able to timely seek injunctive relief. Within three days the IDFG project was completed, and 57 elk and 4 wolves were collared.
"The environmental groups filed this lawsuit to prevent the IDFG from using the data and to require that it be destroyed. They complained that the IDFG obtained approval by proposing a small plan that hid the much larger impacts of their long-term plan. In this decision, the Court agrees, and holds that the Forest Service’s approval of the project violated the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) and the Wilderness Act of 1964. The Court also finds that the IDFG violated the terms of the approval when it collared the wolves.
"The Court will enjoin the Forest Service from considering the data collected, and will enjoin the IDFG from using the data in any way when it seeks future Forest Service approvals. Although the harm of having helicopter landings in the Wilderness Area has passed, there is ongoing harm because the IDFG continues to hold – and plans to use – data that was obtained in violation of federal law. The Court will therefore order the IDFG to destroy that data."
The court noted that "the injury to the plaintiffs’ interest in the wilderness character of the Wilderness Area is real and cannot be compensated for by a monetary award. The balance of hardships tips toward plaintiffs because the elk collaring data was gathered in violation of NEPA and the Wilderness Act. The public interest demands that there be consequences for the violations of these laws."
The court continued: "This is the rare or extreme case where a mandatory injunction is required. The IDFG has collected data in violation of federal law and intends to use that data to seek approvals in the future for more helicopter landings in the Wilderness Area. While the helicopter landings represent harm that has passed, the IDFG’s possession of the data constitutes an ongoing harm that continues to this day and beyond. The only remedy that will directly address the ongoing harm is an order requiring destruction of the data – no monetary award or other such sanction will alleviate the ongoing harm. Thus, the Court will issue a mandatory injunction ordering the Director to destroy the data received on the elk and wolves collared in this project."
The complete Memorandum Decision of the court is linked below.
Memorandum Decision - U.S. District Court of Idaho
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Ozone Action Day issued for Saturday, January 21, 2017 (posted 1/21/17)
The Air Quality Division (AQD) of Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is designating Saturday, January 21, 2017, as an Ozone Action Day for the Upper Green River Basin Ozone Nonattainment Area.
An Ozone Action Day is issued when forecasted weather conditions are favorable for the formation of ozone. Ozone appears to be elevated in the Basin when there is a presence of ozone-forming precursor emissions including oxides of nitrogen and volatile organic compounds coupled with strong temperature inversions, low winds, snow cover, and bright sunlight.
During the Winter Ozone season (January-March), everyone should take actions to reduce ozone precursor emissions and ground-level ozone formation.
Ozone is an air pollutant that can cause respiratory health effects especially to children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory conditions. People in these sensitive groups should limit strenuous or extended outdoor activities, especially in the afternoon and evening. More information on ozone and the health effects of ozone are available at the Wyoming Department of Health website, http://www.health.wyo.gov.
Current information on ozone levels at the Air Quality Division’s monitoring stations at Daniel South, Pinedale, Boulder, Big Piney, and Juel Spring can be found at www.wyvisnet.com.
22nd annual Pedigree Stage Stop Race set for Jan. 27 – Feb. 4, 2017 (posted 1/20/17)
The 22nd Annual Pedigree Stage Stop Race takes place from Friday, January 27th through Saturday, February 4th, 2017. The 8-day staged race starts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and travels through eight communities in four states. The winners will claim a portion of a $195,000 prize purse. Each of the host communities hold events when the race comes to their town. Throughout the eight-day event, Pedigree will host a variety of activities along the race to help find home for adoptable dogs.
In addition to the PEDIGREE® Stage Stop Race, 14 additional competitors will be participating in the EUKANUBA™ 8-Dog Classic Race, which is a two day race (January 27 – January 29) that will visit Driggs, Idaho and Alpine, Wyoming.
The Pinedale Stage Stop Musher Banquet will be on Tuesday, Jan. 31st and the Pinedale race will be on Wednesday, February 1st.
Pinedale Stage Stop:
Tuesday, January 31, 2017: Meet the Mushers Dinner 6:00PM Sublette County Library in Pinedale. No charge, donations welcomed. Come meet the mushers and the handlers and get an autograph or two! Sponsored by the Pinedale FFA.
Wednesday, February 1, 2017: Pinedale Race 9:00AM. Loop Race, the Start/Finish are at the Upper Green River Trailhead snowmobile parking lot at the Forest boundary at the end of Cora Hwy 352. The Start/Finish are in the same spot with most teams in by about 2PM. Spectators welcome and encouraged, plenty of parking. Bring your camera, dress warm.
The Big Piney/Marbleton Stage Stop will be on Thursday, February 2, 2017. This 6th leg of the race is a 50-mile loop trail into the scenic Wyoming Range mountains. After the Pinedale race on Wednesday, teams will travel south to get ready for the Big Piney/Marbleton stage.
Big Piney/Marbleton Stage Stop:
Wednesday, February 1, 2017: Meet the Mushers Dinner Starting at 5:30PM at the Southwest Sublette County Pioneers Senior Center in Marbleton. No charge, donations welcomed. Come meet the mushers and the handlers and get an autograph or two!
Thursday, February 2, 2017: Big Piney/Marbleton Stage Stop Starts at 9:00AM from the Middle Piney snowmobile parking lot off Road 350 (20 miles from Big Piney). The Start/Finish are the same spot with teams mostly all in by around 2PM. Spectators encouraged and very welcome, bring your camera, dress warm!
See www.wyomingstagestop.org for more details, schedule of events, and daily race results once the race begins.
WYDEQ issues Ozone Action Day for Friday, January 20, 2017 (posted 1/19/17)
Ozone Action Day issued for January 20, 2017
The Air Quality Division (AQD) of Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is designating Friday, January 20, 2017, as an Ozone Action Day for the Upper Green River Basin, in Sublette County. Current information on ozone levels can be found at www.wyvisnet.com.
New standards for ozone are 70ppb for the 8 hour average. The Big Piney and Boulder monitoring stations have been reading over 70PPB for the 1 Hour Average today (Thursday, January 19, 2017).
The Big Piney monitoring station was reading 73ppb for the 1 Hour Average and 59ppb for the 8 Hour Average at 4:00PM. The Boulder monitoring station read 79ppb for the 1 Hour Average and 59ppb for the 8 Hour Average at 4:00PM.
What is an Ozone Action Day?
The WDEQ-AQD will declare an Ozone Action Day when ground-level ozone concentrations are expected to be above the ozone standard (health based standard) based upon an evaluation of weather forecasts and ozone monitoring data. The declaration of an Action Day indicates the potential for elevated 8-hour ozone levels. The Action Day status will remain in effect for 1 day, but may be reissued on consecutive days.
When is an Ozone Action Day Declared?
During the winter months of January, February, and March, WDEQ-AQD will declare an Ozone Action Day for a 24-hour period if conditions are favorable for ozone formation. WDEQ-AQD may extend the forecasting program beyond the March 28 end date if conditions warrant. The WDEQ-AQD issues the alerts to the media, individuals, local governments, and businesses via a variety of methods including telephone, email, a printed news release, internet (e.g. http://winterozone.org, www.pinedaleonline.com), newspapers, television, and radio. The Wyoming State Emergency Response Commission (SERC) and the Sublette County Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) will assist with notifications. The declaration of an Ozone Action Day will identify a specific locale, such as the Upper Green River Basin.
Upon notification from the WDEQ of an Ozone Action Day for Sublette County, Wyoming, specific contingency measures will be implemented by oil and gas companies operating in the area according to their approved action plans. Proposed control measures include:
Keep vehicles tuned up and tires well inflated to increase mileage and reduce the need for refueling.
Do not overfill fuel tanks when re-fueling. Fuel creates ozone-causing vapors as it evaporates.
Tighten fuel caps.
Between operators, share best management practices for flareless completion techniques in order to reduce emissions.
Other Control Measures
Use environmentally safe paints, cleaning products and other chemicals whenever possible.
Follow manufacturers’ recommendations to use and properly seal cleaners, paints, and other chemicals so smog-forming chemicals can’t evaporate.
Share best management practices with other operators.
During an Ozone Action Day, discretionary activities that could otherwise be rescheduled at a later date with better meteorological conditions will be limited. In addition to standard operating procedures implemented throughout the year, the following activities are suggested in response to the declaration of an Ozone Action Day:
Reduce idling of vehicles. Shut off all vehicle engines when activities would involve idling time greater than 5 minutes and would not put worker safety at risk.
Establish a traffic minimization program and implement specific activities in the field by delaying trips, combining tasks into one trip, carpooling, or bussing.
Reduce speed limits on the field and lease roads by 5 mph to reduce air pollution.
Postpone/reschedule non-critical vehicle trips to locations by employees and contractors.
Refuel cars and trucks after dusk, when emissions are less likely to produce ozone.
Suspend and reschedule non-critical maintenance activities that would result in venting of gas.
Postpone/reschedule the blow down of wells that are needed for operational, maintenance or construction purposes where possible.
Turn down heat trace pumps to minimum temperatures with the result of lower VOC emissions during this period. o Increase surveillance of combustors, both in the control room and in the field, to ensure proper operation.
Shut-in uncontrolled facilities (e.g. single well facility with no control on the dehydrators) when environmentally and safely feasible.
Postpone initiation of completion activities that lead to VOC or NOx emissions when safely feasible.
Minimize the use of or turn off engines (e.g. water pumps, light plants) during daylight hours.
Limit vehicle and ancillary equipment idle time.
Minimize the use of or turn off engines (e.g. water pumps, light plants) during daylight hours.
Refuel diesel tanks after dusk as possible, when emissions are less likely to produce ozone.
Postpone initiation of blow downs.
Delay line pigging.
Suspend site activities that result in venting of gas to atmosphere.
Other Control Measures:
Where possible, perform maintenance activities that generate emissions later in the day when conditions are less favorable for the production of ozone.
Suspend and reschedule use of gasoline or diesel powered maintenance or construction equipment where possible.
Postpone non-essential construction.
Sublette County, Wyoming Ozone Contingency Plan Dec. 2014
WYDOT’s new 511 map offers more functionality (posted 1/20/17)
Mobile friendly, road conditions, incidents, construction, webcams, truck parking, more
Wyoming Department of Transportation
Travelers looking for Wyoming road information now have access to a new 511 travel map that offers improved functionality and usability.
The Wyoming Department of Transportation revamped its 511 map and launched a new version on Thursday, Jan. 19, making it mobile friendly and providing even more road information, conditions and other travel information. Work on the map started about six months ago.
"The new map has more functionality and has a more modern look and feel," said Vince Garcia, WYDOT’s GIS/ITS manager. "There are a lot of new features that will enhance a user’s experience and help WYDOT tell its story."
The new map will still show road conditions, incidents, web cameras, weather stations, construction projects, electronic message signs, variable speed limit signs, rest areas and size and weight restrictions.
The new map builds on those features and includes some new ones as well. When people navigate to the new map, they’ll see a "helpful tip" box that explains some of the functionality and how to access the information. A help file and video tutorial are also included as additional resources for new users.
One of the new features the map will show is impact to travel based on full road closure, partial closure, high, moderate and low impacts. A graphical display at the top left shows the travel impact and what they mean for quick reference. The road conditions layer is automatically activated when a person navigates to the page.
As with the previous map, people can click on a road section on the new map to see specific road conditions in a particular area.
Other new additions include a search feature, an enhanced legend that gives more information about the map icons and a scroll-through feature that allows a user to click through multiple condition and information windows instead of clicking on each icon individually.
As a way to customize a user’s experience, the new map remembers what layers a user activated during their last session, providing they don’t have their web browser set to clear their cache and browsing history when they close their web browser.
For example, a user can search for Gillette and activate the web camera, dynamic message signs and other layers. If they navigate away from the page or close their web browser, when they revisit the 511 map website, a message will appear in the lower right corner asking if they want to restore the map to the previous session.
For those who are colorblind, the new map has an option to switch to colors that are more easily viewed.
WYDOT will continue to make enhancements to the new map. In a follow-up release, WYDOT officials anticipate adding a National Weather Service layer that will provide radar images and watches and warnings.
Visit https://map.wyoroad.info/wtimap/index.html to view the new 511 map. A training video is available at https://youtu.be/_MnL7npUFEA.
For more information, contact Vince Garcia, WYDOT’s GIS/ITS manager, at (307) 777-4231, or Ali Ragan, GIS/ITS project manager, at (307) 777-2985.
Wolf News Roundup 1/18/2017 (posted 1/18/17)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
U.S. Congressional members from the Great Lakes states and Wyoming have teamed up in a bipartisan effort to remove wolves from federal protection in those states, and to prohibit legal challenges to this action.
Wyoming’s new U.S. Representative Liz Cheney teamed up with her House colleagues from Minnesota and Wisconsin last week to sponsor a bipartisan bill to remove gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes states from federal protection.
Wyoming Senators and Mike Enzi John Barrasso teamed with Senate colleagues from both sides of the political aisle to sponsor similar legislation on Tuesday.
The federal Interior Department is asking the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a federal judge’s decision barring the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from releasing captive-bred Mexican wolves into New Mexico without approval from the state wildlife agency. The federal court battle is the latest spat between state and federal officials over Mexican wolf recovery as federal officials tripled its wolf population targets over state objections and have failed to remove problem wolves.
The Seattle Times reports that 2016 proved to be a "high-cost, tough year" for Washington wolf management, with the Profanity Peak wolf pack killing or injuring 15 cattle, and in response, seven wolves were killed at a cost of about $135,000.
Hundreds of illegal wolf-dog hybrids have been seized by officials in Italy, with evidence that nine breeders or farms were involved in producing and selling the animals. The Telegraph reports that one of the investigators indicated that wolves were illegally caught in "the Carpathian Mountains, Scandinavia and North America" to be used in the hybrid breeding program in Italy. The Local reports that the breeders created fake pedigrees for the hybrids, claiming they were Czechoslovakian Wolfdogs. A court has ordered the hybrid animals to be seized.
Wolves are taking up residence in the southern portion of Paris, France. Wolf watchers have detected three wolves roaming the suburbs of the city.
For more information on these stories, check out the links below.
Wolf delisting - Journal Sentinel
Mexican wolves - Associated Press
Washington - Seattle Times
Washington control actions - Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife
Italy - The Telegraph
Italy's wolf hybrids - The Local
France - The Local
Wolf Watch - By Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
Grand Teton National Park sets record in 2016 with over 4.8 million visits (posted 1/18/17)
Exceeds Yellowstone National Park
Grand Teton National Park reports record visitation for the third consecutive year, receiving over 4.8 million visits in 2016. This was a 3.8% increase from the previous record of 4.6 million visits in 2015. The most significant increases came in the months of May, June, and November when total visitation increased 20, 11, and 10 percent, respectively.
The record visitation is part of a longer term upward trend which has seen park visitation increase 23 percent over the past four years. The record is also part of a nationwide trend which has brought record numbers to parks across the country. Visitation numbers are derived from traffic counter data. The numbers recorded by these counters are run through an algorithm to determine an estimated visitation number.
Park managers believe a number of factors contribute to the rising visitation levels including gas prices, overall economic growth, interest generated by the National Park Service Centennial, trends in the tourism industry, and marketing promotions including the Find Your Park campaign. The record year came despite the Berry Fire, the largest wildland fire in park history, which closed portions of U.S. Highway 89/191/287 in the park for 11 days in August and September.
Park managers implemented measures in 2016 to mitigate the impacts of increased visitation on park resources and the visitors' experience. In 2017, park managers will begin implementation of the Moose-Wilson Corridor Comprehensive Management Plan, which will ultimately manage the number of visitors in the area at any one time.
By comparison, nearby Yellowstone National Park reported 4.2+ million visits for 2016.
More info on national park visitation statistics at: https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/Park
Yellowstone Park visitation exceeds 4.2 million in 2016 (posted 1/18/17)
Yellowstone National Park reports that visitation exceeded previous records with a total of 4,257,177 million visitors in 2016. This is a 3.89 percent increase from 4,097,710 visits in 2015 and a 21.17 percent increase over visits in 2014. One of the most notable changes in visitation trends in recent years is the number of commercial tour buses entering Yellowstone’s gates. The number of buses entering in 2016 was 12,778 which was a 21.3 percent increase over 2015 entries and a 46.5 percent increase over the number of buses in 2014. Park management is currently considering options for commercial tour bus management.
"During the busiest times of the year, visitation levels in the park have led to long lines, traffic congestion, diminishing visitor experiences, and impacts on park resources," said Superintendent Dan Wenk. "It’s our job to recognize the trend, how it’s affecting this magnificent park, understand our visitors, and what we may need to do to protect Yellowstone for future generations. All options are on the table." In August 2016, the park conducted social science studies to better understand visitors including their demographics, experiences, opinions, and preferences. The data will help park managers make decisions that reflect the experiences and needs of visitors both in the present and in the future. The results of the study are expected in spring of 2017.
Detailed park visitation information and additional information on how these statistics are calculated is available online at https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/Reports/Park.