BOISE, Idaho — Two of the West’s largest remaining populations of Yellowstone cutthroat trout face sharp declines due to contamination from phosphate mines in southeast Idaho, Idaho State University professors say.

Read the rest of this AP story by Keith Ridler.

Note one correction in the story. . . it is the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, not the Greater Yellowstone Alliance

More . . . (GYC web site)

About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

5 Responses to Selenium contamination causes big decline in Yellowstone cutthroat trout in Idaho/Wyoming border streams

  1. kt says:

    Well, it seems to me there is an interesting opportunity to push for some SERIOUS LARGE watershed protections in eastern Idaho.

    Nearly the only “real world” job that the current Secretary of the Interior ever had, is, according to one on-line Bio:

    “Kempthorne worked in public relations for FMC Corp., which mined phosphate in southeastern Idaho”.

    In the southeastmost part of the state, BLM’s Draft Pocatello RMP has just come out, and is open for comment until April 4. We all need to be pushing for BLM (ultimately under Kempthorne’s domain)to yank this terrible document off the shelves, and issue a new or Supplemental RMP that considers a greatly expanded range of protections, including establishing large ACECs. Areas of Critical Environmental Concern are part of FLPMA, the 1976 legislation that tried to move the BLM a step away from being just the Bureau of Livestock and Mining. Unfortunately,under Bush documents like the Pocatello RMP are based on a 1940s mindset. Under Bush, too, BLM has tried to avoid ever designating an ACEC of any size. BUT given the selenium poisoning in eastern Idaho, it seems to me the perfect situation to press for very large ACECs – to protect not only special habitats but also HUMAN HEALTH, watersheds and ultimately the aquifer.

    And if BLM says no – we like our wonderful 3 volume rape and pillage Plan just fine? Hey, point the finger at Kempthorne, still carrying water (or is that poisons???) for his old industry buddies.

  2. Alan Gregory says:

    Old readers may remember the selenium contamination at the former Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge in California. The Los Angeles Times reports on a new selenium threat to nesting birds in that state. Here’s the link:,1,4960119.story

  3. kt says:

    The selenium contamination in the article Alan linked to is really scary.

    It will be very, very interesting to watch how Idaho DEQ under Butch Otter (ex-Simplot son-in-law)both monitors and regulates selenium contamination.

    Which phosphate operations does the Simplot empire currently operate?

    How many phosphate claims do Simplot or related mining entities hold in eastern Idaho, and where?

    What will the Sportsmen for Hate do when Simplot or some other phosphate mining coporation shows up to strip their favorite elk winter range? Will 300 of them show up, waving mass-produced signs “Save Our Elk Lands from the Bulldozers”???

    Just what kind of antler deformities does selenium cause, I wonder?

  4. kt says:

    So some questions: How much selenium is in the soil? How much comes from fertilizers? Will fertilizer made from eastern Idaho phosphate and applied to fields – who knows where it might go – increase selenium levels in lands across the country where it may be applied? Or is the phosphate “refined” like white sugar so there are no contaminants?



‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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