Open thread. Discuss what you want.

I have not posted an open thread for about three months. Thanks for the request.






  1. jdubya Avatar

    This effects wildlife in Utah if you are tired of eating fish laced with mercury and other heavy metals. Or your own “wildlife” if you are tired of breathing dirty air on the Wasatch front. As a Letter to the Editor…

    As if we do not have enough of an air pollution problem on the Wasatch front, Consolidated Energy wants to operate an electrical generation plant that will burn fuel oil and petroleum coke. The plant will be adjacent to the Holly Refinery in Davis county. The State of Utah Division of Air Quality has written within the Intent to Approve that this plant will be allowed to release, per year, 60.9 tons of PM10 particulates, nearly 100 tons each of sulfur dioxide and carbon monoxide, and up to nearly one ton each of hazardous metals as mercury, lead and arsenic. In fact, the plant will be allowed to release over 9.5 tons per year of total hazardous air pollutants.

    When is enough enough? At what level does the air pollution in this valley become too much? At what point does the increased incidence of asthma, emphysema and other respiratory ailments outweigh the value of yet another dirty, polluting and inherently obsolete industry?

    The public comment period for this project has been extended to Jan. 15 and will include a public hearing on Jan. 13, at 6:30PM in Utah room 101, 168 North 1950 West in Salt Lake City. In addition on January 8 at 6:30 PM at the Woods Cross City building an education forum about this plant will be held. If you are concerned about the quality of the air that you and your children breathe, attend and speak up. Our silence is killing us.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The Wasatch Front and Cache Valley have the dirtiest winter air in the country. That is outrageous.

    I grew up mostly in Cache Valley. The air was kind of dirty then; now it is most unpleasant.

    It’s good that Mormons don’t smoke tobacco. They have spare capacity for the pollution.

  3. Buffaloed Avatar

    It’s Survival of the Weak and Scrawny
    Researchers see ‘evolution in reverse’ as hunters kill off prized animals with the biggest antlers and pelts.

  4. Wolfy Avatar

    I would like posters to this site to contact the Obama Transition Team and educate them about the issues that we discuss (and argue about) on this site. I think Obama is surrounding himself with some real smart and ethical people. Let’s bring them up to speed on the issues that we are concerned about.
    Obama’s site is “open for questions”. Please let him and his staff know what matters to you. We need to educate our politicians and here’s one that is listening.

  5. kt Avatar

    Isn’t part of the reason for that dirty air – at least in the Cache Valley – all the cows that are there now?

    Also, if coal-fired power plants get built near Ely, NV – that crap is going to end up all over points east, too.

  6. timz Avatar

    I had the good fortune on Friday to watch five wolves at work hunting deer. Not counting Yellowstone it’s the first time I saw wolves in the wild for more than a few seconds,since I was a kid.

  7. jburnham Avatar

    MT FWP to get authority over bison?

    under “Agency Perspective”

    Ron Aasheim, head of communication and education for FWP, said regulation of bison and who should have the ultimate authority will be an issue in the Legislature.

    “We have heard discussions that the authority could be transferred to FWP. We have authority for property control; the Department of Livestock controls the disease issue.”

    Anyone seen any better info about this?

  8. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    No it’s not the cows any more now than years ago when the air was much cleaner, but Cache Valley then thick with cattle. They probably have always been a factor though.

    It’s space heating and automobiles for an exploding population in a valley seemingly built to collect stagnant air in the winter.

    I remember growing up there. I hated the winters with the low lying fog for weeks at a time. The fog is now a persistent smog.

    Summertime air quality is still mostly fair or better, unlike the Wasatch Front to Cache Valley’s SW.

  9. JB Avatar


    Have you heard anything about the 2009 NA Wolf Conference? I haven’t seen an announcement or call for abstracts yet?

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    We canceled it because of economic uncertainties. I guess the notice of this needs to be more widely distributed.

    We expect to hold the conference once again in 2010.

  11. JB Avatar

    Thanks, Ralph. That’s too bad. I was looking forward to seeing some of the regular contributors to this blog once again; I guess it will have to wait until 2010.

  12. Maska Avatar

    We, too, are disappointed, having made firm plans to attend this year. However, we understand the precarious financial situation of many non-profits in the current economic climate. Putting on a quality conference can’t be done on the cheap.

    We look forward to next year.

  13. IzabelaM Avatar

    I have e-mmailed the
    and even called to voice my opinion.
    I think that we need a big grassroot movement to show people the value of our lands, animals and environment for the future generations.
    I think, that too many people worry now about economy and jobs and food for the kids.
    Somehow we need to get to the schools, media, colleges and share the infomration.
    I dont’ know how to do it.
    Every time I bring the subject of wolves or bisons at my work ( I live in Utah), my associates think I lost it.

  14. jdubya Avatar

    Nice Op Ed but doesn’t address hooved locusts…

  15. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    There is a bill proposed that would shift management authority for bison from DOL to FWP. This isn’t the first time it’s been proposed and won’t be the last. The likelihood of passage is between slim and none. The bill is being sponsored by the Gallatin Wildlife Association and you can read more about it here:


  16. jburnham Avatar

    Robert, thanks for the link.

  17. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    You’re welcome. Any questions, get hold of Glenn Hockett, president of the GWA.


  18. Salle Avatar

    This blog rated highest for the day at least on:

    Must be doing something right… And people are reading this.

  19. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    George Weurthner in an essay, Lessons from the West, stated “For example, in Northwest Montana where wolves originally recolonized on their own from Canada and where wolf recovery has been going on for more than 15 years, there were only five known breeding packs in 1999. That was partly the result of the killing of 27 wolves (more than a third of the known population at the time) by Wildlife Services in one year due to conflicts with a few livestock producers. These control efforts were done illegally since the Northwest Montana wolves are considered “endangered” under the ESA and technically protected. But no voice was raised in objection to this kind of killing. ”

    Is it now legal to kill wolves in NW Montana or is the recent killing the Hog Heaven Hills pack of 27, SW of Kallispell in late 2008, also illegal?

  20. jburnham Avatar


    Across northern Montana where wolves are classified as endangered, agency management
    decisions will be more conservative. Also, livestock owners or private citizens are not allowed to
    haze or harass wolves or kill wolves seen attacking livestock or domestic dogs.

    Wildlife Services does the actually killing, but the feds defer to Montana’s management plan as much as possible as they both consider wolves to be recovered and the major legal hangups with de-listing are with Wyoming’s plan.

  21. Jim Macdonald Avatar

    Just wanted you to know that I wrote an essay about the buffalo action in Helena. A lot of us who participated felt empowered and felt it was a success.

    The essay talks about the action but spends most of its time talking about why I believe this action was a success. We also got some press out of it as well. – Buffalo rally in Helena : Success of a small action inside a big problem

  22. Barb Rupers Avatar
    Barb Rupers

    Save bear, jburnham, on Jan 6, may have anwered your question of mid Dec. regarding the population of northern Montana wolves.

  23. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    Barb Rupers says…

    “Save bear, jburnham, on Jan 6, may have anwered your question of mid Dec. regarding the population of northern Montana wolves.”

    If this was addressed to me, I don’t see where I have contributed to this particular thread, so again, I am confused, I don’t remember asking about wolf populations in any of the threads…I am pretty up to snuff on current wolf populations as published and observed.

    Of course I might be reading this wrong, but I don’t know anyone else that is called Save Bear(s)

    Again, if I have missed or forgotten something, I apologize…

  24. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Jim Macdonald,

    Did the MSM cover the rally?

  25. Jim Macdonald Avatar


    There was one full article about it in the Bozeman Daily Chronicle (they call me “Ben”, call our group “Alliance” rather than “Allies”, and then shorten one of my quotes (something I predicted would happen to my fellow activists in the car on the way home). But, all that said, it was good to get that coverage.

    The Billings Gazette talks about the protest at the bottom of one of the stories on the inauguration.

    We may have been on NBC in Montana; they followed our march and videotaped us throughout, interviewing Stephany from BFC. However, if it appeared, it’s not online.

    I also can’t say if any of the photographs appeared anywhere; some reporters specifically asked for my name and the name of another who was holding a very clear “Stop the Slaughter” sign.

    The media advisory also appeared throughout the region in newspapers and on television (again, on NBC in Montana), as it was picked up by the AP. It even appeared as far as Casper.

    So, from a media standpoint, we exceeded our pretty minimal expectations. The point was to reach policy makers, and we reached them as well. They all had to see the signs and the protest. Most of them had to walk past us on the way out – even though we didn’t know we had such a good place in the rotunda until after people started leaving. And, we were very surprised to have such a positive reaction. Whether that translates into receptiveness to the legislation that will be before them remains to be seen, but our message isn’t anathema to many that were inside the capitol (very few of them curious onlookers – most of them in government or related to someone who is).

  26. Salle Avatar

    Hey, Look who’s planning to come to Montana!!!

    I guess Sen. Testor is interested in showing the Sec. around on horseback, hope they have some good ole Montana style cold like -50F when he comes careening into town!!!! (Ooops, couldn’t help it on that one…)

    And don’t forget to scroll down to the other headlines that include how the Plum Creek guys thank Mark Rey for his part in helping them. And the one about how Gov. Schwietzer calls the lobbyists a gang of vultures… And more.

  27. Salle Avatar

    Here’s an interesting essay on the BLM bidding activist written by a writer for Bill Moyers’ Journal…

  28. JimT Avatar

    There is a great Krugman op-ed in the NYTimes today about the need to investigate the wrongdoings of the Bush Administration. He even mentions environmental issues as part of the mix!

  29. JimT Avatar

    This is an article in today’s (17th Jan) about the wind farm off the coast of Mass. Bad news for the opposition.

  30. JimT Avatar

    Of course, take the approval of the wind farm with a grain of salt. First, it is the Mineral Management Service, a group known more for partying and graft than dependable work recently. Second, don’t for one minute think that it wouldn’t give the Repubs great fun and cocktail party material to know they used environmentally renewable energy as a way to stick it to Ted Kennedy, hence the approval.

    It is a long way from a done deal, of course.If the science shows it is bad for the ecology of that area, move it or scotch it. But the views from the decks of the megamillionaires, even Dems, shouldn’t matter one whit.

  31. Salle Avatar

    here’s the Washington Post article:

    I am not so concerned about the view but there are a few things to consider that don’t rise immediately to the surface. The environmental impact could possibly include sea florr vibration affecting imperiled fisheries (lobster, shell fish in general, the underground stuff will be subject to rapid crustation via barnacles that attach and grow rather quickly…). But that the currents are rather strong being at the northern end of the gulf stream that flows northward from the Caribbean, the regularity of ‘Noreastahs-bad storms that sink good sized watercraft. Then there’s also stuff like icing, idiots in boats crashing into them, disabled boats/ships and aircraft crashing into them, and security risk as a target.

  32. Salle Avatar

    Come to think of it… Cape Cod, where I called home as a child, had quite a lot of Dutch-style windmills on many properties then, back in the 1950’s, and some were still functioning. What’s wrong with returning to that sort of thing? Last I recall, those structure were lauded as picturesque and something of a tourist draw-you can still find postcards with them, like the ones with lighthouses. I knew a wind turbine designer and installer around the Cape back in the early 1980’s and he was putting in home-sized turbines all over southern New England then. Maybe Cape Codders should look into the new technologies.

    And now that there are more compact generators to be employed like these:
    and I know that folks on the Cape, for the most part, are rather “well off” I think they could make use of such technology if they don’t want Siemens or some corporation like that “wrecking their scenic view.”


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.

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Ralph Maughan