Archive for the ‘Yellowstone’ Category

By JC

It was just a matter of time until the USFWS’s rush for delistings caught up with them. In an Opinion released today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and overturned the April 2007 delisting of grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Area. There is much to said about this case, and its announced decision today, but I’ll let the Opinion speak for itself:

the [US Fish & Wildlife] Service cannot take a full-speed ahead, damn-the-torpedoes approach to delisting…

The Service’s delisting decision, the subject of this appeal, raises a host of scientific, political, and philosophical questions regarding the complex relationship between grizzlies and people in the Yellowstone region. We emphasize at the outset that those are not the questions that we grapple with here. We, as judges, do not purport to resolve scientific uncertainties or ascertain policy preferences. We address only those issues we are expressly called upon to decide pertaining to the legality of the Service’s delisting decision: first, whether the Service rationally supported its conclusion that a projected decline in whitebark pine, a key food source for the bears, does not threaten the Yellowstone grizzly population; and second, whether the Service rationally supported its conclusion that adequate regulatory mechanisms are in place to maintain a recovered Yellowstone grizzly population without the ESA’s staunch protections.

As to the first issue, we affirm the district court’s ruling that the Service failed to articulate a rational connection between the data in the record and its determination that whitebark pine declines were not a threat to the Yellowstone grizzly, given the lack of data indicating grizzly population stability in the face of such declines, and the substantial data indicating a direct correlation between whitebark pine seed availability and grizzly survival and reproduction. As to the second issue, we reverse the district court and hold that the Service’s determination regarding the adequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms was reasonable.”

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Airing: Thursday April 28th, 7pm on Montana PBS

By JC

Our byline here at 4&20 references “politics and culture” and perhaps nowhere else is the clash between politics and culture better illuminated than in documentary.

High Plains Films, in its own words “dedicates itself to exploring issues about the relationship between nature and society.” With almost 30 films under its belt, and 35 national awards to its credit, High Plains Films newest feature–nearly 10 years in the making from inception to final cut–will air Thursday April 28th on Montana PBS at 7pm. The 78 minute documentary will be shown in its entirety.

The film is the result of the collaboration of diverse Montana talent, and is an ITVS/Montana PBS co-production.

High Plains Films is located in Missoula, Montana and has been producing documentaries for almost 20 years. You can learn all about them by visiting their recently redeveloped website, which is chock-full of video trailers, clips, deleted and extra scenes, interviews and accompanying information about their 30 films. Much of the footage shown is in spectacular HD! Spend some time wading through the material and exploring their window on the world, and you’ll see a whole ‘nother exposition of many, many issues.

There are several short documentaries shown in their entirety in addition to some sample scenes from works-in-progress like Two Rivers, a film about the confluence of the Blackfoot and Clark Fork Rivers, and the impact decades of mining and a dam had on its ecology and nearby residents.

There is an illuminating and articulate 20+ minute interview with Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer about the bison/brucellosis issue, as well as a tribute piece to Buffalo Field Campaign activist Brian “Frog” Gharst, and an amazing short clip showing a golden eagle harrassing a deer. Facing the Storm also includes original stop-motion animations from Missoula’s Andy Smetanka, and an original score from Ivan Rosenberg.

The new HPF site was designed by UM School of Media Arts professor Greg Twigg and constructed by a local developer. The HPF website also offers free music downloads from film scores and other original material from Ned Mudd, Aaron Parrett and Ivan Rosenberg. There is a stock-footage library being constructed where High Plains FIlms can showcase much of its thousands of hours of footage.

Check out the documentary this thursday, and spend some time exploring their new site when you have some free time!

hpf site

By JC

Governor Schweitzer issued an Executive Order yesterday halting the importation of bison into Montana. This action is in direct response to the National Park Service’s capture and holding of 525 bison in capture facilities within the Park.

The AP, in an article in the Billings Gazette, frames the story this way:

“Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer blocked the impending slaughter of hundreds of Yellowstone National Park bison on Tuesday, in a surprise move intended to spark an overhaul of how the federal government deals with the iconic but disease-plagued animals.

Schweitzer signed an executive order to prohibit the importation of park bison into Montana for 90 days. That effectively blocks all potential routes out of the park to slaughter plants in Montana and neighboring states.

The Democratic governor told The Associated Press that he was worried the shipments could spread brucellosis to Montana livestock. And he said he was sending a message to federal officials in Washington, D.C. to rein in a diseased bison population that regularly spills out of the park and into Montana.

In the interim, Schweitzer suggested the park bring in loads of hay to feed 525 bison captured so far this winter [and held at Stephens Creek,] after trying to migrate out of the snow-packed park in search of food at lower elevations.

“More than anything else, this is a direct signal to the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C. to get their hat screwed on right and manage this bison population,” Schweitzer said. “Their plan is, when there gets to be a lot of snow, buffalo will go into Montana and then somebody else will have to deal with it.”

Of course, the immediate ramification of Schweitzer’s actions is that captured bison have been given a reprieve from being slaughtered, hopefully to be released in the spring when heavy snow conditions abate in the Park.

Schweitzer’s actions comes on the heel of a lawsuit brought by the Buffalo Field Campaign and others trying to get an injunction on the pending slaughter. That lawsuit was dismissed by Judge Charles Lovell a few days ago. Judge Lovell is a retired federal judge and longtime curmudgeon and thorn in the side of bison advocates, who has ruled against bison 100% of the time.

Buffalo Field Campaign’s habitat coordinator, Darrell Geist, had this to say about the Governor’s action in a press release sent out yesterday:

“We, the people, have stopped the slaughter of America’s last wild buffalo before it has begun! I am at a loss for words.

The effect and outcome of Governor Schweitzer’s order is the National Park Service cannot use any of Montana’s gateway communities as exit points to ship buffalo now held in traps inside Yellowstone National Park to slaughter houses…

There is a lot of hard work ahead to make large cores of habitat and corridors available for America’s last wild buffalo herd to roam. That is our next step, it must happen, we the people can do it. For now, you should dance a little buffalo jig, and give thanks to everyone who has worked very hard to make this happen. Thanks for all you do, for the wild buffaloes.”

So the battle for habitat outside Yellowstone National Park for wild buffalo continues, with the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of bison on the line caught in a crossfire between federal, state and livestock interests. And at the forefront, Buffalo Field Campaign continues its relentless observance of these events both on the frontlines, and in the courtroom, advocating for wild bison, and the habitat they need in Montana on which to roam.

Send them your support if you can, and let your state reps and others know that you stand with the buffalo and BFC in the quest to bring some sanity and  a resolution to this senseless slaughter and management quagmire that has been going on for decades.

baby buffalo in Yellowstone

by Pete Talbot

I was worried sick.

With all the lawsuits and counter-suits and counter-counter suits, I was afraid the Yellowstone Club — the private ski club for the uber-rich south of Bozeman — might be failing.

The Bozeman Chronicle tells us otherwise. The story quotes CrossHarbor Capital Partners head honcho Sam Byrne who says business is booming. CrossHarbor picked up the club for pennies on the dollar after the club declared bankruptcy in 2008. The alleged mismanagement of funds, particularly a $375 million Credit Suisse loan, led to the club’s downfall. Also in play is the nasty divorce of club founders Tim and Edra Blixseth, and more lawsuits and motions than you can shake a stick at: bankruptcy hearings, ex-husband suing ex-wife and vice-versa, members suing the Yellowstone Club, Tim Blixseth filing a motion to disqualify the bankruptcy judge, banks suing holding companies, holding companies suing banks …

But not to worry, the club has added 40 new members and has sold $175 million in real estate.

It’s comforting to know that in the middle of the Great Recession, in an era of stagnant development and foreclosures, folks can still afford to build 20-thousand-square-foot homes. Some people can, anyway.

By JC

Well, as long as it is PSA Tuesday, I’ll throw in my favorite event of the week! I hope you all can turn out wednesday night for the premiere screening of Facing the Storm: Story of the American Bison.

I’ll have to admit that this PSA comes with a bit of personal investment. I have seen the rough cuts for this documentary, and it is a kick ass, definitive production! There are also many friends of mine in the video, and the production team includes many Missoulians, with the documentary being produced right here in Missoula by our own High Plains Films. I also may have a little bit of my own time invested in both the production and issue, too… So hop on down to the Wilma and check it out!

Big Sky Film Series SPECIAL SCREENING

Montana Premiere of FACING THE STORM: STORY OF THE AMERICAN BISON. New documentary feature highlights the abundance and breadth of local Montana talent

Where: Wilma Theater, 131 S. Higgins Avenue, Missoula, Montana
When: Wednesday October 6, 2010 @ 7 pm Tickets: $8

High Plains Films presents the Montana premiere of FACING THE STORM: STORY OF THE AMERICAN BISON, an ITVS/Montana PBS co-production. The film also had local support from Humanities Montana. The screening is a fund-raising event for Missoula’s Big Sky Film Institute (parent organization for High Plains Films & the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival). The feature documentary is the result of the collaboration of diverse Montana talent. Review copies are available on request.

Full Press Release below the fold. Continue Reading »

by JC

In light of our current discussion over Constitutional rights for non-humans, I thought that with this week’s change in policy for carrying weapons in National Parks, that maybe I could make an exception:

arm-bears
From the WaPo:

The federal government will lift long-standing restrictions on guns in national parks Monday, meaning that visitors with proper permits could pack heat along with camping and picnic gear to most of the 392 parks. The move concerns current and former employees of the National Park Service who are convinced that the move will damage the spirit of the nation’s park system.

From the NPCA:

“This law is a very bad idea. It is not in the best interests of the visitors to national parks, the resources to be protected in national parks, nor the employees in national parks. Opportunistic shooting at wildlife and historic resources, such as petroglyphs, will increase. Employees, especially law enforcement rangers, will be more at risk. And visitors will not only be more at risk, but will now see national parks as places where they need to be more suspicious and wary of others carrying guns, rather than safe and at peace in the solitude and sanctuary that parks have always provided. It is a sad chapter in the history of America’s premier heritage area system.”

by JC

While I hate an equivocating headline as much as the next blogger, Buffalo Field Campaign saw some good news with Obama’s NPS nomination:

Last Friday, July 10, was a potentially momentous day for America’s only population of continuously wild bison. In a move that could end the National Park Service’s role in the slaughter of thousands of bison, President Obama nominated Jon Jarvis to fill the vacant post of National Park Service (NPS) Director…

In light of the winter of 2008, when the Park Service slaughtered more than 1,400 wild bison from within Yellowstone National Park, it is hard to imagine a more imperiled natural or cultural icon than the bison. In naming Jarvis, President Obama sent a strong signal that the Park Service’s era of pandering to industrial interests at the expense of park resources is coming to an end.

The NY Times weighed in the nomination, calling it “the best news we have heard in the past nine years about the national parks, and called for Suzanne Lewis’ replacement:”

One of the first items he needs to tackle is the question of snowmobile use in Yellowstone National Park. He should begin by replacing Suzanne Lewis, the superintendent of Yellowstone, who is doing the legacy work of the Bush administration by trying to increase the number of snowmobiles allowed into the parks.

Mr. Jarvis and a new superintendent would need to adhere to the clear evidence of every major scientific study and steer visitors to snow coaches, which are better for the air and for Yellowstone’s wildlife. This may sound like a niche issue, but it is a question of whether the parks will be managed by the best guidance of science or the demands of politicians and industry.

Rick Smith had some choice words in the Jackson Hole News&Guide about what the nomination means to the NPS rank and file:

Jarvis’s selection will sit well with Park Service employees, said Rick Smith, a member of the Coalition of Park Service Retirees.

“The Park Service morale was lower than squid shit at the bottom of the ocean during the Bush Administration,” he said.

Lower than squid shit? Can’t get much lower than that. Best of luck to Jarvis and the NPS!




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