Wolves continue to do better in Idaho than in Yellowstone

Since the beginning of wolf reintroduction in the Northern Rockies, Idaho and its more than 20 million acres of wildlands has taken a back seat in the debate to Yellowstone National Park.

Yellowstone simply had more star power for wolf advocates who were seeking a remarkably ambitious program to restore wolves into a region where wolves were hated, poisoned and eliminated. The 2.2 million-acre national park at the core of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, along with nearby Grand Teton, also offered wolf advocates a place of government control like few places on earth.

Next president's picks will show policy direction

For the first time in decades the West is up for grabs in the Presidential sweepstakes. The fate of both Barack Obama and John McCain well may hang on how voters in Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and even Arizona go.

I have talked about who each of the two men might choose for Interior secretary. But the actual policies of the next administration will be carried out by men and women below the cabinet levels. Assistant secretaries in Interior and Agriculture will develop the recommendations that are taken to the cabinet secretaries and ultimately the White House.

New study points to salmon problems in the ocean, not rivers

Salmon carrying high-tech acoustic tags from Idaho through eight dams survive their trip to the ocean at a rate better than salmon in the undammed Frasier River, a Canadian scientist and his team report in their latest paper.

David Welch´s latest findings continue his challenge to most of the views of traditional salmon biologists on the effects of dams on salmon migration. The acoustic monitoring system Welch has developed called Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking System, is the latest effort to determine where salmon go after they leave rivers up and down the coast.

New technology may turn wood into fuel for tractors and trucks

No alternative energy “holy grail” is more important to westerners than a new vehicle fuel that can power farm equipment and transportation to the region’s widely dispersed communities, farms, ranches and homes.

Electric cars and hydrogen cell technology will offset many of the uses for gasoline in the coming decade, but for regions where great distances divide us, economically viable alternatives to gasoline like ethanol are critical to economic vibrancy.

Idaho GOP tour bus gets more than a flat tire

Since at least 1980, Idaho’s major Republican candidates joined together in late October for a statewide campaign bus tour that generated excitement, press coverage and helped get out the votes for GOP candidates from the top of the ticket down.

There is no statewide bus this year. Four dollar gas prices, the internet and perhaps a changing Republican Party in Idaho have driven this campaign tool off the road and into the ditch.

Montana would signal western political realignment

John McCain has an insurmountable lead in Idaho, according to a recent Roll Call poll , leading Barack Obama 57-37 percent.

But next store in Montana it's another story. A new poll by the liberal Daily Kos Blog conducted by Research 2000 shows McCain only leading Obama by 4 points.

What's the role of the public in climate change, endangered species decisions?

With only three months left the Bush Administration is seeking to leave its mark on climate change policy.

The administration, which came in skeptical that climate change was even happening, leaves with ideas of what it doesn't like about regulating greenhouse gases. But it offers no clear view of what it does support.

Here's some more names for Interior secretary

After I published my list of possible Interior secretaries several people gave me some other potential choices on both sides.

Rail projects move down the tracks across West

Mass transit is moving several western communities down the track this year.

Phoenix begins light-rail service Dec. 27 and city businesses are preparing for what they hope will be a renaissance in the downtown of the spread-out western city. Combined with hundreds of millions of dollars in investment, downtown business people and civic leaders are hoping people come early and stay late to sporting, arts and music events, the Arizona Republic reports.

Idaho's "Mama Bear" on the campaign trail

Hank Williams Jr. sings a song at GOP campaign events, the "McCain-Palin Tradition," that includes a verse about Idaho. The country music outlaw croons of Palin:

"Like a mama bear in Idaho, She'll protect your family's condition, If you mess with her cubs, She's gonna take off the gloves, It's an American female tradition."

If you are a Palin supporter you'll love the song. It blames the current worldwide financial mess on Bill Clinton instead of the Wall Street bankers.

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