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Covering Climate Now, in the West

We're back! Apologies for that extended hiatus, loyal readers. But, as you can see, we've been tinker

Rockies Today

September 16 · Issue #1 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

We’re back! Apologies for that extended hiatus, loyal readers. But, as you can see, we’ve been tinkering with Rockies Today. This edition marks a move to the innovative editorial newsletter platform Revue, which we like because it puts the entirety of our daily news curations, with their various elements such as tweets and videos, right in your inbox, instead of trying to lure you to the Mountain West News website. We hope you find this approach more efficient. Please reach out with any questions or feedback.
Matthew Frank |

Covering Climate Now, in the West
At the end of April, the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation launched Covering Climate Now, a project aimed at encouraging news organizations to raise their game when it comes to climate coverage. Ahead of next Monday’s United Nations Climate Action Summit, Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope offer a progress report.
A new beginning for climate reporting
We had a hunch that there was a critical mass of reporters and news outlets that wanted to do more climate coverage, and hoped that by highlighting that critical mass, we could also help to grow it. That’s exactly what has happened. Our initiative has been embraced by more than 250 news outlets from across the US and around the world—big outlets and small, print and digital, TV and radio—with a combined audience of well over 1 billion people. Their response has been amazing, and gratifying.
We believe that Covering Climate Now is the biggest effort ever undertaken to organize the world’s press around a single topic. (You’ll find a list of partners here, and you can follow all of us on Twitter at #CoveringClimateNow.)
Our week of focused climate coverage began yesterday and will continue through next Monday, September 23, the day of the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York. And there’s more to come after this week is over; the climate story is not going away, so neither are we. We’ll be talking to our newsroom partners about what they learned this week, what they need to continue the momentum, what they can learn from one another, and where we go from here.
A handful of stories from around the region published today as part of Covering Climate Now:
Colorado farmers fight to save their water and their community’s future Colorado farmers fight to save their water and their community’s future
Will climate change mean less farming in the West?
Drip, drip. The sound of glaciers melting and of America's climate future
This summer, Canada's land of ice was on fire
In Alberta, a shocking abuse of political power to protect the oil industry
Media can do better: Getting serious about climate change
'Cruel irony' as Wyoming's coal industry shrinks
Idle mines portend dark days for top US coal region
…with coal in long-term decline, how the basin might eventually scale down production to a sustainable level has become a big question, said Rob Godby, director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy at the University of Wyoming.
“The irony here — and it’s really a cruel irony — is everybody is focused on getting these miners back to work. But really the solution to creating a healthy industry is some mines close,” Godby said.
More on coal country:
Blackjewel considering plans to reopen mines on 'expedited basis,' new letter states
Coal declining at quicker clip than previously forecast, new report finds
PacifiCorp: early closure of Wyo coal plants saves $599 million
Wyoming’s Carbon Valley aims to turn ‘coal into gold’
Solutions for transitioning coal-dependent communities
Wind projects advance in Montana and Colorado
PacifiCorp to build $406M wind farm in Montana
Tom Lutey
Local government approval of Pacificorp's Montana wind farm comes as the utility concludes that replacing coal power with renewables could save its customers more than $500 million
Xcel Energy names company to build huge Cheyenne Ridge wind project on Eastern Plains
Meanwhile, in North Dakota…
North Dakota keeps adding wind turbines. Some aren't happy about it
What we lose when we lose fire lookouts
NPR’s Nathan Rott profiles fire lookout and author Philip Connors.
A fire lookout on what's lost in a transition to technology A fire lookout on what's lost in a transition to technology
For more than 100 years, the U.S. Forest Service has been posting men and women atop mountains and trees, and in other hard-to-reach places, to wait and watch for smoke. They’re the eyes in the forest, even as the forests they watch have changed, shaped by developers, shifting land management policies and climate change. At times, fire lookouts were part of that change. At times, they critiqued it.
But in recent years, the number of active lookouts has dwindled from thousands to hundreds as technology has encroached.
Why pay a person to sit on top of a mountain when you can plop down a 360-degree camera? Why try to discern a fire’s heat and intensity from the color of its smoke when you can get an infrared image? Why pay Connors to plot a fire’s location with a faded map, a line of string and a pair of binoculars, when you can get a precise location from drone Unmanned 201?
Clock ticks on Chinook salmon that spawn in Idaho
Jim Robbins reports on how warming waters and a series of dams are making the grueling migration of the Chinook salmon even more deadly—and threatening dozens of other species.
How long before these salmon are gone? ‘Maybe 20 years’ How long before these salmon are gone? ‘Maybe 20 years’
NORTH FORK, Idaho — The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, one of the wildest rivers in the contiguous United States, is prime fish habitat. Cold, clear waters from melting snow tumble out of the Salmon River Mountains and into the boulder-strewn river, which is federally protected.
The last of the spawning spring-summer Chinook salmon arrived here in June after a herculean 800-mile upstream swim. Now the big fish — which can weigh up to 30 pounds — are finishing their courtship rituals. Next year there will be a new generation of Chinook.
In spite of this pristine 112-mile-long mountain refuge, the fish that have returned here to reproduce and then die for countless generations are in deep trouble.
Some 45,000 to 50,000 spring-summer Chinook spawned here in the 1950s. These days, the average is about 1,500 fish, and declining. And not just here: Native fish are in free-fall throughout the Columbia River basin, a situation so dire that many groups are urging the removal of four large dams to keep the fish from being lost.
“The Columbia River was once the most productive wild Chinook habitat in the world,” said Russ Thurow, a fisheries research scientist with the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station.
Standing alongside the Salmon River in Idaho, Mr. Thurow considered the prospect that the fish he had spent most of his life studying could disappear. “It’s hard to say, but now these fish have maybe four generations left before they are gone,” he said. “Maybe 20 years.”
More stories we're reading today
Why move BLM West? In hearing, its acting director offers no clear rationale
Trump admin leading 'brazen' public land liquidation in Alaska, analysis finds
Energy development in Utah could grow by 280 square miles after federal lease auction nets $1.5M in bids
Sage grouse numbers drop in Montana, across West
Groups strike consensus in debates over Wyoming's migration corridors
Federal judge in Great Falls hears Keystone XL arguments
‘Boys don’t cry’: Q&A with Alberta oilpatch worker on industry’s mental health crisis
Parked: Half the American Dream — A Colorado news project by The Colorado Sun.
Here’s who owns the most land in America
Thomas McGuane on small-town America
Trump to propose ‘narrower definition’ for water protection
Trump administration opens huge reserve in Alaska to drilling
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812