Feds plan to reintroduce grizzly bears to Washington's North Cascades region | OUT WEST ROUNDUP | News

The government plans to reintroduce grizzly bears to the North Cascades

SEATTLE — The federal government plans to reintroduce grizzly bears to an area of ​​northwest and north-central Washington where they have been largely wiped out.

Plans announced in late April by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service call for releasing three to seven bears per year for five to 10 years to reach an initial population of 25. The goal is to eventually restore the region's population to 200 bears within 60 to 100 years.

Grizzly bears are considered threatened in the Lower 48 and currently occupy four of six established recovery areas in parts of Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and northeastern Washington. The bears for the recovery project would come from areas with healthy populations.

According to authorities, there has been no confirmed evidence of a grizzly in the North Cascades ecosystem in the United States since 1996. The larger North Cascades ecosystem extends into Canada, but the plan focuses on the U.S. side.

According to the Park Service, killings by trappers, miners and bounty hunters in the 19th century by 1860 displaced most of the population in the North Cascades. The remaining population has been further challenged by factors such as difficulty finding mates and slow reproductive rates, the agency said.

Federal authorities plan to designate the bears as a “non-essential experimental population” to ensure “greater management flexibility when conflict situations arise.” That means some Endangered Species Act rules could be relaxed, allowing people to injure or kill bears in self-defense, or authorities could relocate bears involved in conflicts. Landowners could ask the federal government to remove bears if they pose a threat to livestock.


Record agreement reached on natural gas flaring

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico has reached a record settlement with a Texas-based company over air pollution violations at natural gas gathering sites in the Permian Basin.

The $24.5 million settlement with Ameredev, announced April 29, is the largest settlement the state Department of Environmental Protection has ever reached for a civil oil and gas violation. It is created by the flaring of billions of cubic feet of natural gas that the company had produced over an 18-month period but was unable to transport to downstream processors.

Environment Minister James Kenney said in an interview that the flared gas would have been enough to power nearly 17,000 homes for a year.

Flaring, or burning off, the gas resulted in more than 7.6 million pounds of excess emissions, including hydrogen sulfide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and other gases that state regulators said cause respiratory illnesses and contribute to climate change.

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Ameredev said in a statement it was pleased to have resolved what it called a “legacy issue” and that the state air quality bureau was not aware of any ongoing compliance issues at the company's facilities.

While operators can vent or flare natural gas during emergencies or equipment failures, New Mexico passed rules in 2021 to ban routine venting and flaring and gave companies a deadline of 2026 to capture 98% of their gas. The rules also require regular tracking and reporting of emissions.

As part of the settlement, Ameredev agreed to conduct an independent audit of its New Mexico operations to ensure compliance with emissions requirements. It must also submit monthly reports on actual emission rates and propose a plan for weekly inspections for a period of two years or install leakage and repair monitoring equipment.


Sundance explores options for 2027 film festival and beyond

PARK CITY – The Sundance Film Festival isn't always at home in Park City, Utah. The Sundance Institute has begun exploring the possibility of other U.S. locations to host the independent film festival starting in 2027, the organization announced April 17.

The 2025 and 2026 festivals will continue to take place in Park City and Salt Lake City. However, as the current contract is due to be extended in 2027, the Institute is taking immediate steps to explore all options through a request for information and request for proposal process. The final selection, which could still be Park City, is expected to be announced in early 2025.

Eugene Hernandez, the festival's director, said they want to “ensure that the festival continues to thrive culturally, operationally and financially as it has for four decades.”

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Park City has been home to the festival founded by Robert Redford for 40 years. The festival and its sponsors take over numerous venues in the small town every January, turning it into a film festival hub with theaters in places like the library and a recreation center. Storefronts along the city's charming main street become exclusive lounges for actors and filmmakers, and restaurants host parties with actors following world premieres of films.

Mayor Nann Worel said she doesn't want the festival to leave Park City, which has become a world-famous mountain town since Sundance first put it on the map decades ago.

According to Sundance's 2023 Economic Impact Report, the hybrid festival generated just over $118 million for the state of Utah last year.

Sundance has been a launching pad for many top filmmakers over the years and has hosted premieres for subsequent Oscar nominees and winners, including “CODA,” their first Best Picture winner, and the last three documentary winners, “20 Days in.” Mariupol” and “Navalny”. ” and “Summer of Soul.”


Federal funding eyed for Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

BISMARCK – Supporters of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in North Dakota are welcoming new federal legislation that would support construction of the library and display artifacts of the 26th president, who hunted and ranched as a young man during his territorial days in the state.

North Dakota's three-member, all-Republican congressional delegation announced the bill in April, which would “authorize funding for further construction of the library and work to preserve the history and legacy of President Roosevelt.” The Interior Department grant included in the bill includes $50 million in one-time funds, most of which “will go toward creating the museum spaces at our facility,” said Matt Briney, the library's chief communications officer.

The bill also allows and directs federal agencies to work with library organizers to display Roosevelt pieces in the library's museum, he said.

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In 2019, the Republican-controlled North Dakota Legislature approved a $50 million operating foundation for the library, which became available after organizers raised $100 million in private donations for construction. This goal was achieved at the end of 2020.

The project raised $240 million in private donations and the entire construction cost $333 million, Briney said. Covering the library's construction costs hasn't been a problem, he said.

Construction is underway near Medora, in the rugged, colorful Badlands where the young future president briefly roamed in the 1880s. Organizers plan a grand opening of the library on July 4, 2026, the 250th anniversary of the independence of the United States.

The planned exhibitions include a chronological look at Roosevelt's life, such as galleries about his early life, his time in the Badlands, trips to the Amazon and his presidency, Briney said.


Baseball team in dispute with Parks Service over arrowhead logo

HELENA – A minor league baseball team in Montana is suing the U.S. Department of the Interior over “unwarranted and unrelenting” trademark claims in a dispute over the use of an arrowhead logo.

The Glacier Range Riders in Kalispell, Montana – members of a Major League Baseball affiliate – have applied for multiple trademarks and logos for the team, which begins play in 2022. The logos include a mountain goat wearing a park ranger hat, a bear riding in a red bus like Glacier National Park's tour buses, and an arrowhead with the letters “RR” in it.

The Interior Ministry rejects the use of the arrowhead logo. The agency filed a protest with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which rejected arguments that the baseball team's arrowhead logo would be confused with that of the park service, creating a false connection between the two.

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The federal agency then filed a letter of objection last June, initiating a legal battle that team owners say will be costly to defend. A final hearing is expected to be scheduled for next year, team spokeswoman Alexa Belcastro said.

The Park Service logo consists of an arrowhead enclosing a sequoia tree, a snow-capped mountain landscape, a bison and the words “National Park Service.”

“The only similarity between the Glacier Range Riders and NPS logos is the generic arrowhead shape,” the team said in a statement, adding that the Parks Service “does not have exclusive legal rights to the shape.”

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