EPA releases the EJ 2020 Action Agenda, the Agency’s Environmental Justice Strategic Plan for 2016-2020 (posted 10/27/16)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today (Thursday, October 27, 2016) released the Environmental Justice 2020 Action Agenda (EJ 2020), the Agency’s environmental justice strategic plan for 2016 to 2020. EJ 2020 will further integrate environmental justice considerations in all of the Agency’s programs, strengthen EPA’s collaboration with partners, and demonstrate progress on significant national challenges facing minority and low-income communities.
EJ 2020 builds on the foundation established by EPA’s previous strategic plan, Plan EJ 2014, as well as decades of significant environmental justice practice by the Agency, communities, and other environmental justice stakeholders.
"EPA is committed to ensuring every community in the United States has access to clean air, water and land," said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "EJ 2020 is a product of listening to people in communities to better understand the challenges they face, and working closely with local leaders to identify solutions together."
The EJ 2020 Action Agenda has three overarching goals:
• Deepen environmental justice practice within EPA programs to improve the health and environment of overburdened communities.
• Work with partners to expand our positive impact within overburdened communities.
• Demonstrate progress on critical national environmental justice challenges.
Earlier this year, EPA released both the draft framework and final draft of the plan for public comment, and received thousands of comments from stakeholders and communities working on environmental justice. Additionally, Agency staff conducted over one hundred meetings across the country and held four national webinars to discuss the plan and answer stakeholder questions. EPA plans to continue its unprecedented level of dialogue with environmental justice stakeholders and governmental partners as it moves forward to implement the plan in the coming years.
Environmental justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA's goal is to provide an environment where all people enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to maintain a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work. EPA works with all stakeholders to collaboratively address environmental and public health issues and concerns.
EPA's environmental justice mandate extends to all of the Agency's work, including setting standards, permitting facilities, awarding grants, issuing licenses, regulations and reviewing proposed actions by the federal agencies.
To read EJ 2020, visit https://www.epa.gov/environmentaljustice/ej-2020-action-agenda
Strong sentenced for trophy buck poaching (posted 10/26/16)
Joy Ufford, Pinedale Roundup, email@example.com
PINEDALE, WYOMING – As his Oct. 25 trial approached, Big Piney teacher and coach Nathan Strong decided to change his "not guilty" plea for the wildlife violation of taking an antlered deer out of season, after attorneys reached an agreement.
Instead, the jury selection was replaced with Strong’s change-of-plea and sentencing hearing in Sublette County Circuit Court before Judge Curt Haws. The two-hour hearing was overshadowed by the display of the nontypical trophy buck Strong pleaded guilty to shooting, frozen in a taxidermist’s shoulder-mount pose.
Prosecuting attorney Carly Anderson and defense attorney Gaston Gosar had agreed on the sentence’s recommended range, leaving it to the judge, who was required to impose at least $5,000 in fines and five years’ loss of hunting privileges based on penalties for the misdemeanor to which Strong pleaded guilty.
Strong’s supporters, including Nancy Espenscheid, Betty Fear and Colin Barney, who said Strong shot the trophy buck on his Big Piney ranch and that he told Strong he thought it (and others on his property) were mule deer/ whitetail hybrids.
"I just don’t understand the penalties that facing Nate and his family … for this alleged violation," Barney told the judge."… I don’t see why we have to crucify this man and his family."
After hearing from Strong, his friends and both attorneys, Judge Haws passed the sentence of 10 days in jail, seven years’ suspension of Strong’s hunting privileges, a $10,000 fine, $4,000 wildlife restitution to the state of Wyoming and $40 in court costs.
The judge suspended $5,000 of Strong’s fine.
Although Judge Haws said he could have imposed a maximum of 365 days in jail, he was suspending 355 days in favor of one year of unsupervised probation; if Strong completes that successfully, "then (the suspended portion) goes away,"
The 10-day jail sentence will be cut in half if Strong performs 50 hours of community service by Jan. 15. Judge Haws allowed Strong to use a student program he is currently supervising as community service.
Gosar asked if Strong’s community service could wait until after basketball season.
"Let’s get it done," the judge said. "So I know if we’re looking at 10 days (in jail) or five."
If Strong completes the 50-hour community service requirement by Jan. 15, he will not have to serve the second five days and all jail time must be served by April 30.
"He still has a couple weeks before basketball starts," Anderson commented. "I just think that seems like a long time."
Coalition pushes wolf delisting (posted 10/24/16)
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
The Sublette County Commission joined a coalition of county commissions, hunting, conservation, and livestock organizations in urging Congress to move forward with removing wolves in Wyoming from federal protection. The letter to members of the Senate Committee on Energy & Natural Resources supports continuing of a rider on an energy policy bill that would result in wolf delisting in the Western Great Lakes region as well as in Wyoming.
See the link below for the complete letter.
Coalition letter Signed by Sublette County Commission
Wolf Watch by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
To understand where to go forward, you must first understand where we’ve been (posted 10/24/16)
The U.S. Constitution guides the way for America
The 2016 election is just a few weeks away. Once elected, each winning candidate will swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America. But how many of them have read it or know and understand what is in it? How many U.S. citizens have read and know what is in the founding documents of our country? Tens of thousands of people fought in the American Revolution in the late 1700s to declare the United States an independent nation and that we were a free people with certain natural and inalienable rights.
If you don’t remember what you were taught in your civics class about the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, you can catch up on things pretty quickly with the power of search engines and the internet. You won’t know when your rights are being taken away from you if you don’t understand what your rights are as a U.S. citizen to begin with.
United States Constitution (Wikipedia)
Bill of Rights (Wikipedia)
The Constitution Society
Common Sense (the pamphlet by Thomas Paine) 1775-1776
What is the difference between a republic and a democracy?
An Important Distinction: Democracy versus Republic
The U.S. Constitution archives.gov
What are the 5 freedoms American citizens have that are enumerated in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? by Pinedale Online! January 23, 2016
Upcoming candidate forums Oct. 26 & 27, Nov. 3 (posted 10/24/16)
Rural Health Care Board, Sublette County Commissioner candidates
There are three upcoming candidate forums to give voters an opportunity to listen to local candidate’s positions on topics and issues of concern to Sublette County and Wyoming.
Wednesday, October 26 – Rural Health Care District forum
This forum will be in the Lovatt Room of the Pinedale Library. It is being sponsored by KPIN 101.1 FM Radio, the Pinedale Roundup & Sublette Examiner (Wyoming Newspapers), and Pinedale Online! All the candidates running for the Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board have been invited and have indicated they plan to attend. The forum will also be broadcast live on KPIN 101.1FM Radio and the audio recording available later on Pinedale Online. Anyone who would like to submit questions to be asked of the candidates can email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Due to limited time, the forum organizers will select the questions to be asked. Meet & Greet for the candidates from 6-7PM. Forum starts at 7PM.
There will be two additional candidate forums which will be for the candidates running for the three open seats for Sublette County Commissioner. The County Commission is being expanded from three to five seats. One of the three original seats is open because Commissioner Jim Latta has chosen not to run again. The other two open seats are the new seats to be filled on the board. The Commissioner forum is being sponsored by the Sublette County Chamber of Commerce, Wyoming Newspapers, KPIN 101.1FM Radio and Pinedale Online! The first forum will be in Pinedale and the second one will be in Big Piney. There will be a Meet & Greet for the candidates from 6-7PM. Forum starts at 7PM. Both of these forums will be broadcast live on KPIN 101.1 FM Radio and the recording available later on Pinedale Online.
Sublette County Commissioner candidate forums:
Thursday, October 27: Pinedale Auditorium
Thursday, November 3: Big Piney Fine Arts Building
Election Day is Tuesday, November. 8th.
Click on this link for more information about the upcoming election, local candidates, and to see sample ballots for the election and Pinedale Lodging Tax: Election Information
Contact the Sublette County Clerk's office in the courthouse in Pinedale for more information about registering to vote and absentee ballot voting, 307-367-4372.
Secretary of State and County Clerks confident in Wyoming’s elections (posted 10/23/16)
Reassuring voters Wyoming election process is not rigged
Wyoming Secretary of State and County Clerks Association of Wyoming media release
CHEYENNE, WYOMING, Oct. 20, 2016 – Today Secretary of State Ed Murray joined with the leadership of the County Clerks Association of Wyoming in reassuring Wyoming voters that the election process is not rigged.
"Recent comments that an election could be rigged gives Wyoming’s 23 County Clerks and myself, as Chief Election Official, the opportunity to assure our citizens of the integrity of our voting process. Wyoming’s County Clerks and I are able to state categorically that Wyoming’s election process will not be ‘rigged’ or ‘hacked’," said Secretary Murray.
With 19 days to go before General Election Day 2016, the Secretary of State’s Office reminds voters that they can be confident of the accuracy and fairness of elections in Wyoming for reasons which include:
• No Wyoming voting system is ever connected to the internet and thus cannot be hacked;
• Each polling place reconciles the number of votes cast to guarantee that the number of people who checked into the polling place matches the number of ballots cast;
• Every voting system that is used in an election is tested publicly for ballot tabulation accuracy before being used in any election. Once tested, the ballot counter is immediately locked and sealed through Election Day;
• Each ballot can be verified by a paper audit trail that can be used to confirm the accuracy of every single vote while not associating any one ballot with a voter in order to maintain the secrecy of each person’s vote;
• Wyoming’s 23 County Clerks work with well trained and experienced citizen election judges and poll workers who manage and monitor each polling place to ensure that the voting environment is efficient and free of obstructions and distractions for the voters;
• Once votes are cast, each county convenes a bi-partisan canvassing board comprised of members selected from different political parties to join with the County Clerk to review the election tallies and certify election results;
• All voters must attest that they are citizens and eligible to vote. Wyoming’s voter registration system interfaces with data from the Wyoming Departments of Transportation, Health, Corrections, and the Division of Criminal Investigation to prevent voter fraud such as votes cast by deceased persons. If voter fraud were to ever occur, those individuals would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
"The citizens of Wyoming will decide the winners and losers in this election – fair and square," said Carbon County Clerk Gwynn Bartlett, President of the County Clerk’s Association of Wyoming. "Wyoming’s voting process is protected from beginning to end. There are many safeguards that the Secretary of State’s Office and County Clerks have put in place to maintain the integrity of each person’s vote."
Dave Bell profiled on WY PBS program Wyoming Chronicle (posted 10/22/16)
Pinedale photographer Dave Bell (left) was interviewed in September by Craig Blumenshine (right) for the Wyoming PBS program 'Wyoming Chronicle.' The program was just released.
For his Wyoming nature photography
Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
Local photographer Dave Bell had the honor of being asked by Wyoming PBS to be profiled on their program Wyoming Chronicle. A PBS camera crew came out in September to do autumn filming and Dave was interviewed by the show’s host, Craig Blumenshine. The ½ hour program was just released with the interview focusing on Dave’s many years of capturing the beauty of western Wyoming through his photography.
Wyoming Chronicle: "Pinedale's David Bell has quickly become one for the foremost nature photographers in the region, focusing on the beauty of the western United States. And, he'll tell you, it's just a hobby. His work is nothing short of stunning."
Dave has been a long time contributor to Pinedale Online, sharing his scenic photos of western Wyoming with our online audience since 2001. Thank you, Dave!
Click on this link for the WYPBS Wyoming Chronicle program featuring Dave Bell: http://video.wyomingpbs.org/video/2365870801/
Dave Bell Photo Gallery on Pinedale Online!
New videos of migrating pronghorn (posted 10/20/16)
Video of pronghorn crossing the Trappers Point Wildlife Overpass in mid-October after the first big snow.
We've added three new videos of pronghorn and deer on the Trapper's Point Wildlife Overpass. These were taken on October 17th and 19th after the first big snowstorm of the season, which caused many herds to move down and cross the wildife overpass bridge across US 191 west of Pinedale.
Monday, October 17, 2016 11:07 AM
First snow of winter
14" of snow fell overnight causing large herds of pronghorn to move south and cross on the overpass creating a well-marked trail for the herds to follow. Herd diverted by a pickup truck parked at south gate.
(4 minutes 2 seconds)
Monday, October 17, 2016 11:18 PM
Night shot of a pronghorn herd crossing the overpass.
Using moonlight, the webcam captures blurry ghostlike images of a large herd of pronghorn moving south across the overpass in the middle of the night, after the first day of significant snowfall in the Upper Green River Valley.
(2 minutes 20 seconds)
Wednesday, October 19, 2016 1:08 PM
Traffic jam on the overpass
Five deer are on the overpass when two pronghorn appear and want to cross over.
(1 minutes 53 seconds)
Update on Critical Access Hospital Designation Project (posted 10/20/16)
Sublette County Rural Health Care District
October 18, 2016
County Commissioner Presentation
At the request of the County Commissioners, a merger committee consisting of members from both the SCRHCD and the Sublette Center worked to develop a joint powers board agreement that would meet the needs of both entities. On October 18, 2016, that agreement was presented to the County Commissioners along with a request for specific direction in some areas that remain to be a concern. Click on the links below for the presentation documents:
Presentation to the Board of County Commissioners (1 page PDF)
Advantages/Disadvantages (1 page PDF)
Committee Joint Powers Board Agreement (12 page PDF)
Joint Powers Board Organizational Chart (1 page PDF)
Visits by Payor Mix 2010-Present (2 page PDF)
RHCD Response to Eide Bailly Operational Review (8 page PDF)
More info: http://www.sublettehealthcare.com/cah.html
Path of the Pronghorn (posted 10/18/16)
Pronghorn herds moving through on Monday, October 17th after the big storm dumped 14" of snow overnight in the Upper Green River Valley. Photo by the Trappers Point Wildlife Overpass Webcam just west of the Cora Junction over US 191.
Trappers Point Wildlife Overpass webcam gives people a close-up view of the antelope migration in progress
The heavy snowstorm on Monday has kicked antelope moving into high gear across the Trappers Point wildlife overpass just west of the Cora Junction, between Pinedale and Daniel. The Trappers Point wildlife overpass webcam gives people a close up view of the animals as they move to wintering grounds south in the Green River Valley.
These guys can move REALLY FAST when they want to and can go from horizon to horizon in just three minutes. It can be kind of hard to see them when there is cloud cover low light and moving through the snow. The beaten path they take through the snow is very obvious. Of course, the timing between herds is completely unpredictable, but there are many herds moving through right now. Watch for a shimmey of moving little white dots in the distance to spot them coming.
The camera operates on an automatic patrol and every couple of minutes pans from north to the compass point views to take a snapshot. If a camera administrator is logged in at the time, they might follow the individual herds as they pass through to try to track the paths they take from north to south through the area and on the ridgeline in the far distance. (If the view turns black while you are watching, just move your mouse a little bit to reconnect to the camera. It uses cell phone and satellite technology to connect to the camera and disconnects inactive viewers after about 30 seconds to save bandwidth.)
The views are video recorded so the recordings can be studied by wildlife biologists for future animal behavior research. Some of the highlights of those movements from this year’s spring and fall migration are posted on the website. Go to www.trapperspoint.com to see the pronghorn antelope migration webcam.
Editor’s Note: Pinedale Online welcomes sponsorships to help pay for the operating costs of this webcam. For more information, please email email@example.com or call/text 307-360-7689 anytime, including after hours.
BLM completes comprehensive update of its Oil and Gas measurement rules (posted 10/17/16)
The Bureau of Land Management announced the finalization of three rules addressing the accurate measurement, proper reporting, and accurate recordkeeping of oil and gas produced from Federal and Indian leases. The new rules are aimed at the responsible development and management of the nation’s oil and gas resources and ensuring that both the American public and tribes receive a fair return for these extracted resources.
The new rules are an update and replace Onshore Oil and Gas Orders (Orders) 3 (new part 3173), 4 (new part 3174), and 5 (new part 3175). They represent the first comprehensive update of BLM’s measurement rules since they were issued over 25 years ago. The rule to replace Order 3 governs oil and gas handling and is designed to ensure that production is properly accounted for in order to prevent theft and loss and enable that production to be verified. Orders 4 and 5 establish minimum standards for the accurate measurement of all oil and gas, respectively.
Click on this link to read the complete BLM media release: BLM Completes Comprehensive Update of Its Oil and Gas Measurement Rules
Thomans Give Up Upper Green Grazing (posted 10/14/16)
The Thoman family raises fine-wooled Rambouillets. Photo by Cat Urbigkit.
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online
In late September, W & M Thoman Ranches herded their domestic sheep flocks down from the mountains of the Upper Green, where they had grazed since July, just as they had for every summer and fall for decades. The flocks were moved into a set of portable pens located on a flat next to the Green River, where they would be sorted for fall shipping, with market lambs sent up the chute for the lamb buyer, replacement ewe lambs sorted off for shipping to lower elevation grazing, and the core adult ewe flocks headed back to the home ranch located near the Fontenelle Reservoir.
But this time was different, because the Thoman family knew their sheep would never come back to the Upper Green for grazing.
The family had agreed to an allotment buyout deal that would put an end to domestic sheep grazing in the area. Long pressured by environmental groups and federal officials, the Thomans at last conceded, and on Tuesday, they waived their Elk Ridge Allotment Complex grazing permit back to the Bridger-Teton National Forest without preference to another livestock producer. The deal involved a buyout (of an undisclosed sum) of the allotments, and was orchestrated by the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation. Home to domestic sheep for more than 100 years, the Thoman’s fine-wooled Rambouillets had grazed this range for 40 years.
Citing the potential threat of interactions between domestic sheep and wild sheep, and the history of wolf and grizzly bear depredations, the Bridger-Teton National Forest has committed to not allowing the allotments to be restocked with domestic sheep. The agency has indicated it will consider allowing the currently permitted cattle grazing in the Upper Green to spread into a portion of the Thoman allotments "in order to better address ongoing predation issues," but not until further environmental review is conducted some years in the future.
The loss of the Thoman allotments – four allotments that grazed up to a total of 3,900 sheep from July through September– is the latest in a series of domestic sheep allotment closures by federal forest officials throughout the West.
The decision to give up the allotments was a difficult one, and one that members of the Thoman family voiced displeasure. Family matriarch Mickey Thoman and daughter Mary said they believe that the situation had become such that it was best to accept the buyout offer and put their days in the Upper Green behind them.
The Thomans aren’t sure where they will be taking their sheep for next year’s summer and fall grazing season. Federal officials have been unable to identify current vacant grazing allotments or grass banks where their flocks would be allowed, and the Thomans are hoping that some of their current cattle permits can be converted back to sheep, but federal land managers are balking, citing concerns for sage grouse and the need to conduct environmental reviews.
Many members of the extended Thoman family, including Laurie Thoman, Kristy Wardell, and Dick Thoman were on hand to bring the family’s flocks out of the Upper Green for the last time.
Click on this link for more pictures: Thomans Give Up Upper Green Grazing (19 photos)
Suicide prevention loss and tobacco resources available (posted 10/15/16)
Organizations working together to strengthen prevention efforts around alcohol, tobacco, drugs and suicide
Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming
ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING - The Muley Fanatic Foundation, along with the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming, (PMO) is offering members access to resources and tools to help curb suicide losses across the state. The Muley Fanatic Foundation will also offer active members free access to Chantix and other tobacco quit tools to conserve the health of their sportsmen and women.
"For the Prevention Management Organization of Wyoming, developing key partnerships offer opportunities to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and tobacco use here in Wyoming. We want the residents of Wyoming and specifically Rock Springs to know we are ‘in this together’ and working to make this state a better and healthier place to live and play," said Cassandra Crumpton, Sweetwater County community prevention specialist with the PMO.
Joshua Coursey, co-founder and president of the Muley Fanatic Foundation, said, "This partnership gives us a chance to give back to our active members. We take conservation of the land and animals very seriously, but we also take the conservation of our member’s health seriously. Both Joey and I gave up chewing tobacco six years ago and know how hard it can be and want to give our members the help and support to quit the habit for themselves and for their families."
Currently, partnership plans include Muley Fanatic Foundation’s social media presence of more than 23,000 followers on Facebook and mailing list serve of over 37,000 sportsmen and women to provide prevention-based messaging and resources. A special effort to help reduce the amount of distracted driving, specifically texting and driving, of sportsmen and women throughout the state is included.
The Muley Fanatic Foundation (MFF), a 501 C (3) non-profit conservation organization, was established in 2012 by Joshua Coursey and Joey Faigl. Headquartered in Green River, Wyoming, MFF aims to ensure the conservation of mule deer and their habitat and to provide such supporting services to further the sport of hunting and sound wildlife management.
The PMO is a statewide organization is dedicated to strengthening the prevention efforts around alcohol, tobacco, other drugs, and suicide.
For more information about this partnership please visit www.muleyfanatic.org or www.pmowyo.org.
Sheriff’s Office encourages high-country hunters to be ‘bear aware’ (posted 10/4/16)
Characteristic differences between black and grizzly bears.
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
(Rock Springs, Wyoming - October 4, 2016) In light of two recent bear attacks - one in Wyoming northwest of Dubois, the other in southwestern Montana - the Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging Sweetwater County hunters who venture north into grizzly country to be "bear aware."
Sheriff Mike Lowell said that many county residents hunt in areas within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem identified by the Wyoming Game & Fish Department as frequented by grizzly bears. Officials estimate the grizzly population there to be about 600 animals.
These areas include the Shoshone National Forest, east and southeast of Yellowstone National Park, and much of the Bridger-Teton National Forest. (Refer to the 2010 Wyoming Game & Fish Department map, shown here, that depicts the area known to be frequented by grizzlies. As the Department indicates, it should be noted that grizzlies may be present outside of known distribution areas.)
Hunters in bear country can be particularly vulnerable to bear encounters, as they are moving quietly, are often moving during dawn and dusk hours, and use game calls. Officials’ recommendations to minimize the chance of dangerous human-bear encounters in grizzly country include the following:
- Hunt with a partner.
- Remain alert always for the presence of bears.
- Carry and know how to use bear spray and carry it where it is swiftly accessible - not inside a pack.
- Learn to recognize bear sign such as tracks and scat.
- Retrieve downed game quickly and be particularly alert for approaching bears while field dressing your game.
- Make noise while packing out your game and avoid packing out meat at night.
Lowell said a great deal of information on grizzly bears, grizzly bear management, and staying safe in bear country can be found at the Wyoming Game & Fish Department website at http://wgfd.wyo.gov/web2011/wildlife-1000674.aspx
The use of bear spray and other defensive tactics, including firearms, are discussed in detail on the website of the United States Geological Survey at http://pubs.usgs.gov/fs/2009/3018/pdf/FS09-3018.pdf