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Pinedale Online!
Pinedale, Wyoming  •  www.PinedaleOnline.com
A "Slice of Life" view of Pinedale and Sublette County, Wyoming
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Weather update, Saturday, Dec. 20, 5:00PM: Winter Storm Warning in effect from 11PM Saturday evening through 11AM Monday morning for snow and blowing snow in the Upper Green River Basin foothills including the Pinedale area. Valley locations could get 5-10 inches new snow - mountains could see 10-20 inches. Visibility may become limited with gusty winds making travel difficult on snow-packed roads. Travel only if necessary and carry emergency supplies in your vehicle (extra flashlight, food, water, warm clothing). Sunday’s high temperature will be around 37 degrees. Stay tuned to weather and road condition reports for updates that may impact holiday travel plans. Call 5-1-1 for road reports or go online to www.wyoroad.info. Click here for info on Pinedale area conditions, weather and webcams.   
Nordic skiing fun
Nordic skiing fun The Sublette County Recreation Board maintains more than 35KM of free groomed Nordic ski trails for public recreation in the Pinedale area. Trails are available near White Pine Ski area, up Skyline Drive, near the CCC Ponds by Fremont Lake, and at the Pinedale golf course. Dogs are ok, but skiers are asked to remove their pet's droppings from the trail and make sure dogs do not chase wildlife. Mike Looney grooms the trails as weather warrants and his grooming reports are posted here on Pinedale Online on our Local page. Click on this link for a map of Nordic ski trails near Pinedale. Click on this link for some more pictures of the Nordic ski trails. Photo by Mike Looney, Groomer, Sublette County Recreation Board.
Waiting for the cold
Waiting for the cold The Town of Pinedale in putting in a small recreational ice skating rink on the green parkway just north of the Sublette County Courthouse. All that is needed now is colder weather to start flooding it and getting ice on. There is a little shelter with bench next to the rink for putting skates on and off. The rink will be for recreational skating (no hockey sticks or pucks allowed). Click here for a couple more pictures of the rink. Photo by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!.
Gas Prices
December 13, 2014
Pinedale2.599
Big Piney2.899
Wyoming2.792
USA2.577
Regular unleaded average.
WY & US provided by AAA.
Diesel Prices
December 13, 2014
Pinedale3.699
Big Piney3.799
Wyoming3.672
USA3.424
WY & US provided by AAA.
Headlines:

Pinedale Local:

Nordic ski trail grooming report – December 20, 2014
Cultural Christmas party in Pinedale Dec. 20th
Sublette County board position openings
Giving this holiday season
White Pine Ski Area offers group ski & snowboard lessons over Christmas break
5 County Commissioners question passes by 69 votes
Santa visits Pinedale
‘You left a note on my car’ prank phone call
Mountain Man Christmas in Pinedale
Pinedale's Christmas Bird Count Dec. 28th
Nordic ski trail grooming report – December 15, 2014
Iron Bridge Builders Lego robotics team places 1st in First Lego League Wyoming State championship
Daniel Community Center Christmas Party Dec. 21
Wyoming Legislature update

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Events: Click for event information
December 27: Frosty 5K Family Fun Run/Walk - Sponsored by the Pinedale Aquatic Center. Begins at 10am. Bring the whole family! Warm-up after the run in the hot tub or with a cup of hot cocoa or coffee. Dogs and strollers welcome. Prize given for most festive costume. FREE! www.pinedaleaquatic.com

January 29, 2015: 7 Brides for 7 Brothers - Stage play. PFAC presentation 7PM, Pinedale Auditorium. Click here for ticket info: www.PinedaleFineArts.com

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Click here for a video about the many things Sublette County has to offer!
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Click here for YouTube Version of this same video.

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Sublette County
Chamber of Commerce

Sublette County Visitor Center
19 E Pine St
1-888-285-7282
307-367-2242
sublettevisitorcenter@gmail.com
www.sublettechamber.com

VisitPinedale.org
Pinedale tourism website

What is Pinedale Online?

Pinedale Online is Pinedale, Wyoming on the web. We give our viewers, locals and out-of-area visitors, a "slice of life" snapshot window into our world view of what is happening in Pinedale. Visit us for current local news on what is happening, photos of local events, links to area businesses and services and more. We are long-time area residents and are happy to answer questions if you are planning a visit to our area. Much of our information is by community contribution.

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Wolf Watch, by Cat Urbigkit

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Photo taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
Photo taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory
Solar CME may sideswipe Earth in next several days (posted 12/20/14)
Solar flare electromagnetic pulses can impact your electronics or telecommunications equipment
Pinedale Online!
There was an X-class eruption from the Sun today (Saturday, December 20th) that National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters say may have ejected a large solar cloud CME whose trajectory may cross the Earth’s path in two or three days and may cause some minor geomagnetic storms this weekend.

This is a natural event, but one that anyone with electronics or dependent on telecommunications equipment should be aware of and may want to monitor updates. Most people are unprepared for CME events, some of which, whether natural or man-caused terrorism events, can damage or destroy electronic equipment, blackout telecommunications, and even disable electronic controls in vehicles.

When sunspots erupt from our Sun they can create solar flares or coronal mass ejection (CME) plumes of particle material that fly away from the eruption site on the surface of the Sun into space. These eruptions can produce bursts of radiation across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio waves to x-rays and gamma-rays. Some of that ejected material can reach the earth within hours or may take days. If that ejected plume traveling into space from the Sun crosses the path of the Earth, it can cause minor to major impacts and disruptions to electronic communication systems, depending on the size and intensity of the eruption from the Sun. Government and private entities watch and track these incidents and alerts are issued if there appears to be a possibility of a brush with our atmosphere that might impact telecommunications, air traffic, or other national interests.

Scientists classify solar flares according to their x-ray brightness in the wavelength range 1 to 8 Angstroms. There are 3 categories: X-class flares are big and are major events that can trigger planet-wide radio blackouts and long-lasting radiation storms. M-class flares are medium-sized that can cause brief radio blackouts that affect Earth's polar regions. Minor radiation storms sometimes follow an M-class flare. Compared to X- and M-class events, C-class flares are small with few noticeable consequences here on Earth.

According to information posted on spaceweather.com for Dec. 20th, radio emissions from shock waves rippling through the sun's atmosphere suggest that a CME is en route from today’s solar eruption. However, they are still waiting for data from the Solar & Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) coronagraphs to confirm the existence and trajectory of a massive storm cloud. If a CME is coming, it will probably take 2 to 3 days to reach Earth.

For those interested in more information, how to receive space weather alerts, and what you can do to protect your electronics, check out the links below. Much more information is available by doing a keyword search on the interenet.

Related Links:
www.spaceweather.com
Coronal mass ejection (CME) Wikipedia
Solar Flare vs. CME - What's The Difference? Video - Space.com
SOHO Solar & Heliospheric Observatory
Can We Predict Solar Flares—And Protect Our Satellites? Popular Mechanics, Oct. 22, 2014
Protecting Your Electrical Equipment from Solar Flares. By Mike Bertone, Mastersconnection.com
Electromagnetic Pulse Protection Futurescience.com


DOI proposes tighter regulation and costs for coal industry (posted 12/19/14)
Bureau of Land Management media release
Interior Department Announces Initial Steps to Strengthen Federal Energy Valuation Rules, Expand Guidance on Federal Coal Program
Initiatives provide certainty, additional clarity for energy industry, and help ensure the collection of every dollar due to the American public

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of the Interior today announced the release of a draft proposed federal regulation by the Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) governing the valuation of federal oil and gas, and federal and American Indian coal resources, as well as expanded guidance on the production of coal on public lands issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Both initiatives seek to provide greater clarity and certainty for the energy industry and are part of the Department’s larger effort to help ensure the American public receives every dollar due for domestic energy resources.

The current oil, gas and coal valuation regulations – originally put in place for natural gas and coal in the late 1980s – have not kept pace with the significant market changes that have occurred in the domestic natural gas and coal markets since that time. The existing federal oil valuation regulations are a decade old. The proposed draft regulation being released by ONRR today will update the regulations to help keep pace with modern technology and practices.

"Coal produced on public lands is an important part of our domestic energy portfolio, but we have an obligation – and we are fully committed – to ensure that the American taxpayer receives a fair return for the production of domestic energy resources," said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Mike Connor. "The initial steps we are taking are part of the larger effort to strengthen the management of coal production on public lands by providing greater certainty and predictability to the industry and helping to protect American taxpayers. We look forward to receiving public comment on the draft proposal."

Existing gas and coal valuation regulations may require an energy company to follow benchmarks when it sells its product to an affiliated company. The benchmarks for coal are applied sequentially and include such factors as comparable arm’s-length sales, prices reported to public utility commissions and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, other relevant matters and a netback calculation.

These benchmarks can be administratively burdensome to industry trying to report and pay proper royalties, and to regulators reviewing royalty payments for audit and compliance purposes. The proposed regulation aims to remedy this and other issues caused by outdated rules with more clear regulations that better reflect the changing energy industry, while protecting taxpayer and American Indian assets.

The BLM today is also sending updated guidance to the field that will help ensure a consistent and efficient coal lease sale process, increase clarity in determining fair market value and provide guidance on independent review of appraisal reports. The guidance will enable the Bureau to account for export potential through analysis of comparable sales and income.

The BLM coal program’s revised manuals and handbooks are part of a suite of actions that the BLM has undertaken following the recommendations of a June 2013 audit by the Department of the Interior Office of Inspector General and a February 2014 Government Accountability Office report. Previous guidance has been issued regarding publicly available information such as the accepted fair market value and historical lease sale data, and not accepting coal lease bids below the pre-sale fair market value. Over the past two years, the BLM has developed new training programs for coal specialists and completed the first phase of a bureau-wide tracking system for coal inspections. The handbooks can be viewed here (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/blm_handbooks.html). The manuals can be viewed here (http://www.blm.gov/wo/st/en/info/regulations/Instruction_Memos_and_Bulletins/blm_manual.html).

The BLM has also released safety, inspection and enforcement guidance to promote more responsible development of coal resources on the nation’s public lands, including: improved documentation for coal operation inspections on coal exploration licenses, licenses to mine, leases, and logical mining units; and increased Mineral Mine Inspector training and certification requirements.

The Consolidated Federal Oil & Gas and Federal & Indian Coal Valuation Reform rule will be published in the Federal Register on January 6, 2015, which initiates a 60-day public comment period. The notice will be available on the web at: www.regulations.gov.

Comments can be made on-line, by mail, or by hand-carrying documents:
• Electronically go to www.regulations.gov. In the entry titled "Enter Keyword or ID," enter "ONRR-2012-0004," then click "Search." Follow the instructions to submit public comments. ONRR will post all comments.
• Mail comments to Armand Southall, Regulatory Specialist, P.O. Box 25165, MS 61030A, Denver, CO 80225.
• Hand-carry comments, or use an overnight courier service, to the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, Building 85, Room A-614, Denver Federal Center, West 6th Ave. and Kipling St., Denver, Colorado 80225.


Price of ground beef. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Price of ground beef. Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Average national price of ground beef rises to $4.20/pound (posted 12/17/14)
Over $4 per pound for last four months, highest prices in 10 years
Pinedale Online!
According to statistics released today (Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014) from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average price nationally for ground beef rose to $4.201 per pound in November 2014. In October it was $4.15/pound. In January 2014 it was $3.467/pound. The price of beef has been on a steady rise since January 2011.

Statistics for national average prices for ground beef per pound 2004-2014:
Nov. 2004: $2.216
Nov. 2005: $2.302
Nov. 2006: $2.206
Nov. 2007: $2.289
Nov. 2008: $2.357
Nov. 2009: $2.062
Nov. 2010: $2.394
Nov. 2011: $2.899
Nov. 2012: $3.175
Nov. 2013: $3.477
Nov. 2014: $4.201

The explanation for the high prices include a shortage of cattle on the market, drought conditions causing ranchers to reduce herd numbers, harsher winter conditions that kept animals from gaining as much weight on feedlots, and high feed prices.

Source: United States Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics, http://data.bls.gov/timeseries/APU0000703112

Related Links:
Over 20,000 cattle perish in South Dakota/Nebraska blizzard Pinedale Online, Oct. 21, 2013


New geyser app now available for smartphones and tablets. Photo courtesy Yellowstone National Park
New geyser app now available
Yellowstone geyser eruption free app available for smartphone and tablet (posted 12/16/14)
Yellowstone National Park
The largest concentration of active geysers in the world—approximately half of the world’s total— is found in Yellowstone National Park.

You can now discover the natural wonder of the most famous geyser of all, Old Faithful, and other geysers with a free app that you can use during your visit to the park and at home. The new app will help you find out when Old Faithful and five other predictable geysers could erupt.

The app also features a link to a webcam so that you can view live eruptions of Old Faithful and other nearby geysers. The FAQ section provides answers to several of the frequently asked questions that explain how a few geysers can be predicted and other fascinating details about Yellowstone’s geysers.

You can follow the Social Media Feed and see what’s happening in Yellowstone by browsing the park’s Twitter, YouTube and Flickr sites. Because every eruption is different, the app’s Photo Gallery contains an array of geyser eruption photos.

The NPS Geysers app was developed in partnership with Dr. Brett Oppegaard, Washington State University (Vancouver) and University of Hawaii, and the National Park Service, Yellowstone National Park and Harpers Ferry Center. The app was made possible, in part, by a donation from Canon USA, Inc., through the Yellowstone Park Foundation.

The NPS Geysers app is now available in the Google Play Store and in the Apple App Store.

Related Links:
www.nps.gov/yell


Encana invester update for 2015 (posted 12/16/14)
Focusing on high margin oil and liquids production growth plays
Encana issued a media release today (Tuesday, December 16, 2015) advising of their plans for 2015. Encana expects to generate approximately 75 percent of its 2015 cash flow from oil and liquids production. Encana was a major natural gas operator in the Jonah field of the Upper Green River Basin for years. They sold their assets there in mid-2014 to the private equity firm TPG Capital which created a new subsidiary to run operations called Jonah Energy.

According to the release, they will be focusing approximately 80 percent of their 2015 capital program directed to four of its highest margin growth plays; the Montney, Duvernay, Eagle Ford and Permian.

Click on this link to read their complete announcement: Encana focuses 2015 capital program on four strategic growth assets

Related Links:
Encana to sell its Jonah field operations in Wyoming Pinedale Online, March 31, 2014
NEW OWNER EYES REBOUND - With Shell and Encana gone, what does the future hold for the Jonah Field? By Benjamin Storrow, Casper Star-Tribune, September 15, 2014


Big game hunting application information for 2015 available on WGFD website Dec. 17 (posted 12/15/14)
Wyoming Game & Fish
Even though the big game license application period doesn’t begin until Jan.1, hunters can start planning now for 2015 hunts.

Beginning Dec. 17, big game hunting application information for both residents and nonresidents will be on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov. A major change in this year’s application deadline extends the time period when nonresidents can apply for deer and antelope licenses. The previous deadline was March 15 and this year will be June 1 – the same as the resident deadline. The deadline has been moved to June 1 this year because the normal deadline of May 31 is on a weekend. All other application deadlines for residents and nonresidents are the same as in previous years and are as follows: Feb. 2 – Nonresident elk (extended from Jan. 31 because of weekend); March 2 – Resident and nonresident bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat and wild bison (extended from Feb. 28 due to weekend).

Hunters are reminded that all big game applications must now be made online. License manager Jennifer Doering said the expanded application period for nonresident deer and antelope is a direct result of the online application process.

"Applying online allows us to process applications much quicker and greatly reduces the number of errors hunters made on applications," Doering said. "It has resulted in tremendous savings in money and manpower and allows us to get ready for the drawings in a matter of days after the deadline instead of the multiple weeks of preparation when paper applications were the method for applying for licenses."

Hunters with questions on the big game application process or needing help to apply can contact the Game and Fish at 307-777-4600. The Game and Fish will begin accepting applications for 2015 hunts beginning Jan. 1, 2015.


BLM seeks comments on proposed rules for Killpecker Sand Dunes (posted 12/14/14)
Safety flags on vehicles, no glass containers, slower speed limits some of the proposed rules
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rock Springs Field Office is seeking public comments on proposed supplementary safety rules for the Killpecker Sand Dunes Recreation Site 23 miles northeast of Rock Springs, Wyoming.

The proposed supplementary rules would increase safety and maintain a high quality and unique experience for visitors to the Killpecker Sand Dunes by allowing the BLM to more effectively manage the area. The rules would require safety flags on all vehicles for better visibility in the 10,500-acre off-highway vehicle (OHV) open area, prohibit glass containers to decrease hazards in the OHV recreation area and limit speeds to 15 miles per hour or less within 500 feet of access roads to reduce traffic accidents.

More information on the Killpecker Sand Dunes Recreation Site is available at www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rock_Springs/rec/dunes.html.

More information on the proposed rules and the 2013 Killpecker Sand Dunes Recreation Site Facility Improvement Environmental Assessment are available at www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/info/NEPA/documents/rsfo/Killpecker.html.

Public participation is a key component of the rule making process. The public is encouraged to identify and submit issues, concerns or ideas to help ensure clear and understandable final rules. Written substantive comments will be accepted until Feb. 9, 2015 and may be emailed to blm_wy_rsfo_sand_dunes@blm.gov with "Supplemental Rules" in the subject line; faxed to 307-352-0329; or mailed or delivered to the BLM Rock Springs Field Office, Attn: Supplemental Rules, 280 Highway 191 N., Rock Springs, WY 82901.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, be advised that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold from public review your personal identifying information, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

For more information, please contact Georgia Foster at 307-352-0327.

Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the individual above during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the below individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.


United Nations wants world to commit to global climate change deals (posted 12/14/14)
United Nations politicians from around the world are meeting in Lima, Peru to negotiate a deal that would commit every nation on the globe to reduce its rate of greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement creates a framework for what is being called the Lima Accord which would require every nation to put forward, over the next six months, a detailed domestic policy plan to limit its emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases from burning coal, gas and oil. Those plans, which would be published on a United Nations website, would form the basis of the accord to be signed next December in Paris, France and enacted by 2020.

The political goal of the United Nations is to use the doomsday scenario of climate change and global warming to convince the world humans are the cause of, and have to pay the price of, the earth’s warming. This is effectively a giant mechanism to switch to globalization, world control of individual nations over to the communal decision-making of the United Nations, eliminate individual sovereignty of nations deciding their own destiny and use of resources, and a transfer of wealth from richer nations to poorer ones in the way of penalty payments for industrialization for the use and development of oil, gas and coal hydrocarbon resources. The United Nations argues this must be done in order to slow the rate of global emissions enough to prevent the atmosphere from continued warming of more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit over the preindustrial average, which is the point at which some scientists say the planet will tip into dangerous and irreversible effects of melting sea ice, rising sea levels, increased flooding and droughts, food and water shortages, and more extreme storms.

The United States is participating in these talks.

Read the story in the New York Times here: Climate Deal Would Commit Every Nation to Limiting Emissions By Coral Davenport, Dec. 14, 2014

Read the United Nations Lima, Peru climate change conference agenda and objectives here: Conference of the Parties United Nations, Framework on Convention of Climate Change, Lima, Peru, Dec. 13, 2014 (PDF)

Related Links:
New Reports: There Is No Global Warming Newsmax, Dec. 14, 2014
Climate Activists Tout Effectiveness Of School Brainwashing globalclimatescam.com, Nov. 1, 2014
Global Cooling is Here By Prof. Don J. Easterbrook, Global Research, Center for Research on Globalization, Canada, June 28, 2014
Global Cooling: Arctic Ice Cap Grows 60 Percent In A Year By Danny Choy, International Science Times, Sept. 11, 2014
The Coming Revelation Of The 'Global Warming' Fraud Resembles The Obamacare Lie By Peter Farrara, Forbes.com, Nov. 12, 2013


PAPO seeks public comments on wildlife reports (posted 12/10/14)
Bureau of Land Management
The Pinedale Anticline Project Office (PAPO) is seeking public comments on the white-tailed prairie dog and pygmy rabbit annual reports for 2014.

The reports are available for review at www.wy.blm.gov/jio-papo/papo/index.htm.

Written comments identifying specific issues, concerns or ideas should be emailed to egdecker@blm.gov with "Wildlife Report Comment" in the subject line; faxed to 307-367-5329; or mailed or delivered to the PAPO, Attn: Eric Decker, P.O. Box 768, 1625 W. Pine St., Pinedale WY 82941 by Dec. 23. The PAPO will not respond directly to comments but will take them into consideration for the final reports.

Before including your address, phone number, e-mail address, or other personal identifying information in your comment, you should be aware that your entire comment – including your personal identifying information – may be made publicly available at any time. While you may ask us in your comment to withhold your personal identifying information from public review, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to do so.

For more information, please contact Eric Decker at 307-367-5386.

Persons who use a telecommunications device for the deaf (TDD) may call the Federal Information Relay Service (FIRS) at 1-800-877-8339 to contact the individual above during normal business hours. The FIRS is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to leave a message or question with the above individual. You will receive a reply during normal business hours.


BLM initiates Miller Creek pile burn south of LaBarge (posted 12/10/14)
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) High Desert District plans to burn slash piles in the Miller Creek drainage about 18 miles southwest of LaBarge, Wyoming, this week and next contingent upon fuel moisture, snow ground cover and weather meeting optimal burn conditions.

The slash piles are left over from the removal of conifer trees encroaching on 602 acres of aspen. Conifer removal will stimulate aspen regeneration, improve stand health, increase ecological function and enhance habitat for aspen-dependent species. Burning piles will also reduce existing fuel loads and improve fuel breaks to reduce the potential for catastrophic wildfires.

The pile burn is part of the 9,000 acre Wyoming Front Aspen Restoration Project, a 10-year effort by the BLM and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to improve forest health and wildlife habitat in aspen stands along the eastern front of the Wyoming Range.

Outdoor enthusiasts are advised to avoid this area during prescribed fire operations. For more information, please contact Greg Reser at 307-367-5350.


26 Wyoming waters have liberalized ice fishing regulations (posted 12/9/14)
Wyoming Game & Fish
Ice fishing is becoming increasingly popular in Wyoming and while most waters in the state are open under general regulations to ice anglers, there are 26 waters that have liberalized regulations covered under the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision.

On waters covered under the special provision, anglers can use up to six lines when fishing through the ice. The regulation requires that when anglers use more than two lines on these waters, the angler’s name shall be attached to each pole, line or tip-up. In addition, the angler must be no more than 300 yards from all lines.
On waters not covered under the provision, anglers can use up to two lines. Waters covered under the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision include:

Alcova Reservoir in Natrona County
Big Horn Lake in Bighorn County
Big Sandy Reservoir in Sweetwater County
Boulder Lake in Sublette County
Boysen Reservoir in Fremont County
Deaver Reservoir in Park County
Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Sweetwater County
Fontenelle Reservoir in Lincoln County
Glendo Reservoir in Platte County
Goldeneye Reservoir in Natrona County
Gray Reef Reservoir in Natrona County
Grayrocks Reservoir in Platte County
Guernsey Reservoir in Platte County
Harrington Reservoir in Bighorn County
Keyhole Reservoir in Crook County
Kortes Reservoir in Carbon County
Lake DeSmet in Johnson County
Lake Hattie in Albany County
Ocean Lake in Fremont County
Pathfinder Reservoir in Carbon and Natrona counties
Pilot Butte Reservoir in Fremont County
Seminoe Reservoir in Carbon County
Sulphur Creek Reservoir in Uinta County
Wardell Reservoir in Bighorn County
Wheatland Reservoir No. 3 in Albany County
Woodruff Reservoir in Uinta County

Complete regulations for waters under the Special Winter Ice Fishing Provision can be found under Fishing Regulations on the Game and Fish website wgfd.wyo.gov and on page 6 in the 2014-2015 Wyoming Fishing Regulations.


Be safe while ice fishing (posted 12/9/14)
Wyoming Game & Fish
Ice anglers should expect a good fishing season on Wyoming lakes and reservoirs this winter. But, along with the good fishing, anglers are advised to use caution while on the ice.

The cold snap of recent weeks has iced over the lakes in many waters in the state and good water levels resulting from last winter’s snow pack should contribute to good fishing conditions.

Ice conditions often fluctuate throughout the winter months as water levels in lakes and reservoirs change, and freezing and thawing weather patterns come and go and can contribute to unstable ice conditions.

The Game and Fish advises anglers to check the thickness of any ice before venturing out onto it, and continue checking it every 100 to 150 feet. Four inches of clear ice is usually safe for fishing. Clear ice is stronger than cloudy or white ice, which has frozen, thawed and refrozen and is not always stable. White ice can also be from air bubbles or frozen snow and is much weaker than clear ice. For white ice, double the recommended thickness.

Even though ice on rivers may appear safe, the Game and Fish Department warns everyone to steer clear of it. Water flowing under the ice can change conditions rapidly. Game and Fish advises anglers to stay off as the ice thickness on moving water can vary greatly.

Wyoming’s relentless winds can also play a huge factor and can determine how solidly the ice freezes and how long it stays frozen. A single afternoon of warm, Chinook winds could transform the ice from safe one day to hazardous the next.

Anglers should never venture out on the ice alone. The buddy system is critical. Game and Fish advises to have a friend along in case any problems occur. Other safety precautions include wearing a life jacket and carrying a flotation device on a rope that can easily be thrown, as well as some sort of ice pick. This can be as simple as a lanyard with some spikes attached that will allow you to grab the ice if you fall in.

Low water temperatures can be life threatening this time of year and hypothermia is a serious risk for anyone who does fall through the ice. Ice anglers should learn to recognize and to treat hypothermia and should always have dry clothing and hot liquids close at hand.

The Game and Fish also recommends against driving vehicles or ATVs onto the ice. Every year there are instances of vehicles going through the ice and the Game and Fish advises ice anglers to not take the chance.


Believe It: Killing Wolves Works (posted 12/6/14)
Editorial
Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!
There is much ado about a paper published this week, with headlines such as "Killing wolves to protect livestock doesn't work in the long run" and "Kill this wolf and more sheep will die." (The paper is linked below.)

Even the research host university (Washington State University) reported "researchers have found that it is counter-productive to kill wolves to keep them from preying on livestock. Shooting and trapping lead to more dead sheep and cattle the following year, not fewer."

Similar headlines are repeated in the current news cycle, but it's obvious few reporters read past the press release. I did read the journal article, and attempted to examine the data upon which the paper is based – which I could not do fully since:
1) some of the data is unavailable,
2) the literature citations are incomplete,
3) the first two references I checked did not say what the paper alleged, and 4) the researchers did not specify which counties in the tri-state research area were included in its numbers for each year.

Regardless, WSU’s flawed paper seems to be an exercise in comparing variables to seek out correlations without causation. (For examples, read The Ice Cream Murders or Cracked’s piece on broken science, both linked below.)

The WSU paper is based on the assumption that breeding pairs of wolves "are responsible for most livestock depredations," yet this vital assumption was not examined as part of the research, and the literature citation used to support the statement doesn’t support the allegation. While it is known that some breeding pairs are responsible for livestock depredations, no citation indicated that they are "responsible for most livestock depredations," and that type of data for the 25-year time period and region involved in the WSU study has not been produced. Incidentally, when we’ve had wolves killing our family’s sheep, they weren’t part of Wyoming’s tally for breeding pairs.

The researchers started with the assumption that breeding pairs are the important data set, and proceeded from there, using statistical modeling over a very large scale (the tri-state region of Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho) rather than on a smaller scale, such as regions where wolf packs reside and come into conflict with livestock – areas on a scale where previous research has revealed that lethal control reduced depredations in subsequent years. It’s generally accepted that removal of carnivores causes an immediate reduction in livestock depredations for a year or two, but the cycle begins anew when carnivores once again fill the vacancies. That’s the way of non-static ecosystems.

The selection of what data was used in the WSU research paper is important, and is center to my criticism of the entire paper and its nonsensical final result. Yellowstone National Park’s wolf packs and breeding pairs are part of the WSU data set, yet these wolves only come into contact with livestock if they leave the park.

And of course the researchers used only cattle and sheep deaths that agency professionals could "confirm" as wolf kills, despite the fact that research has indicated that for every sheep or calf confirmed as killed by wolves, up to 7 are killed by wolves and are not confirmed. The researchers also did not include other livestock that were injured by wolves but not killed, or livestock kills that were determined by agency personnel to be "probable" wolf kills.

The WSU researchers only included wolves that were killed "by livestock owners or through government control methods" – not wolves killed during legal hunting and trapping seasons in the region, or other sources of mortality. This data exclusion seems odd, since the paper begins with the statement "Predator control and sport hunting are often used to reduce predator populations and livestock depredations ..." Although Yellowstone’s wolf numbers are used WSU data, the number-one cause of mortality in the park’s wolf population is instraspecific aggression (wolves killing other wolves), but this was excluded from the study because only wolves killed by "livestock owners or through government control methods" were included in the data set.

In another odd selection of data, the WSU researchers included wolf kills that were made by agency personnel in order to reduce predation on declining wildlife populations (and where there had been no livestock depredations).

The WSU paper did not factor in the number of incidents of livestock depredation, which can be a significant. While the total number of dead livestock is important, the number of incidents is revealing as well. For instance, the number of confirmed and probable wolf depredations on sheep increased in Idaho in 2013, including one incident resulting in the death of 176 sheep in Idaho. Interagency reports indicate that a decline in losses would have occurred with the exception of this single incident. A similar incident occurred in Montana in 2009, when 120 adult rams were killed in one incident (a huge increase from the 111 sheep killed in the state the year prior).

This cherry-picking of data is concerning, and to prove that point I’ll do my own cherry-picking from the researcher’s data in a moment.

The researchers concluded, "It appears that lethal wolf control to reduce the number of livestock depredated is associated with increased, not decreased, depredations the following year, on a large scale – at least until wolf morality exceeds 25%."

Neglected is the fact that once wolves begin preying on a livestock herd, the depredations don’t magically stop – the wolves often return, until control action is taken or the livestock are removed. It may be convenient to pretend that the depredations would not increase if the wolves are not removed, but it is not realistic. Despite the variety of non-lethal measures already in use by livestock producers, wolves still manage to kill livestock, and often the only feasible way to stop the depredations is to kill the wolf or wolves responsible for the depredations. Data from Wyoming in 2012 reveal that 27% of Wyoming’s wolf packs were involved in more than three livestock depredation events, and that there are some areas where wolf depredations on livestock are chronic – areas where the expanding wolf population moves into high density populations of livestock and, in these chronic conflict areas, it’s only a matter of time before wolves are killed after the predictable livestock depredations occur. One wolf pack was responsible for 43% of Wyoming’s cattle depredations in 2012, and three packs were responsible for 70% of the sheep depredations.

Some packs that are counted as breeding pairs are not identified as breeding pairs each year, and Wyoming research revealed: "Overall, it appeared that natural factors unrelated to known mortality sources were the primary cause of non-breeding status" for the majority of packs not classified as breeding pairs. Only three packs of 11 breeding pairs from the year prior were downgraded because of mortality from confirmed livestock depredations.

The 25% number mentioned above is interesting as well – that’s the growth rate of the region’s wolf population every year. If control efforts exceed that 25%, the wolf population (and number of breeding pairs) begins to decrease – and, lo and behold, results in fewer livestock depredations, according to the WSU researchers. But that doesn’t make the headlines.

The WSU study has inspired me to do my own cherry-picking of the paper’s data. In comparing the data from the first year to the final year (1987 and 2012), what jumps out at me is that the number of sheep in the wolf-inhabited counties of each of the three states declined while the wolf population boomed. The number of sheep declined by more than 11% in Wyoming; 70% in Idaho; and 57% in Montana – during the same time period that the minimum wolf population increased by 6,150% in Montana; 1,219% in Idaho; and 4,778% in Wyoming.

It’s also worth noting that the WSU paper simply looked at numbers taken from specific data sets, and did not consider how each wolf population was managed – be it through sport harvest or agency management. It’s an important factor as well, as noted in the annual interagency report prepared for Wyoming, which notes: "During this period of wolf population growth, wolves also expanded in range and recolonized new areas. Beginning in 2006, US Fish and Wildlife Service switched to a more aggressive approach to wolf control following confirmed livestock depredation, leading to a decrease in the number of livestock losses despite an increase in the overall wolf population. Since 2000, wolves have commonly recolonized areas outside {northwestern Wyoming’s trophy wolf hunting area}, but have rarely persisted more than a year or two before being removed for confirmed livestock depredation. These persistent damage problems and subsequent control actions limited range expansion of wolves into unsuitable habitat even while under Endangered Species Act protections. The state of Wyoming developed its wolf management framework to likewise restrict wolf range expansion into these areas of unsuitable habitat and high livestock density by designating wolves as predatory animals in these areas."

The interagency report noted that in general, wolves living in areas with relatively high native ungulate densities and relatively low exposure to domestic livestock have caused fewer conflicts with livestock than wolves that recolonized areas of unsuitable habitat where large numbers of livestock grazed on private and public lands, especially those areas outside the trophy wolf hunting area.

The WSU paper concludes: "Further research is also needed to account for the limitations of our data set. The scale of our analysis was large (wolf occupied areas in each state in each year) and the scale of some other studies were small (wolf packs). Simultaneous, multiscale analysis (individual wolf packs, wolf management zones, and wolf occupied areas) may yield further insights. "Although lethal control is sometimes a necessary management tool in the nearterm, we suggest that managers also consider testing non-lethal methods of wolf control because these methods might not be associated with increased depredations in the long-term."

Non-lethal control efforts are part of everyday ranch life in the tri-state wolf range, but are not appropriate in all situations. As state and federal officials noted in the Wyoming’s 2012 wolf monitoring report, non-lethal control is often not applicable or cost-effective in many areas in Wyoming due to: 1) specific wolf packs chronically killing livestock year after year; 2) unpredictable travel patterns and movements by wolves; and
3) very large wolf home ranges that covered vast areas including very large grazing allotments. The interagency report noted, "In instances when non-lethal control methods were ineffective, wolves were killed through agency control actions in an attempt to prevent further livestock depredations."

The WSU research paper conflicts with more comprehensive studies conducted on a smaller scale (grazing allotment, wolf pack territory or management zone), causing the WSU researchers to note: "It appears that wolf control is associated with reduced depredations at the local wolf pack scale but increased depredations at the larger wolf population scale."

Those who want to jump on the bandwagon of killing wolves only results in more livestock deaths may want to reconsider. The reality is that when wolves inhabit areas used by livestock, some livestock will be killed, and some wolves will be killed in response. What really matters is that we take action to minimize the damage to all.

Related Links:
WSU paper - Read the paper here.
Ice Cream Murders - Linking ice cream and murders? Read more here.
Cracked.com - Read about broken science.
Wolf Watch - by Cat Urbigkit, Pinedale Online!


Two men charged in 2007 unsolved murder of Richard Nytrom in Sublette County (posted 12/2/14)
Sublette County Sheriff’s Office media release
On November 25, 2014 arrest warrants were issued for Matthew Rae Vincent and Branden K Hartman for their involvement in the Murder of Richard Nystrom in Sublette County Wyoming. Richard Nystrom was murdered on April 3, 2007 while he was walking south bound on Hwy 191. Richard Nystrom was found deceased on Rim Road approximately 1.85 miles off of Hwy 191.
Matthew Rae Vincent and Branden Hartman have been charged with six felonies:

1) Murder in the First Degree-Premeditated Malice.
2) Murder in the First Degree-Felony Murder-Robbery.
3) Murder in the First Degree – Felony Murder-Kidnapping.
4) Murder in the Second Degree.
5) Kidnapping-Removal.
6) Aggravated Robbery.

These charges are based on new information and recent evidence from the investigation which has been ongoing since 2007.

Both Matthew Rae Vincent and Branden Hartman are currently in custody in Idaho and will be awaiting extradition to Sublette County Wyoming.

Authority: Sheriff Dave Lankford
Stephen Smith, Public Information Officer


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