The Pitch

The Pitch is WyoFile’s staff blog designed to serve as a community “water cooler” for behind-the-scenes chatter about what we’re up to. Our editors and contributors use The Pitch to toss out shorter, more timely offerings than what you might read in a regular WyoFile feature. It’s also a place for us to pitch story ideas to readers, and to share with you bits of additional information or insight that may have been pitched out of the published versions you’ve already read.

As always, your comments and feedback are wanted, so pitch in and let us hear from you.

State Parks and Cultural Resources revisits statewide plan

— October 13, 2014

(Press release) — The Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office is currently revising a statewide historic preservation plan, updating the previous document published in 2007.

The State Historic Preservation Office has the responsibility under the National Historic Preservation Act for developing and revising, as necessary, a Statewide Historic Preservation Plan. This plan helps to guide the work of the State Historic Preservation Office by providing a vision for historic preservation in the state.

The state’s current plan, “On the Road to Preservation” was published in 2007. The State has begun the process for updating the plan, and is interested in obtaining input from the citizens of Wyoming on what is important to them about Wyoming’s historic buildings, archaeological sites, and landscapes.

The public is invited to take the on-line survey (click here). The survey is open until January 15. The current Historic Preservation Plan can be viewed here.

Posted by on October 13, 2014
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Forums set on federal rules for home, community-based service

(Press release) — With new federal rules in effect, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is planning public forums and other opportunities to help interested residents learn more about expected changes to home and community-based services funded through Wyoming Medicaid.

In March, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services approved new rules covering provider settings for home and community-based services through special programs known as waivers. WDH programs affected by the new rules are the Child Developmental Disability, Acquired Brain Injury, Comprehensive, Supports, Assisted Living Facility and Long Term Care waivers.

The new rules require adjustments to standards for community integration, informed choice, independence, service setting characteristics and locations, and further protection of client rights.

“We realize Wyoming’s waiver clients, families and those who work with them have faced a fair amount of change and uncertainty over the last few years,” said Chris Newman, WDH Behavioral Health Division senior administrator. “However, due to these new federal rules, more changes are needed. We are reaching out to those most impacted by the rules to get their input.”

“While meeting the new federal rule requirements may not be easy for everyone involved, the ultimate goal is really a system focused on what is best for the clients,” Newman said.

States must evaluate provider settings and help ensure needed changes are made. Forums will provide information on the state’s five-year transition plan:

· Laramie, October 16, 10:30-11:45 a.m. Mega Conference, Hilton Garden Inn, 2229 Grand Avenue

· Cheyenne, October 20, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Laramie County Library Cottonwood Room, 2200 Pioneer Avenue

· Jackson, October 22, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Teton County Library Auditorium, 125 Virginian Lane

· Evanston, October 23, 3:30-4:30 p.m. Recreation Center, 275 Saddle Ridge Road

· Sheridan, October 28, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Senior Center, 211 Smith Street

· Casper, October 29, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Casper College CS-160 Nichols Auditorium, 125 College Drive

More information and an online feedback survey can be found at health.wyo.gov/ddd; a video is also expected to be posted October 21. For those unable to attend a forum, conference calls are scheduled for October 27 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m.; the number will be 1-877-278-8686 Code: 058448.

For more details about the state standards and transition plan, visit health.wyo.gov/ddd online, send an email to bhdmail@wyo.gov or call 307-777-6494.

WDH includes the Behavioral Health Division, which contains the Developmental Disabilities Section. This section supports Wyoming residents with developmental disabilities and their families, as well as those people, organizations and businesses providing services to these residents. Wyoming Medicaid, which is also part of the department, pays for the major developmental disability programs and also funds affected assisted living and long-term care efforts.

Wyoming Medicaid is a joint federal and state government program that pays for medical expenses and other care for some low-income and medically needy individuals and families.

Posted by on October 8, 2014
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Feds seek comments on exchange at Carbon County’s Wick Wildlife Habitat Management

(Press release) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft environmental assessment regarding the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s proposed land exchange on the Wick Wildlife Habitat Management Area in Carbon County.  Public comments will be accepted for a 15-day period, which started on Oct. 3, 2014 and ends Oct. 18, 2014.

The Service is reviewing a proposed grant for an exchange of an isolated parcel of the Wick WHMA containing 160 acres located outside the main boundary of the WHMA. This parcel provides no public access for recreational use and does not provide quality habitat needs for big game species.  In return, WGFD will receive a 160-acre private parcel of equal monetary value, located on the southern boundary of the WHMA. 

This parcel provides high-quality winter range for elk and deer; increases access to hunting, fishing, and recreational use of the wildlife resources; protects WGFD property rights; and allows for more cost-effective management of the WHMA. WGFD has determined that the proposed exchange parcel will provide increased benefits for wildlife and resource management efforts. 

The Draft EA was prepared by the Fish and Wildlife Service and WGFD, and it analyzes the environmental effects of the proposed land exchange. The service concluded that the proposed project will not negatively impact floodplains, wetlands, or historical or cultural resources. It also will not negatively impact threatened, endangered, or candidate species. The Draft EA determined that the proposed land exchange will benefit local fish, wildlife, and their habitats.

Copies of the Draft EA, which include details of the proposed action and the alternatives considered, are available online by clicking on the title of the document at this link.

Hard copies of the Draft EA may be obtained by calling the Services’ Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program at 303-236-8156.

Comments should be sent to:
Chief, Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
P.O. Box 25486
Denver, CO 80225

Posted by on October 8, 2014
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Public comment extended for National Elk Refuge management plan

(Press release) — The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has extended the comment period for a draft comprehensive conservation plan and environmental assessment for the National Elk Refuge in Teton. These draft documents describe how the service intends to manage the refuge for the next 15 years. The original comment period was set to expire on Oct. 9, but with the extension, the public now has until Oct. 24, 2014 to comment.

“We understand the National Elk Refuge is a special place for many people, and we value the public’s input,” said Refuge Manager, Steve Kallin. “We have been asked by the public for more time to review and provide comment on the draft CCP/EA, so we are honoring that request.”

The draft CCP and EA are companion documents to the National Elk Refuge Bison and Elk Management Plan and its contents, including supplemental feeding, are not part of this comment period.

Comments may be submitted in two ways:
•  Email: refuge_ccps@fws.gov  (Include “National Elk Refuge CCP” in the subject line of the message.)
•  U.S. Mail: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Attn: Toni Griffin, Planning Team Leader
134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300
Lakewood, CO 80228

Copies of the draft CCP/EA may be obtained in three ways:
• Writing to: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Division of Refuge Planning, 134 Union Boulevard, Suite 300, Lakewood, CO 80228
• Picking up at: National Elk Refuge Administrative Office, 675 E. Broadway, Jackson.
Click to download

Posted by on October 8, 2014
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Public invited to chart greater Yellowstone direction

(Press release) — Federal land managers within the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are asking the public to help them assess the ecosystem issues and build stronger relationships.

Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee managers are inviting the public to join them in a conversation in late October in Bozeman, Montana. Rather than hold a discussion about individual agency issues, managers are asking for input on cross-jurisdictional, ecosystem scale issues the GYCC can address.

Specifically, the GYCC wishes to explore questions related to:

— Cross-agency land and resource management issues and opportunities;

— The GYCC’s GYE-level priorities;

— Communication and collaboration with the public and stakeholder groups.

This conversation is set for 1-5 p.m. Oct. 28, 2014, at the Best Western GranTree Inn in Bozeman, Montana. The emphasis of the session will be on interaction and communication between all attendees, with participants discussing issues in small groups with agency leaders.

Interested participants are also welcome to attend a more in-depth GYCC orientation from 9:00 a.m. to noon at the same location.

A similar meeting will be held in Cody in spring 2015. Information gathered during these sessions will help the GYCC develop and strengthen its working relationships with the public and stakeholders as they collaborate to address joint challenges managing these shared landscapes.

All are welcome. To help plan meeting logistics, those who plan to attend are encouraged to RSVP by Oct. 22 to gycc-October28@fs.fed.us.

The Greater Yellowstone Coordinating Committee is a group of 11 federal land managers who work together to manage more than 15 million acres of public land in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Posted by on October 1, 2014
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University of Wyoming researchers contribute to paper on high ozone events

— October 1, 2014

(UW press release) — Three University of Wyoming researchers participated in a study about high winter ozone levels near an oil and gas field in Utah, an analysis that could help inform future monitoring and mitigation strategies for air quality impacts from oil and gas extraction — and provide broader insight into the response of winter ozone to primary pollutants.

Shane Murphy, an assistant professor in the UW Department of Atmospheric Science, and Robert Field and Jeff Soltis, both associate research scientists in the department, contributed to a research paper, titled “High Winter Ozone Generated by Carbonyl Photolysis in a Shale Gas and Oil Producing Region,”  published in the Oct. 1 issue of Nature. Nature is an international weekly journal of science that publishes peer-reviewed research in all fields of science and technology.

Researchers learned that wintertime ozone production in the Uintah Basin occurs at lower concentrations of nitrogen oxides (NO) and much larger volatile organic compound (VOC) concentrations compared to summertime zone production in most urban areas. Data for the study were gathered from the basin in northeastern Utah during January and February of 2012, 2013 and 2014.

“In 2013, if you were living near Vernal, Utah, you were actually exposed to more ozone than Riverside, Calif.,” Murphy says.

The chart he pointed to showed Riverside, in traditionally smog-laden Southern California, had 28 days in which maximum air quality standard ozone levels were exceeded. Vernal, Utah, by comparison, had 49 days when air quality standard ozone levels were exceeded. High ozone levels can cause or exacerbate health problems, especially with breathing, Murphy says.

Vernal is a city that sits on the edge of the Uintah Basin, an area of intensive oil and gas development with approximately 11,000 gas wells.

Ground-level ozone is a major component of smog and is created by chemical reactions between NO and VOCs. In a meteorological occurrence called inversion, these pollutants are trapped in a thin layer of air near the ground.

The phenomenon of wintertime ozone near oil and gas operations was first reported in scientific literature in 2009 based on observation from Wyoming’s Upper Green River Basin near Pinedale by Russ Schnell, deputy director of the Global Monitoring Division at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA ) and a 1974 UW graduate.

Unhealthy ozone levels typically are associated with hot, sunny days in urban environments. But the paper’s findings reveal the phenomenon has occurred in the Uintah Basin during the winter on sunny days when snow is on the ground and temperatures are near or below freezing, Murphy says.

“Recent observations in oil and gas-producing basins in the western United States have identified ozone mixing ratios well in excess of current air quality standards, but only during the winter season,” the paper states. “Our understanding of winter ozone production in these regions is scientifically challenging, as it occurs during cold, snow-covered periods when meteorological inversions concentrate air pollutants from oil and gas activities. But (its) when solar irradiance and absolute humidity, both required to initiate conventional photochemistry essential for ozone production, are at a minimum.”

“The paper explains the chemistry that forms ozone around oil and gas fields in the winter,” Murphy says. “It’s affected Utah. It’s affecting Wyoming and probably other places we don’t know about. So, why understand the chemistry? Why does it matter? It helps us to figure out how to fix the problem.”

The United States is experiencing the most rapid expansion in oil and gas production in four decades due, in large part, to the use of new extraction technology, such as horizontal drilling combined with hydraulic fracturing. Environmental impacts of this development — from water quality to the climate influence of increased methane leakage — have been a matter of intense debate, according to the paper.

“The big picture matters. There’s no sign we’ll reduce oil and gas expansion,” Murphy says. “I think both people and the industry want to reduce this ozone problem.”

To reduce VOCs, oil and gas companies would have to reduce or eliminate leakage from their operations, Murphy says.

“We have a mobile lab we drive around and can measure the amount of methane and VOC coming from individual oil and gas wells,” Murphy says of the research vehicle that contains numerous instruments to measure the levels of different compounds. “We can ask, ‘Where are the leaks coming from? How big are the leaks?’”

The Nature paper has 35 co-writers. Other agencies and universities involved in the study include: NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory; Air Quality Research Division, Environment Canada in Toronto; the University of Houston; the University of Colorado-Boulder; UCLA; University of York in the UK; University of Innsbruck in Innsbruck, Austria; and Memorial University of Newfoundland.

For more on ozone issues in Wyoming, read these stories:
— “UW air quality research goes global,” July 2013
— “Emission questions loom large over oil and gas industry,” March 2013
— “Pristine to Polluted,” May 2011

Posted by on October 1, 2014
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Bridger-Teton National Forest supervisor to leave post

By Angus M. Thuermer Jr.
— September 19, 2014

Clint Kyhl, who accepted the post of supervisor on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in 2013, will resign this month due to health. (Photo courtesy Forest Service)

Clint Kyhl, who accepted the post of supervisor on the Bridger-Teton National Forest in 2013, will resign this month due to health. (Photo courtesy Forest Service)

Bridger-Teton National Forest Supervisor Clint Kyhl will leave his post by the end of this month because of a medical condition, a forest spokeswoman confirmed Friday.

Kyhl, who came to the Bridger-Teton in 2013, had told his staff about his malady and decision to leave, several forest employees told WyoFile. Bridger-Teton spokeswoman Mary Cernicek on Friday confirmed Kyhl’s pending departure.

“He’s stepping down for medical reasons,” Cernicek said. “He’s moving back to Washington (state) where the climate’s more forgiving.”

The federal agency has launched a search for a replacement to lead management of the 3.4-million-acre forest.

“We are in the process of looking,” Cernicek said. Deputy supervisor Jose Castro will take charge until the U.S. Forest Service finds a temporary replacement.

“We expect to have some sort of acting super in place by the first week in October,” Cernicek said. Kyhl is expected to leave by Sept. 26.

Kyhl had been the district ranger for the Laramie Ranger District on the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest before serving from 2007 to 2009 as leader of the Bark Beetle Incident Management Team in southeastern Wyoming and northern Colorado. He served as the deputy forest supervisor of the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest in Washington before moving back to Wyoming.

WyoFile Peaks to Plains blogger Kelsey Dayton interviewed Kyhl in 2013 and her report can be found here.

This story was changed to correct a spelling error — Ed.

If you would like to see more quality Wyoming journalism, please consider supporting WyoFile: a non-partisan, non-profit news organization dedicated to in-depth reporting on Wyoming’s people, places and policy.

REPUBLISH THIS STORY: For details on how you can republish this story or other WyoFile content for free, click here.

Posted by on September 19, 2014
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Court stays EPA haze plan for Wyo.

By Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter
— September 10, 2014

(Contact E&E for republication permissions.)

Steam rises from smokestacks at the Wyodak power complex outside Gillette, Wyoming. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

Steam rises from smokestacks at the Wyodak power complex outside Gillette, Wyoming. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile)

A federal court has halted U.S. EPA’s plan to curb haze-causing pollution in Wyoming until legal challenges by the state and industry are resolved.

Wyoming had proposed less stringent and cheaper pollution control technologies at five coal-fired power units in a plan to reduce nitrogen oxides linked to regional haze. In its lawsuit, the state argues that EPA acted arbitrarily when the agency earlier this year rejected the 2011 plan for those five units because of technical errors and replaced it with a more expensive federal plan (Greenwire, Sept. 5).

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday granted the state’s request to stay the federal plan over opposition by environmental groups.

The court said it based its decision on the likelihood that the challenges to EPA’s plan will be successful and that the parties in the lawsuit would be harmed absent a stay. The court also granted requests by Basin Electric Power Cooperative and PacifiCorp to extend the deadline for compliance at four of the units for the duration of the stay.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead (R) applauded the court’s decision in a statement yesterday.

“Wyoming has a solid and effective plan. The rejection of Wyoming’s plan by the EPA was wrong,” Mead said. “This decision sends a message to the federal government and affirms Wyoming’s leadership in these important areas.”

Although nitrogen oxides contribute less to haze pollution than sulfur dioxide and particulate matter in Wyoming, they are ingredients in the formation of haze at Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks.

Environmental groups have argued that EPA’s plan is too weak and have asked the court to compel the agency to write a plan requiring more stringent emissions controls.

“Under the final rule, Wyoming will not make reasonable progress toward eliminating its contribution to human-caused haze pollution,” said the Powder River Basin Resource Council, National Parks Conservation Association and Sierra Club in an August court filing.

Posted by on September 10, 2014
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Game and Fish relocates grizzly bear

— September 10, 2014

(Press release) — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department trapped and relocated an adult male grizzly bear September 7, 2014.

The bear was captured for killing livestock on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale, Wyo. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Shoshone National Forest, the bear was relocated to the Five Mile Creek drainage approximately five miles from the east entrance of Yellowstone National Park within the North Fork of the Shoshone River drainage west of Cody. The release site is located in currently occupied grizzly bear habitat.

Grizzly bear relocation is a management tool afforded bear management personnel to minimize conflicts between humans and grizzlies. The decision to relocate and the selection of a relocation site is made taking into consideration the age, sex, and type of conflict the bear was involved in. Since grizzly bears are listed as “Threatened” under the Endangered Species Act, consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the appropriate land management agency is also made to minimize the chance of future conflicts and maximize the survival potential of the relocated grizzlies. Bears are relocated in accordance with federal law and regulation. When selecting a relocation site, the department makes every consideration to minimize potential conflicts with livestock and people.

Bears can create conflicts after they have obtained food rewards. The department continues to stress the importance of keeping all attractants (food items, horse feeds, bird seed, and others) unavailable to bears. Reducing attractants reduces human-bear conflicts.

— For more information about grizzly bear management, read the WyoFile feature “Feds OK more female grizzly killing in cattle conflict zone,” by Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Posted by on September 10, 2014
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Lecture series kicks off with Sweetwater Gold Mining District

— September 2, 2014

(Press release) — The Sweetwater Gold Mining District will be the focus of September’s Wyoming State Museum Lecture Series presentation, at 7 p.m. Thursday, September 11.

In celebration of Wyoming Archaeology Awareness Month, the Museum will kick off the Fall 2014 Thursday Night Lecture Series with a presentation exploring the history and significance of the Sweetwater Gold Mining District.

“Sweetwater district represents an important part of Wyoming’s cultural legacy,” said Jon Lane, Curator of Public Programs at South Pass City State Historic Site, who will share his research about this fascinating part of Wyoming.

The Wyoming State Museum’s Thursday Night Lecture Series is held the second Thursday of each month, September through May, at 7 p.m. The Lecture Series is free and open to the public. The Wyoming State Museum is located in the Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne.

For more information, contact Nathan Doerr, Curator of Education, at (307) 777-7021.

Posted by on September 2, 2014
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37-year lawsuit over water, tribal rights on Wind-Big Horn examined in UW event

By WyoFile staff
— September 1, 2014

One of the longest-running lawsuits over water in the history of Wyoming may finally be coming to a close — and the University of Wyoming is putting on a two-day symposium in Riverton Sept. 10-12 to consider what it has all meant.Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 1.07.43 PM

The “general stream adjudication” of the Wind-Big Horn River will be officially wrapped up at the lower court level on Friday, Sept. 5. District Judge Robert E. Skar of the 5th Judicial District is expected to sign his final adjudication decree on that day in Worland. His final ruling, of course, may well be appealed to the Wyoming Supreme Court — which has already ruled seven times, from 1988-2004, on various aspects of the case.

The big water rights adjudication began 37 years ago. In 1977, the Wyoming Legislature initiated the case in order to challenge the assertion made by the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes that they had rights in the Wind River. In order to have the water rights decided by state courts in Wyoming, rather than the federal courts, federal law required that the state call for examination of the water rights of not only the two tribes but every water right claimant in the Wind-Big Horn Basin — over 20,000 people or entities. Millions of dollars and untold number of hours have been spent by the many parties who have been pulled into the lawsuit.

In its rulings on the case, the Wyoming Supreme Court confirmed the tribes’ rights to a majority of the water flowing in the Wind River, but as a practical matter put strict limits on its use. As the case has progressed, the water claims and actual water use of people and entities all over the Wind-Big Horn Basin have been examined to arrive at a final determination of their rights. The basin constitutes one of four water divisions in Wyoming. None of the other three divisions have ever undergone a general stream adjudication, and state water officials do not expect such an effort to be undertaken elsewhere.

UW’s College of Law, joined by 13 other UW departments, programs and schools, plans a free symposium on the adjudication. The event will feature local and national experts on water law and tribal rights who will compare and contrast the Big Horn litigation and results with efforts elsewhere to settle often-difficult water rights disputes between Indian and non-Indian people in the American West.

The symposium is open to the public for no charge, and will begin with a welcoming reception on Wednesday evening, Sept. 10. The event will take place at the Wind River Hotel and Casino in Riverton, Wyoming. Advance registration is requested, at the website, which includes a detailed agenda.

Posted by on September 1, 2014
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WDE seeks comment on Wyoming education standards

— August 27, 2014

[Press Release] — The Wyoming Department of Education would like to remind everyone that the public comment period for revisions and documents for Wyoming Content and Performance Standards is open until Sept. 11.

Per state statute (W.S. 21-2-304(a)(iii)), the Wyoming Content and Performance Standards are reviewed every five (5) years, and revisions are approved by the State Board of Education. At its meeting on April 11, 2014, the State Board of Education approved for public comment new standards in the content areas of social studies, physical education, and career and vocational education.

On July 1, 2014, the State Board of Education also approved for public comment additional supporting documents for the July 2012 standards in English language arts and mathematics, adding performance level descriptors as well as standards extensions for students with severe cognitive disabilities.

As required by statute, the WDE is now seeking public comment on the proposed changes/additions to the content standards. The proposed Chapter 10 rules, which outline a timeframe for district implementation, along with all seven (7) accompanying documents can be viewed at http://edu.wyoming.gov/educators/standards/chapter-10-rules. Each document has its own link for comments. Please take sufficient time to review these documents.

Public comment on the proposed changes have been open online and by mail from July 21 and will remain open until Sept. 11, 2014. Comments can be submitted online at http://edu.wyoming.gov/educators/standards/chapter-10-rules or mailed to:

Posted by on August 27, 2014
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Gov Mead appoints panel to ‘improve’ science programs at University of Wyoming

— August 25, 2014

(Press release) — Gov. Matt Mead has appointed a group of accomplished scientists, industry leaders and other professionals to focus on upgrading the science programs and laboratories at the University of Wyoming.

The Legislature created the panel as a first step in a process for UW to become one of the top academic and research institutions in science.

“These outstanding individuals have agreed to contribute their time and expertise to help UW,” the governor says. “These are some of our nation’s best and brightest. Their insights will be invaluable as we work for a top-tier program at UW.”

The task force is scheduled to meet for the first time Sept. 9-10 in Laramie. Its members are:

— Tom Botts, former executive vice president of global manufacturing for Royal Dutch Shell who received a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from UW in 1977. He also is a member of the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering and STEM Integration Task Force.

— Carol Brewer, faculty member in the Division of Biological Sciences at the University of Montana, where she previously served as associate dean of arts and sciences. She received her master’s degree (zoology/physiology, 1986) and Ph.D. (botany, 1993) at UW.

— Lowell Burnett, chief technical adviser to Quantum Applied Science & Research (QUASAR) Inc. and CEO of QUASAR Federal Systems Inc. He received his Ph.D. in physics from UW in 1970 and worked for many years in higher education, including as a department head at San Diego State University. He co-founded Quantum Magnetics Inc. in 1987.

— Jeffrey Cummings, director of the Cleveland Clinic-Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Cleveland, Ohio, and Las Vegas, Nev. The former director of the UCLA-Easton Center for Alzheimer’s Disease Research received his bachelor’s degree in zoology/physiology from UW in 1970 and his medical degree from the University of Washington.

— Brent Eastman, a physician who specializes in general, vascular and trauma surgery and currently serves as president of the American College of Surgeons. He is a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control’s Board of Scientific Counselors, and president of the Howard C. Naffziger Surgical Society at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF). The Evanston native graduated with a bachelor’s degree from UW in zoology/physiology in 1962 and received his medical degree from UCSF.

— Fred Eshelman, the retired founder of Pharmaceutical Product Development, which now has 10,000 employees and operations in 38 countries. The former faculty member at the University of Cincinnati received his bachelor’s degree from High Point University and his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, where the pharmacy school is named for him. He owns a ranch at Elk Mountain and has served on a UW School of Pharmacy advisory board.

— Dave Freudenthal, former two-term Wyoming governor, who is an attorney with the firm of Crowell & Moring in Cheyenne. He also served as U.S. attorney for the District of Wyoming and as a state economist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Amherst College and earned his law degree at UW. He also is a member of the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering and STEM Integration Task Force.

— Bob Grieve, founder and former CEO of Heska Corp., a Colorado-based animal health care firm that sells advanced veterinary diagnostic and other specialty products. He is executive chairman of the Heska board. After earning his bachelor’s (1973) and master’s (1975) degrees at UW and his Ph.D. at the University of Florida in microbiology, he also taught at Cornell University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Colorado State University.

— Phil Nicholas, longtime state legislator from Albany County who is currently the Senate majority floor leader. He received a bachelor’s degree in microbiology from Oregon State University and his law degree from UW. He’s also a member of the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering and STEM Integration Task Force.

The new science task force will work with a team of senior UW faculty members from several scientific departments who have been actively working on the science initiative for several weeks. They are:

— Greg Brown, task force member and head of the campus leadership team, associate dean of the UW College of Arts and Sciences and former head of the Department of Botany.

— Keith Carron, head of the UW Department of Chemistry.

— Danny Dale, head of the UW Department of Physics and Astronomy.

— Mark Lyford, director of the UW Life Sciences Program.

— Donal Skinner, head of the UW Department of Zoology and Physiology.

— Mark Stayton, head of the UW Department of Molecular Biology.

— Anne Sylvester, professor of molecular biology and UW EPSCoR program director.

— Cynthia Weinig, UW professor of botany.

— Dave Williams, head of the UW Department of Botany.

UW’s Science Initiative includes planning for remodeled and upgraded laboratory facilities and emphasizes existing research strengths.

“If Wyoming and its people are to prosper in an increasingly competitive global economy, UW’s students must be educated to meet head-on the challenges of that environment. And if Wyoming is to develop its own entrepreneurs and grow a diversity of businesses, then UW’s extraordinary scientific talent must have world-class laboratory facilities in which to teach and to undertake research,” UW President Dick McGinity says. “The university is delighted to work with the governor’s task force to carry out this exciting, important project.”

The task force expects to have a report by Nov. 1 to the governor, who then will submit any funding recommendations for program and facilities improvements to the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee.

Posted by on August 25, 2014
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Applications sought for Early Childhood Community Partnership Grants

— August 22, 2014

[Press Release] — The Department of Family Services is excited to announce the release of the Early Childhood Community Partnership Grant application.  These grant funds are available from the Enrolled Act No. 41, 2014 Budget Session, for a period commencing July 1, 2014 and ending June 30, 2016.

This grant opportunity allows school districts or nonprofit organizations the opportunity to apply for one-time funding. Grant funds shall be used for developing, enhancing and sustaining high quality early childhood education programs.

The focus of these grant funds is to make certain Wyoming’s children have the strong, positive foundation they need to be successful in their first year of school and beyond.

DFS has contracted with Wyoming Kids First to provide technical assistance to communities interested in applying.  All questions regarding the grant application should be directed to Becca Steinhoff @ Wyoming Kids First director@wyokidsfirst.org or by calling 307-996-6903.

Grant applications can be found at:   http://www.wyokidsfirst.org/communities/early-childhood-community-partnership-grant/ . Grant applications should be submitted and received no later thanOctober 3, 2014.  Applications should be submitted to:

 Wyoming Department of Family Services
Quality Early Childhood Program Manager
Attention: Jennifer Zook
2300 Capitol Avenue
3rd Floor, Hathaway Building
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002
jennifer.zook@wyo.gov
Posted by on August 22, 2014
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Bighorn National Forest seeks advisory members

— August 15, 2014

(Press release) — The Bighorn National Forest is seeking to fill openings on the Bighorn Resource Advisory Committee.

The committee’s duties include recommending projects and funding to improve forest health, watersheds, roads, and facilities on or adjacent to the Bighorn National Forest.

The committee oversees funding authorized under Title II of the Secure Rural Schools Act. The Act gives states and counties payments to be used for projects that will benefit the natural resources on the Bighorn National Forest. Projects could include road and trail maintenance, watershed restoration, improvement of fish and wildlife habitat, control of invasive weeds, and improvements in forest health.

Committee members will be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture and must represent varied interests and areas of expertise. Members serve four-year terms and must be able to commit the time necessary to carry out membership responsibilities. The Bighorn Resource Advisory Committee meets once or twice a year. Committee members are not compensated. 

Some duties of the committee are proposing and reviewing projects, providing coordination with the Forest Service, providing opportunities for the public to participate in the development of projects, monitoring project implementation, and recommending changes to projects.

“We’re looking for people with energy and commitment,” said district ranger Dave Hogen, “people who are interested in working with the diverse array of interests represented on the committee.”

Any Wyoming resident interested in serving on the Bighorn Resource Advisory Committee must complete an application, including information that will be used for a required background check. Applications are available online. and at Bighorn National Forest offices in Buffalo, Lovell, and Sheridan.

Printed, signed applications should be sent to Bighorn National Forest, attention Christopher D. Jones, 2013 Eastside 2nd Street, Sheridan, WY 82801.

For more information about the Committee, please contact Christopher D. Jones, Resource Advisory Committee Coordinator, at (307) 674-2627 or christopherdjones@fs.fed.us.

Posted by on August 15, 2014
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Three Wyomingites appointed to BLM advisory council

— August 15, 2014

(Press release) — The Bureau of Land Management announced new appointments or reappointments of members to its citizen-based Wyoming Resource Advisory Council (RAC), which advises the Bureau of Land Management on public land issues. The RACs are composed of members with diverse interests and backgrounds.

The newly appointed or newly re-appointed members of the Wyoming RAC, which will meet primarily on a quarterly basis in 2014:

• Marilyn Mackey, Gillette (federal grazing) reappointment

• Julia Stuble, Lander (environmental organizations) 

• Truman Julian, Kemmerer (public-at-large)

“Our Resource Advisory Councils exemplify the BLM’s collaborative approach to public land management,” said BLM Director Neil Kornze. “I want to welcome our newly appointed RAC members and thank them for their commitment to public service.”

The RACs, composed of citizens chosen for their expertise in natural resource issues, help the BLM carry out its nation-wide stewardship of 245 million acres – the largest land portfolio of any federal agency. The BLM has established 28 RACs across the West, where most BLM-managed land is located. 

Each RAC consists of 10 to 15 members who represent stakeholder interests in public land management, such as conservationists, outdoor recreationists, ranchers, industry officials, tribal leaders, state and local government officers, academics, and others.

The BLM, an agency of the Interior Department, is responsible for managing these various uses – such as outdoor recreation, livestock grazing, mineral development, and energy production – while conserving the land’s natural, historical, and cultural resources.

Posted by on August 15, 2014
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Group hosts tour of important historic sites in Red Desert

(Press release) — The Alliance for Historic Wyoming (AHW) will host a tour of historic sites in the Red Desert in Sweetwater County on August 16, 2014. The tour, featuring a variety of local historians and cultural experts, will begin at 8:00 a.m. at Western Wyoming Community College and will conclude at 5:00 p.m. 

The event is part of AHW’s Unbarred series, which provides glimpses into preservation efforts throughout Wyoming. The tour will discuss historic land use and modern issues, concerns, and procedures that come into play with oil, gas, and public land use on both the landscape and cultural resources. “The historic Red Desert is a treasure-trove of unique historical and cultural sites that document how we have interacted with the landscape in a variety of ways,” says Brie Blasi, AHW Board member and local historian. “But many of the best sites in the desert may be hard to access without a tour—and we have gathered a talented team to help interpret these special places.” The tour will span a range of decades and human influences on the desert landscape including American Indian rock art, emigrant trails, coal mining, and ranching. 

Throughout the tour, guides will encourage discussion of—and link together—historic and contemporary land-uses and land management. The event reflects the Alliance for Historic Wyoming’s mission to raise awareness of historic and cultural resources in the state and to empower people to protect them. 

Speakers include Sweetwater County Historical Museum’s Ruth Lauritzen, renowned local historians Ed Varley, and Bureau of Land Management archaeologist Gene Smith, among others. Participants are encouraged to share stories of their interactions with the landscape—or those of their ancestors—and to join in discussions of how we continue to use the landscape and preserve its unique historical setting and cultural sites.

Transportation is provided for the first 20 participants; others may caravan. A lunch inspired by the ethnic diversity of the region is also provided by Donna Toly of the Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. Participants should be ready to spend the day outside and dress appropriately. Extra water will be available and participants are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles. AHW is a nonprofit organization and they are able to provide these educational opportunities thanks to generous sponsors and members; a $25 donation is suggested for the tour.

The preservation workshop and Unbarred event is hosted by the Alliance for Historic Wyoming in partnership with Western Wyoming Community College, Sweetwater County Board of Cooperative Education Services, Humstone Consulting, Wattle and Daub Contractors, the Green River Historic Preservation Commission and Sweetwater County Museum Foundation, Starbucks Coffee, and Beta Sigma Phi Sorority. The Alliance for Historic Wyoming, Wyoming’s only statewide historic preservation nonprofit, is dedicated to protecting our historic and cultural resources in both the built and natural environments. 

To learn more about AHW, the organization’s work, and to register for this event, visit HistoricWyoming.org, email Carly-Ann Anderson at ExecDirector@historicwyoming.org or call (307) 333-3508.

Posted by on August 13, 2014
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Living and Working on the Land conference Sept. 3-4 in Sheridan

(Press release) — Backyard poultry, horse health, beekeeping, growing small fruits and alternative energy are among the topics at a Sept. 3-4 conference in Sheridan that celebrates rural living. Other sessions include making local food systems work, women on the ranch, marketing, small-scale dairies (including cheese-making) and ag of the future.

One of the organizers, University of Wyoming Extension specialist Cole Ehmke, calls the “Living and Working on the Land: Building Blocks of Success” conference a superb networking and learning event for the region’s agriculture community.

“Bring your coffee cups and gather in Sheridan for food, workshops, tours and the best insight from preeminent rural thinkers,” Ehmke said. “The conference is an excellent opportunity for people interested in exploring new ventures on their land, direct-marketing, stewardship and networking with others of similar interests.”

Agricultural producers, land managers, hobby farmers, small-acreage owners, backyard gardeners and local food enthusiasts will all find something to fit their skill level and areas of interest. 

Ehmke said the conference will feature two nationally recognized experts in their fields, Ken Meter, president of the Crossroads Resource Center in Minneapolis, and Fred Kirschenmann, distinguished fellow at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture.

Meter is one of the foremost analysts of food systems in the country. His work with communities on local food systems integrates market analysis, business development, systems thinking and social concerns.

Kirschenmann is a longtime national and international leader in sustainable agriculture. In addition to his work at the Leopold Center, he manages his family’s 2,600-acre certified organic farm in North Dakota.

Talks by the two keynote speakers and others will help participants who want to accomplish more with their properties, and the event is also designed for those interested in the future of rural areas. 

Early registration by Aug. 15 is $50, while the fee after that date is $65. This includes meals and tours. The first 50 agricultural producers to register for the conference will be eligible for a full refund of the registration fee. A limited number of scholarships for lodging are also available to producers.

The conference begins at 10:45 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, at the Sheridan Holiday Inn Convention Center. The day includes talks and concurrent sessions on practical homestead and rural enterprise management followed by dinner at 5 p.m. and entertainment at 6.

After the morning sessions and lunch on Thursday, Sept. 4, participants can choose from three tour/workshop options, including trips to an apiary, community-supported agriculture operation or fiber mill, or a food preservation workshop.

Sponsors include the University of Wyoming Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, Wyoming Business Council’s Agribusiness Division and Audubon Rockies.

To register, contact Kacy Atkinson with the WBC’s Agribusiness Division at (307) 777-6319, or email her at kacy.atkinson@wyo.gov.

For additional information, visit www.blocksofsuccess.org, or contact Cole Ehmke at 307-766-3782 or cehmke@uwyo.edu. 

Posted by on August 13, 2014
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University of Wyoming among federal grant recipients for CO2 storage efforts

— August 7, 2014

(Press release) — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the selection of 13 projects to develop technologies and methodologies for geologic storage of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Carbon capture and storage (CCS) research is focused on developing technologies to capture industrially generated CO2, and safely and permanently store it in underground geologic formations, in order to reduce the amount of CO2 being released into the atmosphere.

The projects selected by DOE will develop technologies, methodologies, and characterization tools to improve our ability to predict geologic storage capacity, understand geomechanical processes, and add to the safety of geologic storage.

The total value of the projects is approximately $17.6 million over three years, with $13.8 million of DOE funding and $3.8 million of non-federal cost sharing.

Managed by the Office of Fossil Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, the selected projects have been awarded in two areas of interest: “Geomechanical Research” and “Fractured Reservoir and Seal Behavior.”

Geomechanical research

University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo. — The project will study the effects of CO2 storage on geomechanical, petrophysical, and other reservoir properties through rock experiments, analyses of existing data sets, and simulations representing conditions and processes at the Rocks Springs Uplift, Wyoming.  A geomechanical workflow will be developed to predict changes that could affect geomechanical properties and reservoir responses during injection and post injection. (DOE share: $1,091,187; recipient share: $309,068; duration: 36 months)

Clemson University, Clemson, S.C. — This research will evaluate the feasibility of measuring and interpreting, the physical state and properties of rock formations under stress to assess geomechanical processes. Additionally, Clemson researchers will develop and test a removable borehole tool to measure geomechanical properties in wells. (DOE share: $1,244,738; recipient share: $311,185; duration: 36 months)

The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas — The study aims to develop a geomechanical screening tool for reservoirs to assess geomechanical processes and conditions related to CO2 storage including faults, fractures, and caprock flaws.  Geomechanical rock experiments and computational methods using modeling, simulations, history matching, and uncertainty quantification will be conducted for two field demonstration sites to generate and validate a geomechnical screening tool. (DOE share: $1,035,354; recipient share: $258,848; duration: 36 months)

Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Ill. — The project will develop a risk assessment for a simulated industrial-scale CCS injection project at the Big Sky Regional Partnership Phase II, Wallula basalt project site.  This includes a study of pressure-induced fracture expansion, fracture propagation, and the formation of new fractures. (DOE share: $433,497; recipient share: $119,485; duration: 24 months)

Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio — This research will evaluate the stress-strain setting of the midwestern United States using regional geologic and laboratory data. Methodologies will also be developed to evaluate and predict stress at CO2storage sites based on rock cores, geophysical logs, and modeling. (DOE share: $1,171,266; recipient share: $300,000; duration: 36 months)

The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa. — The project will study the geophysical and mineralogical controls on fracture failure in induced seismic events. Relationships between permeability changes and the potential for caprock breaching will be investigated. (DOE share: $1,068,962; recipient share: $267,310; duration: 36 months)

Sandia Technologies, LLC, Houston, Texas — The study aims to develop geomechanical characterization methodologies by combining laboratory rock core testing with downhole tools that determine the strength of rock formations. Data from these tests will be used to model the behavior of caprocks encountered in the Newark Basin in New York. (DOE share: $1,386,261; recipient share: $446,661; duration: 26 months)

Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont. — Researchers will study the geomechanical conditions at the Big Sky Regional Partnership Phase III Kevin Dome large-scale field project to develop and validate an integrated monitoring approach using data from satellites and microseismic monitoring. Numerical modeling will be used to study the interactions between large-scale geologic carbon storage activities and the subsurface geomechanical state. (DOE share: $1,000,000; recipient share: $250,000; duration: 36 months)

Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo. — The study will use laboratory rock analysis and models to develop an approach to understand and predict geomechanical effects from large-scale CO2 injections. Researchers will use the results to develop tools to assess and validate CO2 flow, storage potential, and the risk of leakage in rock formations. (DOE share: $1,199,408; recipient share: $312,112; duration: 36 months).

Fractured reservoir and seal behavior

Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. — The project will develop new modeling capabilities for simulation of CO2 and brine migration in fractured reservoirs.  Flow interactions between fractures and rock composition will be investigated to model and better predict the CO2 distribution within a storage reservoir. (DOE share: $800,000; recipient share: $200,000; duration: 36 months)

Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colo. — Researchers will develop tools to identify damaged shale caprock along with a method to determine CO2 migration through the caprock. Acoustic methods will be used for detecting damaged CO2-saturated caprock through laboratory and in-place experimental studies of shale. (DOE share: $1,411,278; recipient share: $450,000; duration: 24 months)

Washington University, St. Louis, Mo. — The project will advance the understanding of fractured basalt reservoirs and the impact basalt structure and chemistry has on flow and mineral trapping of injected CO2. The project will perform laboratory experiments on rock cores, and integrate geomechanical and geochemical data to understand fracture structure and changes of carbon-trapping mechanisms over time. (DOE share: $996,951; recipient share: $287,750; duration: 36 months)

The University of Texas at Austin Austin, Texas — The study aims to develop and validate geomechanical models based on chemical-mechanical interactions to evaluate fracture growth at the reservoir-caprock interface.  Researchers will develop predictive models for top-seal failure via fracture growth by calibrating field observations with experimental rock fracture data under chemically reactive conditions representative of CO2 storage reservoirs. (DOE share: $991,417; recipient share: $250,154; duration: 36 months)

Posted by on August 7, 2014
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Proposed parcels for November 2014 oil and gas lease sale posted

— August 6, 2014

(Press release) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming State Office has posted its proposed list of parcels for the quarterly competitive oil and gas lease sale scheduled for Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2014, at the Holiday Inn in Cheyenne, Wyo. Doors open at 7 a.m. with the auction beginning at 8 a.m.

The posted list, which identifies 90 proposed parcels totaling 114,384.700 acres, initiates a 30-day public protest period.

The sale includes parcels located in Carbon, Lincoln, Sublette, Sweetwater and Uinta counties in Wyoming.

Copies of the complete November 2014 competitive oil and gas lease sale notice will be available at the sale and may be purchased in advance for $5 from the State Office at 5353 Yellowstone Road in Cheyenne, or by writing: BLM, Attn: Copy Work, P.O. Box 1828, Cheyenne, Wyo. 82003. Copies are also available for purchase from each BLM field office in Wyoming.

The complete November 2014 competitive oil and gas lease sale notice may be viewed and/or downloaded free of charge here. Also available at this website are the oil and gas leasing environmental assessments, including public comments, for the November 2014 oil and gas lease sale.

Posted by on August 6, 2014
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