Flag half staff notice Oct 6 – To honor memory of those murdered in Roseburg, Oregon mass shooting (posted 10/5/15)
Governor Matthew H. Mead, pursuant to President Barack Obama's Proclamation honoring the victims of the tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon, has ordered both the U.S. flag and the State of Wyoming flag be flown at half-staff statewide until sunset on Tuesday, October 6, 2015.
BLM seeks comment on Draft Update to Measurement Standards for Oil Produced on Public Lands (posted 9/29/15)
Updates to measurement technology and standards & practices to ensure royalties to government
Bureau of Land Management
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announced a proposed rule today to update and replace its regulations governing the measurement of oil produced from onshore Federal and Indian leases. The requirements contained in the proposed rule reflect advances in measurement technology and critical updates in standards and practices. It also responds directly to concerns from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General, and Secretary’s Subcommittee on Royalty Management, that the BLM’s existing rules do not provide adequate assurance that oil production on public and Indian lands is being accounted for in a way that ensures that all royalties are accurately tracked and paid. These concerns have contributed to the Department’s inclusion on the GAO’s High Risk List.
Public comment on the rule is being sought for 60 days, through November 30, 2015.
"The proposed rule represents yet another important step in the BLM’s modernization of its oil and gas regulations," said Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management Janice M. Schneider. "These updates address longstanding concerns about the adequacy of existing regulations and will help ensure that the oil produced from Federal and Indian leases is properly measured and accounted for -- a critical component of ensuring that American taxpayers, Indian tribes and allottees, and States and local governments receive the full royalties they are due."
The proposed rule would replace Onshore Oil and Gas Order Number 4 (Order 4), which sets minimum standards for the measurement of oil. Order 4 has not been updated since 1989, and does not reflect modern industry practices or standards.
"It's been almost 30 years since the standards in Onshore Order 4 have been revised," said BLM Director Neil Kornze. "The industry has taken major strides in recent decades and this update reflects those changes in addition to making our regulations more adaptable for the future."
Specifically, the proposed rule would:
• Incorporate proven industry standards developed by oil measurement experts from industry and the BLM.
• Formally authorize the use of Coriolis Measurement Systems (CMSs). Even though CMSs have been proven reliable and accurate, Order 4 currently only expressly allows oil to be measured by manual tank gauging or with a positive displacement meter, which means operators wanting to use CMSs must seek a variance. The proposed rule would eliminate the need for industry to submit, and for the BLM to process, such variance requests.
• Establish a process to recognize and approve the use of new measurement technology and methods, without the BLM having to amend its regulations.
• Increase the accountability of high-volume production wells by requiring operators to verify the accuracy of the meters on those wells more frequently.
• Make changes to improve the BLM’s ability to verify and audit production records in order to ensure that production is being properly tracked.
The proposed rule is the next step in a process that the BLM began in 2011 with tribal consultation meetings and continued in 2013 with public listening sessions. The public listening sessions included representatives from Indian lands, the oil and gas industry, environmental groups, and Federal agencies. Input from the listening sessions, stakeholder outreach, and tribal consultation meetings helped inform the development of the proposed rule.
The BLM's oil and gas management program is one of the most important mineral leasing programs in the Federal government. The total value of annual production is over $33 billion, which generates more than $3 billion in royalty revenue each year from oil and gas leasing activities on federal lands (most of which is shared with state and local governments) and more than $1 billion in royalty revenue from activities on tribal lands (all of which goes to tribes or individual allotees).
The proposed rule may be viewed online at www.regulations.gov.
The BLM encourages the public to participate in the rulemaking process by submitting comments on the proposed rule by November 30, 2015 through one of the following methods:
• Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions at this Web site.
• Mail: U.S. Department of the Interior, Director (630), Bureau of Land Management, Mail Stop 2134 LM, 1849 C Street NW, Washington, DC 20240 Attention: Regulatory Affairs.
• Personal/messenger delivery: Bureau of Land Management, 20 M. Street SE, Room 2134 LM, Attention: Regulatory Affairs, Washington, DC 20003.
Beware of scam telephone calls pretending to be IRS (posted 9/29/15)
Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office
The Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office issued another consumer alert on Tuesday (September 29, 2015) warning residents of telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.
"We’ve received a great many reports lately," said Detective Dick Blust, the Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer. "These callers are aggressive, even threatening, and they demand money. They can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they often alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an ‘urgent’ callback request."
Those called are often seniors, Blust said, who can be particularly vulnerable to swindles.
The Sheriff’s Office is passing along tips from the IRS on spotting fake calls. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:
Call to demand immediate payment; nor will it call about taxes owed without first having mailed you a bill or other formal notice.
Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.
Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.
Threaten to bring in local police or other law enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:
If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040. The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.
If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
Blust also said the IRS does not use unsolicited email, text messages or any social media to discuss personal tax issues.
For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type "scam" in the search box.
Two grizzly bears relocated for killing livestock (posted 9/29/15)
Wyoming Game & Fish
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department trapped and relocated an adult male grizzly bear Sept. 25 and an adult male grizzly bear Sept. 26. The bears were captured for killing livestock on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment north of Pinedale, Wyoming. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Shoshone National Forest, the bears were independently relocated to the Fox Creek drainage of the Clarks Fork River approximately 15 miles northwest of Crandall, Wyoming. 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 multiple factors into consideration such as the animal’s 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 people.
Three troublesome grizzly bears relocated Sept. 21, 2015
Grizzly bear relocated from north of Pinedale for killing livestock Sept. 1, 2015
Identity of victim killed in grizzly bear attack released August 10, 2015
Man killed by grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park August 8, 2015
Another grizzly bear relocated from north of Pinedale August 8, 2015
Grizzly bear relocated from north of Pinedale August 8, 2015
Senate pages wanted for Spring 2016 (posted 9/28/15)
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., is encouraging Wyoming students who are juniors in high school to apply to be a Senate page for the fall session in Washington, DC.
There are a total of 30 page positions in the United States Senate each session and Enzi is fortunate to have the opportunity to sponsor a young adult from Wyoming to serve in one of these positions. The deadline for fall applications is November 4.
"The page program allows students to have a front row seat during debates in the U.S. Senate," said Enzi. "The program will provide experiences that participants will carry with them forever."
Page duties consist primarily of delivering correspondence and legislative material at the Capitol. Other duties include preparing the Senate chamber for sessions and carrying bills and amendments to the appropriate people on the Senate floor.
Pages attend classes at the Senate Page School from 6:15 a.m. until 9:45 a.m. and then work until 4:00 p.m. or until the Senate adjourns for the day. The Senate Page School provides a rigorous academic course of studies and the necessary requisites for a junior year course of study.
Spring page eligibility is limited to juniors in high school who will be 16 or 17 years old on or before the date of appointment. Applicants must have a minimum grade point average of 3.0.
Pages live in Webster Hall located near the Capitol and receive a stipend to cover the cost of the residence. Breakfast and dinner are provided each day.
The spring session runs from February 1, 2016 – June 10, 2016. The application and additional information can be found by going to www.enzi.senate.gov. Further questions can be directed to Dianne Kirkbride in Senator Enzi’s Cheyenne office at 307-772-2477 or Dianne_Kirkbride@enzi.senate.gov.
Barrasso accepting Military Academy Nomination applications (posted 9/28/15)
U.S. Senator John Barrasso
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today (Monday, Sept. 28, 2015), U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) announced that he is accepting applications for nominations to the U.S. military service academies for the 2016 school year. Senator Barrasso nominates Wyoming students to compete for appointments to the Military, Naval, Air Force and Merchant Marine academies.
"Nominating some of Wyoming’s best and brightest students to our nation’s military academies is one of the greatest privileges I have as a U.S. senator," said Barrasso. "I strongly encourage all those students who are interested to apply."
Young men and women interested in U.S. service academies apply to members of Congress for nominations. Senator Barrasso’s Academy Nominations Board evaluates all students who apply based on academic achievement, leadership, extracurricular and athletic activities.
To be nominated, a student must be a Wyoming resident between 17 and 22 years of age. He or she must complete an application form (available on www.Barrasso.Senate.Gov) and provide the following information:
• Academic record/high school transcript
• Letter or essay describing career goals of the applicant
• Results of Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) and/or American College Testing (ACT) scores
• Three letters of recommendation from various sources (school officials, coaches, community leaders)
Following a nomination, final selection and appointment is made by each service academy based on: character, scholarship, leadership, physical fitness, motivation and suitability for a military career.
To be considered for a nomination, the completed application should be postmarked by October 31, 2015. Those students who meet the requirements will be invited to an interview with my Academy Nominations Board in Casper on December 5.
For more information about my nomination process, or to obtain an application packet, please contact Chelsea Rodekuhr in Senator Barrasso's Cheyenne office at:
U.S. Senator John Barrasso
2120 Capitol Avenue, Suite 2013
Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001
DOI decides Greater Sage Grouse doesn’t need ESA protection (posted 9/22/15)
The U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) issued its decision that the Greater Sage Grouse does not need federal protection under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The long-awaited decision was announced on Tuesday, Sept. 22.
"Because of an unprecedented effort by dozens of partners across 11 western states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act," the DOI posted on its website.
Video – Sally Jewell – Sage Grouse listing decision U.S. Department of the Interior, September 22, 2015
US rejects protections for greater sage grouse across West Fox News, Sept. 22, 2015
Sage Grouse Bird Does Not Need Protection, U.S. Decides NPR, Sept. 22, 2015
U.S. Trying to Protect Sage Grouse Without Listing It as an Endangered Species New York Times, Sept. 22, 2015
The Greater Sage-Grouse Will Avoid "Endangered" Status Due to Herculean Land Conservation Effort National Audubon Society, September 22, 2015
WAFWA Report Documents Greater Sage-Grouse Population Rebound Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA), August 17, 2015
Q&A: What is a sage grouse and why is the bird imperiled? The News Tribune, Tacoma, Washington, September 22, 2015
Greater Sage Grouse Listing Decision Timeline State of Nevada Sagebrush Ecosystem Program
Senator Enzi statement on sage grouse decision (posted 9/22/15)
U.S. Senator Mike Enzi media release
Washington, D.C. – Today (Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015) U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyoming, released the following statement in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services’ decision that the sage grouse does not need protection as an endangered species.
"This decision is a success for Wyoming and for the sage grouse," Enzi said. "Wyoming has worked with stakeholders over many years to develop and implement a sage grouse management plan and I am glad that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was able to recognize their accomplishments. The Wyoming plan has a demonstrated record of success and the decision keeps the State of Wyoming in the driver’s seat when it comes to sage grouse management."
Senator Barrasso statement on sage-grouse decision (posted 9/22/15)
U.S. Senator John Barrasso media release
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today (Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015), Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY), released the following statement in response to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s announcement that the greater sage-grouse does not warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act. The Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service also released their final land management plans today that restrict land use across the West.
"Today’s decision not to list the sage-grouse confirms that the hard work and tough decisions made by Wyoming and other states in the West worked. I’m pleased the Fish and Wildlife Service reached the conclusion that we reached a long time ago: state and local agencies are best-suited to manage lands and protect species," said Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso.
"While this decision may seem like a victory for the West, the administration’s land management plans are nothing more than a Washington land grab. The administration should focus on policies that address real threats to sage-grouse, such as catastrophic wildfires, predators and the unchecked spread of invasive species. These would help ensure that sage-grouse and other species continue to thrive across the West."
Wyoming Transportation Commission awards $21.7 million in road & bridge work contracts (posted 9/22/15)
WYO 351 bridge over the Green River to be replaced by fall 2017
Wyoming Department of Transportation
Contracts totaling $21.7 million for nine projects around the state were awarded by the Wyoming Transportation Commission during its September meeting in Cheyenne.
Riverside Contracting of Missoula, Mont., won the largest of the contracts with the low bid of nearly $9 million for improvements to 12 miles of the eastbound lanes of I-80 between Wamsutter and Creston Junction. Deteriorating pavement will be milled off the highway and replaced with a new layer of asphalt. The westbound section of the highway was milled and repaved this year. The contract completion date is Oct. 31, 2016.
CC&G Inc. of Lander was the low bidder at nearly $4.3 million for a contract to replace the WYO 351 bridge over the Green River about 7 miles east of Big Piney by Oct. 31, 2017. The existing bridge is narrow and in poor condition. The new, wider bridge will be built on the existing bridge alignment, so a detour and temporary bridge will be used during the construction.
Cheyenne’s Reiman Corp. and Subsidiary won a $2.8 million contract for bridge rehabilitation work on three Interstate 90 bridges between Moorcroft and Sundance. The decks will be replaced on the eastbound bridge over Houston Creek, and the east- and westbound bridges over Inyan Kara Creek. The contract includes an Oct. 31, 2016 completion date.
Reiman also submitted the low bid of $2.3 million for deck rehabilitation work on three bridges on WYO 376 (South Belt Loop) in Rock Springs. The bridge over the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the west end of the highway will be closed for a complete deck replacement. Once the bridge is closed, the contractor will have 60 days to complete that work. The overall contract completion date is Oct. 31, 2016.
Two contracts were awarded for providing the stockpiles of sand and salt WYDOT uses to improve traction on snowy and icy highways during winter. Kilroy LLC of Afton was the low bidder at $1.5 to provide the materials for the southwestern portion of the state by March 31, 2016. Evans Construction of Jackson won a $1.1 million contract to provide the stockpiles for the highways in the northwestern part of the state by April 30, 2016.
Also awarded by the commission were contracts for:
• $289,000 to Hedquist Construction of Casper for concrete repairs to the Interstate 25 bridge at the Poplar Street Interchange in Casper by June 30, 2016;
• $229,000 to Advanced Electrical Contracting of Casper for electrical and sidewalk upgrades at the intersection of US 20-26 and Six Mile Road north of Casper by July 31, 2016; and
• $122,000 to S&S Builders of Gillette for erosion repairs along WYO 213 north of Burns by June 30, 2016.
Three troublesome grizzly bears relocated (posted 9/21/15)
From Upper Green and Jackson residential areas
Wyoming Game & Fish
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured and relocated an adult female grizzly bear and cub (Friday) September 11, 2015. The bears were captured for killing livestock on a U.S. Forest Service grazing allotment approximately 30 miles north/northwest of Pinedale, Wyoming. In cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Shoshone National Forest, the bears were relocated to the Clarks Fork River drainage approximately 25 miles northwest of Cody. The release site is located in currently occupied grizzly bear habitat.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured and relocated an adult male grizzly bear September 11, 2015. The bear was captured after frequenting residential areas in the Jackson Region. 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. Game and Fish 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.
Know the rules on Wyoming State land use (posted 9/14/15)
Wyoming Game & Fish
With hunting seasons opening up across the state, hunters are asked to review the rules governing the use of State Trust Lands.
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department does not manage State Trust Lands, but often receives questions from hunters and anglers on the rules and restrictions affecting usage of these lands.
In general, hunters and anglers can use State Lands for hunting and fishing provided there is public access to these lands. This means the lands must be legally accessible via public road, right-of-way, easement, public waters, or adjacent state or federal land. Some State Lands have no means of public access and anyone wishing to cross private lands to reach State Lands must have permission from the landowner. The landowner is under no obligation to grant such permission. Other usage such as driving off established roads is also generally prohibited on State Lands. For those wishing to camp on State Lands the public can check details on the State Lands website. Also, cultivated croplands on state trust lands are not open to public use.
Information on rules for using State Lands can be obtained by contacting the Office of State Lands and Investments in Cheyenne at http://slf-web.state.wy.us. Hunters have several tools to determine which lands are state, federal, or private. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has developed a series of maps that are color coded showing state, BLM, national forest, and private lands. These maps also include roads, topographic contour, elevations, rivers, and lakes. They are available at any BLM office, on the website http://www.plicmapcenter.org/WY/, or by calling (307) 775-6256. In addition, the Game and Fish (307- 777-4600) sells a micro SD chip for GPS units that shows land status and hunter location.
Fish restoration work planned for Long Draw and Sculpin Creek (posted 9/14/15)
Removing unwanted fish in the Big Sandy River drainage
Wyoming Game & Fish
Fish managers with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department will be removing non-native fish species from Long Draw and Sculpin Creek in the Big Sandy River drainage north of Farson September 14-18, 2015. As a result, managers are suggesting outdoor enthusiasts help by planning to avoid Long Draw and Sculpin Creek during that week.
Green River Fisheries Supervisor Robb Keith says the treatments are targeting white suckers and other non-native fish. "G&F personnel will apply rotenone, a chemical that is toxic to gilled animals such as fish, but is not harmful to humans, livestock or other wildlife at the concentrations used to kill fish," says Keith. "These treatments are the first in a series of treatments designed to rehabilitate three native non-game species: bluehead suckers, flannelmouth suckers and roundtail chubs that are collectively referred to as the Three Species."
The Three Species are a species of concern in Wyoming and in the Colorado River drainage states south of Wyoming. The planned treatments are the first in a series of treatments that will help maintain pure population of flannelmouth suckers and bluehead suckers in the Big and Little Sandy drainages.
Fish managers will be treating the entire length of each tributary at one time. This will be done using the piscicide rotenone. This chemical has been used successfully in many stream restoration efforts and has proven highly effective at removing unwanted fish species from aquatic systems with no harmful effects to other plants and animals.
Sculpin Creek, a tributary to the Big Sandy River, contains non-native white suckers, burbot and other non-native non-game fish. Long Draw is a tributary to Little Sandy Creek, which also holds non-native white suckers and other non-native non-game fish. Biologists assert non-native suckers are particularly harmful to native suckers populations because they readily hybridize with them.
"Bluehead suckers, flannelmouth suckers and roundtail chub historically occupied most of the upper Green River watershed in Wyoming," Keith says. "Populations of flannelmouth suckers, bluehead suckers and roundtail chubs have declined in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. The six states have developed a range-wide conservation agreement and strategy with the goal of ensuring the persistence of roundtail chub, bluehead sucker and flannelmouth sucker populations throughout their ranges. Western fisheries managers are doing their best to stay proactive in the management of these three species in order to keep them from being petitioned for listing under the Federal Endangered Species Act."
As a reminder, Long Draw and Sculpin creeks should be considered closed to all water activities during the treatment period from September 14 through September 18. If you were planning to recreate in either tributary during this time, please consider an alternate location.
For more information about the Three Species Restoration Project on Long Draw and Sculpin creeks, please contact Wyoming Game and Fish Green River Fisheries Biologist John Walrath at 1-800-843-8096 or 307-875-3223.