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Right to Know: Press, officials seek consensus on reforms to meetings, records laws

Elected officials, members of the news media and others are working this summer to reach consensus on a broad plan to reform Wyoming's public records and open meetings laws. Among the issues being debated are whether the public will continue to have access to officials' emails during the early stages of drafting municipal laws, reasonable and equitable access to online records and a timely response to records requests.

Search for Lost Teton Skiers Cost $115,000

America’s national parks have a tradition of coming to the rescue of visitors in trouble and recovering the bodies of those who die on park grounds. In 2009, the most recent year for which national records are available, Park Service workers conducted 3,568 search and rescues that cost a total of more than $4.8 million. In light of the national budget crisis, some parks are exploring the idea of charging additional “special use” fees for particularly hazardous adventures.

Forest Service reverses course on Bridger-Teton leases

The Forest Service is reversing a controversial decision to cancel valid oil and natural gas drilling leases on 44,720 acres of Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest that are prized by outdoor enthusiasts and environmentalists. Bridger-Teton Supervisor Jacque Buchanan announced last week that she had rescinded a Jan. 25 record of decision (ROD) canceling 23 drilling leases because the agency failed to, among other things, include key details about the kinds of impacts the oil and gas drilling would have in the Wyoming Range area. The Forest Service will now go back and conduct additional analysis to inform a follow-up decision on the withdrawals.

Winter ozone problem confounds regulators, industry

The mystery behind the wintertime ozone problem that has plagued parts of the Intermountain West is deepening as pollution levels during the first quarter of 2011 dropped in northeast Utah but increased in southwest Wyoming. In Wyoming, after two years of clean winter air in the Upper Green River Basin, EPA monitors registered 13 days between January and March when ozone levels exceeded the eight-hour health standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb). That includes a March 2 ozone reading of 124 ppb -- higher than the worst ozone levels recorded last year in Los Angeles.

Niobrara oil search brings seismic surveys

The search for oil in southeast Wyoming has set off a massive seismic survey effort. Last fall, three seismic surveys alone blanketed an area 1,500 square miles in Laramie and Converse counties. That’s an area almost half the size of Yellowstone, or 50 percent larger than the state of Rhode Island.These are some of the largest surveys ever seen in Wyoming, according to state officials. Initial drilling hasn’t struck upon another bonanza field like the Bakken oil field in North Dakota or the Jonah natural gas field in western Wyoming. But with a comprehensive mapping of the area’s geology, oil developers hope to improve their ratio of success.

Shoshone Forest Eyes New Rec Permits

THERMOPOLIS — In April 2001, Absaroka Bicycles owner Rick Roach submitted a proposal to the U.S. Forest Service to provide guided mountain bike trips into the Shoshone National Forest.

Last week, almost 10 years later, Roach finally got the answer …

Farm subsidies a complex mix of financial aid, politics & markets

Since the 1930s, the federal government has managed an increasingly complex system of subsidies, direct payments, incentives and other financial assistance to American farmers, all with the goal of making the difficult and risky work of farming less volatile and more sustainable, particularly for small, family operations. But even some who participate in the system concede that it is far from perfect, often producing unintended consequences and counterintuitive results.