Sawtooth Mountains at Dawn from Stanley Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, Idaho

May WC Ask a Favor?


WC rarely asks his readers for a favor. It’s happened a couple of times, and each time readers have come through. This doesn’t involve any of your money, it will benefit you and your families, and it will make you feel good besides. WC wants you to contact your Representatives and Senators and ask them…

Cold Bay and King Cove, Alaska Peninsula (via Apple Maps)

Another BUCIP: King Cove’s Road


BUCIPs, long-time readers may recall, are Big, Ugly. Complicated, Intractable Problems (bew-kip). It’s been a long time since WC has written about a BUCIP. Partly that’s because they are so damned discouraging. But there have been developments in the King Cove BUCIP. First some background. The Alaska Peninsula extends west-southwest from the Alaska mainland hundreds…

"Running from the Wolves," Adolf Baumgartner-Stoiloff, 1890(?)

Wolves


WC’s first encounter with a wild wolf came in Denali National Park – then called Mt. McKinley National Park – in the upper Sanctuary River Valley. WC had led a small group of young Boy Scouts up there on a camping trip. Refuge Valley, the West Fork of the Sanctuary River, is beautiful, an easy…

J. R. Simplot Grand View CAFO, westerly side, March 2020

The Biggest CAFO in the United States


Just north of Grand View, Idaho, on the Snake River, where Idaho State Highway 167 drops south into the Snake River Canyon, you can find the largest concentrated animal feeding operation – CAFO – in the United States. Bisected by Highway 167, you smell it a long time before you see it. The stench of…

A recent clear cut on Clearcutting, Prince of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska. Lands (Colin Arisman / Wild Confluence Media)

A Badly Needed Win


WC can trace his environmental activism to a specific event. Working on the R/V Acona, for the Institute of Marine Science, in 1967, WC was doing biological oxygen determinations (BODs) on water samples from Silver Bay, near Sitka. BODs are a measure of the dissolved oxygen in a water sample that is available to support…

An undated photo showing an aerial view of the Red Dog Mine, in Alaska's Northwest Arctic Borough. (EPA)

Why Commissioner Brune Is Wrong


The Environmental Protection Agency released its 2018 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) earlier this month, part of the EPA’s TRI National Analysis. Since 1986, the TRI has reported the release of substances that carry a material risk of hurting humans or the environment upon which humans depend. The TRI is information. It is data. That’s all.…

North Pole Refinery, a/k/a Flint Hills

Williams’ Chickens Come Home to Roost


WC and Judge – formerly Justice – Warren “Skip” Matthews don’t get along. There’s a reason, and it’s really none of your business, but ex-spouses of judges and justices sometimes need lawyers, too. To his great credit, Skip Matthews came out of retirement to serve as the trial judge in the North Pole Refinery mess.…

Environmental Protection

Good News You Might Have Missed


In the holiday frenzy and year end wrap up, there was some good news on the conservation front. At least in the legal arena. Here’s a quick recap. Western Watersheds v. BLM. Dwight Hammond and his son Steven Hammond were convicted of committing arson on their grazing allotments back in 2012. Donald Trump subsequently pardoned them and then-Interior…

A Small Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation – CAFO – in southwestern Idaho

Bad Arithmetic


Years ago, WC was meeting with a law client who told WC, “I don’t understand, I’m selling more gasoline than anyone else in Fairbanks and I’m still losing money.” As it turned out, she was losing about three-tenths of a cent per gallon sold. She’d failed to include her indirect costs in setting her prices.…

Sage Grouse Male, photo by US Fish & Wildlife Service

Driven by Science, Driven by Greed


For WC, if there is a single bird species that symbolizes his adopted home in the intermountain West, it’s the Greater Sage Grouse. The first time WC saw them on a lek, strutting, calling and showing their stuff to the females, something clicked in WC’s tired, dusty soul. The birds were acting out their ancient…

Spawning Salmon, not, alas, in the Salmon River Drainage

Congratulations to All 15 Sockeye


WC offers his sincere congratulations to all fifteen sockeye salmon who made it back to Redfish Lake in 2019. Your return represents a triumph. Not just of the usual challenges an anadromous fish faces in returning to its spawning grounds, although Bog knows, those are challenging enough. Migrating past voracious predators – orca, sea lions…