Official says current drought not as severe
The multi-year drought that has taken a heavy toll on wildlife, habitat and fisheries was not as severe as last year, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Director Terry Cleveland says.
Cleveland noted in the department's annual report that the winter of 2003-04 was the first in several years with near-normal precipitation in many parts of Wyoming. Southern Wyoming had a particularly wet spring of 2004, though northern Wyoming remains extremely dry, he said.
"While this snowpack was welcome from the standpoint of alleviating chronic drought conditions, it also contributed to severe winter conditions in some areas of western Wyoming," Cleveland said.
He said winter mortality surveys on mule deer winter ranges in western Wyoming indicated significantly higher death rates due to poor habitat conditions.
BLM still losing money on suspended leases
GILLETTE -- The Bureau of Land Management continues to lose more than $120,000 in monthly rental fees from suspended coal-bed methane leases in the Powder River Basin of northeast Wyoming.
The leases were suspended because of disputes over an environmental study. While a lease is suspended, no rent is collected from coal-bed methane companies that have an interest in drilling for the natural gas in the future.
The loss in rental fees for fiscal year 2005, which began Oct. 1, is about $502,000 to date. The loss in rental fees for fiscal year 2004 cost the federal and state governments more than $1.5 million.
Richard Zander, assistant field manager for the BLM's Buffalo office, said most of the suspended leases should be opened back up to potential drilling within the next few months.
Wyoming led nation in patent growth in 2002-03
CHEYENNE -- Wyoming led the nation in patent growth in 2002-20003, with a 37 percent increase in the number of patents produced here.
During that time, 84 patents were developed in Wyoming, up from 61 patents in 2002-2003.
"While the actual number of patents developed within the state of Wyoming was fairly modest, . . . we are still seeing tremendous growth," said Tony Nevshemal, director of the University of Wyoming Products Research Center.
UW Vice President for Research Bill Gern credited the growth to programs administered by the University and the Wyoming Business Council that help small businesses grow.
He noted that several of the patents generated within Wyoming are the result of research work done by UW faculty members. He urged the support of legislation that would create a faculty endowment for the University.
Senators amend annexation bill
CHEYENNE -- State senators are still ironing out the wrinkles in a bill that would better define how municipalities expand.
Seven amendments were proposed in the Wyoming Senate on Friday to the annexation bill on its second reading.
Several of the amendments were withdrawn, but the discussion on the rest of them shows that the issues in the complicated bill have not all been worked out.
The chamber rejected an amendment offered by Senate Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee Chairman Curt Meier, R-LaGrange, that would create a $5 million fund to pay the costs of people who need to hook into a municipality's water and sewer system because their wells and septic systems have deteriorated.
Opponents of Meier's amendment noted the State Loan and Investment Board already has the ability to make money available for that and the idea has not gone through the Legislature's appropriations process.
The bill, Senate File 61, moves to its third and final reading in the Senate today.
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I love the state of Wyoming. I am from Ohio,but my heart is in Wyoming! I go out every year Antelope hunting around Newcastle. I would move their tomorrow if I could make a living. It would be real hard to give up a great paying job and excellent health insurance like I am very fortunate to have now. Ahh maybe someday! For now I just have to be happy "visiting" once or twice a year!