MSU makes it to “Sustainable 16”

By CODIE WYERS/Montana State News

Montana State University was recently selected as one of the “Sustainable 16” of this year’s Environmental March Madness Tournament, and given MSU’s track record for environmentalism, it should be a contender for the championship.

This tournament, working hand-in-hand with the NCAA college basketball championship, evaluates the strength of universities’ environmental degree programs, the environmental opportunities for students and the sustainability efforts on campus. The tournament begins by having a panel of distinguished judges pick the top 16 colleges from around the country. From there, they narrow their selection down to the “Environmental 8,” the “Finest 4” and the “Winner.”

To participate in the tournament, MSU department heads were asked to fill out a detailed survey describing the campus’s environmental programs.

The Sustainable Foods and Bio Energy Systems program at Montana State University is just one of the many projects aimed at making MSU more environmentally friendly. This program is an interdisciplinary degree program that promotes sustainable production, consumption and distribution of food. It educates a new generation of environmental leaders through hands-on experiences not only in the field but also through collaborative work in a classroom setting. Continue reading “MSU makes it to “Sustainable 16””

White reintroduces anti-Tester bill measure

By MICHELE McDONALD/Montana State News

Republican state Rep. Kerry White of Bozeman has introduced a second bill to oppose Democratic U.S. Sen. Jon Tester’s Forest Jobs and Recreation Act.

According to the Montana Legislature’s official website, White is currently sponsoring a bill in opposition to the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act entitled House Resolution 4. The bill has been presented in a hearing before the House Agricultural Committee, but no further action has yet been taken.

Tester’s bill, first introduced in 2009, would designate 650,000 acres of national forest in western Montana as permanently protected wilderness, while mandating the harvest of timber on 70,000 additional acres and designating other areas of forest for motorized recreation.

White originally introduced a bill named House Joint Resolution 8 which addressed the same topic, according to the Legislature’s website. The bill was tabled by the House Natural Resources Committee.

According to White, Democrats said he was breaking the rules by introducing a bill, which mirrored House Joint 8. White said House Resolution 4 is a new form of opposition to the Forest Jobs and Recreation Act and the arguments of opponents were incorrect. Continue reading “White reintroduces anti-Tester bill measure”

Conservation easements growing in popularity

By BEN HAVENS/ Montana State News

Private land under conservation easements has grown rapidly in the United States from 500,000 acres in 1990 to over 30 million in 2011. This is due to several advantages they come with.

Conservation easements are an increasingly popular method of land conservation. Rather than conservation groups buying up portions of land for the sake of preservation, conservation easements are the process of land owners donating the developmental rights of their land, while still owning it in all other aspects. Conservation easements typically cost about 40 percent less than land purchase.

According to the Montana Environmental Quality Council, about 1.8 million acres of Montana land is under conservation easement as of 2009. These 1,331 easements make up around 2 percent of Montana’s land. Ninety-nine percent of the land that is under easement is held by private owners while the conservation easements are held by both government organizations and non-profit land trusts. Continue reading “Conservation easements growing in popularity”

Roadkill may become table fare

By CODIE WYERS/Montana State News

Those dead deer we see so often on the road side could end up on someone’s dinner table, if a state lawmaker has his way.

House Bill 247 would allow Montana residents to salvage an animal for food that they have hit with their vehicle. The animals allowed to be salvaged would be deer, elk, antelope and moose. Not only can the meat be taken, but also the antlers.

Each state has their own specific laws pertaining to roadkill. In some states it’s legal to take a roadkilled animal home to eat if you have a special permit. But not in Montana. The Department of Transportation is in charge of picking up roadkill and disposing of it properly. However, the Department of Transportation may not be in charge of roadkill for much longer. Continue reading “Roadkill may become table fare”

After good start, snowpack tapering off

By JOHN KIRK VINCENT/Montana State News

Snowpack in area mountains has tapered off after getting off to a better than average start this winter. But water content in the snow remains high.

Recent data collected and provided by the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) has seen a gradual decrease in snow depth at a number of Gallatin County Snotel sites in the absence of any new substantial snowfall.

Gallatin County  is currently enjoying one of the best regional snowpacks..  The Bozeman Daily Chronicle previously reported an 8 percent increase over early January last year, while the statewide average fell short of last year by 3 percent. Continue reading “After good start, snowpack tapering off”

MSU four years into sustainability effort

By SUSAN ANDRUS/Montana State News

In 2008 former Montana State University president Geoffrey Gamble signed the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment. The commitment document calls for schools to first “initiate the development of a comprehensive plan to achieve climate neutrality as soon as possible.”

It also calls for schools to do at least two immediate things to reduce greenhouse gasses while the comprehensive plan is being developed and asks for the action plan, an inventory and periodic progress reports to be made public.

This document, also signed by current MSU president Waded Cruzado, is central to MSU’s efforts toward creating a sustainable university. It has led to the formation of a 19-member campus sustainability advisory council that meets monthly and the creation of the ASMSU Sustainability Center, as well as many improvements to buildings on campus and the addition of courses focusing on issues of sustainability and climate neutrality. According to the climate commitment’s 2010 annual report, MSU is one of 676 institutions in all 50 states that have made this commitment. Continue reading “MSU four years into sustainability effort”

Group introduces locals to ‘upcycling’

By MEGAN HIGGINS/Montana State News

This past January, Anne Hernandez and six Montana State University students established a new non-profit centered on a goal to empower the community through environmental awareness and contribution.

The Human Empowered Arts Program launched this objective during the organization’s debut during the Gallatin Earth Celebration on April 20 and 21.

Hernandez, an adjunct instructor in the College of Business at MSU, founded HEAP with the hopes of providing the community a means of instruction on how to recreate the everyday items that ultimately end up in the local landfill.

Hernandez created art from everyday materials like magazines and cardboard since she was a child. This passion established the basis for HEAP and inspired her to make “upcycling” readily available to anyone in the community. Continue reading “Group introduces locals to ‘upcycling’”

Carbon injection project advancing

By ANGIE FORD/Montana State News

The Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership (BSCSP)—who are they and what are they after? “A balanced energy future.” Says Kathryn Watson, BSCSP’s outreach and communications director. There are many components to that goal, and Watson says that BSCSP’s part in that balanced energy future is referred to in the industry as “CCS” or carbon capture and sequestration.

What is BSCSP? Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership is directed by Montana State University’s Energy Research Institute (ERI). ERI has 230 faculty, staff and students working on balanced energy solutions involving CCS, wind, biofuels, energy efficiency, solar and fuel cells. Continue reading “Carbon injection project advancing”

Local woman on front lines in war on carbon

By MATT YORK/Montana State News

Kathryn Watson is one of the unsung heroes of our time and generation. She is currently the outreach and communications director of the Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Partnership project, a group funded, in part, by the United States Department of Energy.

The BSCSP is a group dedicated to the concept of geologic carbon capture and storage. The idea stems from ”capturing carbon dioxide from its point of release and permanently storing it in deep, underground rock formations, ” according to the BSCSP webpage.

Watson’s  job in the project is Outreach and Communications, and her job is really to ‘reach out’ to the community on a larger scale; not only to educate, but to bring to light and help understand what the project is about, whether it be teacher workshops such as educating science teachers in how the project works, or how to get the information necessary for their questions, to even teaching local decision makers and legislators on bills that could help the project, to help them understand the project and its connection to the environment. Continue reading “Local woman on front lines in war on carbon”

Sequestration subject of state meeting

By ANGIE FORD/Montana State News

The Big Sky Carbon Sequestration Project held its annual meeting last weekend in Great Falls, drawing big names from around the world to talk about the future of carbon sequestration, particularly here in Montana.

“The point is to focus the attention of the national movement here on this local project, just like next week’s national conference is to focus the members of the many local projects on the national issues. We want to create a shared knowledge base,” said Kathryn Watson, BSCSP’s outreach and communications director. Continue reading “Sequestration subject of state meeting”

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