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Rural News

Wildlife of all sizes enjoying new crossings on Interstate 90 in Washington

Daily Record | Posted on October 7, 2018

For the past few years, a lot of people have been wondering how any wildlife could possibly jump 50 feet into the air onto those enormous tunnel structures being built on Interstate 90 between Easton and Hyak. After a little patience, the public is finally starting to see the end product take shape, and the wildlife isn’t wasting anytime using the new highway. Central Washington University biology professor Kristina Ernest, along with several other CWU employees, has been working closely with the Washington State Department of Transportation, to not only build the most obvious wildlife overcrossing, but dozens between the Lake Easton exit and Hyak.WSDOT approached CWU during the beginning stages of the project to see if there was any interest in wildlife monitoring, and in 2008 the campus really got involved, monitoring not only the larger species like deer and elk, but smaller “low mobility” species like rodents, fish and amphibians.

Judge upholds North Dakota’s Corporate Farming Law

Cattle Business Weekly | Posted on October 4, 2018

U.S. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland has upheld North Dakota’s Corporate Farming Law. The order comes as a result of a lawsuit filed in August of 2016 by the North Dakota Farm Bureau and several farmers who claimed that the Corporate Farming Law was unconstitutional.The Corporate Farming Law prohibits most corporations from farming or owning farmland in North Dakota. However, small family farms are excluded from this prohibition. The family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law allows both in-state and out-of-state small family farmers to take advantage of forming corporations for agricultural purposes. The Office of the Attorney General and the Office of the Secretary of State have consistently permitted both North Dakota and out-of-state corporations to be eligible for the family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law.In a Sept. 21 court order, Judge Hovland interpreted the family farm exception in the Corporate Farming Law. Because this exception referred to “domestic corporations,” he ruled that the exception only allowed North Dakota corporations to take advantage of it but that the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution requires that all corporations within the United States be permitted to take advantage of the family farm exception. This ruling is consistent with the way the Office of Attorney General and the Office of the Secretary of State have historically interpreted and implemented the Corporate Farming Law. “In accordance with the court order, my office and the Office of the Secretary of State will continue to permit qualifying family corporations to take advantage of the family farm exception,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.Additionally, Judge Hovland concurred with the State’s longstanding position that there is no requirement under the family farm exception that a farmer maintain a physical presence on the farm. He agreed with how the State has, since 1982, implemented and enforced operational requirements of the family farm exception. Accordingly, Judge Hovland concluded that these operational requirements in the exception are constitutional.

Rural workers get fewer benefits to help with elder care

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 4, 2018

Ninety percent of the long-term care our elders receive comes from volunteers – family or loved ones who provide the care for free. For caregivers who also work a separate paying job, some workplace benefits might help make things easier. Rural workers are less likely to receive those types of benefits, a new study finds.Approximately 44 million Americans are providing unpaid care for elderly loved ones or family members. These volunteers provide up to 90% of all the long-term care elders receive in the U.S.Rural caregivers face special hurdles. Rural populations tend to be older. With less population density, there may be fewer volunteers at the ready. Transportation can be an issue.

Small towns trade farmland for residential development

Daily Yonder | Posted on October 4, 2018

A new study from American Farmland Trust shows development around small towns across the Midwest has contributed nearly as much to the loss of agricultural land since 1992 as urban sprawl. American Farm Trust is a nonprofit advocacy group with a mission of protecting farmland, promoting sound farming practices and keeping farmers on the land. According to its latest report, “Farms Under Threat,” nearly 31 million acres of farmland were lost to development between 1992 and 2012.That’s more than double the acres registered in the group’s previous report, last published more than a decade ago. American Farmland Trust said the two factors contributing the additional 15 million acres are “low-density residential development” and woodlands adjacent to farmland, neither of which were previously considered.

Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Quebec

Valley News | Posted on October 4, 2018

 A deer in Quebec has tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the closest that the equivalent of “mad cow disease” for deer and moose has been found to New Hampshire and Vermont, increasing concern from wildlife officials about keeping the fatal ailment out of the state. According to New Hampshire Fish and Game, a red deer from a captive facility in the Laurentides region of Quebec, north of Montreal, recently tested positive for chronic wasting disease, the province’s first confirmed case. This finding represents the closest confirmed case of CWD to date, which “poses a much greater threat to the state’s deer and moose populations than past cases of the disease elsewhere in North America,” according to a statement from Fish and Game.Chronic wasting disease is an ailment of the brain and spinal column roughly similar to “mad cow disease.”Quebec now is legally classified as a CWD-positive jurisdiction, meaning that hunters cannot bring whole carcasses of cervids (members of the deer family including moose, deer, elk and caribou, as well as any species of captive deer) killed in Quebec back to the states.

We cannot neglect investing in rural Idaho or rural America

Idaho Statesman | Posted on October 4, 2018

Earlier this year, the U.S. Census announced that urban and suburban Idaho are enjoying substantial growth. Urban counties account for 75 percent of the state’s recent growth and 65 percent of its overall population, with Boise drawing national attention as the country’s fastest-growing major city. This is on the heels of recent news that as a state, more and more people in Idaho are moving out of rural communities to set down roots in the urban core.As more individuals and families are drawn to urban and suburban locales, our rural communities begin to shrink. With fewer residents, we see less investment in core services and less support for communities. Many rural communities are seeing a demographic shift in which fewer young people are setting down roots, thus shifting the average age of rural populations upward and eventually increasing demand for health care and elder care resources as resident baby boomers move further into retirement.While it makes sense to invest in the spaces that house the most individuals, we cannot neglect investing in rural Idaho or rural America. These communities remain home to tens of thousands of individuals here in Idaho and tens of millions across the country. Often, these communities are home to some of our greatest natural recreation areas and spaces of significant cultural, agricultural and economic importance.

Program unveiled to help Montana's rural communities

Great Falls Tribune | Posted on October 4, 2018

A new program of the Main Street Montana Project will focus on creating economic opportunities in small towns and rural and tribal communities in Montana.  Beginning this fall, Main Street Montana – Rural Partners will start six community partnerships to provide aid and help economic and community development projects to rural Montana. This will be done with support from the lieutenant governor’s office and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.Bullock and Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney said they will develop partnerships with community leaders, businesses, local organizations and the public in rural communities to address challenges unique to rural Montana and connect communities to share opportunities.

Opioid Bill Expands Treatment Options

Pew Trust | Posted on October 4, 2018

In a rare bipartisan effort, Congress approved sprawling legislation — the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018 — designed to make it easier for states to expand access to addiction treatment. Addiction treatment advocates say two provisions — one that would allow Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance plan for the poor, to pay for residential treatment in large facilities and another that would allow Medicare, the federal health plan for people 65 and older, to pay for methadone treatment — will substantially improve access to treatment.The legislation, approved last month by the House and Wednesday by the Senate, also would pay for research into opioid alternatives, support greater use of non-opioid pain management and invest in new law enforcement efforts to curb illicit drugs.Some critics say the legislation, which calls for roughly $8 billion in federal investment over five years, doesn’t go far enough given the magnitude of the drug overdose crisis.

Uninhabitable ‘critical habitat’ debated before Supreme Court

Capital Press | Posted on October 4, 2018

An endangered frog has raised the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court of whether an area that is uninhabitable for a species can nonetheless be considered its “critical habitat.”Justices from the U.S. Supreme Court appeared to have differing opinions on whether “critical habitat” for an endangered species can be designated in an area it can’t inhabit without significant changes.The oral arguments held on Oct. 1 centered on potential dusky gopher frog habitat in a Louisiana forest, but agriculture and property rights advocates believe the case may have broader Endangered Species Act implications for landowners.In 2012, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated critical habitat for the amphibian on 1,500 acres of forest owned by Weyerhaeuser and other landowners, which they fear reduces property values and inhibits housing development.“The immediate effect of this overlay of a critical habitat on this 1,500 acres is a diminution in value of tens of millions of dollars. That is what it says in the agency’s economic analysis, that there is an immediate loss in value,” said Timothy Bishop, attorney for Weyerhaeuser.

Three ways to elevate the economic portrait of rural California

California Forward | Posted on October 4, 2018

When California became the fifth largest economy in the world earlier this year, experts attributed the state’s economic success to the financial services, real estate and technology industries based largely in urban and coastal regions. Left out of the economic success story were many of the state’s vast rural regions. California’s rural areas are some of the most beautiful and bountiful in the world. The economies there are heavily based on natural resources and “working landscapes” that benefit the entire state. These regions provide valuable resources and commodities for all Californians, including food, water and open spaces.But many of these regions face higher poverty and unemployment rates than their urban and suburban counterparts, and struggle with a lack of well-paying jobs, limited health care services, and weakened infrastructure such as access to clean drinking water and water treatment, broadband service, efficient transportation and other critical necessities. With small populations and large geographic distances, the assets and contributions of California’s rural regions are often overlooked and not fully appreciated.To address these challenges, the California Economic Summit is advancing the Elevate Rural CA initiative, which has identified three promising “solution spaces” that will combine targeted community, workforce and economic development activities to elevate the rural areas and, as a result, the entire state. The three areas of focus are forest resiliency, water infrastructure and broadband access.