Wyoming News Update

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Wyoming man get life in prison on conviction of killing wife

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man has been sentenced to life in prison on a first-degree murder conviction in the shooting death of his wife last November at the family home in Ft. Washakie.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Cheyenne announced Thursday that U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl of Casper sentenced 52-year-old Koby Dean Johnson of Fort Washakie to serve life prison terms on his convictions of murder and causing death through the use of a firearm.

Johnson was convicted in June in the death of 36-year-old Rachael Noel Johnson. Skavdahl imposed the sentence on Tuesday.

Prosecutors say Koby Johnson shot his wife to death in front of the couple's children. She was a nursing student at Central Wyoming College.

Tribe applauds settlement of lawsuit over Wind River channel

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Northern Arapaho Tribe is applauding a legal settlement that calls for a Fremont County irrigation district and its former manager to restore the channel of the Wind River west of Riverton.

U.S. District Judge Alan B. Johnson of Cheyenne this week approved an agreement that specifies four dikes installed by the LeClair Irrigation District and its former district manager John Hubenka must be removed by the end of the year.

The settlement comes more than 20 years after the federal government first issued civil citations regarding construction of the dikes, which pushed the Wind River onto lands of the Wind River Indian Reservation.

Northern Arapaho Chairman Dean Goggles says the tribe is pleased with the settlement and plans to take a leading role in the restoration of tribal lands.

Wyoming man dies swimming after loose raft in Snake River

POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — Authorities have identified a Wyoming man who died during a rafting trip in the Snake River in eastern Idaho.

Twenty-eight-year-old Alexander Razzolini, of Jackson, had been on a gravel bar with two other men Tuesday when their raft got loose and floated back out into the river. Authorities say Razzolini tried to swim after the raft but did not return.

Bonneville County sheriff's deputies responded and found Razzolinis's body about 45 minutes later floating near another gravel bar.

Razzolini had not been wearing a life jacket when he was found.

US takes key step to implement sage grouse conservation plan

DENVER (AP) — Federal land managers have issued new guidelines that will help determine what restrictions are imposed on oil and gas drilling, livestock grazing and other activities in the West to protect the greater sage grouse.

The guidelines released Thursday are part of a broader effort to save the distinctive bird without resorting to the Endangered Species Act, which could bring down tougher restrictions.

Conservationists and industry groups are watching closely because the guidelines will influence how vigorously the government implements a sage grouse protection plan announced last year.

Among other things, the guidelines tell federal employees when and how to apply the new rules.

The guidelines cover about 95,000 square miles of federal land.

Greater sage grouse live in 11 Western states. About 200,000 to 500,000 remain, down from the species peak population of about 16 million.

Yellowstone wildfire closes small campground

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, Wyo. (AP) — A wildfire has forced the evacuation and closure of a campground in northeast Yellowstone National Park.

The Slough Creek Campground is the smallest of the developed campgrounds in Yellowstone with 23 sites. But it is the first visitor facility in the park to be affected by wildfires burning in the park.

All other major tourist facilities and attractions are open. All park entrances are open.

Fire spokesman Bill Swartley says the fire that has closed the one campground burned actively overnight and firefighters were working past midnight to suppres spot fires being started ahead of the main fire.

The fire is one of five burning in Yellowstone. The largest fire has burned nearly 60 square miles and firefighters are working to keep it from spreading beyond the park's western boundary.

Portions of Yellowstone River, some tributaries re-opened

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana has re-opened portions of the Yellowstone River but is keeping a popular stretch closed due to a fish-killing parasite.

State officials lifted the closure on all recreational activity on the river downstream of U.S. Highway 89 and some tributaries. That includes more than 100 miles of river between Livingston and Laurel.

Thursday's action also extends the closure along a 51-mile stretch of the Yellowstone in the Paradise Valley. Thousands of mountain whitefish died in the area in recent weeks.

The commission is allowing rafting and some other activities to resume on a 26-mile stretch just north of Yellowstone National Park. Fishing remains banned in that area.

Rafting company owner Mike Barlow in Gardiner says it may be too late to resume the season. He's already canceled trips and sent customers refunds.