Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Amid a Forest's Ashes, a Debate Over Logging Profits Is Burning For 120 days in 2002, a colossal wildfire scarred a half-million acres of Southern Oregon and Northern California, leaving behind a charred landscape that has turned into fertile soil for a conflict over how to manage the public forests. The Forest Service's plan for a large salvage logging operation on the site of wildfire, called the Biscuit fire, is reopening old wounds and threatens to undercut the shaky truce between environmentalists and the timber industry. And with another year of drought forecast across the West, forest managers are sure to be confronted again this summer with fire and its aftermath. The question posed by the Biscuit fire is whether huge wildfires call for aggressive management, like logging and replanting, or whether nature should be allowed to rebuild with limited human interference.... U.S. forest experts say future of logging is younger timber It's time to give up cutting old-growth trees and instead accelerate other public-land logging that's desperately overdue in the Northwest, top forest scientists said Tuesday. The architects of the 1994 Northwest Forest Plan said further logging of old growth probably will never happen, even though the plan called for it, and the Bush administration is pushing for it. Public sentiment, combined with environmental lawsuits and protests, has effectively put all remaining old growth off-limits already. "We've already done it," said Jack Ward Thomas, who led a team of scientists that drafted the plan adopted by the Clinton administration a decade ago. "It's just a matter of admitting it.".... Rowdy crowd disrupts talk on Highlands Shouts and cheers disrupted an overcrowded hearing at the Haggerty Center of the Frelinghuysen Arboretum Monday night as opponents of the Highlands Preservation Act turned out in force to object to the proposed legislation introduced on Monday, March 29, in Trenton. Many of the attendees waved placards printed with “Don’t Steal My Land” and “New Jersey Government wants to take your property away,” and some wore T-shirts that read: “Families Need Homes.” Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex, and Sen. Robert Smith, D-Middlesex, both moderators and bill sponsors, shut down the meeting after only one-half hour as dozens of attendees were asked to leave by the fire marshall and many more were turned away at the door.... Protesters demand release of Sabino lion About 30 people, including a UA employee and three UA students, rallied at Sabino Canyon yesterday afternoon to demand the release of the mountain lion captured Friday by the Arizona Game and Fish Department. The protesters piled into the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area Visitor Center, demanding to speak to Larry Raley, the district ranger of the Santa Catalina Ranger District of the Coronado National Forest.... Yes: Summer spill costly, ineffective A step in the right direction. That's how we'd characterize a federal proposal to suspend the August portion of "summer spill" on four dams on the Snake and lower Columbia rivers. Currently, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) spends $77 million on summer spill during July and August to save 24 threatened fall chinook. That's more than $3 million per fish. Now, federal agencies want to suspend spill during the month of August over the next three years and implement alternatives to protect migrating salmon.... No: Don't sell out vulnerable salmon With little regard for science, public policy or law, the Bush administration, through the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), has unleashed an irresponsible proposal to all but wipe out summer spill — a critical salmon-recovery tool used to help young salmon get past deadly dams. While disappointing, the announcement comes as no surprise and merely continues BPA's 30-year-plus history of poor decision-making and fundamental policy failure, which have cost this region environmentally and financially.... Army Corps highlights efforts to save Mo. River sturgeon Backhoes are breaking into the earth along the Missouri River in an attempt to re-create inviting habitats for big, strange-looking fish that have sparked debate and lawsuits for more than a decade. With its ridged back, long tail and beady eyes, the pallid sturgeon looks like a holdover from the age of the dinosaurs. But it is now struggling to survive. Up and down the Missouri River, the Army Corps of Engineers is digging into and removing sets of dikes jutting out into its waters to comply with the federal Endangered Species Act. And by July 1, the corps plans to create 1,200 acres of new habitat for the pallid sturgeon.... Report pegs cost of species protection in billions The yearly cost of enforcing the Endangered Species Act runs into the billions of dollars, not millions as reported to Congress by government agencies, says an audit released yesterday by property rights groups. Despite the estimated $3 billion per year spent, the government has little to show for its recovery efforts, says the Property and Environment Research Center, which conducted the study for the Pacific Legal Foundation. The audit reviewed 19 federal agencies that spend "significant" amounts to comply with the act and found that salaries, operations, maintenance and services associated with enforcing the ESA are not reported to Congress....Go here(pdf) to read the report.... Block the vote Asserting that he was confronting "truly life-and-death matters," Sen. Jim Jeffords (I-Vt.) announced last week that as ranking member of the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works he would exercise his powers to put a hold on four high-level appointments to the U.S. EPA. It wasn't the appointments he believed posed mortal dangers -- in fact, Jeffords had just voted in favor of sending the nominations to the full Senate. Rather, the Vermont senator was taking the nominees hostage in order to exact a ransom from the EPA in the form of documents he has requested but not received over the last three years about the agency's controversial policies.... Private Lands Key To Conserving And Restoring Native Fish On the Yellowstone River and its tributaries, the native range of the Yellowstone cutthroat trout, Pat Byorth, a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks fisheries biologist, is working with private landowners to plan and fund habitat restoration projects. A second biologist will be hired soon to work with landowners on the Big Hole River interested in preserving Arctic grayling habitat. Both positions are funded by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Landowner Incentive Program grants. “Substantial state and federal conservation funding is available to landowners because the conservation of native fish is very dependent on habitat and a lot of that habitat is on private land,” Byorth said.... Leaked Administration Documents Show Supposedly 'Quiet' Snowmobiles Loud Enough to Damage Hearing in Yellowstone New models of four-stroke snowmobiles -- touted as "quieter" by the Bush Administration and supposedly suitable for use in the winter stillness of Yellowstone National Park -- are in fact nearly as noisy as the old two-stroke machines. The snowmobiles also are loud enough to damage hearing, according to internal Administration documents obtained, and released today, by the Coalition of Concerned National Park Service Retirees, a group of 230 retired employees and senior leaders of the National Park Service. According to a January 27, 2004, Yellowstone staff meeting report (available at, Yellowstone officials tested noise from four-stroke snowmobiles that were certified as "best available technology" and approved for use in Yellowstone under the Interior Department's controversial policy. The minutes from the January meeting at Yellowstone show the park's safety officer informing other senior staff that based on the tests of four-stroke snowmobiles: "Four-stroke snowmobiles are almost as loud as two-stroke snowmobiles for the operator.".... Trail wars: Study on damage creates stir Warm weather will soon bring a flock of hikers, mountain bikers and off-road motorcyclists back to the trails - and that will inevitably renew debate about which users should be allowed on what trails. A group fighting to preserve access to public lands for mountain bikers hopes to influence that debate this year. The Boulder-based International Mountain Bicycling Association released a study two weeks ago that claims scientific studies show mountain bikes don't cause any more damage to trails than other users, including hikers.... Judge says no to Scout lease on Fiesta isle The Boy Scouts lease of a Fiesta Island aquatics center on city-owned land is just as unconstitutional as its lease of public land in Balboa Park, a federal judge ruled yesterday. U.S. District Judge Napoleon Jones Jr. said the lease of the half-acre aquatics center violates the constitutional separation of church and state because the Boy Scouts is a religious organization. The same judge ruled in August that the Boy Scouts lease of Camp Balboa, where it has its regional headquarters, was unconstitutional because the Scouts require members to profess a belief in God.... Cattle to be turned out in Grand Teton Next month cattle will be turned out on one of the last active grazing allotments on Grand Teton National Park, prompting some to worry that the move increases the risk of another brucellosis infection in the state. But the concern comes not from the ranching community, which would most directly feel the sting of a third infected herd, but from a group committed to ending public lands ranching.... Lyons hopes to add wind farms in Quay and Union counties New Mexico is on the verge of developing two new wind farms on state trust land, but their future depends on the outcome of a comprehensive energy policy that is stalled on Capitol Hill. Commissioner of Public Lands Patrick H. Lyons announced today that he is prepared to sign two lease agreements to develop wind farms on state trust land in Quay and Union counties. However, he says both projects are contingent upon the approval of alternative energy tax incentives that would accompany a comprehensive energy policy held up in Washington, D.C.... Western States Urged to Use Clean Energy Governors of Western states said Wednesday their region should be take the lead in renewable energy production to meet growing power demands and help establish a balanced energy policy for the nation. At the opening of an energy summit organized by the Western Governors' Association, leaders of Rocky Mountain states and the Canadian province of Alberta said there is a need to expand production of so-called clean power, such as electricity generated by wind, solar and biomass.... Board imposes water restrictions Denver Water adopted no-nonsense drought rules Wednesday that include two-days-per-week lawn watering, stiff surcharges for high water use, and tough fines for those who don't play by the rules. It marks the third time in three years the state's largest water utility has forced customers to sharply limit water use in order to protect supplies. The new rules take effect May 1 and will remain in place until the board decides to remove them.... White Mountain Tribe's forests called 'well managed' The White Mountain Apache Tribe's forests have been certified as "well managed," a distinction similar to the "dolphin-safe" tuna designation adopted in the 1990s to honor good fishing practices. The designation, celebrated by the tribe and endorsed by environmentalists, frustrates Bob Dyson, a forester for the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forests, just over the fence from the 1.68 million acres certified on the Fort Apache Reservation. Dyson said he is stymied from actively managing the forest by resistance and lawsuits from the same environmentalists who praise the tactics when used on tribal land.... Calif. Urged to Ease Environmental Rules California must ease its environmental standards to prevent wildfires like those that killed dozens of people last fall, a panel said Wednesday in its final report on the devastating blazes. The panel said environmental concerns had hampered efforts to clear brush and trees surrounding housing developments in wildland areas, where fire is part of the natural cycle. That extra growth allowed the wildfires to spread, the commission said.... EPA requires smog reductions in 31 states Smog cleanups affecting about 470 counties in 31 states are being set in motion Thursday now that the government, after years of court wrangling, is deciding where and how to require compliance with tougher air quality standards. That means more vehicle inspections and maintenance, cleaner-burning gasoline, better transportation planning, and improvements at coal-burning power plants and other industrial facilities.... Indians file huge land claim: Tribes eye 27 million acres in state but will settle for casino The Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma filed a claim Wednesday for 27 million acres given to the tribes in a 19th century treaty but said they would settle for 500 acres to build a casino in a symbolic return to Colorado. The petition, filed with the Department of Interior, covers northeastern Colorado and about 40 percent of the state. The land claims include water rights on the Platte and Arkansas rivers that predate those of many water users today. "The Southern Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes are originally from what is now known as the state of Colorado," said Bill Blind, interim chairman of the Cheyenne and Arapaho business committee, during a news conference here. "In the late 1800s, we were forcibly removed from Colorado by the U.S. government and relocated here in Oklahoma.".... World's biggest cattle beast dies Big Red, who was saved on a trip to the meatworks eight years ago, weighed in at 2.8 tonnes and died in his sleep during an operation, owners Ross and Janette Campbell said. Big Red's weight had given him trouble with his hips and legs. Yesterday's operation was on his feet. It was a sad day at his home at the Owlcatraz tourist and educational park at Shannon, 33km southwest of Palmerston North.... Million Dollar Jury Award in Equitrol Lawsuit; Farnam Plans Appeal (Updated Story) A jury awarded $1,007,500 to plaintiffs who alleged in a lawsuit that Farnam's Equitrol, a feed-through fly control product, was defectively designed and caused harm to their Thoroughbred and Warmblood sport horses. Farnam countered with a press release stating that it is appealing the decision and believes that the court decision is incorrect on legal and factual grounds. The jury in the three-week trial in Santa Ana, Calif., over which U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna presided, ruled in Farnam's favor on another point, which was an allegation that the company intentionally misrepresented the product. Equitrol's active ingredient tetrachlorvinphos (TCVP, also known by the trade name Rabon; more on this later) is widely used by several companies in feed-through larvicides for cattle and horses and in fly control products for several other species.... Stetson hat factory in St. Joseph to close The Stetson hat factory in St. Joseph will close by the end of June, eliminating 110 jobs, the company announced Wednesday. Parent company Hatco Inc., based in Garland, Texas, blamed the closure on poor sales. "People are not buying hats, cowboy or otherwise, like they used to," Lilly said. "It was becoming obvious that there was reason to be concerned.".... Lawmakers seek to curtail Venezuelan bull dragging Toros coleados, a Venezuelan national sport in which bulls are dragged down repeatedly by their tails, could soon go the way of dog- and cockfighting in Florida. Lawmakers in the Florida House and Senate want to ban the sport, saying it's an expression of animal cruelty, not national pride. Loosely translated as ''bull tailing,'' the Florida version of the sport involves two mounted cowboys who chase a bull up and down an oblong arena, competing to flip the animal over as many times as possible within a period of two minutes. In the Venezuelan version, the chase lasts three minutes and involves four cowboys, flipping a bull up to five times per run. ''This is what we do every weekend. This is our baseball,'' Carlos Barrios, a judge at the Southwest Dade competition who lives in Weston, said at the time. ``It's part of the Venezuelan cowboy.''....

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