Sunday, September 28, 2003


Editorial: Forest compromise sounds good It's been clear to most Montanans since the fires of 2000 that better forest management is overdue, particularly where civilization meets the woods. No program will have the resources to thin out more than a tiny fraction of overgrown western forests, but continued political paralysis is no longer acceptable. We hope Congress fine tunes this tentative compromise and quickly passes it... Climbers appeal Forest Service climbing ban at Tahoe A new US Forest Service ban on rock climbing at a popular Lake Tahoe site has been appealed by a group of climbers... Spotted owls in trouble Despite a 15-year recovery effort that reshaped how forests are managed and eliminated thousands of timber industry jobs, the northern spotted owl population is in free fall in this state. After the owl was listed as a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1990, millions of acres of federal forestland -- including 2.4 million acres of old-growth forest in Washington state -- were spared the ax under the Clinton administration's Northwest Forest Plan... Mysterious marbled murrelet status under review In many respects, the marbled murrelet lives in the shadow of the northern spotted owl. The tiny, tenacious seabird nests in the same old-growth forest habitat that is home to the more notorious owl... Tamarisky business When wildlife lovers look along the Colorado River near Silt, they see towering cottonwood trees housing nests from which herons survey their domain. It's a threatened domain, however, under attack by an invader that is drawing increasing attention from local to federal governments. The tamarisk, a water-loving plant imported from Eurasia, has been gradually taking over riverbanks since its introduction to the Colorado Plateau early in the 20th Century. Recognized for years as a scourge of river ecosystems, the thirsty tamarisk is now a prime target for eradication due to the recent drought...Editorial: Forests face fresh threats Our national forests are under attack, but not from the threats the public usually hears about. The public debate must focus on today's fights, not yesterday's feuds... Hearing set on Breaks bill Montana's Rep. Denny Rehberg is again working to redraw the boundary of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, at the request of people whose land is within the boundary. Rehberg sponsored a bill on April 3 that would change the boundary to exclude nearly 81,000 acres of private land now reserved to become part of the monument if the government eventually acquires it. The House subcommittee on National Parks, Recreation and Public Lands is holding a hearing on the bill Tuesday...Some say BLM land valued low for latest auction The Bureau of Land Management has appraised more than 2,700 acres of undeveloped desert land to be sold at its November land auction for $361.2 million -- far less than what some developers had expected...Lawsuit over water on hold? The lawsuit is over fish, and how much water they need to migrate. A closed-door meeting was held among water users and environmentalists at the Statehouse in hopes of finding common ground on the issue. Up for discussion, ways to provide adequate river flows for migrating fish without leaving Idaho irrigators dried up... Road Leads to Alaska-Size Standoff Pilgrim's passage on the Caterpillar D4 has resulted in an edgy standoff between his well-armed family and the federal government. The National Park Service has shut down the bulldozed road to his property, dispatched armed rangers to assess park damage and is pursuing criminal and civil cases against him and members of his family. The brouhaha over the bulldozer -- a drama still unfolding inside the largest U.S. park -- has made the Pilgrims actors in a national dispute over private access to federal land. National environmental groups are demanding that the Park Service prosecute the Pilgrims to the fullest extent of the law, while land-rights activists have embraced them as heroic victims of overzealous federal bureaucrats... When nice words hide a bad environmental record There were few surprises at Tuesday's Senate hearing on Gov. Michael Leavitt's nomination to head the Environmental Protection Agency. The governor stuck closely to the White House playbook, using code words like "collaboration," "balance," and "sound science," and talking up voluntary compliance and industry's need for "clearer" regulations when answering the softball questions he got from most senators. These are exactly the words that Republican pollsters advise their clients to use when hiding bad environmental records, as President Bush did when he visited one of the country's dirtiest power plants recently to talk up "Clear Skies."... 2,000 sheep run through Bayfield on fall trek home BAYFIELD Visitors and residents lined the Buck Highway here on Saturday to witness the ovine equivalent of runners in the homestretch of a long race. Two thousand Rambouillet sheep that Houston Lasater was bringing home from summer range in Crazy Woman Gulch above Electra Lake kept him and several herders at a trot... Old kinenos' culture rides into the sunset It's not quite daybreak as cowboys gather at the Laureles division of King Ranch. Men climb from their trucks and buckle on chaps as they call out morning greetings. It's time to wean calves from their mothers, and recent rains will make the job a muddy one... Three more gray wolves found dead in the West Three Mexican gray wolves that were part of a federal reintroduction program have been found dead in New Mexico and Arizona. The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service would not say how the wolves died, but the carcasses are being tested, said acting program coordinator Colleen Buchanan. "All of them are under investigation," she said. "It's definitely a blow to be losing all these animals."...

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