Items by Ray Ring

The Faces Behind the Lawsuits
Environmentalist lawyers Johanna Wald, Joe Feller, Laird Lucas, Letty Belin, Mike Axline, Jay Tutchton, Roger Flynn and Tom France are briefly profiled
Shooting Spree
The West’s environmentalist lawyers are manning the legal barricades, as the Bush administration stealthily attacks the nation’s bedrock environmental laws
Judges tie themselves in knots when it comes to the West
The writer outlines the ideological underpinnings of judicial flip flips on key Western issues
Should the Forest Service be blamed for a snowmobile wreck
Judge Don Molloy finds the Forest Service partly liable in the 1996 Montana snowmobile wreck that injured Brian Musselman, and some snowmobilers are worried about the ruling’s impacts on their sport
Ranching's worst enemy? It's not greens
Western ranchers rejoice when a federal court jury finds that the nation’s largest meatpacker, Tyson/IBP, has illegally squeezed $1.28 billion from independent cattle producers
The New West collides with open-range laws
As the West grows and develops, more people find themselves drawn into the conflict over open-range laws
Tipping the scales
A right-wing coup is under way in the nation’s courts, which George W. Bush is stacking with anti-environmental judges, and the impacts on Western conservation issues are not going to be pretty
Jurisdiction shopping made simple
The environmental records of federal judges are briefly examined, including Dee Benson, Don Molloy, Alan Angus McDonald, B. Lynn Winmill, Michael Hogan, Edward Lodge, Clarence Brimmer, James Parker and Sam Haddon
Wildlife win one in Yellowstone
The National Wildlife Federation negotiates two important land deals with ranchers in the Yellowstone area, ending grazing on Horse Butte and protecting local bison
Fire policy in the form of Smokey and the Bandit
Ray Ring says California and wildfire are like co-stars in a bad Hollywood movie
Freaky Fridays with the Bush administration
Critics say it’s not a coincidence that the Bush administration announces bad environmental news – like the recent rollback of mine-tailings limits – late on Friday afternoons, when media coverage is sparse
One good example: The reporter
Karen Dorn Steele of the Spokane Spokesman-Review showed how a reporter at a regional paper can have a national impact, when she uncovered the extent of radioactive contamination at Hanford Nuclear Reservation
Excellence
The Institutes for Journalism and Natural Resources presented the first Wallace Stegner Awards in September to nine Western newspapers for excellence
One good example: The publisher
A.L. "Butch" Alford of the Lewiston, Idaho, Morning Tribune is a good example of a publisher who truly believes in independent journalism
The Big Story Written Small
The West’s big newspapers fall short when it comes to covering today’s most important issues: the "big story" about the environment, and the impacts on the region of growth and development
It’s time for some solidarity
It’s high time for the environmental movement to join with farmworker activists in their fight for fair treatment and protection from dangerous pesticides
Conservationists work on cooperation
In Kalispell, Mont., veteran journalist Ben Long now works to bring local conservationists together to reframe the environmental debate in the Flathead Valley
The West’s Biggest Bully
Radio shock jock John Stokes wants to scare environmentalists away from Montana’s Flathead County, but his bullying tactics have led instead to increased unity among his opponents and quiet conservation progress
A peek over the edge
Plundered Promise: Capitalism, Politics, and the Fate of the Federal Lands by Richard W. Behan is a provocative travel guide to the corporate take-over of the public lands under the Bush administration
Feds to Energy Department: Slow down
Three federal judges, ruling in three environmentalist lawsuits, tell the Department of Energy that it has to be more careful with nuclear waste
Gas, the clean energy?
Americans need to acknowledge all the costs of oil and gas drilling before we blithely flip the light switch or start the car
Editor's Note
In the rush to get out the gas, wildlife gets short shrift
Responding to pressure from the oil and gas industry, the Bush administration further relaxes BLM wildlife regulations
The Red Desert braces for a gas boom
The Red Desert and Jack Morrow Hills of Wyoming are at the center of industry’s ambitious plans to extract natural gas and coalbed methane
Gas crisis puts Rockies in hot seat
The nation’s increasing demand for natural gas is going to hit hardest in the Rocky Mountain West
War on fire takes a toll on fish
The group Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics is calling for Forest Service firefighters to be more careful with fire retardants, which are causing fish kills in Western streams
Demolish the dam, sayeth the Lord
Montana’s Clark Fork River Coalition is celebrating the EPA’s call for the removal of Milltown Dam and its toxic reservoir, a decision even conservative Gov. Judy Martz says God’s will
As fires rage, governors counsel discretion
Even as wildfires blaze in Arizona and New Mexico, and President Bush’s forest-thinning plan moves through Congress, Western governors counsel moderation in logging and suggest more research and collaboration
Who should pay when houses burn?
Greg and Mary Tilford, who lost their house in Montana’s Bitterroot fires in 2000, are part of a group of homeowners suing the Forest Service for compensation
History is full of big fires
History and science show that the recent "catastrophic" wildfires in the West are not really a new development