Stymied by a Republican Congress, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has borrowed from Broadway to express his opinions. On May 12, he staged a mock 125th birthday party for the 1872 Mining Law, complete with cake, and gave title to federal land containing up to $110 million worth of gold to a mining company for $620. On May 16, he donned hard hat, goggles and fire retardant clothes to pour fuel on an Idaho mountainside and then ignite it to show his support for controlled burns ...


Further proof that crime doesn't always pay on federal land: Pilfering 500 archaeological artifacts from Polar Mesa Cave in Utah earned nine Moab residents felony sentences, in the largest looting case since the Archaeological Resources Protection Act was passed in 1979. Three will serve jail time, while the other six will be confined to their homes, their whereabouts monitored electronically ...


A Billings, Mont., man who poached a bull elk in Yellowstone National Park was fined nearly $3,000 and banned from the park for three years ...


After five-and-a-half years, volatile Al Schneber-ger has left his position as executive director of the New Mexico Cattle Growers' Association. In an open letter he commends ranchers such as Kit Laney and Dick Manning for fighting for private property rights: "Now I tell you ... federal grazing rights are property!!! The only mistake those who ranch on federal lands made was they trusted in the contract they had with the federal government ..."


After a four-day training in civil disobedience by the Montana-based Ruckus Society, five Tucson environmentalists locked their necks together with bike locks on the floor of Kaibab National Forest ranger station, while two others draped a banner from the roof. They were protesting a salvage timber sale of 3,500 burnt acres on the edge of Grand Canyon National Park. "People were shut out of the decision-making process for the forest they love, and this is our last recourse," said Michael Robinson, a former High Country News intern now with the Southwest Center for Biological Diversity ...


In a unanimous vote, the Sierra Club re-elected its Generation X president, Adam Werbach, 26 ... After serving on the boards of directors for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club Foundation and the High Country Foundation, conservationist Bert Fingerhut has been elected the next chairman of the Wilderness Society's Governing Council. His agenda? To solidify the national group's ties to local and regional environmental organizations ...


* Heather Abel


After serving on the boards of directors for the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, the Sierra Club Foundation and the High Country News Foundation, conservationist Bert Fingerhut has been elected the next chairman of the Wilderness Society's Governing Council. His agenda? To solidify the national group's ties to local and regional environmental organizations ...


The Forest Service is wasting time trying to recruit minority workers, says Idaho Republican Helen Chenoweth in the Idaho Spokesman Review, because blacks and Hispanics have never liked northern Idaho. "The warm-climate community just hasn't found the colder climate that attractive," she said, and "we just don't have that much agricultural crop harvesting up north." Accused of perpetuating northern Idaho's image as a haven for bigots and racists, Chenoweth said she won't apologize, but she "didn't mean to offend anybody."





* Heather Abel