Heard around the West

  • Woodsy Owl (1)

  • Woodsy Owl (2)

  Once a plump owl earnestly told boys and girls: "Give a hoot, don't pollute!" Then the bird went mute during the controversy over northern spotted owls losing their nests to loggers. Well, the 25-year-old mascot of the Forest Service is back, reports the Jackson Hole News.

While on sabbatical Woodsy may have enjoyed a stay at a fat farm equipped with a plastic surgeon. Running shoes cover his humanoid feet, not talons, his waist is trim, and he announces a slogan more in tune with a budget-crunched federal agency: "Lend a hand, care for the land!" Woodsy, like his cohort Smokey Bear, never actually speaks when he appears at parades or other community events, though agency staffers inside their stifling costumes occasionally report getting a blistering earful from the public.

Like the Berlin Wall falling all at once - almost as if it were poised for collapse - a high school board in eastern Ore- gon voted to drop its logo that shows a bulbous-nosed Indian and the team name, "Savages." The vote was quick and unanimous, reports the Seattle Times. For 71 years the school in the heart of the Nez Perce tribe's ancestral home had resisted any effort to change the name and image, which appears on a billboard leading into the town of Enterprise as well as on football helmets and wall murals. But recently, residents of Wallawa County had invited the tribe back (HCN, 7/7/97). And Joe McCormack, the only Nez Perce still living in the county, attended a school board meeting for the first time to say what he thought about the matter. To hear McCormack reveal he was hurt by the nickname and cartoon, "that's what really convinced me," said one school board member. Another said, "Let's get rid of it. It's the Christian thing to do." The Nez Perce were driven from the area by white settlers in 1877.

Things were not so conciliatory recently in Prineville, Ore., when some 20,000 members of the Rainbow Family gathered July 4 for their annual anarchistic reunion. The Rainbows weren't the problem; the locals were, or at least Earvin Hoaglen, 29, was. He got angry at some young people he took to be Rainbow stragglers and fired two shots in their direction, reports the Associated Press. Surprise: The kids were Prineville residents. Crime report for the real latter-day hippies: 10 runaways found and returned to their parents, seven stolen cars recovered and nearly 100 arrested, mainly for shoplifting.

A gunshot rang out at a campground near Jackson, Wyo., recently, but at first, California resident Joy Allen, 67, thought her microwave had exploded. No, she'd been hit in the neck by the metal jacket of a bullet. It had been fired by a Texan sitting in his travel trailer 71 feet away, reports the Jackson Hole News. William Hill, 52, said he thought his .357 magnum was unloaded, but when he pulled the trigger a bullet flew through his screen door and broke though the window of Allen's camper. No big deal, a cheerful Allen said in the hospital, though she left Wyoming the next day.

Idaho's ever-quotable Republican Rep. Helen Chenoweth held field hearings recently in Idaho and Montana to explore the contentious issue of "motorheads' - drivers of all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles and motorcycles - in national forests. Explore is perhaps a mischaracterization, as Chenoweth sided with representatives of vehicle clubs, reports the Missoula Independent. Few wilderness advocates were invited to speak. Reasoning that grizzlies are so fierce they can easily make do in crowded forests fragmented by roads, Chenoweth added tartly that any biologist who thinks roads degrade grizzly habitat "believes in Easter bunnies." The bears are so fierce, she added, they would "fight hell with a squirt gun."

Wyoming Republican Rep. Barbara Cubin held a field hearing of her own recently in Casper, which was stacked with oil and gas men, reports Great Falls, Montana's, Great Times. Particularly displeased was the Montana supervisor of the Lewis and Clark National Forest, Gloria Flora, who, with less than a week's notice and in tight fiscal times, was forced to spend $700 on a plane ticket. The Casper Star-Tribune characterized the hearing on opening up the Rocky Mountain Front to oil and gas drilling as "fed bashing and environmental-regulation bashing."

Wisconsin Rep. David Obey had a hoity-toity rejoinder for environmentalists who urged him to spend $700 million from the Land and Conservation Fund instead of using the money to retire the federal debt. According to National Journal, the Democrat explained: "Tough. I was elected and you weren't."

A half-ton bovine with the deceptively docile name of Missy Cow Cow is still wandering around rural north-central Washington eight years after escaping from a local ranch. Three years ago the red cow began visiting Judy and Ron Magnusson, swinging by from the surrounding Wenatchee National Forest "for treats and scratches," reports AP. Then the couple began feeding the cow during the winter. Big mistake. Missy Cow Cow ate $1,000 worth of hay last year when deep snows trapped her near the house. Now, the Magnussons say they'd rather the cow - and her cowpies - found another vacation spot. They're searching for a good home, though getting her to it might be a problem. Her hide is so tough, .22-caliber hollow-point bullets have bounced off it; she also doesn't take kindly to herding.

*Betsy Marston

Heard around the West invites readers to get involved in the column. Send any tidbits that merit sharing - small-town newspaper clips, personal anecdotes, relevant bumpersticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or editor@hcn.org