Three Wisconsin Chippewa tribes wanted to start a casino. Nearby tribes didn't want the competition. They had given money to the Democratic Party. After the regional office of the Bureau of Indian Affairs endorsed the casino, higher-ups in Washington rejected it. Conflict of interest? Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt says no. His old friend and former law partner, Paul Eckstein, who represents the Chippewa tribes, says he remembers Babbitt mentioning the contributions when asked about the casino. Attorney General Janet Reno has ordered a 90-day review of Bruce Babbitt's role in the rejection of the casino.
University of Colorado law professor
Charles Wilkinson surprised his colleagues on the Wilderness
Society board of directors by signing on to a brief on the side of
loggers - but a week later, Wilkinson withdrew his brief, saying,
"It would be a bad law for environmental organizations." The case
could decide the fate of the much-contested La Manga timber sale in
New Mexico. If upheld by the courts, the brief would make it almost
impossible for groups that belong to coalitions to
When Northern California police officers
were called in to remove nine nonviolent protesters from a
congressman's office, they swabbed a few in the eye with pepper
spray and sprayed others from two feet away. A video shows the
women writhing in pain and screaming. Now the women, opponents of
an agreement on the Headwaters forest, are suing the Humboldt
County Sheriff's Department and the Eureka Police Department. This
is the third time officers from these departments have used pepper
spray on Headwaters protesters.
Bike Project has failed. Hundreds of old clunkers were painted
yellow and left out for anyone to ride and then leave on the street
for the next rider. Now, the entire fleet of yellow bikes has
disappeared into people's garages. But the Community Cycling Center
plans to release a new fleet of free bikes; this time, by attaching
clunky baskets, it hopes to make the bikes too nerdy to
Debate over southwest Colorado's Animas-La
Plata Water Project (HCN, 11/11/96) has intensified - if that's
possible. Republican Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell attacked Gov. Roy
Romer, a Democrat, for not pushing hard enough against
environmentalists who oppose the project. Of Lt. Gov. Gail
Schoettler, Romer's negotiator on the project, Campell said, "She
knows about water. I think she knows it comes from a spigot." But
Schoettler believes a year of negotiations has helped. Proponents,
including two southern Colorado Ute Indian tribes, favor a less
expensive project. Environmentalists support establishing a fund to
help the tribes buy water rights. Romer has asked the Environmental
Protection Agency and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to decide on
The Fund for Animals and the
Biodiversity Foundation have won a round in the debate over winter
use of Yellowstone National Park (HCN, 10/27/97). U.S. District
Court in Washington, D.C., approved the settlement of a suit by the
two groups against the National Park Service. The settlement
requires the agency to do an environmental impact statement on
winter use of the park, and an environmental assessment on the
impact of keeping snowmobiles off a 14-mile stretch of road from
Canyon Village to Fishing Bridge. The court blocked snowmobile
advocates from becoming intervenors in the suit.
A Forest Service recommendation to cancel the
controversial China Left timber sale (HCN, 7/7/97) in Oregon's
Siskiyou National Forest has annoyed the logging industry and drawn
cool reaction from environmentalists. "It's too little, too late,"
says Debbie Lucas, spokeswoman for the China Left Coalition, which
demanded the sale's withdrawal two years ago. Agency chief Michael
Dombeck will issue a decision next month.
and gas drilling along the Rocky Mountain Front of Montana's Lewis
and Clark National Forest was rejected by the forest supervisor
(HCN, 10/13/97), but now the Rocky Mountain Oil and Gas Association
and two other groups have appealed supervisor Gloria Flora's ban.
Drilling can be compatible with wilderness conservation, they say.
The agency won't decide on the appeal until next year. Meanwhile,
officials of the Helena National Forest, a few miles south, are
negotiating a drilling deal with Chevron.
National Park Service has settled its decades-old dispute over
grazing on the Mantle Ranch's two inholdings at Dinosaur National
Monument (HCN, 10/2/95) in northwestern Colorado. The compromise,
announced Nov. 4, recognizes the family's right to run cows on the
land and the agency's right to regulate grazing. But the settlement
also sets up a 90-day negotiating period for a Park Service
purchase of the land.
In Twin Falls, Idaho, the
Bureau of Land Management has transferred Mike Austin, an agency
realty specialist, to its Boise office after he questioned the
professional ethics of his boss, Ray Hoem, manager of the BLM
Jarbidge Resource Area. Austin challenged Hoem's purchase of a
grain silo from a farm the agency had penalized on a trespassing
charge (HCN, 9/1/97).
* Heather Abel, Peter