Heard around the West
The official response? It's not our problem. The city's fire department finally accepted responsibility, sending a hazardous-materials team to hose 500 gallons of water and 30 gallons of bleach over the home. No one really knows if a plane flying overhead was responsible for the dump, though Salt Lake fire captain Bill Brass says, "It either came from an airplane or an awfully large pigeon."
A publicity stunt staged by 6-foot "chickens' - members of the group PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals - went awry in rural West Virginia. The protesters chose a Kroger's store to protest animal products, reports Field and Stream magazine, but couldn't persuade anyone to come to the meat section where they were pasting stickers on poultry packages. The warnings said: "This package contains the decomposing carcass of a small tortured bird." No big deal, was the consensus among clerks, because when they heard there was a PETA protest in the store, said one, "We thought it was somebody protesting pita bread."
Coyotes roaming New York's Central Park and Chicago's Loop, beaver biting away at cherry trees in the nation's capital - where will wild animals turn up next? For wolves, bears, lynx and beaver, their next new home might be Great Britain, which exterminated those species hundreds of years ago. Bringing wild animals back home is the moral thing to do, British zoologist Martyn Gorman told the Financial Times, though he added, "Much the biggest problem is conquering human aversion to wolves."
Some 15,000 copies of a state brochure ballyhooing opportunities for dirt bikers in Colorado contained a boo-boo. "Ride with Pride ... Protect the Future of Public Land," read the headline on an inside page. But the photo showed a dirt biker where he was not supposed to be - within a designated wilderness - in this case, the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, where all motorized activity is illegal. The Denver Post reports that no one at the Colorado Department of Natural Resources knew the photo had been taken there. "The brochure will be changed in a couple of years," said Jack Placchi, coordinator of the state's off-road vehicle program. A spokesman for the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness said the brochure sends exactly the wrong message - that riding a dirt bike on high-altitude tundra is cool.
Sedona, Ariz., has a certain reputation for lifestyle experimentation, so perhaps it was not surprising to see a sign in the Coconino National Forest urging visitors to join in an unexpected group activity: "New trail construction in progress ... Please bare with us," the sign read. Jogger Wendy Grove, who noticed the invitation on a fence post, says she thought the Forest Service must be trying hard to "fit into our town."
Former BLM Director Pat Shea doesn't think much of Beltway journalism. Speaking recently at a natural-resource management conference in Idaho, Shea described the Washington Post as "the world's largest high school newspaper." Its specialty, he said, is "gossip for and about big people."
Xenophobia is back in vogue in Oregon. In 1971, Oregon Gov. Tom McCall's slogan was "Come and visit us again and again, but for heaven's sake, don't come here to live." Now, Oregon State Sen. John Lim, an immigrant from Korea, has introduced a bill to erect signs at the state line telling incoming drivers: "You are welcome to visit Oregon, but please don't stay." Californians represent about one-third of new residents, reports the Oregonian, yet most people see a Californian in every newcomer. University of Washington history professor John Findlay says when he asks students to pick words describing Californians, they consistently choose stereotypes such as bad drivers, pushy, vain, rude and superficial. "Californians learn pretty quickly when they get here to change their (license) plates and take off their UCLA sweatshirt," he says. A waitress who moved to Oregon from Virginia tells how she copes with prejudice: "All I need to say is, "I'm not from California," and no one gives me any trouble."
Two backcountry skiers are lucky to be alive after surviving an avalanche near the Snowmass ski area in Colorado. An eyewitness told the Aspen Times that he saw the two skiers disappear into a cloud of descending white two or three football fields wide. "At first it was like watching a slow-motion movie," said Dave Richie. Then he saw the avalanche fracture, the slide speed up and one skier escape to the side. The remaining skier was carried 1,000 feet down the hill, where he was deposited on top of refrigerator-sized chunks of icy snow. "I still can't believe that he just popped out and was able to walk out of there," Richie said.
* 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 bumper sticker slogans. The definition remains loose. Heard, HCN, Box 1090, Paonia, CO 81428 or firstname.lastname@example.org.