The Wayward West

  • Anti-fee billboard in Santa Barbara, Calif.

    Stuart Wilson photo
  A golf course planned for a national forest has landed in the rough. In 1998, the Sierra Club legally challenged a 1997 decision allowing Dempsey Construction to expand Snowcreek Golf Course onto 95 acres of national forest (HCN, 2/16/98). This month, Inyo National Forest Supervisor Jeff Bailey withdrew the permission. "We have determined that there are other, and perhaps better options than expanding the golf course under a special use permit," Bailey said. He added that a land exchange might be one option for Dempsey.

California's largest lake, the Salton Sea, churned up 7.6 million dead tilapia on Aug. 4. The lake turns up dead fish every August, but this was the highest one-day death toll ever recorded, and scientists say the Salton Sea, southwest of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, is dying. Brown pelicans are also dying, of avian botulism. "This is an ecosystem in rapidly failing health," Milt Friend, lead scientist in a federal evaluation of the lake, told the Los Angeles Times.

"US Force-you Serv-us, Dept. of Aggravation," read the sign propped in the back of an old Forest Service truck at a protest in Twisp, Wash., Aug. 14. Oregon-based activist Scott Silver had organized a "Fee Demo Day of Protest" with events in Utah, Colorado and Oregon, as well as Washington. Silver worries that Congress may extend user fees beyond its three-year test period (HCN, 10/13/97). Fees are like "the difference between romantic love and paid sex," said Silver. "It changes the experience totally. It can't be wild if it's not free."

An attempt to banish pike from California's Lake Davis failed (HCN, 5/25/98). State officials thought they had killed all of the predatory fish when they poisoned the lake in 1997, but this spring, fishermen hauled in at least 40 pike. The state Department of Fish and Game says the fish survived the poisoning by congregating in "safe spots," or springs at the bottom of the lake. "Any proposal to try poison again would set off something like a civil war in Plumas County," reports the San Francisco Examiner.

Miner Walt Freeman won't be striking it rich soon on the Siskiyou National Forest in Oregon. Forest Service Supervisor Mike Lunn decided on Aug. 13 that Freeman must first prove his nickel, chromium and iron ore mine can make money. According to a Forest Service analysis, Freeman would lose $10 million on his proposed Nicore mine on Rough and Ready Creek (HCN, 10/12/98). Agency staffer Rochelle Desser, who was in charge of the analysis, told The Oregonian, "Every truckload would be a losing truckload."

*Keri Watson