High Country News March 13, 2000
Asbestos-laced dust from a vermiculite mine near Libby, Mont., has caused illness and death among locals for decades, but it is only recently that the media - and victims - have called W.R. Grace & Co. to account.
Chris Setti and Joint Action in Community Service; HCN wins Web site award; Ted Smith of Kendall Foundation and Newsweek's Brook Larmer among visitors.
T.H. Watkins is remembered as "a writer and teacher and concerned citizen and father and husband and consummate agitator" whose literature and life revealed a deep love for the West.
A profile of Catron County, N.M.'s lawyer, Jim Catron, reveals a man steeped in Celtic and cowboy mythology, and uncompromising in his anti-government fervor.
After a 14-hour hearing packed with anti-growth activists, Garfield County Commissioners vote down Sanders Ranch, a huge development that would create a new town between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.
Rosebud Sioux can't halt hog farm; illegal aliens caught near Douglas, Ariz.; Yosemite toad and mtn. yellow-legged frog in danger; Lolo Nat'l Forest, Mont., off-limits to snowmobiles; George W. Bush promises not to breach Snake River dams.
After an M-44 cyanide trap put on their land by a government trapper kills the family dog, Paul and Lee-Ann Wright sue the federal government.
A skyrocketing population of once-uncommon Canada geese has some locals up-in-arms and ready to try lethal methods to bring goose numbers under control.
John and Cindy Witzel want to build a school for outfitters on the 160 acres they own on Oregon's Steens Mountain, an area also being considered for national monument status.
In Idaho, sportsmen are divided over a proposed law that would require hunters to wear blaze orange clothing.
Environmentalists are fighting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to no longer accept petitions seeking to move species off the agency's candidates list and up to formal threatened and endangered status.
Crawford, Colo., rancher Mark Le Valley and other locals have set up a voluntary conservation plan to protect the Gunnison sage grouse enough to keep it off the endangered list.
The decline of logging in the Northwest has created a timber boom in the South, where most timber grows on private lands and chip mills are increasingly popular.
The Environmental Protection Agency says snowmobiles should be banned in Yellowstone, at least until cleaner machines are built, but the Park Service is seeking a less controversial alternative.
In Montana, a consensus effort between environmental groups and the Stillwater Mining Co. have stalled over the mine's insistence that environmental data be kept secret and lawsuits not allowed.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber becomes the first major political figure in the Northwest to back breaching of four Snake River dams to help endangered salmon.
The writer describes her thoughts as she witnessed the closing arguments of an asbestosis case in Libby, Montana.
"Maria," an illegal immigrant, is only one among the many thousands whose work keeps the West going, even as the workers live in fear of deportation.
A Montana mill owner's plan to send 10,000 shovels to Elko, Nev., so sagebrush rebels can re-open a road closed by the Forest Service, is "a triumph of symbolism over substance," according to the writer.
Heard Around the West
Feces hits fan (and houses) in Utah again; Ariz. Legislature says state has right to secede, and worries about too much democracy; Flexcar in Seattle and Portland; golf carts in Senior Estates, Ore.; Reno billboards; Seattle school toilets save money.
Mine owner W.R. Grace says it's always been frank about the dangers of asbestos, but former workers and union leaders disagree, pointing to damning company memos.
Former mine worker Lester Skramstad, who is dying of asbestos-caused disease, recalls how he and co-workers worked casually with asbestos, unaware of the danger.
Don Judge of the Montana State AFL-CIO says W.R. Grace is culpable in the tragedy of asbestos poisoning.