The Wayward West

  A partially built farm for 859,000 hogs on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota has tribal members upset (HCN, 11/8/99: Can a hog farm bring home the bacon?). "We wish the production facility and the whole project would go away," says Mike Blatz, a business representative for the tribe. But a federal judge ruled Feb. 3 that developers can proceed - even though the Bureau of Indian Affairs had tried to revoke its approval.

During January, about 31,000 undocumented immigrants were caught in Douglas, Ariz., according to the U.S. Border Patrol (HCN, 9/27/99: An Arizona mayor condemns the New West's thirst for servants). Its Operation Cochise has added staff, new checkpoints, high-tech gadgets and undercover officers disguised as immigrants. Though the Border Patrol says the program is beginning to dissuade Mexicans from illegal border crossings, locals in outlying areas say the problem is far from fixed. "It's worse than it's ever been," rancher Larry Vance told The Christian Science Monitor. "This is an invasion."

The Sierra Nevada's Yosemite toad and the mountain yellow-legged frog need help, says the Center for Biological Diversity and Pacific Rivers Council (HCN, 9/27/99: Endangered boreal toads). The amphibians are threatened by pesticides and habitat destruction from livestock grazing, according to the two conservation groups that petitioned the government Feb. 28 for endangered-species status. "The decline of these species should sound alarm bells," says Center spokesman Jeff Miller.

Four hundred thousand roadless acres in Montana are still off-limits to snowmobiles (HCN, 2/15/99: Snowmobilers booted from Montana forest). The Montana Snowmobile Association lost its suit to overturn a ban on snowmobiles in Lolo National Forest. The court threw out the case this month, ruling that snowmobilers should have challenged the ban when the Forest Plan was adopted, 13 years ago.

George W. Bush promises not to breach four dams on Washington's Snake River if he's elected president (HCN, 12/20/99: Unleashing the Snake). "I understand water. I understand the importance of water," Bush told a group of farmers in eastern Washington. "I know that water is the lifeblood of agriculture." He says technology can ensure both salmon and a healthy economy.