The Wayward West

  Two packs of Mexican wolves are getting a second chance in the wild. Several months ago, the packs were recaptured after conflicts with people and livestock in Arizona's Apache National Forest (HCN, 1/31/00: Yellowstone wolves are here to stay). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the remote Gila Wilderness in New Mexico would be a better home for the wolves; in late March, biologists moved the nine wolves into the area by mule train. Four of the wolves have already been released, and the remaining five wait in a temporary holding pen.

There's one more reason to move the Atlas uranium tailings pile away from Moab, Utah (HCN, 1/31/00: Mountain of mine waste may move after all). Results of a new federal study say ammonia levels in the Colorado River near the pile are several hundred times higher than state standards - bad news for the river's endangered fish. "It's so bad that fish in the river are dying immediately when they contact that water," says Bill Hedden of the Grand Canyon Trust. A $300 million plan to move the pile awaits approval by Congress.

The coal-bed methane boom in Wyoming (HCN, 9/27/99: The Cowboy State's next boom) is spilling into eastern Montana, but Montana environmentalists want none of it. The Northern Plains Resource Council sued the state Board of Oil and Gas Conservation in March, arguing that the board needs to study the effects of the hundreds of wells proposed for the Powder River Basin area. In early April, the board agreed to put a temporary hold on new drilling permits until a judge rules on the issue.

Congressman Scott McInnis, R-Colo., has big ideas for the White River National Forest (HCN, 1/17/00: STOP - A national forest tries to rein in recreation). A draft of his management proposal for the Colorado forest would permit a new ski area near Rifle, nearly 13,000 acres of ski area expansions outside the currently permitted boundaries, and one-third more logging than the most timber-friendly Forest Service plan. McInnis will submit his proposal as a public comment on the draft plan for the White River National Forest.