The Wayward West

  In the wake of the Los Alamos fire, New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici, R, is proposing a bill that some worry is another "salvage rider" (HCN, 9/2/96: Last line of defense). Domenici says that in order to reduce fire danger, federal agencies should be able to thin trees without enduring lengthy environmental review. Environmentalists say agencies must be subject to the public process or old-growth forests will be clear-cut.

Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio, D, doesn't think policing and backpacking go hand in hand. His amendment to a spending bill would bar the Forest Service from enforcing the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program (HCN, 2/14/00: Land of the fee). "Proponents of the rec fee program claim it is wildly popular with the public," DeFazio told The Columbian. "If it's so popular, then there's no need for enforcement."

In Washington, 150 Canada geese are on "death row" and will be killed as soon as federal wildlife agents find charities willing to take the meat (HCN, 3/13/00: Goose got your gander?). To control burgeoning geese populations that litter parks with feces, the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to kill 3,150 more birds by the end of August.

Utah Republican Rep. Jim Hansen wanted to prevent Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt from planning for managing any of the seven national monuments designated since January. Hansen didn't get his way (HCN, 6/19/00" Babbitt's monument tour blazes on). Forty-six Republicans broke ranks to kill his rider on June 16.

Employers across the country, including many in Western resort towns, are short on workers - 10 million short according to the U.S. Department of Labor (HCN, 4/24/00: At your service). Now, business owners are pushing Congress to approve a new work visa. It would allow unskilled foreigners to move to America to work without hope of citizenship. Labor unions say this proposal would kill the American worker's ability to make a decent wage.