The Latest Bounce


Over 22,000 communities nationwide may be at risk from summer wildfires, especially those with neighborhoods where houses and forests meet, warns the Boise-based National Interagency Fire Center (HCN, 5/7/01: Back into the woods). All the communities are seeking a portion of the $240 million Congress set aside last year for fire management and fuels reduction. But the center says it is already too late to finish the work needed to protect those homes in time for the coming fire season.

Sen. Wayne Allard is trying to light a different kind of fire under the Bush administration. The Colorado Republican has joined a bipartisan group that wants Bush to spend more money on developing alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power. The president has proposed cutting $200 million from federal renewable energy programs.

The Clinton-designated Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho may get a new identity (HCN, 4/23/01: Monuments caught in the crosshairs). In early May, the House of Representatives passed a bill that redesignates two-thirds of the monument as a National Preserve. Sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the new legislation allows hunting and grazing to occur on 410,000 of the total 661,000 acres preserved. A similar bill is currently in the Senate. While Idaho politicos have greeted federal conservation efforts with ire, state lawmakers support a new plan by The Nature Conservancy to save millions of acres from development. The Idaho branch of the national nonprofit group plans to spend $20 million to initiate the largest private conservation program in Idaho's history. The group says it wants to protect seven intact ecosystems rather than scattered individual parcels. In early January, the federal government recognized the Chinook Tribe of southern Washington, whose ancestors helped save the Lewis and Clark expedition (HCN, 2/12/01: Chinook tribe recognized). Official recognition entitles the tribe to federal funds it could use to acquire its own land base. But now the Chinook Tribe's historic enemy, the Quinault Nation, has petitioned the Bureau of Indian Affairs to take away that recognition, fearing that the Chinook will use the new status to take control of the Quinault Reservation that lies on both tribes' ancient homeland.