The Latest Bounce

 

The Bureau of Land Management may soon have a new boss. President Bush has nominated Kathleen Clarke, the director of the Utah Department of Natural Resources, to oversee management of the 264 million acres of BLM land. Though Clarke has maintained a low profile in her current job, local environmentalists criticize her handling of the Bear River water project in northern Utah (HCN, 7/3/00: Utah's river kid takes on the water buffaloes) and are wary of her longtime ties to Utah Republicans. If confirmed by the Senate, Clarke will need to hone her survival skills: The BLM has had eight directors in the past 10 years.

The Center for Biological Diversity is best known for winning endangered species lawsuits against the federal Fish and Wildlife Service (HCN, 3/30/98: A bare-knuckled trio goes after the Forest Service). Now, the Tucson-based Center and two other environmental groups are shaking hands with the agency. As part of an agreement announced Aug. 29, the Fish and Wildlife Service will speed up endangered species protection for 29 animals and plants, mostly in the West and Southeast. To free up federal money for the new protections, the environmental groups agreed to a temporary delay in critical habitat designations for eight species.

A task force appointed by Montana Gov. Judy Martz, R, wants to shrink the new Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (HCN, 1/29/01: Monumental changes). The governor's group says the 375,000-acre monument should be reduced to about 90,000 acres, eliminating monument status for private property and wilderness study areas. Though the proposal will be forwarded to Interior Secretary Gale Norton, Norton says her department does not have the authority to make major boundary adjustments.

The tiny farming town of Bonanza, Ore., has made an unexpected entrance into the Klamath Basin water battle (HCN, 8/13/01: No refuge in the Klamath Basin). The town council has voted to sue the local irrigation district, state agencies and the federal government, reports The Oregonian. Bonanza officials charge that decades of agricultural diversions have poisoned their water with manure, fertilizer and pesticides, filling the local river with bacteria and decaying algae. The town's cleanup crusade hasn't gone over well with irrigators, says local resident Bob Hoylman: "Whenever we have meetings, we get shouted down, overpowered ... These people, they're out for blood."