The Latest Bounce

 

The terrorist attacks on Washington, D.C., and New York City may impact the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Utah, next February (HCN, 3/16/98: Olympic onslaught: Salt Lake City braces for the winter games). Officials are considering whether to cancel the games for safety reasons; if the games do proceed, security is likely to be unusually tight.

Scottsdale, Ariz., residents who want to preserve over 16,000 acres of state trust land around their city received mixed news this month (HCN, 7/30/01: Not in our backyard). In early September, state land Commissioner Michael Anable reclassified 70 percent of the land as open space, giving the city eight years to purchase and permanently preserve it. The catch? The property may be worth as much as $1 billion.

The biggest-ever Superfund lawsuit has been partly resolved. Hecla Mining Co., which contributed to a century of lead, zinc and cadmium pollution in Idaho's Coeur d'Alene Basin (HCN, 11/25/96: Pollution in paradise), has agreed to pay up to $138 million in cleanup costs over the next 30 years. The settlement with the state resolves the company's liability, leaving only Asarco, Inc., involved in the ongoing lawsuit. But the deal will actually reduce Hecla's current annual payments, and many residents worry that the money won't cover the full cost of the cleanup.

The bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition in 2005 has Missouri River managers and outfitters braced for gigantic crowds (HCN, 9/27/99: A Lewis and Clark revival hits the Northwest). But if this summer is any indication, eastern Montanans may be experiencing the tourism equivalent of the Y2K scare. The number of visitors to the wild and scenic section of the Missouri increased sharply in 1998 and 1999, after the release of Stephen Ambrose's book Undaunted Courage. However, the last two summers have shown little or no increase, and local outfitters are skeptical that the bicentennial will bring on another boom.

Federal firefighters don't have to be 20-something to land a permanent position any more (HCN, 8/13/01: Old firefighters need not apply). Because federal employees must work 20 years to collect a pension, the Forest Service has long refused to hire people older than 35 for full-time work; the agency said it was unfair to employ someone for years without providing a pension. Now, President Bush has signed a law raising the mandatory retirement age for firefighters from 55 to 57.